Green Travel Guide Chile: Santiago, Valparaiso, and La Granja Wine Region

  • 01 of 08

    Getting To Chile: A Pitstop In Panama

    If you’ve ever scrolled through plane tickets to Santiago, Chile, you know that most airlines have a mandatory pit stop in Panama before continuing on to one of the southernmost capitals of the world. Copa Airlines is the best option for flying to South America and the Caribbean and has its main hub at Tocumen International Airport.

    A quick five-minute drive from the airport is  The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Panama City, one of the frontrunners in sustainable hospitality. The property is a member of the  InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). With both an indoor and outdoor pool, a state of the art fitness center and onsite conference rooms, The Crown Plaza in Panama is ideal for travelers flying for business or pleasure.​

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  • 02 of 08

    Where To Stay In Santiago & Surrounding Areas

    Olivia Balsinger

    Once in Santiago, check into The InterContinental Santiago operated by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). The property operates on the Green Engage System to assure their facilities are as eco-friendly as possible. The system monitors and controls certain operations in order to reduce energy, water, and waste, as well as to cut carbon emissions.

    Located in the new financial district of the city, this five-star hotel is just minutes away from some of Santiago's hottest attractions (a bonus: you can walk or ride a bike around town in lieu of a taxi!)  Even inside this dually modern and classic hotel, the spirit of Santiago shines.

    With an ambiance that exudes old world luxury, the accommodations at The InterContinental invite its visitors, weary from a long day of sightseeing, to a romantic escape and rest their heads like royalty. The hotel has a fitness center with Cybex equipment and indoor heated pool to ease those muscles post exercising. With four restaurants and two bars, the InterContinental Santiago has no shortage of fine dining and exceptional cocktails.

    Another member of IHG and with similar values and green initiatives is The Holiday Inn Express in Las Condes. With 168 rooms and 18 floors, The Holiday Inn Express is a smaller and quite affordable hotel tucked away in a quiet neighborhood, yet only an 11-minute walk from The Costanera Center, the tallest building in South America.

    A next accommodation choice of good value in the city is The Crowne Plaza Santiago, sitting about two kilometers from The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. While in close proximity to tempting upscale restaurants and shops, make sure to spend time enjoying the hotel's own amenities, like the spa and sauna, club lounge and even its own tennis court. 

    The Santiago Airport is approximately a 15-minute drive from the city’s center. For travelers looking to avoid the stress of traffic on their way to the airport, The Holiday Inn Santiago Airport is a small hotel with six floors and 224 rooms. Its convenient location and contemporary design will allow you to travel in style and stress-free. 

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  • 03 of 08

    InterContinental Santiago's Garden Tower

    Olivia Balsinger

    The InterContinental Santiago doesn't just partake it green initiatives--it physically goes green! Known around town endearingly as the "Green Building," the hotel sports a Garden Tower, which is the largest green wall in the world.

    The Green Tower was constructed by INGEVEC beginning in July 2010 at a cost of $12 million USD. The tower's green space measures more than 2,000 square meters and consists of modular boxes, each with its own array of diverse species in them. Each plant must have been grown for eight months before planted and installed. The plants grow perpendicularly and can survive for eight weeks on the building without water.

    Further, an automatic system installed regulates the humidity for the roofs and manages overwatering. It also can redistribute water for other plants on the wall. The three plants in the garden include Ayuga, Ophiopogon and Ceratostigma, Another fun fact? The plant colors alternate between violets and reds--in the spring they are purple and in the fall are a brilliant red. 

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  • 04 of 08

    What To Do

    For more than 20 years, Turistik has been the number one tour company in Chile. From vineyards to beaches, mountains to cathedrals, Turistik’s tour buses will get you to Chile’s must-see destinations.

    The Santiago Hop On Hop Off bus is the best way to see the city’s most popular attractions, including The Metropolitan Cathedral, The Santiago City Hall and La Moneda Palace.

    Fans of the literary legend Neruda have the opportunity to visit La Chascona, the poet’s house-museum in the Bellavista neighborhood. Private tours of Santiago are also offered by Turistik. The full day private tour of Santiago allows visitors to experience Chile’s capital like its residents, stopping to enjoy lunch at the market and to shop for artisanal products at the Pueblito de los Dominicos (handcraft village).

    Whether you’re on a private tour or on the Hop On Hop Off bus, make sure to save time for exploring Cerro San Cristobal, the fourth largest metropolitan park and urban green space in the world! Completed in 1925, the funicular at Cerro San Cristobal makes two stops on its way to the top of the hill where you’re guaranteed the best view of Santiago.

    The funicular’s first stop is Pío Nono station featuring a small medieval castle. Up next is the National Zoo of the Metropolitan Park of Santiago, featuring thousands of native species, among other educational attractions.

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  • 05 of 08

    Where To Eat

    Olivia Balsinger

    Located in the InterContinental Santiago's lobby is Terranée, an upscale, locally sourced restaurant. The restaurant juxtaposes masterfully crafted dishes and an impressive 480 wines from around the world. Take a stab at becoming a connoisseur at one of the restaurant's wine tasting and tapas experience each weekday afternoon and evening.  

    A short walking distance from The InterContinental Santiago is the city’s most authentic pizzeria, Tiramisu. The founders of Tiramisu have a strong commitment to using fresh, local ingredients and traditional Italian recipes. The wooden furniture and accents of the restaurant’s bespoke interior create a warm, welcoming environment. Tiramisu’s menu features a wide selection of pizza, both traditional and innovative recipes; a mouthwatering selection of gelato and true to its name, four different varieties of Tiramisu.

    Aquí Está el Coco is located in the Providencia neighborhood of Santiago, which is also home to the renowned attraction, Cerro San Cristóbal. The restaurant and bar were reconstructed using recycled materials after a fire in 2008, reopening in 2012 as the first sustainable restaurant in Chile. After a long day exploring Santiago’s largest park, stop by Aquí Está el Coco for a taste of pisco, a traditional Chilean spirit made from muscatel grapes. Aquí Está el Coco is Chile’s largest pisco bar offering 28 national brands and a wide selection of cocktails. Not to worry, however. At Aquí Está el Coco you won’t be drinking on an empty stomach. The restaurant’s menu features seafood dishes to harmoniously pair with your pisco cocktail including a memorable Chilean-style king crab pie. 

    For meat lovers visiting Santiago, Happening is heaven on earth. With a wide selection of meat cuts and an assortment of mouthwatering specials,  Happening is the best place to savor the locally sourced meats South America is known for internationally. I highly recommend the rib eye steak with Malbec sauce and smoked bacon, one of Happening’s specials, and the grilled lamb ribs.

    Parque Bicentenario is a green haven tucked away in the Vitacura neighborhood. The park’s main attraction, aside from its lush green vegetation, is the Norte lagoon, home to flamingoes and black-necked swans. At the edge of the park sits Mestizo restaurant, a culinary staple of Santiago. The restaurant is housed in a modern building with ​a minimalist interior design. Its outdoor seating is perfect for admiring the park’s natural beauty. Mestizo’s menu features dishes inspired by both Chilean and Spanish cuisine. Mestizo offers a variety of ceviche dishes which are a must for travelers visiting Chile for the first time. If you’ve had your fill of Chilean wine, Mestizo has an extensive cocktail list, including traditional Chilean cocktails like pisco sour as well as cocktails using imported spirits such as mojitos and caipirinhas. 

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  • 06 of 08

    Did Someone Say More Wine?

    Olivia Balsinger

    Today, Chile is well known as a fine wine exporter. But few people know that Chile’s wines have a history that dates back to the 16th century when Spanish conquistadores brought grape vines with them to the New World. Santiago is the perfect place for wine lovers to embark on a viticultural adventure.

    The menu at Bocanáriz, in the historic and stunning Lastarria neighborhood, features dishes specifically crafted to be paired and highlight the flavors of Chilean wines. The restaurant has one of the most comprehensive wine selections in all of Chile, a collection that has been lauded by Wine Spectator magazine as one of the world's best. The “flights” at Bocanáriz are a selection of three wines curated to reflect the essential themes and trends in Chilean wine production. To deepen ​your understanding of Chilean wines, I highly recommend experiencing a “flight” at Bocanáriz.

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  • 07 of 08

    Valparaiso & Viña del Mar

    Olivia Balsinger

    Only 90 minutes from Santiago, Valparaiso and Viña del Mar are two coastal cities that will immerse travelers in street art, costal culture, and stunning nature. 

    Valparaiso is one of Chile’s main ports which, in 2003, was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The colorful town built on 41 hills is culturally vibrant and architecturally unique. Viña del Mar is often referred to as The Garden City. Known for its luxurious resorts and high rises, Viña del Mar is a favorite vacation spot for Chileans and foreign visitors alike. To get to either or both of these coastal cities, catch a ride on one of Turitik’s tour buses or book a private tour for your family and friends.

    Valparaiso is also the ideal place to enjoy one of Chile’s traditional seafood dishes. The ambiance and decor at ​La Colombina will transport you to 20th century Valparaiso. La Colombina is a historic restaurant on a hill overlooking the city serving fresh seafood caught daily. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner until one in the morning, La Colombina makes a great rest stop to replenish your energy.

    If you were hoping to enjoy a meal at a less traditional establishment, La Perla del Pacífico is a Valparaiso restaurant serving fresh seafood in a more modern environment. La Perla del Pacífico has indoor and outdoor seating with eclectic decor including a colorful wooden boat that sits next to the outdoor tables. 

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  • 08 of 08

    La Granja & The Santa Rita Estate

    Olivia Balsinger

    Just outside of Santiago, one can escape to La Granja and The Santa Rita Estate, one of Chile’s finest restaurants and wineries. The estate is a site of historical significance that played an important role as a refuge for soldiers during Chile’s fight for independence against the Spanish Crown.

    The Santa Rita Estate is home to Doña Paula Restaurant, Casa Real Hotel, a wine shop and a bakery. A reservation is required to dine at Doña Paula Restaurant, but this extra step while planning your visit is made worthwhile by the restaurant’s extensive wine list and exceptional dishes. 

    In addition to Santa Rita’s admirable commitment to keep Chile’s history alive, the estate has vowed to maintain sustainable practices in their vineyards and wine cellars. Santa Rita’s vineyards employ modern irrigation technology which reduces water consumption. Among other sustainable initiatives, Santa Rita has incorporated compost obtained from the remains of grapes after fermentation in the fertilization process.

    The Santa Rita Wine & Bike Tour includes transportation to the Santa Rita winery where you can ride a bike down a 10-kilometer trail, enjoying the scenery of Chile’s famed wine country. We don’t usually encourage our readers to drink and ride, but at Santa Rita you can try some of the region’s finest wines and then ride along the flat roads surrounding the vast grape vines.