Whilst in Santiago you can choose to visit one or two of the small museums; or, for a panoramic view of the city, head to the central hilltop park of Cerro Santa Lucía. For even more dramatic views, take a cable car to the summit of San Cristóbal, where you can join Chilean families wandering along the leafy paths. We recommend a coffee, beer or glass of wine at one of the pavement cafés in Bellavista. This is the bohemian district: an Italian quarter of narrow streets peppered with bars and shops selling local semi-precious lapis lazuli at reasonable prices. The museum and house of Chilean poet laureate Pablo Neruda is close by, and its unusual interior with an eclectic collection of paintings and bric-a-brac is well worth a visit.
Alternatively, you can visit Valparaíso, Chile's second city which is only 2 hours away by bus. This lively seaport is built on a series of hills which form a backdrop to the wide bay, with views over the seaside resort of Viña del Mar. You can wander along the sombre streets behind the port, and among the residences and office buildings built for British and German merchants, or take a ride in one of the wooden funiculars which link the cliff-top communities. These have been recently enlivened with brightly coloured façades, new boutique hotels and chic restaurants.
You may also choose to take a leisurely visit to one of the wineries located in the fertile valleys close to Santiago. The region's viticulture has gained an excellent reputation and you can sample some of the wines and take a tour of the cellars and bottling plants.