Introduction to Chile

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Blink and you might miss Chile on the map. A thin slice of South America stretched along the west coast. But for what it lacks in width it makes up for in length, spanning 4,300 kilometres from the driest desert in the world to the iciest of glaciers. Naturally, its diverse landscape is the stuff of travel dreams, encompassing everything from the Andean highlands to bustling cities, sandy beaches and snowy ski fields. There's wine regions, forests, archaeological ruins and mythological islands. In a word, it's extreme. In terms of travel, it's a total thrill.

The beating heart of Chile is Santiago, where streets lure you with stories of bohemia, vivacious art and a pisco sour. But be careful not to let their potent pisco and nocturnal party scene get the best of you. A hangover in Santiago means a day wasted when you could be skiing in Valle Nevado, swimming the turquoise waters of Easter Island or wandering the depths of Patagonia. All up it's a lot for a tiny sliver on a map, Blink and you'll miss one of the world's best bits.

Must Do

Most travellers to Chile begin in Santiago, the city's capital and travel hub. While here, it's worth taking a look around, beginning with a climb to the top of San Cristóbal Hill and ending with a big night of club hopping in the bohemian Bellavista. Once the hangover has subsided (a local hotdog ought to do the trick), bid adieu to the sprawling city and head off. Where to next? Well that's up to you.

For those in search of adventure, take your pick between the wild Patagonia Rainforests or the woolly Andean Alps. History buffs will find fascination in the colourful Spanish history of Valparaiso and the mythologies of Easter Island. While those who prefer the finer things in life can enjoy them amongst the Rapel Valley wine region or along the palm tree lined sand of Bahia Inglesa Beach.

For more must-dos in Chile, check out our things to do page and start planning your Chile holiday.

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