Most people traveling to Chile will most likely end up in Santiago, even if it’s just when they fly into the country. One of the best things about the city is its close proximity to both the mountains and the coast.
It’s worth taking at least a day or two to take some day trips and explore the surrounding region’s natural and cultural attractions. From visiting wineries and trying delicious cuisines to hiking in the mountains and lounging on a sandy beach, there’s a little bit for everyone just outside of Santiago.
Just 1.5 hours from Santiago, Tunquen feels like a world away with its spectacular sunset views over the water. The Tunquén Wetland Nature Sanctuary is home to some of the region's most unique species of birds, plants and animals. Spend your vacation relaxing on the beach which is covered with fine white sand. Tunquen is the perfect spot for birdwatching enthusiast, home to Trile, Oyster Catcher, the Huairavos, the Taguas and Hualas, as well as both large and small herons. If you want to be close to the beach, Tunquen Magico offers magnificent ocean views. Find more things to do in Tunquen.
If you are looking for a quick change of scenery closer to Santiago, the sister property Chena Magica is just a short drive from the city.
2. Cajon del Maipo, Santiago, Chile
Cajon del Maipo is a place that’s synonymous with sports and adventure. The largest natural area of Santiago, it gives visitors and locals alike a break from the busy life of the city. Adrenaline seekers can climb boulders, go rafting, dive into brooks, or go bungee-jumping.
Flowing from the base of the Andes, the Maipo River is the energy source running through the village. For a calmer experience, visitors can explore the area’s paleontological sites, have a picnic by the crystal-clear ponds, try fly fishing, or go horseback riding. There’s also the local food to try, like mud-over baked empanadas.
3. Casablanca Valley
Known all over the globs for immense wine production, the Casablanca Valley near the city of Santiago is a place to visit to sample some of the best flavors Chile has to offer. Situated between the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountains, the fertile Casablanca Valley is characterized by its refined preparation of white wines in its Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay varieties. The beautiful valley and its numerous wineries and vineyards are a must-do day trip from Santiago for any white wine enthusiast. The wines here also pair nicely with the sophisticated local food found in several area restaurants.
Vacation Idea: Rent a beachfront getaway on the coast of Chile in Tunquen.
4. Day Trip from from Santiago, Chile: Concon
Concón in central Chile has been a popular seaside resort for the locals of Santiago for more than one hundred years, with large stately homes first surrounding the well-tended gardens or situated among the rocks only meters away from the ocean. While many of these houses still exist today, there are now several high-rise buildings vying for their own share of the amazing views of the water. Concón has declared itself as the country’s “Gastronomic Capital” as well, boasting possibly more restaurants per capita than other Chilean towns, with many serving excellent seafood. The other main attraction here is the beaches.
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5. El Morado
Travelers venturing out of the city of Santiago, Chile for a day trip to El Morado should be prepared to be awestruck by the spectacular views of the iconic Andes Mountains, as well as the rush of adrenaline they will get as they climb to the El Morado lookout, and further to the San Francisco Glacier, or even El Morado itself, which is a mixed, very difficult climb that’s shouldn’t be taken lightly. Visitors can also discover the beautiful endemic species, camp beneath the starry night sky, or go horseback riding through the mountains just outside of Santiago.
6. Embalse El Yeso
The Embalse El Yeso is a day trip from bustling Santiago that offers a peaceful escape and a chance to connect with nature, while taking in the fresh mountain air and stunning vistas of the Andes Mountains. The Embalse El Yeso is located in the mountains just outside of the city and is a reservoir created by damming the Maipo river basin’s Yeso River. Visitors can easily stop by San Jose de Maipo, a small town, along the way, as well as several historical landmarks, which is especially easy to do by joining a tour of the area.
7. Isla Negra
For any poetry fans, they can follow in Pablo Neruda’s footsteps with a day trip to Isla Negra. Just as the Nobel Prize winner in Literature once did, visitors will likely fall in love with the coastal town with the sound of breaking waves serving as artistic inspiration. Travelers can also visit Pablo Neruda’s home and see the collection of wild objects he accumulated during his lifetime. Isla Negra is also a great place to just walk around, taking a stroll down the winding roads of the town. The mix of homes constructed during the 1960’s are also an interesting sight to see.
8. Maipo Valley
The Maipo Valley is ranked as one of the most picturesque spots in Chile, with the massive peaks of the Andes creating a perfect visual backdrop. It also happens to be home of some of the top wines in the country. The king of wines here is Cabernet Sauvignon, which pairs great with some of the region’s grilled meats and rich stews. Located about thirty miles from Santiago, the Maipo Valley is home to several traditional haciendas, boasting a countryside pace of life and the occasional roaming Chilean cowboy, making it feel like visitors are in a completely different world.
Pomaire is a rustic, small countryside village around sixty-eight kilometers outside of busy Santiago, where skilled potters can be seen crafting beautiful, yet simple black and brown earthenware ceramics, known as “greda” pottery. Visitors can pick up a few pieces here for a very affordable price as well for a perfect authentic souvenir, including animal figurines, plates, pots, cups, and “greda piggy banks.” Travelers could visit Pomaire even as a half-day trip to escape from the city’s hustle and bustle and to enjoy delicious traditional Chilean cuisine, such as a “half-a-kilo empanada” and several other local dishes.
10. Portillo Inca Lagoon
© Carlos Oyarzún G./stock.adobe.com
The Portillo and the Inca Lagoon is another wonderful place to go for a day trip from Santiago. Travelers can discover the captivating majesty of the grand Andes Mountains, take in the sight of the mythical Inca Lagoon, and admire the beautiful natural landscapes of the Portillo, one of South America’s first tourist ski resorts. The Laguna del Inca, or Inca Lagoon, is a lake located at the Andes foothills, just a short distance from the border of Argentina. The dramatic snow-capped mountains overlooking the tranquil lagoon offers some of the most picturesque scenery in the area.
© Carlos M. Werner/stock.adobe.com
Reñaca is a day trip from Santiago, Chile for both locals and tourists alike who enjoy beaches, Bohemian life, and parties. During the summer season, that’s exactly what visitors to the seaside town will find. Reñaca offers beautiful beaches, along with good restaurants and outdoor activities for just about everyone to enjoy for a day. The Chilean town of Reñaca is well known for its mix of fun and sports and the beach is one of the region’s most popular, with wonderful waves and white sand. It’s made up of six different areas, with a coastal walking path and important tourist services.
12. Sewell Mining Town
The Sewell Mining Town, also known as the “City of Stairs,” once provided life to one of the most important companies in the country. Visitors today can discover the origins of the largest underground copper mine in the world, the El Teniente Division, as well as learn about the Company Town’s legacy, a record of a global phenomena that marked a significant period of Chile’s history. Built on steep terrain and the stage of industrial processes and mining tragedies, the Sewell Mining Town invites travelers to listen to the whispers of its history in the settlement’s walls.
13. Valle Nevado
Valle Nevado is an international-level, modern ski resort in Chile, situated only around ninety minutes away from Santiago at an elevation of approximately ten thousand feet. The resort is spread along the mountain ridge’s pine, providing amazing views of the Andes. It also boasts world-class heli-skiing, wide-open terrain, and excellent snow quality, averaging as the best of any resort in the country thanks to its altitude location, extensive snowmaking system, and southern orientation. This all makes Valle Nevado a year-round, popular mountain resort with the highest ski trails anywhere in Chile and some of the best snow anywhere on the continent.
Avenida Vitacura 5250 of. 304, Vitacura, Región Metropolitana, Chile, Phone: 56-2-24-77-70-00
Colorful and Bohemian, the maze of hills found in the Chilean city of Valparaiso has long been an inspiration for writers and poets, offering something new to discover around every turn, including gastronomic gems, remarkable art galleries, and interesting buildings. The crazy architecture of Valparaiso is one of the World Heritage City’s main attractions, along with the panoramic views, historic funicular elevators, seemingly endless staircases, and narrow streets. Exploring the fishing wharves and ports provide a good way to really feel the quirky seafaring side of Chile, as well as sample freshly caught seafood in the “Jewel of the Pacific.”
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15. Vina del Mar
© Jose Luis Stephens/stock.adobe.com
Viña del Mar is a destination defined by fine taste and relaxation, a place where people can let their imagination run free as they take in the detailed urban aesthetics of the “Garden City” that mix large green areas and white sand beaches with modern buildings. The long promenade of Viña del Mar catches the eye with an array of innovative spaces for top-level gastronomy, activities, and outdoor sports. A stroll through the streets of Viña del Mar gives the feeling of stepping back to the golden age of the last century, with old mansions turned recreation centers and elegant museums.
16. Banos Colinas Hot Springs
A trip to the Banos Colinas Hot Springs, or Termas Colinas thermal pools, is often on the must-do list for travelers, especially for anyone who loves to explore picturesque destinations and wilderness. The hot springs are organized in a series of steep terraces that were formed by calcareous deposits left by the thermal water. The Banos Colinas Hot Springs consists of several outdoor pools of varying temperatures and are integrated perfectly with the mountain environment, allowing visitors to appreciate the grand Andes Mountain Range. These thermal baths are considered to be one of the many natural wonders of Chile.
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