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South America

Santiago Chile Cruise Excursion

Santa Lucia Park
Santa Lucia park. Credit: Wikimedia

From the towering Andes and mountain vistas to historical cobblestone streets and artistic enclaves, Santiago Chile is a great stop on any cruise itinerary.

One of South America’s most vibrant cities is actually not a port, but visitors to this popular cruise destination will discover a thriving and vibrant city of more than 6 million people.

1. What To Do Once Docked

For most cruises to Santiago, cruise liners dock at Valparaiso, a coastal city about 90 minutes from Santiago.

Once there, the easiest way to get to the city is via public bus. Several such buses ply this route catering to tourists.

2. How To Get Around

From Valparaiso, there are several companies owning tour busses that offer departures to Santiago and other areas around Chile.

Once in Santiago, the city center may be covered by foot quite comfortably. For those who plan to travel a bit farther, Metro is the best option. The subway system in the city is, by most standards quite safe, clean and includes modern amenities.

Additionally, taxis are available at hotels or various points between routes. Cabs may also be stopped on the streets or called by phone for private charter.

3. Be Aware

For individuals troubled with easily irritated eyes, it’s important to be extremely careful in the city.

As a large and growing industrial city, smog is often a major problem. The problem is exacerbated during the winter months.

4. Popular Attractions

Santa Lucia
It is an old legend that the triangle-shaped hilltop that forms Cerro Santa Lucia was the spot where Valdivia founded Santiago in the name of the crown of Spain. The hillside is now an enchanting site with gardens,  terraces and other attractions.

Constitution Square
Constitution Square is a monumental and ceremonial site in the city. The grounds are home to statues of heroes and to the Palacio de la Moneda, the presidential palace. Tours can be arranged to view the monuments as well as the guard change during the morning.

Bellas Artes
Bellas Artes is a small artistic neighborhood near the foot of Santa Lucia hill. Bellas is a favorite of artists and writers and features bars, museums, cafes and art galleries.

5. Dining Options

Santiago’s Central Market is abuzz at noon. A favorite option for lunch, the market features several vendors with various kinds of fish and other seafood. There are several cafes here as well as a popular restaurant, the Donde Augusto.

As a more upscale dining option, Astrid & Gaston offers gourmet choice in a rather vivid ambience with an open kitchen and a selection of traditional dishes.

A laid back and rather enchanting city, Santiago is a great choice for a cruise stopover. Not only is it a great hub from which to explore the attractions in and around the city itself, but even the lesser known points of interest along the city’s outskirts.

Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas. He is the author of four books about cruising in the Caribbean, Alaska and Mexican Riviera.
February 17, 2020

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