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Which Chilean City is Right for You? 3 Budget-Friendly Side Trip Destinations from Santiago

Updated: Aug 3, 2022

There are three main options for people wanting to explore side-trip destinations from Santiago, Chile. First is Valparaiso, offering visitors a mixture of 19th century architecture and cosmopolitan fun along its waterfront. Second is Vina del Mar, also known as Viña, where tourists can enjoy surfing beaches. Last is Pucon, on the shores of Lake Villarica.

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1. Valparaiso

Type of Traveler: The Art Lover

Distance from Santiago:

72 miles

What to See & Visit:

Street Art and Murals

Valparaiso is an artists' dream. The area of Valparaiso that we visited was covered with mural art that illustrated the rich culture and diversity of Valparaiso. Spending hours walking the streets and taking in the street art, I also noticed that many of the murals offered interesting social commentary. In the 1970's, Chile was forcibly brought under military control by Dictator Augusto Pinochet. At that time, many street artists saw their murals and other art work as a form of political resistance, and this tradition is evident in Valparaiso's present-day, grungy street art.

The Home of Pablo Neruda

Another popular destination for tourists to Valparaiso is the home of Pablo Neruda. Pablo Neruda was a famous Chilean poet and diplomat who cared deeply for social activism and politics. He was awarded a Nobel Prize in literature and also received the International Peace Prize in 1950. His homes, which are scattered throughout Chile, are located in Santiago, Isla Negra, and of course...Valparaiso.

Chile Congress Building

The National Congress of Chile also meets for sessions in Valparaiso. The Former National Congress Building is located in Santiago, but the meeting location changed during the last years of the Pinochet Regime.

Other Attractions

Valparaiso has a significant number of museums, churches and cathedrals to keep visitors occupied. Some of them are free while others require a small fee. El Museo del Navegante is another popular attraction where one can learn about the history of Valparaiso through pictures, texts, models and tools used by sailors. The Museo Naval y Maritimo runs five different museums in one venue near Cerro Castillo. They include exhibits on anthropology, oceanography, naval history and more.


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2. Vina del Mar

Type of Traveler: The Beach-Goer

Distance from Santiago:

76 miles

What to See & Visit:

Part of Vina del Mar's charm is its cobble-stoned streets, painted Victorian houses and restaurants that look as if they´ve been there for centuries. This port town also hosts some of Chile's most popular beaches. Here you'll find a variety of bars and restaurants while simultaneously finding amazing cliffs and viewpoints.

Reloj del Flores

Reloj del Flores is one of the city's most famous landmarks. It is a functional clock attraction where you can see the history of Vina through the unique combination of greenery and floral design. Reloj makes for incredibly beautiful photo opportunities with travel buddies and certainly stands out as a highlight of any trip to Vina del Mar.

Renaca Beach

Renaca Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Vina del Mar. It's packed during the summer and perfect for enjoying the sea and sand. There, you can find a large variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars, so you won't go hungry or thirsty.

Other Attractions

The Casino de Vina del Mar is one of the most famous in South America. There, you can enjoy an evening out with dinner and drinks while enjoying slot machines or a game of roulette. The city itself has a lot of local flavor to offer visitors, so it's worth spending at least a day or two here for the city's architecture and history.

How did we get to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar?

We took a bus leaving from Santiago to Vina del Mar. The ride was about 2 hours and cost $17.00 USD roundtrip.

Where did we stay?

We stayed in an AirBnb in Vina del Mar

There were 8 of us traveling in the group, so each of us paid roughly $29.00 USD per night.

3. Pucon

Type of Traveler: The Adventurer

Distance from Santiago

488 miles

What to See & Visit:

Pucon is located right on Lake Villarica where you can hike up the Villarrica Volcano while enjoying the scenery along the way. Pucon also offers many outdoor activities. You can do anything from rafting to paragliding to horseback riding!

Horseback Riding

During our trip, we took a guided tour of the natural vistas of Pucon by horseback. Prior to departing, our guides instructed us on how to maneuver with the horses' reigns, how to stop, and how to turn. This was a hybrid tour, requiring us to travel by horse and by foot. After stopping to rest our horses, we hiked through jagged terrain to reach a magnificent waterfall. The view was spectacular!

Mountain Biking

Many of the hostels in the area offered a number of guided tours without having to book through a larger touring agency. We contacted a local hostel and were able to reserve a same-day guided tour by mountain bike for our group of 4. In total, we biked about 18 miles up and down jagged mountainous terrain. The view at the top was absolutely worth it.

How did we get to Pucon?

We took an overnight bus (8 hours) from Santiago to Pucon with Andesmar Chile for $46.00 roundtrip

Where did we stay?

We stayed at the Princesa Insolente Hostel

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