Surrounded by the magnificent snow-capped Andes, Santiago, the nation’s capital - and Chile’s largest city - is a dream destination. It's well-known for its vibrant nightlife and spectacular street dancing and boasts unmissable landmarks like Plaza de Armas, the Metropolitan Cathedral and the monumental La Moneda Palace. However, it’s by visiting Santiago’s colourful neighbourhoods that travellers start to get a sense of the city’s unique character. You’ll also find traditional Chilean dishes such as empanadas (filled pastries), pastel de choclo (beef and corn casserole), and Cazuela de Ave (Chilean chicken stew) all over the city.
Ready to explore a little further afield? Just 72 miles (116 km) away is the kaleidoscopic coastal town of Valparaiso, where you can ride the funiculars, explore the UNESCO-listed historic quarter and enjoy some of the most breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Not far from Valparaiso is La Campana National Park. There are some great hiking trails, and light-footed explorers might even spot a huemul or two. Along with big cats like pumas and an abundance of birds, wildlife species are abundant here. It is fitting, considering its iconic Cerro La Campana, where Charles Darwin famously hiked.
Just over an hour's drive from Santiago is Cajón del Maipo, a wild and mountainous area perfect for hiking and horseback riding. It also has some steamy hot springs! Sporty travellers can reinvigorate their senses with a spot of surfing in the laidback coastal town of Pichilemu before toasting their adventures with a refreshing glass of Carmenere from the Colchagua Valley; this is Chile’s lesser-known but exceptional wine-producing region.