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Tourist places of Central Chile

A view of the Chilean capital
A view of Santiago, the Chilean capital

    The country is administratively divided into Regions, Central Chile being only a natural division, it includes the Region Metropolitana where the capital Santiago is located, as well as the southern part of Valparaiso, O'Higgins and Maule Regions. Although in theory the Northern portion of the Region of Bio Bio is included within Central Chile, most people associates it with the South, either because of its proximity, climatic reasons, customs and idiosyncrasy, so here we consider it separately as the Bio Bio Region.

This part of the country is characterized by abundant vegetation, large agricultural and wine production, (although there are fears that the slow advance of the desertification from the North could affect this condition in the coming years). Central Chile concentrates most of the country's population and economic activity, with major cities, such as the port of Valparaiso which together with the neighboring communes of Viña del Mar, Concon, Quilpue and Villa Alemana make an important urban center of more than 1 million inhabitants.
  A little over 120 km. southeast of Valparaiso, near the foothills of the Andes is situated the capital Santiago, also known as Santiago de Chile, with a population of 6,000,000. Today, the Chilean capital is Latin American leader in many areas as those related to quality of life, environmental, personal and economic development, etc. In the surroundings of Santiago major Ski Resorts and many other natural attractions make it one of the top tourist destinations in South America.

Another important city in Chile, very close to Santiago (just 87 km. to the South) is Rancagua, capital of the O'Higgins Region, place of great historical significance, where one of the main milestones of the Chilean Independence process was lived, the Battle of Rancagua, also called the Disaster of Rancagua. From this city you can start a tour through various communes of the Cachapoal Valley to learn about the traditions of the Chilean countryside. 

Further south, always through Ruta 5 Sur (southern stretch of the Panamerican Highway), is located the city of Talca, important urban center of the country, of about 220,000 inhabitants, capital of the Maule Region, also with unique features that make it attractive, thanks to its privileged Andean landscapes, beaches and wine tours where vineyards of international reputation are visited. 

In a country where its main tourist attractions are concentrated in the North and South ends, it is also gratifying to find charming places near the capital city Santiago, which combine cozy Andean landscapes, city, countryside and sea views. Besides the already mentioned sites can be also highlighted the "playas del litoral central" (beaches of the central coast), the cities of San Felipe and Los Andes belonging to the Valparaiso Region, in the Aconcagua Valley, surrounded by towering mountains, with vineyards and fruit-growing area par excellence.

La Parva, winter sports center, Chile.
A view of La Parva Sky Resort, near Santiago
Image: laparva.cl

In summary, in Central Chile there are many sites worth visiting, particularly noteworthy are the Winter Resorts in the foothills of the Andes such as Portillo, Valle Nevado, Farellones, El Colorado, La Parva; the modern capital Santiago, a busy city, full of interesting places; the garden city of Viña del Mar and its surroundings. In Viña del Mar, at the end of February each year is held the "Festival Internacional de la Cancion" (Viña del Mar International Song Festival), a competition where world-renowned artists perform. The last night of the festival is considered an unofficial closing of the high tourist season.

Playa del Deporte, city of Viña del Mar - Image: visitevinadelmar.cl 
    Because of its proximity and easy access from the capital of Chile, the beaches of the central coast are one of the favorite destinations by tourists during the Summer season. Among many others, can be mentioned the main ones of Viña del Mar as Reñaca, a place preferred by youth, Las Salinas, Caleta Abarca, Cochoa, El Sol, Miramar. A little further north, in the city of Con Con, known for its dunes and good cuisine you can enjoy Playa Amarilla and Playa Negra. Other beautiful beaches belong to the commune of Algarrobo, South of Valparaiso and the small coastal town of Maitencillo.

Other great options are the visit to the interesting Museums of Santiago  (follow link) and the Wine Tours to the vineyards of the central valleys, available at local tourist agencies.

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