Set on a wide plain at the foot of the Andes, Santiago boasts one of the most impressive backdrops of any city on Earth - the views onto the cordillera are especially spectacular during the winter, when the peaks are covered in snow. Architecturally, the city is a very mixed bag. Impressive skyscrapers show off the country’s economic boom, while remnants of Chile’s colonial past are reminiscent in beautifully maintained colonial buildings. Elsewhere, old-fashioned shops compete for space with ugly office blocks and shopping centres. The green city centre is very pleasant, and the atmosphere is vibrant, with a strong social and cultural scene. Visitors would do well to spend a few days here ingesting its museums, interesting restaurants and lush parks before moving on to other parts of the country.
Santiago’s unique location means that it is one of the few cities on the planet where it’s possible to surf in the morning and ski in the afternoon. If skiing doesn’t appeal, the vineyards of the Rapel Valley are within easy reach, or for adventurous types, the Cajón del Maipo offers fantastic hiking, rafting and horse riding.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Santiago is during the shoulder season, from late September to November, or from March to May. The weather still be mild and sunny during these months, and tourist levels will be lower than during the peak season of December - February.