"Between the mountains and the sea" Top 5 Page for this destination Santiago by TheWanderingCamel

Santiago Travel Guide: 972 reviews and 2,280 photos

Flying into Santiago across the Andes from Argentina, you are struck by just how narrow the space is between the mountains and the sea. The snow-capped peaks are right below you and ahead you see the blue of the Pacific, there hardly seems room to bring the plane down between the two. It's wonderfully dramatic.

Coming to the city overland from Argentina is no less dramatic. The pass across the Andes takes you to 10,000 feet and through a long tunnel. Then it's a seemingly-endless switchback of terrifying hairpin bends, down , down, down from the barren, rocky heights, through the increasingly green and lush Arconcagua Valley, its rushing river tumbling through a steep gorge and between steep banks where water-side willows give way to cactii further up the steep hillside.

Once you are in the city, the mountains are behind you - forming a dramatic backdrop to the urban sprawl - a mixture of old and new, grand and rundown, affluent and poor. To get to the sea you actually have to cross another range of mountains -the coastal cordillera. But that is for later - right now you have Santiago to explore.


  • Last visit to Santiago: Nov 2006
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (34)

Comments (25)

  • spidermiss's Profile Photo
    Jul 11, 2010 at 11:21 AM

    I lived in Santiago when I learnt Spanish in 2007 and returned the following year when I travelled around the Chilean and Argentine Lake Districts for 3 weeks. A very interesting city to start off your travels with...Great page! Dawn

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Jan 7, 2010 at 7:54 PM

    A Five-Star page! You have a gift for writing which makes me wish to visit whatever place you are visiting! Extremely interesting, informative with great photos to top it all off!

  • Jefie's Profile Photo
    Dec 31, 2009 at 5:59 AM

    I couldn't agree with you more - Santiago definitely is the kind of city that grows on you. I actually wouldn't mind going back to do a Spanish immersion, especially if I could stay near Barrio Bellavista - that was my favourite part of the city :o)

  • calcaf38's Profile Photo
    Nov 6, 2009 at 2:28 PM

    Thank you for your kind comment on my Lisbon page. I enjoyed this Santiago page a lot. I must see those ascensores in Valparaiso some day.

  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo
    Jun 8, 2009 at 7:23 AM

    Santiago will be my next South American destination...Barrio Bellavista sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing...pre-Columbian treasures are always amazing...

  • globetrott's Profile Photo
    Jan 28, 2009 at 11:48 PM

    A lot of great updates again, Leyle,thanks for sharing ! This excellent page is bringing back great memories ! There is so much to see there and it was great to see the many houses in colonial style there !

  • themajor's Profile Photo
    Jul 16, 2008 at 8:10 AM

    I must say, I do have a soft spot for old colonial buildings - particularly as I am on old colonial construction myself! Excellent tips on a beguiling destination. Ah, if only I didn't dissolve at the thought of any flight over 2.5 hours...

  • kokoryko's Profile Photo
    Jan 18, 2008 at 2:59 PM

    That is a nice South American page, Leyle. You show well the colonial Hispanic architecture, which fascinates me since I can look at books. Thanks for the link to this wonderful website of the of the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino. Cheers H.

  • Jan 15, 2008 at 5:44 PM

    santiago kind of reminds me of santo domingo, all that colonial architecture and history. now im really looking forward to it!

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Jul 3, 2007 at 2:56 AM

    Excellent page with a wide panorama of the history from the precolumbian period to Salvador Allende’s memory and the superb Mercato centrale. The tip about quipu is very informative and the linked website excellent !

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