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Backpacking Chile: Things to do in & around Santiago

View from the house of Pablo Neruda

This post is also available in: German

After talking about the North in Part 1 and the South in Part 2 of this article series it is time to introduce you to the Centre of Chile. Read more about the metropolitan area of Santiago and Valparaiso, a city full of art – moreover we'll make a side trip to the beach of Vina del Mar.

1) Santiago de Chile


If you are going to travel to Chile by plane, Santiago will be your first stop in this beautiful country of big differneces.
Like in most of the other countries in South America nearly 40% of the people are living in the capital – in Santiago around 7 out of 17 million. The special thing about chile's capital is, that it is located directly next to the Andes – you can see them if it is not to misty due to the smog in the city. I spend only a weekend in Santiago but i had the luck to Couchsurf there, so i saw a lot of the city in a short time because my host was a local and had the time to show me around. Moreover i was invited to join a “Asado” (BBQ) at the place of a big chilean family – this was the REAL DEAL!

Chile's steady economic growth has transformed Santiago into one of Latin America's most modern metropolitan areas, with extensive suburban development, dozens of shopping centers, and impressive high-rise architecture. It has a very modern transport infrastructure, including the steadily growing underground Santiago Metro, an effort at modernizing public bus transport and a free flow toll-based ring road and inner city highway system, part of which is tunneled underneath a large section of the city's main river Mapocho connecting the Eastern and Western end of the city in a 25-minute drive. Santiago is the regional headquarters to many multinationals and a financial center. (by Wikipedia.org)

If you happen to visit Santiago don't miss out to go to the Museo de Bellas Artes, the Barrio Bellavista, the Mercado Central and of course the Cerro Bellavista where you'll have a stunning view over the city (to just mention a few).

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2) Valparaiso

With a population of only around 275,000 Valpo (as locals like to call it) is not one of the biggest cities, but it is also well known all over the world. The reason for that? The area in and around Valparaiso is the cultural centre and has one of the country's most important seaports.
If you are going to visit the town of valparaiso it’s the best to don’t make any plans. The claim for your visit should be: just walk around and get lost. But: i would definitely recommand to have a map with you and inform about the dangerous zones there. If you stay in the centre at day, around the Cerros Bellavista & Concepcion you will have no problems, i guess.



Valpo has about 42 Cerros, hills which make you to use a lot of stairways or -much more comfortable- one of the ascensors (elevators, mostly about 100years old). On your way through the town you will see a lot of Streetart, but there are also many ateliers and artshops. Alltogether with it’s beautiful countryside, the colorfull houses it is no suprising that the historic and cultural centre of valparaiso belongs to the UNESCO world cultural heritage.


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3) Vina del Mar

Vina del Mar is often called the noble suburb of Valparaiso, because here everything seems to be more organized and more clean.
Vina is located next to Valpo(just 15min by Bus) – you can find a lot of beautiful beaches with palms and beachclubs, parks and a lively nightlife. I decided to spend a day in Vina just for relaxation.

I took some of the minibuses (i had to ask because the minibussystem here is a kind of mystery for non-locals) and walked around vina, enjoyed the sun and the seaside – it was quite empty in contrast to the summertime. Don't missout to visit “Castillo Wulf” – a museum located next to the beach: without entrance fee!<7p>

4) Pictures of the Centre

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You've been there, too?

Share your expreriences and recommendations with the readers by adding a comment!

You want to read more?

No problem: i wrote a post about every day and with this every tour in Chile – just go to the Blogarchive (enter “chile” in the search box, or click on “Chile” in the section “Tagged Countries” in the right sidebar) and read the related articles for more information, recommendations, pictures and videos.
The Posts about my time in the centre of Chile start with the entry named “Vuelta en la tarde en Valparaiso(onTour #020)” and end with onTour #023.

Tags
  • Chile really is a fascinating country, a land full of contrasts. I have traveled Chile twice. Just great, simply unforgettable!!!

  • Kim

    Awesome I can’t wait to visit Chile! Thanks for the info :)

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