Vast in size and sophisticated in its tastes, cosmopolitan Santiago is so much more than just a gateway to Chile. The city is full of surprises and for those who take the time to explore in greater depth, there is plenty to offer. Although chaotic and glitzy in parts, several quiet and leafy central neighbourhoods are home to examples of outstanding colonial architecture, alongside hillside parks, sobering museums and world-class galleries. These areas are compact and easy enough to discover on foot or with the occasional journey on the art-adorned subway system that connects the major barrios or neighbourhoods. The dining scene in Santiago is rich and varied: from simple pavement cafés serving traditional dishes through to superb restaurants that will make even the most discerning diner’s mouth water. Head up the Cerro San Cristobal hill to the Terraza Bellavista viewpoint and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views over the city, which is framed by the imposing backdrop of the snow-capped Andes Mountains.
Those looking to escape the bright lights of Santiago can treat themselves to visit the lush and fertile valleys that surround the city in every direction. Organic vineyards and traditional wine estates are interspersed with enchanting colonial architecture and boutique family-run hotels, giving the distinct sense of a time gone by when life moved at a far gentler pace. This historic region of Chile is home to over 250 vineyards of all shapes and sizes, which produce a selection of the country’s most well-respected and delicious wines. Vineyard tours are a fascinating way to learn about the wine production process and to allow the chance to sample the wines: whether you can spare just a couple of hours or a few full days of indulgence!