There’s no doubt that Chile is full of beautiful places to visit. From the Atacama Desert in the north to the Torres del Paine National Park in the south you won’t run out of things to do or tours to take during your visit to Chile. Apart from it’s most well-known attractions, Chile also has some lesser-known gems that most international travellers have never heard of. The best part? Many of them are located in the Central Region of Chile, meaning they’re only a short ride from the country’s capital Santiago. If you’re dreaming of the perfect day tours from Santiago, Chile you’re in the right place.
I should probably also mention that public transportation in the regions in Chile isn’t the best. Trains don’t exist and buses are infrequent if they exist at all. I can safely say that Chile is very much a ‘car’ society, which also means that to get to the best, sometimes isolated spots you’ll need one too and with car hire being quite expensive the best choice is quite often a tailor-made tour.
I recently got the chance to visit some of the lesser-known locations in the Central Valley on two separate day tours from Santiago, Chile organised by myself and Travelan Tours. As I don’t own a car, Travelan Tours are my go-to tour company in Chile for off the beaten track destinations I’d like to explore as well as airport transfers. Manuel, the owner and driver is a fountain of knowledge about amazing secret places to visit and local culture, as well as being a really lovely, down-to-earth guy with superb English. What more could ya need?
The best thing about Travelan Tours is that you can essentially plan your own excursion. They do have all their most popular tours on their website but if you want to combine certain places that aren’t offered or you’ve got a place in mind that you’ve seen on Instagram, Travelan tours will help you plan and build your own excursion. Not only that, you’ll get hotel recommendations and tips and tricks for visiting places at different times of the year. Manuel also uses a Kia Grand Carnival giving you all the space you could possibly need. Groups of up to 6 people are accommodated.
Day tours from Santiago Chile are so easy to do- there are so many amazing places to visit near the city. We took two different day trips from Santiago that took me from Santiago into the Andes Mountains one day and to the beach on the Pacific coast on the other. Chile’s one of those few countries where you can be in the mountains in the morning and the beach in the afternoon, however, you’ll probably want a day in each to get the most out of the experience.
TOUR 1- CAJON DEL MAIPO
After way too much time sitting at my desk in the city centre, I yearned for high mountain passes, glacial views and to get my hiking boots back on. Manuel from Travel Tours suggested one of the best places to go hiking near Santiago, Cajon del Maipo, specifically the El Morado Monument. This is an easy/medium hike through the El Morado Valley and up to the San Francisco Glacier. Before we arrived, however, Manuel wanted to show me a really special place that only locals know about. We drove off the main road to what felt like the middle of nowhere until we parked right after a bridge. We descended down to the river and I was stunned to see the most amazingly smoothed rock formations standing tall, almost guarding the clear, icy, glacial stream below. The place was beautiful and there was no-one else around.
We continued to El Morado and began the 6-hour hike to the San Francisco Glacier. It was a glorious day with mountain flowers blooming along the path at first, which got more and more rocky as we got to the top. The trail was deserted and the scenery serene and almost eerie. Getting close to the glacier was extraordinary and it was hard to comprehend one of nature’s marvels right in front of me. I was longing to be in the mountains again and I finally got my fix.
TOUR 2- CASABLANCA WINE VALLEY, VALPARAISO AND CONCON
Continuing on with exploring the variety of Chile’s landscapes, today we decided to head towards the coast. Variety was the name of the game and Manuel suggested the best possible itinerary I could have hoped for. First, a wine tour at his favourite vineyard in the Casablanca Valley followed by some culture and Chilean food in Valparaiso and finally to finish the day off, sunset from the largest sand dunes in Chile. I was down.
Even if you’re not much of a wine drinker, exploring the vineyards of the Casablanca Valley is a real treat as they are simply beautiful properties, surrounded by green vines (in spring and summer) as long as the eye can see and never-ending blue skies. I’d heard about Casas del Bosque for a while but never actually visited as it’s almost impossible to get to by public transport. The vineyard was stunning, to say the least, and we even got to visit the upper part of the vineyard for the most amazing views over the valley. The tour was also really interesting and taught me lots about the wine-making process.
Interested in finding out more about The Casablanca Valley’s vineyards? Check out the post here.
After the vineyard, we made our way to Valparaiso, a bohemian port town known for its street art, hills and funiculars. We walked through the coolest little neighbourhoods, Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion eying the skilled street art, the amazing port views and riding the hundred-year-old funiculars. Manuel told me all about the city’s history, the culture and what makes the city so unique today.
After a superb late lunch at Boreal Vegan, we drove up the beautiful, winding coastal road to Concon, a little seaside town just outside of Vina del Mar. Here we enjoyed some blissful beach time watching local kids frolic in the frigid waves. As sunset drew closer we made our way up the top of the Concon sand dunes. From here, the whole coast is visible- from the high-rise developments to the pockets of sand of the dunes. The dunes are huge and quite honesty this quickly rose to be one of my favourite places to watch the sunset in Chile. That golden-hour light was magical dancing on the waves and on the sand. What a splendid two days of tours it was seeing a lot more of what Chile has to offer.
Discover Valparaiso on the perfect day trip from Santiago! Head over here for the short guide.
Prior to my trip with Travelan Tours, I didn’t really know what to expect from this region of Chile. Sure, I have visited all of Chile’s better-known ‘attractions’ but I had no idea that such pristine beauty exists so close to the capital and to think we only brushed the surface in these two days.
I had so much fun with Manuel and Travelan Tours and I feel like I learned so much more about this country I’ve called home for the last five years. It goes without saying that I’d highly recommend them for all your transportation and tour needs during your stay in Santiago. They also do airport and in the winter months, ski resort transfers.
OTHER DAY TOURS FROM SANTIAGO SUGGESTIONS:
Isla Negra and Pomaire – Head Chile’s unspoilt coast and visit Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s beach home. In the afternoon stop for a late lunch at Pomaire, a distinctively Chilean village and get some traditional food.
Santiago City Tour – Spend the morning or afternoon visiting some of the best sights in the city and learn about its history.
Colchagua Valley Wine Tour – Hop from one to the other and sample some of the best wines in Chile
Travelan Tours are currently offering Roam & Thrive readers 20% off any tour on their website. Simply enquire and mention the code ROAM&THRIVE20 when you book.
Check out Travelan Tours here to book your excursion of Chile today.
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*This is a sponsored post, all comments and opinion are completely my own.
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