Chile for non-outdoorsy/adventure seekers?

Jan 17th, 2019, 06:05 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2018
Posts: 11
Chile for non-outdoorsy/adventure seekers?

Late 30s couple considering a trip to Chile primarily focused on food, wine, city activities and relaxation in and around Santiago/Viņa-Valparaiso/Wine Country. Is it worth the trip if we are not planning on visiting the amazing nature in Patagonia or Atacama? We have about 10 days and it would be during next Christmas/NewYears. Looking into this now as I have to book tickets on points as soon as tickets are available. One other questions is on weather in Viņa/ it warm enough to relax on the beach for a good 4-5 days? I know the water is cold, but can you tan and swim in the pool? Santiago looks much warmer.

(as an fyi, we are fairly seasoned travelers and have been to BA, Rio, Peru, Bolivia)

Thanks so much!

sshprints04 is offline  
Jan 17th, 2019, 08:20 AM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,323
No reason why you can't visit. Very sensible to look at what interests you and not what someone else thinks you should see. There is good food and plenty of wine. Good museums. Have a look at some lodging options in and around Santa Cruz in the Colchagua valley. Some great wineries in the region. About 3.5 hrs drive from Santiago and can be done with public transport. A day trip or overnight in Valparaiso is fun. Weather on the coast can be a lot cooler in the early morning due to sea fog but usually warms up during the day. For sitting on the beach you should look at Reņaca a bit further along the coast from Viņa. There are places to stay there.

Just note that Christmas is celebrated here on the 24th at night and the 25th is an obligatory holiday. You will find some restaurants open but shops and museums will be closed. The same for the 1st of January.
Huentetu is offline  
Jan 17th, 2019, 09:14 AM
Join Date: Mar 2009
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We did pretty well what you described last year, and liked it so much that we are going back this year. I have absolutely no interest in Patagonia either, not because it is not a worthwhile destination but rather as I already have much more than my share of similar weather where I live - I call it Patagonia del norte !!! I specifically seek to escape climatic misery so no Patagonia for me.

Good suggestions from Huentetu (as usual) ; another option to the Colchagua valley would be the Elqui valley about 7 hours north of Santiago. We absolutely loved it, and based ourselves in Vicuna. I would not think that you could do both with only 10 days. Decisions, decisions ...

We spent a few days on the coast at Concon (next to Vina and Renaca) and enjoyed that very much as well. Be aware though that the crowds/traffic can be a little overwhelming at times. Expect fog in the morning as mentioned.

Definitely pool weather at that time from our perspective.

FWIW we enjoyed Santiago a lot more than we thought we would. Great people (makes a huge difference to speak Spanish for chance encounters), restaurants, pisco, very worthwhile museums (although do not expect the Louvre, British museum or Prado equivalent), etc. A very liveable city in the summer.
kanadajin is offline  
Jan 18th, 2019, 06:58 AM
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thanks, this is great info!
The way I have my itinerary planning out is as follows:
Dec 24-26: Santiago. Probably stay at the W Santiago (on points) and there is a pool we can use on Dec 25th as most things are closed. On the 26th I'd love to venture to the Andes for a day.
Dec 27-28: Santa Cruz or another wine place
Dec 29: flexible...can spend the whole day in Santa Cruz or head to the ocean. Sleeping in Vina del Mar
Dec 30-Jan 2: Vina del Mar. Relaxing, Valparaiso exploring, new years eve on the beach in Vina. Perhaps drive up or down the coast for a day, Rancon, etc...
Jan 3: flexible, spend another day relaxing or return to Santiago in the morning, overnight in Santiago
Jan 4: spend all day in Santiago and fly back to the US at night

Reason I am thinking to base in Vina for so many days is because we definitely want to be there for New Years Eve as I read its quite fun..
I am also thinking of renting a car. Do folks advice this? Chile is safe and the roads are great from what I read.
sshprints04 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2019, 07:13 AM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 237
No issues with renting a car. We did this and it worked out perfectly while giving us a lot of flexibility. Good signage and road conditions, but most if not all of the divided highways are toll roads. You will need cash for the toll booths (no credit cards accepted) and we found the booth attendants to be polite and honest (i.e. always correct change). Gas and tolls are higher than in North America but less than in Europe. I presume you are aware of the strict alcohol and driving rules in Chile.

The biggest concern would be parking, particularly on the coast (Vina, Valpo, ...) at that popular time : make triple sure that there is parking provided at your lodging. As you probably suspect, a car is a hindrance in Santiago so just pick it up upon getting out and restitute it as you return to the city.

Your itinerary looks good to me, and does not appear too rushed.
kanadajin is offline  
Jan 19th, 2019, 11:04 AM
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We just drove from Santiago to Valpo and return. A few wrong turns, but mostly fine. We had parking in Valpo through our hotel (Fauna, arranged in advance), but driving in the Valpo hills (Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion) is still an adventure! We had a toll tag in our car and were told to always go through the “automatic” lane. We rented through O’Clock. Offsite but very easy rental and return.
sf7307 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2019, 01:49 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
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All rental cars in Santiago will come with the TAG, electronic reader, installed. You will be charged the cost of a day pass for every day you rent the car. This will cover all the urban highways in and around Santiago. Some tolls are optional and you need to register the TAG. Be sure to ask the rental company which roads are included. They should have the 68 highway to Viņa covered as well as the large toll exiting Santiago at Angostura.

A car is of no use in Santiago, use the metro, and little use in Valparaiso. Traffic can be horrendous in summer in Viņa and Valparaiso. When I lived in Viņa I had to do the supermarket run at 8-8.30 am because later in the morning was gridlock.
Huentetu is offline  
Feb 20th, 2019, 04:46 PM
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 238
your plan is totally doable.

Weather has changed so much, it's hot in Santiago in December. I mean 80s
We just came back, spent last week of January in Santiago only - 90s? Hot, hot, hot. So pool at W? a must!
And the W is in a great area, tons of restaurants and bars around, all within walking distance.
For a change of pace, try Bellavista. Funky, different, very "hip" in a Santiago way. It's a very old neighborhood, full of bars and restaurants. Traffic is bad, but manageable.
Rental cars all have tags (which you need constantly, as tolls are in most highways, and no tollbooths). Huentetu is right. Ask when you rent the car. You will be charged a daily users fee anyway!
Road signs are good, but they are not placed too far in advance (I'm a spoiled NYer by now), either exits or exit ramps, so paying attention is a must.

New Year's - Fire works in Valpo, on the water. Can be seen from Vina, of course. Nice experience.
Con-Con is right next door to Vina, you don't have to travel far at all.

Have a fabulous time!
screen_name_taken is offline  
Feb 21st, 2019, 05:50 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2018
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Excellent. We enjoy a very lose travel itinerary so I don't want to over-plan. For now, it seems like its a good plan. 3 days in Santiago (incl. day trip to Andes), 1-2 days in wine country, 5 days relaxing in the Vina/Valpo area.
Has anyone stayed at the Sheraton Miramar in Vina? I generally find Sheraton's very bland and boring but I will be able to get it on points and the location looks lovely...close to both Valp and Vina.
Is Viņa weather in Dec compatible to Los Angeles? Warm and pleasant, but not really beach/sunbathing weather.
Also, do people prefer Santa Cruz, Calchuga or Casablanca wine country? Casablanca looks very convenient (location-wise), but we are not strapped on time so if the other locations are nicer, I would rather make the drive.

sshprints04 is offline  
Feb 21st, 2019, 01:27 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,323
Weather on the coast is usually cooler than inland like Santiago and there can be morning mist by the sea. I don't know LA, sorry.

The Sheraton Miramar is a good hotel, right on the sea.

​​​​​​​The Colchagua valley, in and around Santa Cruz, has lodging at every price point. In Casablanca there is a lot less. Also, the area around Santa Cruz is nicer. The beach at Pichilemu is a short drive away.

Just to add, there are two portals for going through with the TAG on the 68 on the way to Viņa or Valparaiso at toll spots. They are the right side and the road leading to them is painted bright blue. Just drive through and the device will go beep.

Last edited by Huentetu; Feb 21st, 2019 at 01:29 PM.
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