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Overview

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. The powder at ski areas such as Valle Nevado, barely an hour from the central Plaza de Armas, are enough to draw avid skiers from Brazil and even from Europe and North America. Even in winter, there's hiking, mountaineering, rafting and kayaking in the Maipo river canyon, likewise just an hour from the central Plaza de Armas.

At the same time, Santiago has managed ...

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. The powder at ski areas such as Valle Nevado, barely an hour from the central Plaza de Armas, are enough to draw avid skiers from Brazil and even from Europe and North America. Even in winter, there's hiking, mountaineering, rafting and kayaking in the Maipo river canyon, likewise just an hour from the central Plaza de Armas.

At the same time, Santiago has managed to salvage part of its historical heritage in neighborhoods such as Barrio Bellavista and Barrio Brasil, and upgraded some of them — the colonial Moneda palace, for instance, has an impressive new subterranean cultural center, but there are also 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. 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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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    All year, but snow sports only from July to October