Why to Visit Santiago de Chile
By: Lauren Hutton
There is so much natural beauty to see in Chile; the arid deserts of the north, coastline, lakes and glaciers in the south. It can be overwhelming to fit this into say, a 5 day trip. Or perhaps you don’t have the funds to travel Chile from top to bottom? You may think that Santiago is a pretty dull city compared to all the rest the country has to offer; a limbo, a middle-ground that you must traverse in order to arrive at the real Chile?
I wouldn’t blame you. How could uninformed travellers know about all the hidden gems of Santiago that make it a venturesome city to spend time in?
Here is a list of 5 hidden gems in Santiago that can turn your 5-day stop-off from a second-rate transit, to the outdoor adventure that Chile really is:
Cerro San Cristobal
The famed Cerro San Cristobal. You can climb it (medium difficulty as there are some steep slopes), you can mountain-bike it (still not quite sure how they manage that), or you can do the lazy option and take the cable-car up (I like to refer to this as the brave option.) Provided that vertigo may have hindered my full appreciation of the beautiful santiaguino views; green valleys, and shiny skyscrapers, whilst dangling 2,890 ft above in the air.
Even though this addition to the list is quite obvious, it wouldn’t be right to leave San Cristobal out of this countdown. There is so much to do and see here; visit the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Chilean National Zoo, the Japanese Garden, and more!
Cerro San Cristobal is one of the main cerros, and attractions of Santiago. It boasts two public swimming pools Antilén and Tupahue that open during the Chilean summer months, and there you can spend the day playing cards and dominos with friends, having a picnic, all the whilst being surrounded by the cityscape below.
Mirador de San Carlos de Apoquindo
As mentioned in a previous article 5 reasons besides wine travel Chile 4 reasons not to
(see https://vamospanish.com/5-reasons-besides-wine-travel-chile-4-reasons-not) , Santiaguinos love their sunsets. And for a compelling reason; with all the natural beauty their city has to offer.
Miradores, or “viewpoints” are places where you can see the entire valley and landscape. These are the perfect places to go watch the sunset or the city nightlights with friends, or perhaps a romantic outing with the polol@. There you can choose to contemplate the view, your existence, or perhaps just exchange some saliva with your date.
Oh, I ought to mention that Mirador San Carlos de Apoquindo is locked up in the evenings, so you’ll have to bring out your inner rebel and squeeze through some delinquently warped bars to get through. Nevertheless, once you are through, you can recline on a bench and breathe in that fresh Santiaguino air that smells heavily of marijuana.
Cajón del Maipo
Cajón del Maipo is a canyon within the metropolitan region of Santiago that’s got the entire package. Forget about that 10 hour bus trip to Pucón and saunter yourself to Cajón del Maipo.
Hills, hiking and horse-riding. Rivers such as Volcán, el Colorado, el Yeso where you can windsurf and river raft. And thermal water baths where you can relax those sore muscles after all that extreme sporting – “¡si, por favor!”.
The Canyon is breathtakingly beautiful, and equipped with cabins so that you can spend a couple days making the most of what the area offers. You will completely forget you are technically still within the metropolitan region of Santiago!
This one is a no-brainer. Where is the best park in Santiago? Bicentenario! Of course! Why? Ok let’s start by describing it as a green oasis in the middle of a big and bustling city. The park is a huge 30 hectares, it literally stretches through Santiago like a ribbon and even connects with Cerro San Cristobal.
El Parque Bicentenario offers a quiet and relaxing place to get away from the fumes of the city. I enjoyed brining a picnic with friends and playing cards under the shade of a tree, or doodling in a notebook by my lonesome whilst listening to music. So relaxing.
For the sport-seekers, there are bicycle paths. For the nature and animal lovers, there are ponds with swans and flamingos. The air is clean! Who needs to leave the capital anyway?
Santuario de la Naturaleza el Arrayan
I’m not saying that I’ve left the best for last, but neither am I saying that I haven’t.
Have you found yourself in Santiago during those scorching months of December, January, or February? It can be tough. No pool? Santiago’s already got you covered! (see reason 1). But are you looking for something more natural than a chlorine-drenched pool? And do you want to actually able to SWIM in the water rather than being assaulted by it? I’m not naming any names but VIÑA DEL MAR. So, if you are looking for something more in tune with nature, but not too much of a trek out of the city. Look no further than Santuario de la Naturaleza el Arrayan.
Santuario de la Naturaleza el Arrayan is an excellent escape from the craziness of the city. It’s a charming set-out with picnic areas, quinchos for barbeques and a trekking path that follows the Mapocho river which extends deeper and deeper into the mountains, an entire 10 kilometers before ending at a waterfall. As you make your way up the trekk you’ll come across natural pools such as “Baños del Cal” where you’ll be able to do more than flounder about, and actually submerge yourself in the revitalizing chilly, freshwater.
Not to mention there’s an abandoned castle to discover, and horseback riding trips can be arranged as well. If that doesn’t sound like a blissful day out in Santiago, I think you should reevaluate your life.
So this is my pinnacle list of reasons not to leave the Chilean capital of Santiago during your short stay. Feel free to leave comments below if you enjoyed the read or think I’ve missed anything out!
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