FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Chile’s Vibrant Capital Boasts Fine Wine, a Flourishing Culinary Scene and Panoramic Views

by Katie McElveen

Feb 8, 2022

© DIEGO GRANDI | DREAMSTIME.COM

January/February 2022
Chile

PHOTO: © IONUT DAVID | DREAMSTIME.COM

Santa Lucia Hill might not be the biggest park in Santiago, but over the centuries it played an outsized role in the transformation of this former Spanish colony into a thriving metropolis. Formed by a volcano, the peak was chosen by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia in 1541 as the site to declare Chile a Spanish colony. By the early 19th century, as Chile fought for independence from Spain — which it won in 1818 — the hill served as a fortress for Spanish troops.

Today it’s hard to imagine this lush park as a former bastion: Ornate staircases shaded by mature trees lead through a vertical greenspace filled with sculptures, fountains, chapels and dramatic overlooks.

The hill isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Beyond the ancient church spires and broad plazas of the historic center, Santiago’s outward development spans a shining sea of skyscrapers spreading nearly to the mountains and including Latin America’s tallest building.

According to the World Economic Forum, Chile is not only Latin America’s most competitive nation, but — thanks largely to exports of minerals, wood, fruit, seafood and wine — it also boasts South America’s highest gross domestic product. The country also remains one of the United States’ strongest partners in Latin America and a leader in promoting respect for the rule of law, economic stability, education, environmental protection, human rights and sustainable development.

As Chile grows, planners work to ensure infrastructure will meet demand. After five years, Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport completed its expansion project. The new international terminal, which will allow the airport to handle 30 million passengers per year, expects to open in early 2022. In 2020 the country launched Chile on Rails, a $5.5 billion investment plan to expand and improve passenger and cargo rail service. The program will also work to integrate trains with other modes of transport, including Santiago’s Metro system. An additional $330 million in roadwork projects will keep truck and automobile traffic flowing in and around the sprawling capital city.

CHECKING IN WITH JUAN JOSÉ ORTEGA PÉREZ
Manager, Chile National Tourism Service

Santiago presents a fascinating blend of old and new. What are some of your favorite places to send visitors to help them see both sides of the city?
Las Condes, in the eastern sector of the city, is an outstanding gastronomic neighborhood where visitors can also appreciate several parks and some of the newest real estate development in the city.

In the historic center, I recommend visiting Palacio de la Moneda (the presidential palace). At 11 a.m. on odd days and weekends, you can watch the changing of the guards. The Palacio stands on the Plaza de Armas, where the city was founded. You’ll also find various attractions on the plaza including the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, which houses the largest collection of pre- Hispanic art in all of Latin America.

Cerro Santa Lucia is another must-see in the historic center, offering a 360-degree view of the city. Finally, Cerro San Cristóbal Metropolitan Park is one of the four largest urban parks in the world. You can hike through the park or ride a funicular to its cable car.

Chile

© VIC36 | DREAMSTIME.COM

What would surprise first-time visitors to Santiago?
The great variety of attractions nearby. The largest skiable area in the entire Southern Hemisphere lies less than two hours from Santiago and offers first- rate services. You’ll also find more than 35 vineyards nearby where you can enjoy a world-class wine tasting, dine in their restaurants or explore by bicycle.

El Cajón del Maipo is incredibly beautiful; it offers plenty of outdoor adventure including rafting, hiking, climbing and horseback riding through the mountains. Also, less than two hours from Santiago you can visit Valparaíso. Its graffiti-covered streets were declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

What Chilean dishes should visitors try when in Santiago?
Caldillo de congrio, a hearty soup made from conger; curanto, a full meal cooked in the ground; and machas a la parmesana, baked razor clams with Parmesan cheese, are all part of our culture.

How is Santiago changing?
Santiago underwent great changes in recent years as a result of economic development and commercial openness. Chile has an open economy and many free trade agreements, which has made it an excellent place to do business. The change is noticeable in the strong real estate development, in the architecture and the new skyscrapers. Immigration has also brought talent from different cultures, which makes Santiago a cosmopolitan city filled with new businesses, services, foods and ideas.

Chile

PHOTO: © ALEKSANDAR TODOROVIC | DREAMSTIME.COM

DIVERSIONS

Santiago proves an easy and enjoyable place to spend time away from work. The Plaza de Armas anchors the historic section of the city; the elegant plaza includes several 19th-century buildings. After a stroll through the shop-lined streets of the Lastarria neighborhood, hop aboard the funicular and aerial tramway that floats above the city’s massive Metropolitan Park for views of the city. The ride ends in Bellavista, a hip neighborhood known for street art, galleries and outdoor cafés. Farther northeast, in Las Condes and Vitacura, you’ll find designer boutiques and elegant restaurants. For more low-key shopping, visit Centro Los Dominicos, an artisan village where you can wander through more than 200 stalls filled with gorgeous wool and alpaca goods, local foods, jewelry and art. Farther afield, in the coastal city of Valparaíso, street artists armed with nothing but paint and imagination transformed brick walls, buildings, staircases and even curbs into works of art. Wine lovers can visit Maipo Valley’s Undurraga Winery, established in the 19th century with vines hand-carried from France. The winery’s graceful historic hacienda hosts wine tastings.

LODGING

The Aubrey
Occupying a pair of 1920s mansions in trendy Bellavista, the 15-room Aubrey boutique hotel welcomes guests with a pisco sour at check-in. Complimentary breakfast is served in a leafy courtyard.
Constitución 317, Bellavista
$$$

Mandarin Oriental, Santiago
A parklike setting, gorgeous views and a highly regarded restaurant serving Asian fusion cuisine make this Las Condes high-rise popular with both business and leisure travelers.
Presidente Kennedy Ave. 4601, Las Condes
$$$

The Ritz-Carlton, Santiago
Situated in Santiago’s posh Las Condes neighborhood, this clubby hotel features a wood-paneled lobby bar and a rooftop pool within a glass cupola.
El Alcalde 15, Las Condes
$$$

DINING

Boragó
Hyper-local Boragó is widely regarded as Santiago’s top dining experience; in 2021 it ranked as one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Each dish, sophisticated or rustic, is a love letter to Chile’s bounty.
Av. San José María Escrivá de Balaguer 5970
$$$$

Mestizo
Though Mestizo is best known for super-fresh ceviche, tender grilled octopus and creamy mascarpone risotto, the lakeside setting on the edge of Bicentennial Park proves equally stunning.
Bicentenario 4050
$$

Restaurante 040
Dinner at 040 unfolds each night like a theater performance, with each of the 12 courses arriving like clockwork, perfectly paired with wine or a miniature cocktail.
Calle Antonia López de Bello 40
$$$$$

JUST THE FACTS
Time zone: GMT -3 in summer (Southern Hemisphere); GMT -4 in winter
Phone code: Country code: 56
City code: 2
Currency: Chilean peso
Key industries: Agriculture, mining, construction, health care, telecommunications equipment

COMING AND GOING
U.S. citizens must have a valid passport; no visa required. You will be given a tourist card upon arrival; it must be surrendered when you leave. If it is lost or stolen it must be replaced before you will be allowed to leave, a process that may take days.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE
Spanish

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Nov 25, 2022

Bottega il Buco and Max Rivera Papic Make Waves in Ibiza

One of Ibiza’s hottest restaurant destinations since its opening five years ago, Bottega il Buco, draws legions of fans with the addition of new head chef Max Rivera Papic, whose kitchen credits include skills honed under the tutelage of Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, London.

Los Cabos Sets Your Vacation Apart
from the Rest

Whether you prefer a villa on the beach or an ultra-luxe suite downtown, you’ll find everything you’re looking for in Los Cabos.

Daily
Nov 25, 2022

Ski Season and Winter Getaways at Colorado Resorts

Ski season is around the corner. Now is the perfect time to plan your winter ski getaway. These Colorado resorts offer deals designed for skiers.

Daily
Nov 25, 2022

Give a Gift from Around the World this Holiday Season

This holiday season, give your loved ones a gift from around the world to create memories that last a lifetime.

Celebrity is celebrating Spring with 25% off Cruise Fares!

There’s no better time to plan the vacation you’ve been missing. Step aboard with your better half, your friends or the whole family and reconnect, reunite and rejoice with 25 percent off cruise fares for all guests. We’ll also help everyone get there with 25 percent off airfare from 20 major gateways across the country or $100 savings per person on flights from all other gateways when you book your air travel using Flights by Celebrity.*

Daily
Nov 24, 2022

Angama To Open Deluxe Lodge Near Kilimanjaro

Lodging and hospitality company Angama announced the November 2023 opening of Angama Amboseli, an intimate, 10-suite lodge set in Kenya’s private, 5,700-acre Kimana Sanctuary, against the iconic backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro, located just across the border in Tanzania.

eFlyer News
Nov 23, 2022

Hilton to Bring First Waldorf Astoria Property to Costa Rica

Costa Rica prepares to welcome its first Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts property, slated to open in 2025. Waldorf Astoria Guanacaste will boast 190 guestrooms, as well as 25 Waldorf Astoria-branded residences, all offering sweeping views overlooking the ocean. A presidential suite will also grace the property.

Alaskan Wild Wonders by Celebrity Cruises

Experience the beauty of Alaska and save 60 percent off cruise fares on your second and fourth guests. Plus, drinks, WiFi and tips are all included.

eFlyer News
Nov 23, 2022

Cayman Airways Connects West Coast Travelers with Grand Cayman

West Coast travelers can now enjoy easier, more efficient access to the Cayman Islands thanks to a new airlift option via Cayman Airways Ltd. As of Nov. 6, Cayman Airways operates nonstop service from Los Angeles International Airport to Owen Roberts International Airport in Grand Cayman at an introductory fare of $399.