From deserts and mountains to rainforests and glaciers, a holiday in Chile can cater for the needs of even the pickiest tourist as it has such a lot to offer. Its capital Santiago is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, complete with a beautiful central square, parks and good range of shops. The Andes offer some excellent skiing destinations such as the slopes at Valle Nevado and Farellones, while Chile's Central Valley is a must for wine lovers. Then there's Punta Arenas, one of the southernmost cities in the world, UNESCO World Heritage Site Valparaíso and the magical Easter Island.
Airlines including Iberia, Qantas and Air Canada offer indirect flights to Chile from most major UK airports. The most common entry point is Santiago International Airport, although flights also go to a good range of other destinations in Chile such as Arica, Punta Arenas and Antofagasta. For those heading to Easter Island you need to check out flights with LAN as this is the only carrier that flies there.
Once in Chile, buses offer the best value for money for getting from town to town, although if you are short of time and have large distances to travel, domestic flights may offer the best solution. LAN offers good deals on internal flights, and it is cheapest to book these at the time of booking your holiday to ensure you get the best possible deal. If you're in the cities of Santiago or Valparaíso make use of the metro system which is convenient and offers excellent value for money.
Chile is more expensive compared with other South American countries such as Peru and Bolivia, but it is still possible to find cheap hotels in Chile. For the best deals shop around online and book as far in advance as possible.
Restaurants in the popular tourists destinations can be quite expensive, whereas local supermarkets offer high quality produce that is excellent value for money. Consider making a packed lunch to save cash or head to one of the smaller, family-run restaurants that offer more affordable options such as the Chilean favourite lomo a lo pobre - a beefsteak, fried potatoes and two fried eggs. Cheap snacks can often be picked up from street sellers too, look out for the fruit carts offering fresh strawberries, watermelons and peaches - they are very inexpensive and a lot cheaper than back home. Also look out for empanadas (deep-fried pastry with various fillings) which are a tasty treat.
Chileans love to drink alcohol and prices are pretty low - just be aware that it's actually illegal to drink in public areas such as parks and streets. If you're looking for something a bit different during your Chile holiday, try a terremoto. It's a typical Chilean drink made using pineapple ice cream and white wine! Wine lovers should also make sure they sample some of Chile's excellent home-grown varieties.
Updated 15th May 2013
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