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Sometimes it’s the most underestimated cities and towns that leave the biggest impression on us as a traveler. While Chile is a top destination in South America for many, it was never on my “must see” list. When the opportunity to travel there this past summer arose, I flew to Santiago with an open mind, but without any set expectations.
As it turned out, Chile quickly became one of my favorite South American countries and even though I visited during their cold winter, I managed to make the most of my trip. What most surprised me about Chile is how ideal this country is for what I like to call the “Multi-Interest Traveler”.
Santiago for Big City Living. For one thing, the architecture alone will leave you fascinated for days. One of my favorite things to do in Santiago was explore the different neighborhoods. El Golf resembles Miami, while Brasil is as Bohemian as you can get. I lived in the Lastarria barrio which was perfect for my bohemian interests and big city living.
Both the Museo de Artes Visuales Museo Arqueológico de Santiago are located here and Museo de Bellas Artes and Parque Forestal are a short walk away. My favorite view of Santiago is from the top of the Santa Lucia hill. Entry is free and it proved the perfect place for me to gather my thoughts and write.
Valparaiso for Street Art. Don’t even get me started on Valparaiso. I’m so in love with this city that I seriously contemplated moving here simply because I found it so inspiring. During the winter, I was able to get a truly local experience. There are hardly any tourists around but there is a lot of Street Art.
After speaking with a local resident, I learned that this street art in considered a hobby of many young people in Valpo. The high quality of these artworks barely resembled a hobby; I was hooked.
Renaca for Surfing. Regardless of skill, Renaca and Vina del Mar are two beaches that are popular among surfers. Vina del Mar tends to be a bit crowded during high season. Renaca is mainly a residential neighborhood a short bus ride away from Vina del Mar.
Despite the cold waters, there was a surfing class going on and I was tempted to jump in and join myself. During the warm weather, locals and travelers enjoy the beach for tanning, swimming and outdoor sports.
Cerro Providencia for Nature. If you are craving a little nature and these other cities haven’t quite done it for you, head straight to Cerro Providencia and trek through the mountains.
It’s located just east of Santiago, making it easily accessible for the city dweller. The climb is popular due to it not being terribly challenging but it does offer quite a spectacular view.