If you are living in or visiting Santiago, Chile, at some point you’ll find yourself ready to escape the concrete jungle. Here are 7 great places to visit just outside of the city:
1. Cajon del Maipo – A short drive from Santiago, is the Cajon del Maipo area. This a great place to come for outdoor activities, such as camping, glacier-trekking, rafting or natural hot springs. And if you really want to see something special, drive into the mountains and you will find an aqua-blue reservoir surrounded by snowcapped mountains. This place is Embalse el Yeso. Spend a Sunday afternoon snapping pictures or having barbecue with friends in front of the water.
2. Desierto Florido – If you are lucky and in Chile at the right time, you may be able to see Desierto Florido, or in other words, the “flower desert.” Once in a while, this dry, dusty desert transforms into a field of fuchsia-colored flowers. This incredible transformation only happens in a few places in the world and is therefore a must-see if you are in Chile during the blooming. The desert is a weekend trip from Santiago, but can easily be reached by car or transfer.
3. Concon – If you want to head to the beach, make sure you check out Concon. It is roughly two hours from Santiago and very close to Viña del Mar and Valparaíso. You can relax near the water or indulge in fresh seafood. Or explore the sand dunes and even sandboard down them!
4. Parque Nacional La Campana – For those looking to get some exercise, visit this national park, northwest of Santiago. The park has multiple hiking trails that you can choose from and is a great place to observe wildlife and vegetation. You can also spot some of the last Chilean wine palm trees, many of which are over 100 years old.
5. Valle Nevado- Technically, Valle Nevado is still inside the city limits of Santiago. But it certainly doesn’t feel that way! This ski center is in the foothills of the Andes Mountains and offers a cozy winter environment where you can ski, snowboard or just relax near the fire with hot coco in hand.
6. Pomaire – An hour outside of Santiago lies the small town of Pomaire. Visiting this town will take you to back to a traditional Chile. There are many places to eat typical food, such as pastel de choclo or empanadas de pino. Along with regular empanadas, they also sell ones that weigh as much as one kilogram! And you can’t forget to pick up one of the many inexpensive, traditional souvenirs, such as a Chilean clay piggybank.
7. Casablanca Valley- If you are a wine-lover, then this is the place for you. Go for the afternoon to visit a winery or do a tasting. This valley specializes specifically in white wine. You could also relax at a spa or take in the fantastic view of open fields and green hills.