Located just 5 miles north of Valparaíso, Viña del Mar (“Vineyard by the Sea”) claims colonial origins as the hacienda of the Carrera family. Often referred to as the “Riviera of Chile,” and long considered the country’s “tourist capital,” this fashionable destination is Chile’s largest, and perhaps most ritziest, beach resort town, and the summer hotspot for Santiago’s wealthy.
Also known as the “Garden City” because of its generous areas of vegetation, tropical gardens and vibrant flowerbeds, Viña (as better known by the locals) features trim, palm-lined boulevards, beautiful expansive parks and residential neighborhoods, and 8 miles of sprawling beige coast. Though you will find the expected share of the sleek and modern (from hotels to high rises), it’s the charming colonial houses that truly set the scene.
Explore the city’s tranquil streets by horse-drawn carriage or the plenty of fine beaches along its coast (Reñaca proving the spot to see and be seen). Pay visit to the museums such as the Corporación Museo de Arqueología e Historia Francisco Fonck, housed in a mansion bequeathed to the city, which displays native fauna and flora, archaeological artifacts, and a fine collection of Mapuche silver, in addition to the Easter Island collection (which includes a real Moai statue in the garden). The city also has the country’s oldest casino, trendy boutiques, an excellent selection of restaurants, and a varied nightlife. The Musical Festival of Viña del Mar, for which the city is famous, is held every year in February and lasts up to five days.