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Chile was chosen by Lonely Planet as the best country to visit in 2018 and according to the TripAdvisor “Traveller’s Choice 2018”, the city of Santiago is rated one of the top destinations to visit in South America.

Chile is a sinewy sliver of a nation, isolated from the rest of South America (and indeed the world) by the soaring Andes to the east, the vast Pacific Ocean to the west, the bone-dry Atacama Desert up north and the impenetrable wilds of Patagonia down south. From its disparate extremes to the ever-trendier capital of Santiago at its heart, the country’s citizens will unite in 2018 to mark 200 years of independence.

Their cultural and social identity maintains traits from the past. From the Spanish conquests, European immigration and the traces of their indigenous peoples. Their character is a result of the multiple contrasts of a land whose heart beats between the ocean and the Andes.

Although for years they were considered as one of the most conservative countries in South America, today they are a country that looks forward and is fearlessly opening-up to the world.

Central Area, Santiago and Valparaiso

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 21st century global sophistication blends seamlessly with time-honoured local tradition in the central heartland of Chile.

Discover Santiago, the multi-faceted capital of Chile, with its fine parks and numerous sporting and cultural activities. You’ll enjoy fabulous food in the city’s many and varied restaurants, as well as a thriving nightlife scene.

Lose yourself in the hilly port city of Valparaiso and discover an intense, atmospheric palette of colours and flavours. Then relax and cool off in the Pacific Ocean at one of the beautiful nearby beaches, such as Viña del Mar or Reñaca.

If you love the snow and winter sports, visit Chile during the southern winter and try out some of the best ski slopes in South America against a majestic Andean backdrop. It’s only a two-hour road journey from the mountains to the ocean – you can enjoy a day of winter sports before a scrumptious seafood dinner on the coast!

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the valleys and vineyards where Chile’s talented enologists make some of the world’s best red and white wines!

Eat, drink and be merry in style! You’ll find a thriving nightlife scene in all of Chile’s main cities, many of which boast a glittering casino. In summer, the top beach resorts pull out all the stops and you’ll find bright lights, lively music festivals and glamorous shows.

So, put on your glad rags and prepare to enjoy the high life. In Santiago, the Bellavista area is synonymous with all-night partying. Here on the banks of the Mapocho river you’ll find countless bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Or head to the downtown Lastarria and Yungay neighbourhoods for a more bohemian, artsy atmosphere.

Its art galleries and fashionable bars resonate to an ever-changing soundtrack; from Latin dance music to avaunt-gourde rock and the idiosyncratic ‘cueca chora’ (a rollicking variant of the classic national folk dance, the cueca).

The port of Valparaiso is also famous for its bustling nightlife. There are dozens of bars, cafes and pubs scattered across its picturesque hills, many open well into the small hours. If you’re a music lover, you mustn’t miss Concepción, a city renowned for its music scene. The birthplace of many famous musicians, the city also hosts a varied calendar of concerts and has a wide range of thriving live music venues.

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 Santiago

According to the TripAdvisor “Traveller’s Choice 2018”, the city of Santiago was rated one of the top destinations to visit in South America.

Dynamic and cosmopolitan Santiago is a vital and versatile city. Home to many events showcasing the very best of Chilean culture, it also hosts superb international festivals of sound, flavour and colour. The Chilean capital breathes new life into all its visitors!

The city’s diversity shines through in its many contrasting neighbourhoods. Set out to explore the city streets and you’ll discover beautiful and original art galleries, design shops and handicraft markets, as well as a great selection of restaurants, bars and cafes. Night owls can enjoy a taste of lively Latino nightlife in hip Bellavista!

Visit downtown Santiago to get a real feel for the city. Learn more about the country in its many fine museums, or wander around the famous Central Market – a gourmet’s delight.

Santiago Neighbourhoods:

Take a walk through the historical centre, including Plaza de Armas, La Moneda presidential palace, the Central Post Office, the Santiago Cathedral and visit Cerro Santa Lucia, where the city of Santiago was founded.

At the foot of this hill, you will find the Lastarria neighbourhood, considered one of the “20 coolest neighbourhoods in the world” according to the Spanish newspaper, La Vanguardia. You can enjoy the street art and music while getting a taste of the capital city’s delicious cuisine. Just a few blocks away is Bellavista, a neighbourhood located at the foot of Cerro San Cristobal, which is known for its bars and nightlife.

If you want to see the modern side of the city, visit El Golf, which is considered the most important financial centre of Santiago. It is home to large financial companies, law firms and retail stores, and Calle Isidora Goyenechea is famous for its large variety of restaurants.

If you are looking for a park, Santiago has the Parque Forestal, the Bicentenario Park in Vitacura, Parque Renato Poblete, and Parque Araucano. These parks host food and drink festivals, music fests and art fairs at different times of the year.

Fans of the great outdoors can head for the hills that surround the city and marvel at panoramic views of Santiago with the magnificent Andes as a backdrop. Take the opportunity to grab a picnic and visit one of the city´s many parks.

You’ll find first-rate shopping opportunities in the stylish Alonso de Córdoba neighbourhood and in the city’s many modern malls.

Ready to see the capital from a different perspective? Why not explore Santiago by bike, hop on a bus for a fascinating tour, join a fun group for a gourmet outing or trace the footsteps of the most famous Chilean poets?

For an overview of the city’s main landmarks, catch one of the hop-on, hop-off double-decker buses that offer sightseeing tours of Santiago, with timed stops at the most popular spots and shopping malls. You may be interested to know that they also stop at a number of independent Chilean design shops.

Visit the city’s green spaces by bike – it’s by far the best way by far to explore at your own pace. Rent a bike or join a two-wheeled tour of Santiago’s main attractions.

Try a brisket sandwich, hot seafood stew and maybe a glass of pipeño (see sidebar) on one of the culinary tours focused on local food. Your route may take in some of the bohemian haunts of well-known Chilean poets, and you could find yourself being spontaneously serenaded in the street by a group of talented buskers!

“Eat, pray and love”, says the popular spiritual healing phrase that in Chile takes on a new dimension and becomes “eat, drink and rest”. Discover new flavours in Santiago’s food markets and give in to the pleasures of wine tasting in the Colchagua Valley. Sink your feet into the sand and end your adventure worshiping the sun on the quiet beaches of Matanzas.



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Santiago’s Historic Centre

A great part of the history of Chile has been written at the Plaza de Armas (Main Square) and its surrounding buildings. Walk around its streets to find old buildings like the Santiago City Hall, the Cathedral, the National History.

Lastarria District

The wide range of food available, theatres, cultural centres, cinemas, bookstores, art galleries, design shops and antique shops, all make this district an oasis for culture.

Walk around this area full of restaurants and enjoy the intense nightlife of its streets and many pubs and bars. Don’t miss the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Centre (GAM), the Parque Forestal (Forestal Park) and the Fine Arts Museum.

Bellavista

Relax and share a drink with friends in the Bellavista District. Known for its Bohemian history, this is the ideal place to relax and “tirar la talla” ¹. An endless list of restaurants, pubs, bars and clubs await you every night because, Bellavista never sleeps!

Valparaíso

Bohemian and colourful, Valparaiso’s maze of hills has long inspired poets and writers. You’ll discover something new at every turn: a gem of a building, a remarkable art gallery or some little gastronomic ‘find’.

Don’t forget to explore the port and fishing wharves, where you’ll get a real feel for Chile’s quirky seafaring side. Buy or sample freshly-caught seafood at the market and enjoy the fishermen’s banter!

Revel in the crazy architecture of this World Heritage City. Stroll along its narrow streets, climb its endless staircases, ride its historic funicular elevators and enjoy panoramic views from its many lofty lookout points. Feel the excitement in the air at one of the city’s many carnivals, or celebrate New Year in spectacular style at Valparaiso’s ocean-front fireworks party.

Historic Quarter of Valparaiso

Experience the power of the Pacific among a labyrinth of houses with ocean views crammed into the hillside. Discover the architecture and culture surrounding the city’s historic district, testimony of a story that began in 1536.

Visit Chile’s most important port set into hills that you can visit using long staircases and funiculars (elevators on rail tracks). Museums, open spaces and public monuments, along with institutional buildings, give the city an authentic port-city feel and make it one of the few places in the world where Victorian architecture was successfully adapted to the rough and treacherous geography of the area.

Valparaiso was witness to early globalization and the clash of cultures during the 19th century, and today arises as one of the cities with the most stories, magic and life of the entire country. Come and discover it!

The ‘Jewel of the Pacific,’ as Valparaíso is known, is also home to Chile’s legislative Congress and the headquarters of the Chilean navy. Admire these historic buildings and soak up the country’s maritime history!

During the day you can visit the house-museum, La Chascona, which belonged to the poet laureate Pablo Neruda. You can also visit several local theatres such as San Ginés, Centro Mori and the Bellavista Theatre, among many others.

Alegre and Concepcion Hills

Lose yourself in Valparaiso’s hills and discover the stories hiding in its staircases, funiculars (elevators that run on rail tracks) and quaint houses. Take the El Peral funicular, where at the top you’ll be welcomed by the beautiful Paseo Yugoslavo

La Sebastiana, House-Museum of Pablo Neruda

Enjoy the spectacular view of the Valparaiso Bay from the top of Bellavista Hill. Take in the colors and the quaint houses that breathe life into Chile’s main port. Discover the best kept secrets of renowned Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

Cajón del Maipo

From Santiago, you can take a tour to Cajón del Maipo, where you will visit quaint villages in the foothills of the Andes, like San José de Maipo and others. Here you can hike to the El Morado Natural Monument, San José Volcano, go horseback riding in the mountains, take a ride on a snowmobile and enjoy this natural canyon.

 

Wine Tours

“I like wine, because wine is good, and if it’s Chilean, even better!” Thus, declared Tito Fernandez – El Temucano – one of Chile’s best-loved folk singers. See if you agree on a visit to one of the many wine-producing valleys in the country to sample a few of their acclaimed vintages. Come and experience the intense flavours of Chile!

Start by tasting the cool-climate white wines grown in the coastal areas. See the astonishingly beautiful Casablanca valley, where a wide array of grape varieties dapples the landscape in varying shades.

Explore the numerous vineyards of the central valleys, taste their wines directly from the barrel and rediscover the colorful carménère, a grape variety once thought to be extinct. Learn more about the elaboration of each wine from the enologists themselves.

Prepare to be bowled over by the robust Cabernet Sauvignon reds of the Colchagua Valley and the surrounding area. These famed winery valleys will seduce the most discerning palates with their sophisticated wines. Round off your journey in the boutique vineyards of the south, whose dazzling, innovative blends will awaken your taste buds to a whole new world of wine!

Why not try!

Aconcagua Valley

With mature flavours and a big personality, wines from the Aconcagua Valley in Chile are part of the country’s traditional countryside life.

Set in the valleys of Chile’s central area, the land and the weather give life to top quality varieties that are exported to different parts of the world.

The conditions present in the valley allow the numerous vines and vineyards to have a slow but constant maturing, guaranteeing in this way, flavours that are more mature and fuller bodied.

Complete with a high-quality wine tourism experience, if you like good wine then the Aconcagua Valley is one of your musts when visiting the central area of Chile.

Casablanca Valley

Known around the world for its immense wine production, come and enjoy the best flavours of Chile in the Casablanca Valley, sitting between the coastal mountains and the Pacific in the valleys of Chile’s central area.

This fertile valley is characterized by the refined preparation of white wine in its Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc varieties. There is a glass of white wine waiting for you in the many wineries that fill the beautiful vineyards of Chile’s central valley with flavour not to be missed.

And if you are in the Casablanca Valley, don’t forget to pair the wine with the most sophisticated local food in any of the area’s many restaurants. A true festival for your senses!

 

Hot Springs

Forget about work and all your obligations. Just relax and let yourself go at the many natural hot springs scattered throughout Chile. These instant ‘fountains of youth’ have a multitude of both physical and beauty benefits.

In the central region, there are many heavenly hot springs and spas (many of which also boast first-rate restaurants and hotel facilities).

Is your body crying out for a stress cure in calm, green surroundings? You’ll find hundreds of pools in the many southern hot springs. Some are simple outdoor ponds, while others offer luxurious facilities in which to enjoy their warm waters, relaxing massages and other complementary therapies to round off your wellbeing experience.

 

Beaches

Warm sunshine, sea and sand; what better ingredients for a fabulous holiday? You’ll discover idyllic beaches ideal for sunbathing, as well as more dramatic shores, many offering fantastic opportunities for water sports and nautical activities on over 4,000 kilometres of Chilean coast.

Well-rested and looking for some city fun? Then head for the central heartland, whose lively cities boast splendid beaches and rolling surf. For a quieter and more intimate experience, explore the many smaller bays and coves, growing in popularity among surfers and food lovers for their exquisite fresh seafood.

 

Skiing and Snowboarding

Have a blast at over 2,000 meters above sea level! Visit one of Chile’s many ski resorts and appreciate these world-class slopes – an essential destination for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts in the austral winter.

Head for the Andes and discover a pure white paradise for snow and sports enthusiasts. Dare you tackle some of the foremost ski slopes in South America? Chile has areas ideal for both beginners and more seasoned skiers.

Just a few kilometres from Santiago, the famous Valle Nevado, La Parva and El Colorado ski resorts cling to the steep Andean flanks. Ride the extensive chairlifts, enjoy long descents and dare to try exhilarating torchlit night skiing.

 

Festivals

Machaq Mara

The Aymara and Quechua indigenous cultures share the same spirit of ancestral celebrations for welcoming in the arrival of a new cycle since many thousands of years ago.  This tradition remains alive in the north of Chile thanks to the indigenous peoples who have not forgotten their roots and who proudly preserve their festivals and rituals.

An age-old world vision of deep respect for nature invites visitors to celebrate the winter solstice with music, dances, and prayers to Tata Inti (sun) for light and heat for our Pachamama (Earth).

PUTRE June 21 , 2018

Winter Festival in Patagonia

This is a colourful and joyous carnival that celebrates the beginning of winter, and along with it, the longest night of the year.  It is a traditional festival with decorated floats, dance troupes, and costumes that flood the streets of the snow-covered city, creating a one-of-a-kind spectacle.

During the winter festival there is also a food-tasting event with hot dishes, ending with a firework show on the boardwalk of the Magellan Strait that lights up the cold, southern sky.

PUNTA ARENAS June 21 and 22, 2018

Festival of the Virgin of L Tirana

Every year, in the town of La Tirana located some 72 km from Iquique, the Festival of the Virgin of La Tirana takes place. More than 250,000 people come to the town to be part of this celebration, which lasts a little over a week. But La Tirana is much more than just a religious celebration, it is a cultural exchange with Andean roots. Every year you can see the outfits that the troupes wear, you can listen to the music that floats into the air from the instruments and watch the dances they perform in its little streets. It is a tradition that is part-Indian, part-creole, part mestizo and part Afro-Chilean, mixing all these peoples that inhabited these areas in days gone by.

How to get there: From Iquique you can rent a car or take tours to reach Pozo Almonte, La Tirana and the surrounding areas.

LA TIRANA, IQUIQUE July 12-18

Torrencial Valdivia Trail

Rain, mud, and the cold are some of the challenges that runners of this extreme trail running must overcome, in a race that places competitors in direct contact with untamed nature and challenges of a coastal mountain range during the winter season.

This sporting challenge cuts through the Pilunkura Reserve, Oncol Park, Quitaqui Park, and Corcovado Park in the middle of the Valdivian forest. The race offers distances that range from 11 to 63 kilometres.  The competition is only for those who are brave enough to put their senses and endurance to the test.

VALDIVIA June 30 – July 01, 2018

Chancho Muerto Traditional Festival

Head to this celebration that takes place in the Maule countryside. This traditional festivity revolves around pork-related products, where their slogan is “We’re celebrating the dead pig (Chanco Muerto) in Talca”. This regional celebration praises the qualities and importance of these animal products in the origins of Chilean cuisine and also reveres the family and community impact generated through this tradition. The festival also gathers renowned chefs, artisans, local producers and folklorists.

TALCA, MAULE VALLEY August 05-06

Festival of La Pampilla

The festival of la Pampilla takes place every year on the 18th and 19th of September in the city of Coquimbo. During this period (and even from weeks before the activity) hundreds of families set up their tents and vehicles on the hills and areas surrounding the Pampilla’s main esplanade. The festival is part of the Independence Day celebrations, which commemorate the beginning of the Chilean Independence movement.



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Language

Spanish is their official language and although spoken by all Chileans, there are other languages or dialects still used by the different indigenous communities of the country.

With Spanish inherited from the Spanish Conquistadores and the inclusion, over the years, of local and foreign expressions, their language developed its own nature. In this way, phonetic, syntactic and lexical traits helped to create their own words or “Chilenisms”.

Despite the big changes, indigenous languages are still present reinforcing the identity of their people and inhabitants. In the northern Andean area, you can discover Aymara and Quechua. The Rapa Nui or Easter Island language enchants the Polynesian Easter Island. And Mapudungun covers some areas of the south of the country with a mystic aura, thanks to the Mapuche people.

Customs and Traditions

Festivals that enchant and capture their participants, feature costumes and masks that shine under the Altiplanic sun during the Tirana Festival. Myths and legends come to life in the magical Polynesian rituals of Easter Island. While in Chiloé, the solidarity of the Minga celebrates the common effort of building or moving a local house by a group of people.

There is a broad diversity of festivities, where the Independence Day celebrations are central. During September 18th and 19th, they celebrate their independence with parties. They gather in “fondas” to enjoy typical food, while they dance to the rhythm of “cueca” and other popular music.

How to get there

Chile runs 4,300 km along South America, almost half the continent. Thanks to its geographical location you can arrive by air, sea or land from its neighbouring countries.

The main access by plane is through the airport that is most frequently used and which has the most international connections, the Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez Airport in Santiago. But there are another six international airports located in the cities of Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, Easter Island, Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas.

By land, the shared border crossings with its neighbouring countries allow you to enter Chile from Peru through Arica; from Bolivia to Arica, Iquique and Antofagasta and from Argentina in more than 50 places, with the busiest ones near La Serena, Santiago and Osorno.

By sea, the main Chilean ports, Valparaiso, receive cruise ships with travellers from around the world.

Climate

In Chile there are places that have not seen a drop of rain in decades, while there are others where the rain brings out the green in the millennial forests.

This diversity captivates and surprises its visitors. Because, as a consequence of its geography, Chile has all the climates of the planet and the four seasons are well differentiated. The warmest season is between October and April and the coldest, from May to September.

The temperature drops down as you travel south. In the north, the heat of the day remains during the day while the nights are quite cold. The central area has more of a Mediterranean climate and the south has lower temperatures and recurring rainfall throughout the year.