While on the Megabus coming home from NYC after an amazing trip to Johannesburg and Cape Town back in November, I received a text from my bro Brian of BeyondBmore around 4am. This dude was on a flight to Tokyo at the time, but he made sure to tell me to book a crazy flight deal to Santiago, Chile for $170. While Mike was sleeping on my shoulder, I booked that shit for the both us without any hesitation AT ALL.
Fast forward to June, the three of us finally made our way to Santiago, Chile for five days and loved every minute of it.
Keep reading to find out how we made the most of our time during our visit to Santiago!
1. We Spent Time Loving on The Scenery in Santiago
The city of Santiago is so gorgeous, mainly because it is surrounded by the beauty of the Andes Mountains. We stayed at the super cute Courtyard by Marriott in Las Condes, and please believe me when I say the views of the Andes from this hotel were amazing! The snow capped mountain backdrop looked so unreal, sort of like a spaceship descending from the sky type shit from Independence Day. Just imagine waking up to this view. I absolutely loved it!
2. Free Tours Santiago Was a Great Introduction to the city
Any time I visit a new city, I always look to see if they offer free walking tours. These tours are great because of course, they’re FREE 99, and because they give a great introduction to whatever city I’m visiting. The daily city tour in Santiago was the longest I’ve ever been on (about four hours), but we covered a lot of the history and culture of Chile.
3. We spent a day in Valparaiso.
Valparaiso, or Valpo, is a super cute hillside port city that is recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Luckily, it’s only a quick 1.5 hour bus ride from Santiago. Unfortunately, we arrived too late for the morning free walking tour, but that didn’t stop us from wandering around Valpo ourselves. The colorful streets will take your breath away… literally. We didn’t feel like tackling the hills, but we had to suck it up because they came with the territory. The street art was amazing and definitely made our walk worthwhile.
In Valpo, we ate good and drank LOTS of wine. I also had the best Pisco Sour at a restaurant called Cocina Puerto. One more day in Valpo would’ve satisfied my urge to explore the city a little more, but I always have a reason to go back.
4. We Vineyard Hopped in Casablanca
Visiting vineyards in Chile was a must because who doesn’t love Chilean wine? The Casablanca Wine Valley is about 30 minutes from Valparaiso and on the bus route back to Santiago. You know we decided to take a detour and visit a couple of the vineyards in the area.
The first vineyard we visited was Emiliana, which is an organic vineyard. There, we enjoyed a wine tasting and the gorgeous scenery. Next, we headed to Bodegas RE, which is known for their unique blends created with unconventional wine making processes in clay vessels. Here, we completed a tour of the grounds and a wine tasting.
Let’s just say this was a good day!
5. We Hiked Up The Snowy Andes Mountains in Nikes
Well, not me… Not that I was any more prepared than Mike and Brian in my knee boots from Target.
Anyway, I booked a day trip to Cajón del Maipo and Reservoir El Yeso with Snow Tours on the first day of winter in Chile. Snow Tours were considerably cheaper than other tour companies offering the same experience.
Once we arrived to Cajón del Maipo, our guide mentioned we had to hike up the snow covered mountain for about an hour to reach the reservoir. Excuse me, whet? I swear I didn’t know. As we were walking to the starting point of our hike, we we saw a man being carried down the mountain. Instantly, we knew things were about to get real. LOL
After trekking up the icy mountain for about 1.5 hours, we finally made it to our destination, but it was rough. The views of the still reservoir made the treacherous hike worth it, but DAMN. After a few minutes of taking in the area and mentally preparing to hike down the mountain, we were on our way. Mannn, THAT was a shit show. Everyone was slidin’ and droppin’. Somehow Mike made it down the hill without falling with his almost frostbitten toes in those Jordans. Lucky guy.
6. We took in more views of Santiago from Cerro de San Cristobal
On our last day in Chile, we decided to use this day to chill in Santiago. We figured we’d spent the morning going up to Cerro de San Cristobal and getting another elevated view of the city. Since we were opposed all things hiking at this point, we paid to take the funicular to the top for about $3 USD per person.
Once on top of San Cristobal, we discovered the Sanctuary of Immaculate Conception, along with a large statue of the Virgin Mary, and a chapel. The views of Santiago from the top were cool, but were a bit obstructed by trees. The best views of Santiago were from the funicular ride to the top of San Cristobal.
7. We smashed a king crab at Mercado Central
After taking in more views of Santiago, we headed to Mercado Central for lunch. This market has lots of fresh seafood, fruit, and vegetables available.
We ate at Dondé Blanca, which was recommended to us because of their massive king crabs. We ordered one king crab to split amongst the three of us, and it was delicious! While waiting for the crab to be prepared, we each ordered the salmon dish topped with shrimp. Dondé Blanca was a really nice restaurant that I’d definitely recommend.
Santiago was such a great city, and I’m so glad I took advantage of the opportunity to get there for the low! As someone who lives for views, I can say that Santiago’s landscape is very unique and one of my faves.
In my opinion, there’s not a lot that Santiago offers to keep a visitor in the city for more than 2-3 days. Luckily, there are plenty of day trips that can be taken from Santiago that allows more of Chile to be experienced. We definitely took advantage of the day trips and had an amazing time.
Stay tuned for my post going into greater detail of our visit to Valparaiso and Casablanca Wine Valley.