Valparaiso and Vina del Mar

Shutterstock/24944641/Alexander ChaikinThe coastal strip west of Santiago is one of the most popular destinations for regional tourists. Midway along the coast is Viña del Mar, one of the most famous resorts in South America, awash with Argentines and Chileans strutting their stuff in summer. Near Viña are other popular resorts, such as Reñaca and Concón, plus a host of more secluded spots, including Horcón to the north and Quintay to the south. While the beaches on this stretch of coast are attractive, the water is very cold and swimming is dangerous in many places because of a heavy undertow.

The place that makes this part of Chile really worth visiting is Valparaíso, once the south Pacific's most important port and now the most beguiling city in the country, the capital of Región V and seat of the Chilean House of Parliament, part of which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nearby is the lumpy summit of Cerro La Campana, a high hill between the coast and the Central Valley, which offers some of the best views in Chile and can be climbed in a day. South of Valparaíso, towards the mouth of the Río Maipo, are a number of other centres, including Algarrobo, perhaps the most affluent resort along this coast, and Isla Negra, a village famous as the home of Pablo Neruda, in which the Nobel laureate gathered together a collection of objets d'art from around the world.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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