There are so many great day trips available from Santiago, so if you find yourself with time to spare, you’ll be spoilt for choice! From the rough and ready Valparaíso to the gorgeous landscapes of Cajon Del Maipo, there’s something for everyone. Before arriving in Santiago, I’d never heard of Viña Del Mar but I’m very glad that I made the day trip!
RELATED: If you’re looking for anther day trip to take from the city, read about my time in Valparaíso here!
Thankfully, Viña Del Mar can be reached within 1.5 hours from Santiago, making it a perfect destinations for a day trip from the city.
Firstly, depending on where you’re staying, you’ll need to jump onto Santiago’s incredible Metro station and head towards Pajaritos (which is on line 1 – the red one). Using Santiago’s Metro system couldn’t be easier thanks to Bip, which is essentially the equivalent of London Oyster card.
A Bip card costs 1,500 CLP (approximately £1.50) and you can top up the card at all metro stations to cover your upcoming transport. Unlike the London Underground, no matter how far you travel, the price will stay the same. Prices per journey range between 610 CLP (approximately £0.60) and 750 CLP (approximately £0.75) depending on whether you are travelling at peak time or not.
Once you have arrived at Pajaritos, make your way into the main terminal to buy your bus ticket to Viña Del Mar – the two main bus companies are Turbus and Pullman.
As with all South American bus travel, I would recommend using BusBud to check timings and prices. You can even make online bookings when travelling in Chile.
As a word of warning – I was often told that booking online would result in higher prices than when booking at the ticket station throughout South America. I tended to avoid this advice and book online when needed to avoid any hassle at the bus station with my poor Spanish!
The journey from Santiago to Viña Del Mar takes around 1.5 hours – get comfy and admire the views!
Viña Del Mar is very different to both Santiago and Valparaíso. With Santiago being the stable parent and Valparaíso being the gritty teenager, Viña is the gentler, more fashionable, younger sister.
On arrival at the bus stop, I relied on the trusty MAPS.me app to lead me to the beach. I’d heard that Viña Del Mar was a classy destination where wealthy Chileans lived/holidayed, so it’s safe to say that I was expecting grandeur!
The walk from the bus stop to the beach was somewhat underwhelming. The street I picked to walk down was lined with shop after shop after shop (and not the Los Angeles Rodeo Drive kind).
Luckily, the city did live up to initial expectations as soon as I knew where to look! If you’re short on time, I would highly recommend either doing your research prior to arrival on where to go and what to see (I’ll speak more about this later!) or taking a walking tour to show you the hot spots!
I timed my visit to Viña Del Mar really well… not. I visited one weekend AFTER the legendary Viña Del Mar music festival.
The festival is one of the largest in South America and is a very big deal! I saw footage of the festival while I was in Santiago and it looked insane. If you’re planning to visit Viña Del Mar in February, try and visit on the right weekend!
Don’t worry about there only being a few English speaking artists – after a couple of weeks in South America, you’ll be singing along to all of the popular Latin American songs. I still listen to my “South America” Spotify playlist more times than I care to admit!
Price – Free (depending on how many ice creams you buy…)
One of the main reasons to visit Viña Del Mar (outside of festival season), is to relax on the beach. If I lived in Santiago, I’d be hopping on the bus to Viña Del Mar every other weekend to relax on the beach.
I visited in February, arriving in Viña Del Mar on a very cloudy morning… obviously I was very disappointed with my decision. I even had to buy extra layers in a nearby shop! Rest assured… the locals told me that mornings are often cloudy and the sun comes shining through in the afternoon.
As always, the locals were right and the afternoon was SCORCHING! Moral of the story – if it’s cloudy when you arrive, give it a few hours and you should be fine!
If you’re looking for even more fun in the sun, check out the nearby beach towns of Reñaca & Concón.
Price – Free
This is one of those cheesey tourist attractions that you’ll end up doing, despite it not being on your “to-do” list.
Reloj de Flores is one of Viña Del Mar’s most photographed attractions, so get there early to avoid being bashed around the head by a selfie-stick wielded by an over enthusiastic tourist (I’m speaking from experience…).
Price – Free
If there’s one thing that Viña Del Mar can offer, it’s lavish style buildings. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find pretty pastel coloured buildings reminiscent of a bygone era – despite the fact that Viña Del Mar is a relatively modern city!
Price – Free
One of Viña Del Mar’s most visited spots is Parque Quinta Vergara – a gorgeous landscaped garden filled with nooks and crannies to explore.
The park is home to the Viña Del Mar Music Festival and was still being cleaned up from the previous week’s antics when I arrived. So, unfortunately I wasn’t able to enter and explore the park.
However, I’m told that there are lots of things to see and do within the park, including exploring Palace Vergara which is a gorgeous building formerly used as the residence for the founder of Viña Del Mar.
Price – however much you want to tip!
Would it be an Escaping Essex blog post about Chile without recommending Tours4Tips? Well of course not.
After experiencing the Tours4Tips free walking tours in Santiago and Valparaiso, it would be rude not to continue my loyalty in Viña Del Mar also! As always, the tour guide was great and it was the perfect way to spend 2-3 hours getting to know the city.
As I’ve previously mentioned, I felt a little bit lost when arriving in the city with limited time to explore. Taking a free walking tour meant that I got to see all of the hot-spots without getting even more lost!
Price – Free
“Cerro” (meaning “hill”) is a word that you’ll become very familiar with if you are travelling through the Santiago region of Chile!
This particular hill is home to some truly gorgeous buildings my favourite being the gorgeous pink Palace of Cerro Castillo (the Summer residence of the President of Chile). You aren’t able to enter the palace, but admiring it from the outside is nice enough!
Next up, take a wander around Brunet Castillo (Castle). The castle isn’t open to the public other than on a few selected days which you need to pre-book.
The area is so calm and quiet compared to the rest of the city…. which is impressive given that Viña Del Mar isn’t a particularly loud and crazy city (outside of festival season anyway)!
Price – dependent on which museum you choose
I didn’t have enough time to explore any of the museums but I am told that there are some really great ones in the area!
If I wasn’t already visiting Easter Island on my South American adventure, I would definitely check out Museo de Arqueología e Historia Francisco Fonck which is filled with finds from Easter Island. If you don’t want to pay the 2,800 CLP entrance fee, there’s a Moai head from Easter Island on display outside.
RELATED: If you are lucky enough to be visiting South America, why not check out my itinerary!
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