Santiago is the most common starting point of any trip to Chile (unless you arrive from Uyuni in Bolivia or from Argentina to Punta Arenas in Patagonia). The capital is a perfect and still underrated city to start your Chilean adventure and with all the great things to do in Santiago, you will not be bored there.
But be sure to include extra time in your Chile itinerary and plan day trips from Santiago too. Some really cool, beautiful, and/or interesting destinations are located within a short distance from the capital and visiting them is often very easy.
You don’t want to miss one of the most colorful cities in the world, stunning nature, an ocean getaway, or the wine region – all of them can be seen as day trips from Santiago!
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Day trips from Santiago
When I was in Chile I had time only for a one day trip from Santiago and that had to be Valparaiso (as a huge fan of street art I couldn’t miss that place). But there are so many more great options of places to visit near Santiago!
I asked fellow bloggers what were their favorite Santiago day trips and together we came with this great list of destinations you should see.
Valparaiso is one of the easiest day trips from Santiago. You can get there by bus, there are connections every 20 minutes and the journey takes less than 2 hours. To get there you first need to go to Pajaritos bus station above the metro station with the same name (L1 red metro line).
Valparaiso is known for street art and literally, the whole city is covered with works – murals, graffiti, painted stairs, and so on. Wandering around Valparaiso feels like the madman dream, this place is too cool and too quirky to be real, yet it is the second-largest city in Chile.
Due to its location on the hills, there are old funiculars (16 of them) that can quickly take you from one part of the city to another. Riding them is one of the biggest Valparaiso attractions so don’t miss that! From the upper part of Valparaiso, you can often admire the beautiful panorama of the city and the Pacific Ocean and the viewpoints are sometimes in the most random locations.
If you are interested in culture don’t miss House of Pablo Neruda (the most popular Chilean poet and a Nobel prize winner) and Valparaiso Cultural Park.
But still, the best thing to do in Valparaiso is to wander around and enjoy the colors and vibe of the place. In 2013 Valparaiso was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List for its unique colonial architecture and urban design.
If you don’t want to travel to Valparaiso independently, there are various tours you can join. Here are some recommended ones:
- From Santiago: Valparaiso and Viña del Mar Day Tour
- Santiago: Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, & Casablanca Valley Tour
- From Santiago: Highlights of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar
Viña del Mar
Recommended by Ucman from BrownBoyTravels
Viña del Mar is the luxury beach resort city of Chile. Even the president of Chile has their summer residence perched high atop a cliff overlooking the beautiful ocean in Viña del Mar or Viña as it is lovingly called.
Getting to Viña del Mar is quite easy by bus from Santiago de Chile and it takes 2 hours or you can also do the same journey by car which will take an hour and a half. The bus station is a little farther from the touristy areas and require a 15-20 minutes walk to get to the beach.
It is a gorgeous city defined by its beautiful coastline with the Pacific Ocean lining the golden sand beaches. You can easily spend a day on the beach and if you wish to do that, head to a spa first and then to Play de Reñaca which is the most beautiful beach in the area.
If you want to explore the town a bit, start near the flower clock which is very well maintained, and then head via the promenade overlooking the three Arabic castles. The city has interesting architecture and unlike Valparaiso, it is pristine and more upmarket.
If you wish to enjoy some nature head to Quinta Vergara Park which is great for a picnic lunch and relaxation and then finally head to the Cerro Castillo (Castle Hill) to watch the sunset over the beautiful city and its beach with beautiful views that stretch all the way to Valparaiso and beyond.
Viña del Mar is an absolute delight of a city to explore and visit in any sense of the word and well worth a day trip from Santiago.
Cajon del Maipo and El Yeso Dam
Recommended by Roxanne from Faraway Worlds
The Andes mountains seem to hover above Santiago, but they aren’t as far away as they look. It’s a beautiful, meandering drive up the mountains to Cajon del Maipo and El Yeso Dam. The trip only takes a couple of hours and gives you a small view of rural Chile.
The best way to get there is to hire a car – there’s a paved road most of the way up, but you’ll still have to walk a little to get to the canyon.
If you’d rather not drive, there are options to do day tours to Cajon del Maipo and El Yeso Dam. These can be very entertaining – think excited Brazilians seeing snow for the first time, platters of cheese and wine, and salsa dancing in the mountains.
Once you arrive, you’ll be rewarded by the remarkable views. The El Yeso dam is stunning and you’ll find beautiful vistas of the Andes reflected in the lake, rivers running through the canyon, and the huge peaks of snowy mountains. Just keep in mind that it does get very cold and snowy up there, so dress appropriately in snow boots and a thick jacket, even if it seems warm in Santiago.
If the weather is good, take one of the beautiful trails up the mountain or even walk all the way up to a glacier. There are also hot springs nearby and the town of San Jose de Maipo is a great place to stop for lunch. In summer, take a picnic and just relax by the dam, enjoying the scenery.
Here are some of the recommended tours to Cajon del Maipo
- Santiago: Cajon del Maipo Small-Group Tour with Picnic
- From Santiago: Cajón del Maipo and Volcán San José Hike 8K
- From Santiago: Maipo Canyon Volcano and Hot Spring Tour
Maipo Wine Region
Recommended by Sam from My Flying Leap
Just over thirty minutes from the city, the Maipo wine region is a great Santiago day trip. It’s a beautiful area to learn about Chilean wine and it boasts some powerhouse vineyards like Santa Rita and Concha y Toro. Maipo Valley was ranked among the top 10 spots by Wine Enthusiast magazine in 2019.
Since you’ll be enjoying wine tastings, it’s a good idea to consider a small group tour to visit these wineries so you don’t have to drive. Enjoy a leisurely day exploring these vineyards and the beautiful countryside. The region is known for its red wines though it does produce some whites as well.
Santa Rita became a vineyard in 1880. The grounds are beautiful and there is a lovely hacienda with a fascinating history. You can also visit a museum on the grounds with pre-Colombian artifacts from Chile.
Concha y Toro was first established as a summer home for the founder’s family in 1875 complete with a massive garden, pond, and lots of animals. The winery is the largest wine exporter in Chile and the 4th largest producer in the world.
Both vineyards share their stories, their cellars, and a behind-the-scenes look at how they produce the wine. And of course, they end with a tasting. If you’re a wine lover, this is the day trip for you!
Here are some of the recommended wine tours from Santiago:
- Santiago: Concha and Toro Wine Experience
- From Santiago: Maipo Valley Wine Tour
- Santiago: Half–Day Santa Rita Vineyard Tour
Recommended by Elisa from France Bucket List
Isla Negra is a lovely day trip to take from Santiago in Chile. It is located on the Pacific coast, about a hundred kilometers southwest of the Chilean capital.
Everybody travels to Isla Negra to see Pablo Neruda’s house. This is one of the three houses that the poet owned in Chile (the other two are in Santiago and Valparaiso), and despite belonging to the same person, the three houses are different and unique.
The house, today a museum, was kept intact after Pablo Neruda’s death, and it displays a significant collection of personal objects related to the poet. Here, Pablo Neruda had a more relaxing life, and he could enjoy one of his main passions, the sea. Therefore, you will find many objects related to the ocean, like navigation devices, shells, world maps, or even parts of ships.
Isla Negra is also the place Neruda chose to be buried, together with his third wife. The tombs are very simple, and they are located in the house’s garden, facing the sea.
There’s not much more to see and do in Isla Negra, apart from the house and the ocean. The house has a restaurant, and you can enjoy simple dishes with ocean views and washed down with good wines.
You can travel to Isla Negra by bus. Buses leave Santiago from Terminal Sur, and the journey takes 2,5 hours (one way). From Isla Negra bus station, it’s a short walk to Neruda’s house.
You might also join the tour from Santiago to visit Isla Negra – click here for details.
Recommended by Alya & Campbell from Stingy Nomads
Pichilemu is a small beach town located on the Pacific Coast, 200 km south of Santiago de Chile. It’s a great place for a day trip or a weekend getaway from the capital.
Pichilemu is famous as the surf capital of Chile; here you can find great waves, sandy beaches, and a chilled vibe. There are excellent surfing spots for experienced surfers as well as for amateurs. For complete beginners, there are a couple of schools offering surf lessons and gear rental.
For those who are not interested in surfing Pichilemu is still a great place to come for a day on the beach, to enjoy nice weather, long sandy beaches, and fresh seafood.
The town is a very popular place to come over Christmas and New Year if you’re coming here this time of the year make sure to book accommodation in advance.
Beautiful wine farms are another reason to visit Pichilemu. There are several estates near the town that offer wine tasting and have nice restaurants.
Get to Pichilemu from Santiago by direct bus that takes about 3 hours or by car it takes about 2 hours.
If you plan a trip to Chile I wrote a few more articles that you might find useful and interesting:
- Chile travel tips – all you need to know about visiting Chile
- Chile Itinerary – What to See in Chile in 10 Days
- 23 Best Things to Do in Santiago, Chile
- Santiago to Valparaiso Day Trip – Visit the Most Colorful City in Chile
- 14 Great Things to Do in Punta Arenas, Chile
- The Best Things to Do in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
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