Cruises to Santiago (Valparaiso)

89 Reviews
Santiago (Valparaiso) (Photo:Pablo Rogat/Shutterstock)

About Cruising to Santiago (Valparaiso)

If you are planning a cruise to Chile, you'll want to include Santiago. With historic squares, broad avenues, modern buildings, green parks, tempting shops, wonderful restaurants and diverse neighborhoods to be explored, Santiago begs for a pre- or post-cruise stay.

A thriving city of over six million people, Santiago has recovered from a difficult period in its long history. In contrast to some nations in Latin America, Chile had a long tradition of peaceful democratic rule and was prosperous, thanks to its rich deposits of nitrates and copper. But on September 11, 1973 a bloody military coup appointed Augusto Pinochet as head of the government. Pinochet's was a reign of terror, with opponents tortured or put to death. Thousands of Chileans were expelled or fled the country to escape the regime. While the wealthy prospered, unemployment and poverty soared during his 17-year reign. Pinochet was finally ousted in 1988, and order and democracy have returned. The many new buildings being erected show that Santiago is flourishing under a stable and progressive government.

This is a sprawling city with a narrow river wandering through it, but with a good look at a map, it is easy to get your bearings. Centro is the downtown area and the oldest part of Santiago. The artistic enclave of Bellas Artes and some unexpected neighborhoods within might make you think you had stumbled into Paris or Rio; streets are busy and filled with dozens of buses. History is found here in the Spanish Colonial buildings in the leafy Plaza de Armas and the stately Civic Quarter; the grandest European-style buildings, including the Municipal Theatre, the National Library and the Palace of Fine Arts, were built after Chile gained its independence in 1818. The funky Bellavista quarter and the big Metropolitan Park are just to the north of downtown, across the River Mapocho.

Modern Santiago is growing to the east. That's where you will find Providencia, an area with wide streets and lovely homes; a popular place to stay because it is walkable and features many shops and restaurants. Further east, Vitacura is home to gourmet dining and to the Boulevard Alonso de Cordova, where the city's most exclusive designer shops are found. Posh new condominiums and lavish shopping malls are beyond in the Las Condes district.

  • More about Santiago (Valparaiso)

  • Why Cruise to Santiago (Valparaiso)?

  • Santiago (Valparaiso) Cruise Port Facilities?

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Viking Polaris
Viking Expeditons 25th Anniversary with Viking Venus, Viking Polaris and Viking Mani

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73 Reviews
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Viking Jupiter
Viking Jupiter Aquavit Terrace (Photo: Viking Ocean Cruises)

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Seven Seas Mariner
Seven Seas Mariner (Photo: Regent)

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150 Night World Cruise

392 Reviews
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Viking Jupiter
Viking Jupiter Aquavit Terrace (Photo: Viking Ocean Cruises)

17 Night
South America & The Chilean Fjords

430 Reviews
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Nachi Cocom Beach Club

Cruise Critic Favorite

17 Night
South America & The Chilean Fjords

430 Reviews
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South America Cruise

49 Reviews
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19 Night
Valparaiso To Buenos Aires

17 Reviews
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197 Reviews
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54 Reviews
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Transatlantic Cruise

49 Reviews
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70 Night
Longitudinal World Cruise Ii

182 Reviews
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South America Cruise

49 Reviews
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21 Night
South Pacific Cruise

232 Reviews
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13 Night
In The Wake Of The Beagle Through The Chile's Fjor...

62 Reviews
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More about Santiago (Valparaiso)

Why Cruise to Santiago (Valparaiso)?

Pros:

Santiago features art enclaves, historic Spanish Colonial buildings and modern touches

Cons:

Your ship will dock in Valparaiso, about 90 minutes from Santiago

Bottom Line:

Prepare for a commute, as the main points of interest are in Santiago

Santiago (Valparaiso) Cruise Port Facilities?

Valparaiso has long attracted artists and poets and has been declared a UNESCO Heritage Site (it was once the capital of Chile, before Santiago). Before the Panama Canal was built, ships stopped here before rounding Cape Horn, making it one of the busiest ports in South America. It has seen better days -- paint is flaking on many buildings and some of the downtown shops are vacant -- but the port remains busy and the town is picturesque, with multi-hued houses clinging every which way to the 40-something steep hills that form a kind of amphitheater around the harbor. Fifteen somewhat creaky Victorian-era funicular elevators called "ascensors" can be boarded throughout the city for panoramic views.

The main tourist attraction is La Sebastiana, the hilltop home of Chile's late Nobel-prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. The house is a maze of quirky rooms, each with a prize city view. The grandest square is Sotomayor, the gateway to the town pier, and is lined with statues and fine official buildings including the Chilean navy headquarters. The tourist information office here offers free maps with walking tours.

Good to Know?

Your belongings: Though generally safe, Santiago, like most big cities, has areas where thefts occur. Be careful when visiting the Plaza de Armas and Bellavista areas, and avoid walking around these neighborhoods at night.

The Andes and Coastal ranges meet to completely ring this beautiful city like a crown, jeweled most of the year with sparkling white snow, but you'll have to look closely to see them; as the economy prospers and more people own cars, smog can be a problem. Carry eye drops to alleviate irritated eyes.

Getting Around?

From Valparaiso: Turbus, a reliable company with well-maintained buses, has departures every 20 minutes for under $7 one way.

Editor's note: The text is in Spanish, but once you click Venta de Pasayes and enter your cities and date of travel, you will get current schedules and fares. Buses leave from the Valparaiso bus terminal at Av. Pedro Montt 2800, near O'Higgins Square, and in Santiago at Alameda 3750. Cruise lines offer day tours for those who do not stay over in Santiago. Tours usually include Vina del Mar, a lovely seaside resort near Valparaiso.

In Santiago: The central part of Santiago can by covered on foot, but you'll want to see a variety of neighborhoods. The quickest way to get around is by Metro, the city's modern, clean and safe subway system. The cost is just 370 peso, about 60 cents, per ride. Taxis are plentiful and reasonable with typical rides running $5 or $6 between neighborhoods. They are available at hotels, can be hailed on the street or called by phone. Taxis have meters, but to avoid being driven out of the way, it can be wise to set a price before you get in. There are plenty of rental car agencies available at the Santiago airport and in town. Expect to pay around $50 per day for the smallest no-frill cars.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Chile's currency unit is the peso. One U.S. dollar is worth about 650 pesos, so a calculator comes in handy for figuring costs. ATM's are the most convenient way to get funds; they are found in the airport, at banks, in shopping centers and in many large hotels. Bank hours usually are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Language?

Spanish. Most people working in hotels and tourist shops speak English, and restaurants that cater to visitors often have English translations on the menu.

Where You're Docked?

Ships dock in Valparaiso, a coastal city about 90 minutes from Santiago; many public buses operate between the two cities (see Getting Around).


Santiago (Valparaiso) Cruise Reviews
We found Chili to be a piece of paradise. I wish we would have stayed in Valparaiso for a night and then moved to Santiago. We spent 4 days in Santiago. The steak at La Cabrera (which is a chain and also in the aiRead More
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bonniestoeppelman
The cruise ended in Valparaiso, which is an industrial port. We took a shuttle bus from the ship to the terminal. It was confusing figuring out transportation out the cruise port. Many people paid for expensive toursRead More
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mkesolo
We stayed four more nights in Santiago after our cruise. Our tour guide said that Santiago is divided into two parts, a newer, very safe area and an older not so safe area. We stayed at the new area, where the InteRead More
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Philip Y
Valparaiso , old port and principal port of the pacific before the Panama Canal , all though its only 1 hr away from Santiago its quite colorfull port town , old construction that can show in ancestral architecture Read More
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lujoleasing

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