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When you first arrive to Santiago, you will be amazed by the great natural beauty that surrounds this town of 7 million residents. The city itself is located in a rather flat valley with a couple of hills inside, surrounded by grandiose mountains that enclose the city in a kind of a circle. The tallest building in Santiago looks like a small toothpick on the background of majestic mountains – that will seem taller each morning you look at them. This article is a compilation of the best view points in Santiago from where you can observe its amazing beauty from the richest angles.
1. Parque Metropolitano de Santiago
This beautiful park sits on top of a mountain not far from the center of the city. You can take a funicular up (and down) or hike it (about 50 mins moderate hike). On top of the mountain you will find a beautiful Statue of the Virgin (14 meters in height) and a small church all surrounded by a nice park area.
You will also find a separate cable car (Teleferíco) that goes on top of the mountain from one end to another (the mountain is pretty long in size) and also offers incredible views. The Teleferíco was closed when I visited it in April 2016, therefore check the official website for updates. Besides offering these gorgeous, panoramic views, the mountain also holds a number of other fun attractions, such as: a zoo, open-air public swimming pools, a wine museum, a Japanese garden, and others.
2. Cerro Santa Lucía
This smaller in height mountain is located right in the center of Santiago and therefore offers more intimate views into the heart of the city. You will find a small ‘Castle’ (Castillo Hidalgo) on the very peak of the mountain that includes a small and round observation deck. It is best to come here either early in the morning when the park just opens or closer to the closing time (7pm), otherwise it gets rather crowded and will be difficult to squeeze in to take a decent photo on the very top.
3. Sky Costanera
Currently, the tallest building in South America, Costanera has a very nice and modern observation deck called Sky Costanera right at the top, on the 61 and 62nd floors. The entrance fee is quite small (5,000 Chilean pesos or about $7-8 USD). I would highly recommend to come here 30 minutes before the sun goes down to watch a beautiful Chilean sunset right from the best advantage point (the other two viewpoints above get closed right before the sunset).
4. A High-Rise Apartment
This view can be offered through any high-rising building – an apartment, a hotel room, the roof of your apartment building, or the roof of your hotel. If you are staying in a low-rising building, then I would recommend going to any rooftop bar (a number of hotels has them, including Marriott) and getting a drink while enjoying the breathtaking views. Chile is famous for its wine and therefore drinks (wine, beer, pisco sour) are quite inexpensive.
5. Los Andes Mountains
Located on only an hour drive away from Santiago, the famous mountain range that stretches through a number of South American countries from Colombia, Peru to Argentina and Chile, offers incredible views that will literally take your breath away. You can book a tour with a local tour company once you arrive to Chile (you will find them everywhere from the brochures in the lobby of your hotel/hostel, to the street signs everywhere in the city) as it is much cheaper than booking it online in advance.
A number of companies offers the tours and you can go for a full day as well as half a day (9am-2pm, or 2pm-7pm). Remember to pack some winter clothes EVEN if you are coming in the summer season as it gets cold (and snowy) in the mountains and you will need them. You can also rent a pair of ‘ski boots’, ski pants, and even a ski jacket on the way to the mountains, as this “rental” stop is included in the tour, however it will cost you (for all three items I paid 24,000 Chilean pesos or about $40 USD).