As one of South America’s most stable countries, Chile has seen a proliferation of growth in tourism over the past decades. Even though Santiago is the capital and largest city, most of Chile’s main tourist attractions are actually located far away from the city. As a result, these attractions may be inconvenient to visit, especially if you are on a time crunch. Yet, there are still lots of places to explore around Santiago that make for great day trips. With minimal planning and little transit time requirement, all you need is a sense of adventure to make the most out of your trip. Here are some of the top day trips to enjoy from Santiago:
Located in the Andes mountain range, Cajon del Maipo is a canyon surrounded by nothing but natural beauty. From snowy peaks and lush vineyards to vibrant flora, you will be able to enjoy a range of landscapes that you wouldn’t want to miss. And in the middle of it is Embalse El Yeso. At an altitude of 9,843 feet (3,000 meters), this dazzling reservoir is a popular stop for any trip to Cajon del Maipo.
With this tour, you will start your journey with a scenic drive on a winding road up the Andean mountain range. The first stop you will make is at Embalse El Yeso, from which you can gaze in awe at the breathtaking landscapes around you. Don’t forget to bring your camera along to snap photos of the surreal view. Although no photo will do this place justice, it is the closest thing you’ll get after you leave and when you want to wow your friends back at home.
Feel free to take a walk around the lake. The tour guide will educate you about the geology and ecology of this stunning area. A picnic lunch is provided by the water side, allowing you to soak in the views while eating delicious food. There will also be a selection of Chilean wines to accompany your meal.
The final stop on this tour is at San Jose de Maipo, a rural town in the midst of the towering Andes Mountains. With its eccentric shops, this quaint little town will give you a chance to relax and stroll along its tranquil streets. Apart from its aesthetically pleasing sights, it also has a rich culture and delicious traditional food, such as empanadas, that you have to experience before leaving.
Santiago: Cajon del Maipo Small-Group Tour
Duration: 10 hour
Famous for its colorful houses and distinct culture, Valparaiso is only located 1.5 hours (120 kilometers / 75 miles) away from Santiago. With its historical significance, this port city has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is a must-visit in Chile.
Since Valparaiso only requires a couple of hours to explore, it is recommended that you visit Vina del Mar on the same day trip. Also known as the Garden City, there is no shortage of plants, trees, and flowers here. Between the coast and the plant life, you are guaranteed a whole day of excitement and fun.
To make your life easier, why not join a tour that will organize everything for you? Learn about, and sip on, Chilean wine at the charming Casablanca Valley. There is no better way to start your day than with some flavorful local wine. The tour continues on to Vina del Mar. Here, you will stop to see the renowned flower clock and authentic Moai, stone monolithic human sculptures found on Easter Island, which, although part of Chile, is more than 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) away from the mainland!
Home to one of the country’s most famous beaches, Vina del Mar is the perfect place for a calming walk along Renaca Beach. Expect a delicious lunch by the sea. With great food and even better views, you’ll feel as though you’re in paradise. You will also visit a nature sanctuary at Vina del Mar, where you may spot seals and native birds.
The tour ends with a visit to the renowned port city of Valparaiso. Some must-see attractions include Bellavista Hill, Plaza Sotomayor, and Artilleria Hill, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean and provides panoramic views of the city.
Valparaiso Port, Viña del Mar Full-Day Tour from Santiago
Duration: 8 hours
Deemed as a natural monument within Cajon del Maipo (see #1), El Morado is a suitable day trip for the adventurous traveler. After a 5-hour hike on El Morado Natural Monument, you will no doubt feel the thrill of this exhausting yet rewarding trek.
Not only are you greeted with a surreal view from the top, you also get a chance to see a range of landscapes along the way. From steep rocky hills to colorful flower meadows and the snow-capped Andes Mountains, the sights here are truly unique and will make you never want to leave this oasis.
At the top of El Morado Glacier, a lunch box will be provided for everyone to gain their energy back before hiking back down. Sitting by the lagoon will give you some time to take a deep breath, rest, and soak it all in. Who knows if you’ll get another chance to experience something like this again?
Spend the last few hours of the day trip at Banos Colinas Hot Springs. Located at the base of the Andes Mountains, it is a convenient stop to make before you head back to Santiago. Relax in the warm waters of these natural cliff-side thermal pools to relax your muscles. After the intense El Morado trek, this will be just what you need to end your day.
Note: depending on the weather, you may be taken up Valle de las Arenas instead. But don’t worry, the experience is just as praise-worthy and exhilarating as El Morado!
El Morado Trek, Hot Springs Small-Group Tour from Santiago
Duration: 12 hours
No trip to Chile would be complete without a visit to at least one vineyard. As one of the largest wine exporters in the world, Chile is covered by fertile countryside that is ideal for producing wine. Even though there aren’t any vineyards in Santiago, there are countless wineries located just outside the city, making for a great day trip.
Discover what helped to establish Chile as a global wine producer at Cousino Macul and Concha y Toro Vineyards. As the oldest wineries in the country, these two vineyards play a significant role in contributing to the country’s wine production and economy.
Founded in 1856, Cousino Macul is the perfect place to learn about wine production and its extensive history. Led by a knowledgeable guide, you will be taken to the depths of their cellars where you can discover more about the wine industry. From wine-making to cellar construction, you will feel like a wine expert by the end of the tour.
After a sample tasting of wine, you are given time for lunch at a rustic Chilean restaurant, where you can enjoy local specialties at your own expense. Finally, the tour takes you to Concha y Toro, a 19th-century winery that is also Chile’s primary export wine producer. You will be given time to stroll around the gardens and admire the elaborate colonial architecture of the estate. End the day with another sampling session before you head back to Santiago.
Cousino Macul, Concha y Toro Wineries Day Tour from Santiago
Duration: 7 hours
In the midst of the Andes Mountains lies Portillo Inca Lagoon. Surrounded by amazing natural beauty, the shimmering lagoon is more than worth a visit. Along the way, you will not only get a chance to admire the beautiful landscapes, but you will also visit the ruins of an Inca settlement and of the historical Transandino railway route.
In order to get up to the lagoon, you will need to drive up 8,800 feet (2,680 meters) above sea level to arrive at Hotel Portillo and Ski Resort. As the most renowned and oldest winter resort in South America, simply setting foot on the property is an experience in its own right.
The tour also takes you to San Esteban, a traditional vineyard in the area. Having earned global recognition for its aromatic Chilean wine, San Esteban Vineyard offers guided tours of its grounds. Not only will you find out about its history, but you will also be educated on what a good wine should taste like and why it is beneficial to the human body.
By visiting Portillo Inca Lagoon and San Esteban Vineyard in one day, you are getting the ultimate Chilean experience. You get to discover two of Chile’s most prominent features: magnificent scenery and local wines.
Portillo, Laguna del Inca, San Esteban Vineyard from Santiago
Duration: 9 hours
At an altitude of 2,000 - 2,250 meters (6,562 - 7,382 feet), Sewell Mining Town is buried in the Andes Mountains. Deserted and uninhabited today, this quiet town was once an important base for miners, housing over 16,000 inhabitants at its peak.
Built on a steep hill, Sewell is also known as the City of Staircases after its large central staircase running from the railway station to the top. Because of its proximity to Santiago, it is a perfect destination for a day trip. With only a few prominent landmarks (i.e. Morgan Square, Teniente Club), it is easy to explore Sewell in just one day.
In order to visit Sewell Mining Town, you must join a tour. Private vehicles are prohibited from accessing the area. On Viator’s tour, you will first make a short stop in San Francisco de Mostazal for a quick bite at your own expense. Once you make your way to Sewell, a 3-hour guided walking tour through the town is included.
Find out more about the town’s cultural, architectural, and historical significance. As a former mining town, you can expect to learn quite a few different things. You will get a chance to walk by all of its main buildings, such as the former hospital and church. And if you wish to learn even more about this partially-demolished UNESCO site, stop by the local museum before you depart for Santiago.
Santiago to Sewell Mining Camp Full-Day Trip with Lunch
Duration: 11 hours
Discover the difference that authentic wine makes, when you sample the finest products of four local vineyards, with this inclusive Casablanca Valley wine tasting tour! This sensational day tour from Santiago won’t have to travel far from its starting point to sample some of the finest wines ever to grace the face of the earth. It’s an easy opportunity to discover a new affinity for an indigenous favorite, or to reaffirm your wine knowledge, courtesy of both an expert travel guide, and an endeavor through vineyards as fine as any in Chile!
It’s a full-day immersion into the liquid perfection that is the region’s fine wines when you make the Casablanca Valley wine tasting day trip your own. You’ll visit four iconic vineyards in the area, in a day trip from Santiago that features selective hotel pickup and drop-off services! Lunch is also included in your trip, as you travel via air-conditioned vehicle from vineyard to vineyard, courtesy of a local expert in all things wine.
Onsite wine experts at each of the four local vineyards will let you in on the trade secrets, with regard to cellar store, the winemaking process, and the robust taste of the wines you choose to sample. Whether you’re looking to taste the white wines of the Veramonte winery, or the choice products of Loma Larga, the day trip from Santiago proves to be an experience well worth the investment.
Casablanca Valley Wine Tasting Including 4 Vineyards
Duration: 8 hours
It’s your chance to discover for yourself the wonder of the Andes mountains, with the Embalse El Yeso day trip from Santiago! Your day trip will journey through the mountains on the way to a coveted, secluded mountain spring, delicately tucked between the mountainous Andes, a sight entirely worth the trek itself. You’ll also visit the cultural haven that is the town of San Jose de Maipo, where you’ll be introduced to all of the staple sights and sounds you can expect from such a landmark location. The day trip package also includes the feature spectacle: panoramic, awe-inspiring views of Embalse El Yeso itself, the reservoir etched by mountains itself, in all of its glory.
You’re going to want to have your camera at the ready when you make this day trip from Santiago, Chile your own. There prove virtually limitless opportunities to document the day’s memories, from the very onset of the adventure. Your travel guides for the day are both friendly and intelligent, and are able to answer all of your questions regarding the surrounding region.
From sites like the Cascaras refuge to the morning stop for coffee in Cajon del Maipo, this day trip from Santiago is characterized by both easy-to-climb terrain, and frequent, sensational views of the immediate wildlife nearby. From the onset of your trip to Embalse El Yeso to its reluctant conclusion, you’re gifted both uninterrupted glimpses at Chile’s finest wildlife, and recreation like you’ve never before experienced it!
Santiago to Embalse El Yeso Day Trip Including Lunch and Wine
Duration: 9 hours
A voyage in Chile
From the Andes Mountains to the verdant wineries, no day trip from Santiago will be anything less than impressive. So why not escape the city just for one day to see what else Chile has to offer? Before you start worrying about the hassle that comes with planning a day trip, consider joining a tour! As listed above, these tours will arrange everything for you. From your transportation to the itinerary, all you have to do is book the tour and start the day pumped with excitement to discover this beautiful country.
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