Santiago – Chile’s capital – is the political center of Chile, but there is so much more to know and experience about Chile beyond its historic political figures, such as Allende and Pinochet. If you can allow yourself any extra time prior to or after a South American cruise, Santiago offers an insightful and entertaining stay for tourists.
A 1.5 hour journey to or from the pier in Valparaiso takes you through the Casablanca Valley – best known for its wines, which are now ranked worldwide. Enjoy a tour and tasting at one of Casablanca’s premier wineries en route.
Do you have more time? Why not expand your winery visit to lunch – views of the vineyard go down that much better with a glass of Chilean Chardonnay in hand. The views keep on coming – a no miss view is the one from San Cristobal Hill, in the heart of Santiago. A funicular takes you to the top of the hill. From there, step aboard a tram ride – suspended by cable – for absolutely breathtaking views of Santiago and the mountains beyond. Reward yourself with a meal at the hilltop restaurant, where the view from the main dining room has Santiago at your feet and the Andes as a backdrop – now this is the place to enjoy Chilean specialties. Start your meal with a Pisco Sour – Chile’s aperitif, then complement your fresh Chilean cuisine with Chilean wine.
Always looking for that perfect remembrance of an outstanding visit? Then from Chile it must be lapis lazuli, an intriguing blue stone often used for globes, mined only in Chile for public purchase and now crafted into jewelry, pens, coasters and more. It is best bartered for in Los Dominicos Market, an area filled with small local shops, many just the size of your living room!
There are many other activities to take part in during a visit to Santiago. You could involve yourself in the history of Chile with a private tour, or visit the sights on your own, like the Pre-Columbian Museum, San Francisco Church and Convent, or poet and statesman Pablo Neruda’s house – La Chascona. Or, just stop and rest at a sidewalk café as the city’s residents hustle by – it is all part of the every day life of Chile.