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The richly rewarding South American capital
The Chilean capital Santiago is a city with plenty of character and a fascinating blend of ancient civilisation, colonial culture and modern tourist infrastructure. This large metropolis is blessed with a stunning backdrop in the form of the Andes Mountains, and Santiago is a great base from which to enjoy some of Chile's incredible natural environments, such as national parks and ski resorts. There is plenty of evidence of Chile's Spanish colonial past illustrated by some impressive buildings such as the Municipal Theatre of Santiago and the Presidential Palace. As the city continues to grow both in economic and literal terms, the people of Santiago have found new confidence to show off their richly diverse city, including a state of the art transport system and sophisticated shopping and entertainment districts.
Santiago is much less visited than many other South American capitals, which already seems like a good reason to go, but you will certainly be rewarded for making the journey. Enjoy colonial buildings, museums of ancient history and newly constructed shopping and entertainment centres that are a match for the best in the world.
When to Go?
For holidays in Santiago, you may find the timing of your trip is dictated by when flights are available. November to March is the hot summer period in Santiago, while May to September is much cooler and you can see more rain. Winter in the city can be blighted by poor air quality and smog due to a meteorological phenomenon that traps the cooler air in the city.
How to get there?
Although there are currently no direct flights to Santiago from the UK, the route may be restored if demand is high enough, most likely flying from Heathrow. One current option for flying to Santiago is to fly with Spanish airline Iberia via Madrid Airport. There are actually very few Santiago flights from anywhere in Europe, so getting to Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) may continue to prove difficult.
Among the attractions of Santiago are the Contemporary Arts Museum and the Fine Arts Museum, both of which contain extensive collections, housed in impressive neoclassical buildings. The Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art displays fascinating exhibits from over 4000 years, and around 80 civilisations, which existed in South America before the arrival of Europeans, including collections from Aztec, Mayan and Inca cultures. To sample the everyday life of the city, head to the colourful Mercado Market where you can sample the tasty offerings of fruit sellers and fishmongers in the buzzing indoor market atmosphere.
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