Chile is a country of natural beauty and contrast. Lined by the towering peaks of the Andes, it stretches down half of the west coast of South America, boasting the world’s driest desert to the north, a Mediterranean climate in the centre and a Lake District to the south, with Antarctica on the horizon.
The sprawling Chilean capital city of Santiago is a melting pot of culture, energy, eateries and eccentricity, with an impressive blend of colonial and neoclassical architecture stirred in.
Why not soak up the bustling Plaza de Armas (the main square), explore Santiago’s museum district, Quinta Normal or just pull up a seat in one of Bellavista’s beer halls and watch the nightlife take flight? Those with energy to spare can climb a cerro (hill) and bask in panoramic views over the city, with the beautiful Andes mountains in the background. Then head across the road to Centro Artesanal Santa Lucia - a large crafts market - to collect some souvenirs.
You’re guaranteed to find fabulous food in the city’s restaurants and with over 5,000km of coast on the South Pacific Ocean, you can expect to find fresh fish seafood almost everywhere in this slither of a country. Be sure to sample some classic Chilean cuisine during your stay and if seafood’s not your thing, a ‘complete’ is worth a try – a burger or hotdog, topped with a traditional Chilean mix of avocadoes, tomatoes and mayonnaise.
Worth the short trip north, with its rich cultural legacy and unique architecture, it’s easy to see why the hilly seaport of Valparaiso is nicknamed the ‘Jewel of the Pacific’. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered Chile’s cultural capital and boasts a labyrinth of beautiful streets and picturesque alleyways punctuated by numerous ‘elevators’ on the steep hillsides. The naturally occurring amphitheatre-like form and vibrant colour of this charming colonial city will guarantee you remember it for a long time to come.