Now that many of us carry smartphones in our pockets, those multi-functional cameras/voice recorders/GPS devices, it’s easy to grow accustomed to the convenience. When you’re on the road, it can be a bit trickier if you don’t have a local SIM card, or if your phone is not compatible with the local system, especially if you want to avoid data charges. The most elegant and inexpensive solution in Santiago, Chile is to disable roaming, and seek out free WiFi in this capital city. WiFi is often available, in some places you’d expect, and some places you probably wouldn’t. You’ll probably find more free WiFi in Santiago than you will in your home city.
Photo: Frank Jakobi
Verdant and desert, cool and warm, glaciers and sand dunes, these are the extremes of Chile. If you think of a map of the world and fold it in half, the south of Chile lines up with the Canadian Rockies, and the north of Chile lines up with the California desert. Except that the Andes are taller than the rockies, and the Atacama drier and larger than the desert in the southwest of the United States. So what’s it like to be in a country that has both extremes, such that you could visit them both on a single trip? In a word: stunning.
Photo: Hector Garcia
Viña del Mar is Santiago’s weekend and summer getaway, a coastal city with a long beach walk, museums, a castle, a large park, interesting architecture, a famous casino and of course, wide expanses of the Pacific Ocean to look at from many points of the city.
Below are some places and activities to interest visitors of all ages to this sunny city that’s just 15 minutes from the UNESCO-listed Valparaíso, and about an hour and a half from Santiago.
At the beginning of every trip, you arrive, and from that moment, you’ve got to figure out where you’re headed next. Santiago’s Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport airport is located quite close to the city, especially in comparison to some other major cities of the world, where getting to and from the airport can take an hour or more. During low-traffic times, most of Santiago is within about a half-hour’s drive of the airport. Here are four ways to make the most of your time and money when transferring between the airport and your hotel.
On a long walk on a cool day in Chile’s capital city of Santiago, or one of the rarer truly cold days, or even rarer still, a day with heavy rains, there’s nothing like a warming cup of coffee to give you a break from the weather. If the cozy café has tasty treats, it’s better still. Here are six places to sip some of Santiago’s best coffee. No Nescafé allowed.
Photo: Jonathan Hood
Of all the landscapes that Chile has to offer, from desert to coast, glaciers and starry nights, perhaps the most striking and most photogenic is Chilean Patagonia’s landscape. There are many routes you can take to experience this stark landscape, water a hundred colors of blue and small stands of arctic beech, open water, icebergs and wild rivers.
Photo: Carlos Varela
Winter is upon us in Chile, and that means cooler temperatures, with more humidity, and the ever-present snow capped Andes on clear, sunshiny days. And with those cool temperatures come all the ways in which humans like to keep warm. We’ve got layers, and scarves, woolen gloves, hats and scarves. But perhaps the most warming thing of all is a nice bowl of hot soup.
Chile has many soups to call its own, and though they are popular year-round, this is a particularly good time of year to order some cazuela, a caldillo, paila marina or mariscal.
Photo: Deidre Woollard
Lapis lazuli, a dark blue semi-precious stone, is a popular souvenir from Chile. Chile is one only a few countries in the world that mine the stone in quantity, with the other major source of lapis lazuli being Afghanistan. Lapis lazuli is naturally-occurring, and is considered more valuable the darker the stone, and the more golden (but fewer white) streaks and flecks it has. The golden flecks are pyrite, also called “fools’ gold,” and the white ones are calcite.
You can count on winter weather in Chile starting in about May. By June, the Andes are covered in a blanket of white, waiting for eager skiers and snowboarders to take to the slopes, and on clear days, after a rain, everyone keeps one eye on the snowy Andes at almost all times. There are lots of places to get a good view of the Andes in Santiago, from a bridge over the Mapocho River, from up on Cerro San Cristobal, or even just peeking between the buildings downtown or on a trip to the mall.
And that winter chill will have you wrapping a cozy scarf around your neck, or planning your run between the occasional raindrops down in the city that mean snow in the mountains. Now you’ve got keeping yourself warm, or warming yourself up from the outside down pat. But what about warming yourself up from the inside? That’s where these two sweet treats come in. They are traditionally consumed in the winter months in Chile. There’s one to drink, and one to eat, never together. That would be too much sweet goodness all at once.
Photo: Sharon Hahn Darlin
It’s easy enough to fill your days in Santiago, with long walks, museums, views from one of two hills over the city, or even a nearby hike or day trip. But what about when night comes, and it’s time to make the most of it? Where should you go out in Santiago? Here’s a guide to four neighborhoods where Chileans and locals alike go to make merry in the evening and into the night. Beer, wine and pisco sours are optional.
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