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Few visitors fly to South America just to visit Santiago, but Chile's capital often surprises them with its stunning setting between the Andes and the coastal mountains, its modern infrastructure, an active cultural life, fine dining, and access to outdoor activities. At the same time, it's managed to salvage part of its historical heritage in neighborhoods such as Barrio Bellavista and Barrio Brasil.

Among Santiago's highlights are the colonial Moneda palace and its new subterranean cultural center, poet Pablo Neruda's La Chascona house and museum, the Central Market and its seafood restaurants, the Cousiño Macul winery, ...

Few visitors fly to South America just to visit Santiago, but Chile's capital often surprises them with its stunning setting between the Andes and the coastal mountains, its modern infrastructure, an active cultural life, fine dining, and access to outdoor activities. At the same time, it's managed to salvage part of its historical heritage in neighborhoods such as Barrio Bellavista and Barrio Brasil.

Among Santiago's highlights are the colonial Moneda palace and its new subterranean cultural center, poet Pablo Neruda's La Chascona house and museum, the Central Market and its seafood restaurants, the Cousiño Macul winery, and verdant city parks such as Santa Lucía hill. Beyond the city limits, but barely an hour from the central Plaza de Armas, there's camping, climbing, hiking, mountaineering, rafting and kayaking in the Maipo river canyon. In winter, the powder at Valle Nevado and several other ski areas is just as close.

Santiago's major drawback is that its scenic location, like the Los Angeles basin, often traps air pollution in a Mediterranean climate that gets almost no rain from October to April, and air-cleansing precipitation is uncommon even in winter except at altitude.

Wayne Bernhardson
About the Expert

Wayne Bernhardson is the author of Moon Handbooks to Argentina, Buenos Aires (including coastal Uruguay), Chile (including Easter Island), and Patagonia (including the Falkland Islands).

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Wayne Bernhardson for Triporati

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