The sight of all those steep hills that Valparaiso is built on is rather daunting - but climbing up is not a problem. There are 15 ascensores dotted around the city - some have been operating since the 1880s and all are at least 50 years old. How many thousands and thousands of times must the little cars made the journey up and down those steep tracks? Do take a ride on at least two or three - the views from the top are fantastic, and the funiculars themselves are so quirky. You'll see signs pointing to the terminii that are mostly tucked away in back streets. It only costs a few cents for each ride. You can come down in the ascensores (do they become decensores then?), usually for a few pesos less than going up, but finding your way down the steep stairways and narrow alleys is fun too and can lead you to some really interesting spots - we found the studio of an artist and her glass-worker husband quite accidentally that way, and ended up buying a painting.
A great way to get a good look at the hills of Valaparaiso is to hop on the green "O" bus and ride it all the way to the end of the route at Vina del Mar and back into town. It costs next to nothing and takes you for miles all around the city, way away from the centre.
There is this lift from the city of Santiago to Cerro Santa Lucia and the best about it is : It is totally free of charge !
I took the lift twice, because I wanted to walk down the 2 different paths : first the one that takes you to the national Library via the neptun-fountain and finally the path at the other side, where you will step down to The japanese garden and finally to Lastarria.
The lift is operated daily
between 10.00am and 02.00pm and then again
between 03.00pm - 06.00pm
Taking the funicular is the best and easiest way to get up to Cerro San Cristobal. Mostly a lot of people are queuing up for the tickets there and at the ticket-counter you have to buy also the tickets for the cablecar between Cerro San Cristobal and Pedro de Valdivia Norte, at the other side of the hill.
The ride of the funicular takes about 15 minutes and includes a stop at the upper-entrance to the Zoo.
The funicular is operated daily
between 10.30am and 08.00pm
There is a cablecar between the top-station of Cerro San Cristobal and Pedro de Valdivia Norte, an area with lots of villas by rich people, it is a nice area to take a walk or simply enjoy the view from the cablecar. From the funicular you have to go about 5 minutes in order to get to the cablecar and it is best to buy the tickets already at the cashier of the funicular, so you dont have to queue up again. A gondola takes up to 4 persons, as long as they are slim enough, for 2 this size is just perfect.
Those gondolas are not all-time-fixed to the rope, but are able to stop untill they are loaded without stress (by elderly people or small children) and then they will be fixed again and start the journey.
For handicapped people in wheelchairs the problems will start already with the funicular !
LAN Airlines is the main carrier in Chile and one of the largest in South America. They have partnerships with many different airline companies around the world – in our case, we booked our ticket with American Airlines and connected with LAN at JFK, and on the way back we transferred in Miami. The plane was quite modern and comfortable with a nice selection of onboard entertainment (lots of movies, CDs, video games, etc.), and the staff was friendly and efficient. The food was alright and our flights were on time, even the one that landed in Miami between two hurricanes! I wouldn’t hesitate to fly with them again, the 12h flight went by surprisingly fast :o)
The first things you see after going through customs at the Santiago airport are the "official transport" booths. As there were 5 of us with our luggage and karate equipment, taking a cab was out of the question so instead we decided to go with TransVip, who for a little less than US$10 per person drove us to our hotel located in the Las Condes area in a minivan. I thought this was one of the most convenient ways of travelling downtown from the airport - the minivans are quite comfortable, and as it's a reliable company, you don't have to worry about being taken for a ride (other than the one you've asked for, that is!). We hadn't made a reservation but as we landed very early, there was a van waiting for us. I'm guessing it might be a good idea to book ahead of time if you’re arriving in the middle of the day.
There are also taxis and collectivos available. However, please be aware of using taxis in Santiago as scams are frequent and the drivers are renowned for overcharging. You would need to be assertive and negotiate the fare before travelling! What would help is having the exact fare in change when paying. Radio taxis, however, are more reliable and safer if you're travelling alone at night. Collectivos are like taxis but go along fixed routes in the city and are somewhat cheaper.
I know that lot of people that came to chile in winter time want to go to skiing near Santiago, the problem is that there is no good transportation or is too expensive.
the best way is to rent a car so this itp is for it.
the price is reasonable, and good service, very secure and very reiable.
To go up the Cerro San Christobal, you can use the Funicular, you also can go up on foot, but this is just fun and easy.
Check the website for updated prices and entry schedule !
Round Trip Ticket Adult fee $ 1.200
Round Trip Ticket Children fee
(3 - 13 years old) $ 700
One way Tickett $ 700
Ticket to the Zoo:
Adult fee $ 500
Children Fee $ 500
Promotion Trolley car + Cable car Round Trip Ticket:
Adult fee $ 2.300
Children Fee $ 1.200
Monday 13:00 a 20:30 hours
Tuesday to Friday 10:00 a 20:30 hours
Saturday, sunday and holidays 10:00 a 21:00 hours
If you book through a travel agent, your transfers will be pre-arranged for you. A driver will be waiting at the Arrivals door with your name on a sign. Make sure to get your voucher for the ride, and get a phone number from the driver to confirm your return transfer from Valle Nevado back to Santiago.
If you have to make your own arrangements, I found the following company to be reliable:
Chilean Travel Services
The route between the Pacific and South America is the route with least competition unfortunately making it one of the most expensive to fly on. I am a New Zealander who lives in Santiago and so fly the route frequently.
The two direct flights are either a codeshare flight run by LAN (www.lan.com)with Qantas as their partner that starts in Sydney, stops in Auckland and ends in Santiago. The other is Aerolineas Argentinas which also starts in Sydney, stops in Auckland and continues to Buenos Aires.
Of the two, the Aerolineas flight is usually the cheaper one however the quality of service etc is worse than LAN. Personally I would only take the LAN flight.
Recently Qantas introduced a flight direct between Sydney and Buenos Aires which sometimes has some deals worth considering.
Either if you only have a short time in Santiago, or you wanna get the overall idea of how the city looks like, TURISTIK hop-on hop-off bus might be the best way to jump around. My advise is to start at its main office in front of Parque Arauco (aka the biggest mall in South America), take the Metro to Escuela Militar then a bus (or taxi) ride to the Parque. Why? Well...although you can buy the ticket from some of the shops and tourist info kiosks, but most of the stops are not explicitly marked (except the one in front of Museum of Fine Arts, and Sheraton Hotel) so it might be a little frustrating when you can't locate one. The bus runs every 30 minutes, from 9:30a to 6p. The ticket costs 18.000 CLP ($35 bucks). The whole LOOP takes around 2 hrs;
01 - Plaza de Armas
02 - Mercado Central
03 - Plaza de la Constitucion
04 - Cerro Santa Lucia
05 - Providencia
06 - El Golf
07 - Parque Arauco***
08 - Alonso de Cordova
09 - Sheraton Hotel
10 - Barrio Bellavista
11 - Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
If you are planning on renting a car and driving around Santiago, be aware that the direction of traffic on a street can change throughout the day. In the morning, it may be going towards the center of Santiago, mid-day it could be a two-way street, and evening going away from the center. Make sure you are aware of things like this and what time it is.
It is not necessary to rent a car if you are just going to be going around Santiago. There is plenty of public transportation that it would be more a hastle than helpful.
The two best and cheapest ways to get around Santiago are to use either the Metro or the Micros (buses).
The Metro: easier to understand, cleaner and safer, it is definitely the way to travel to feel comfortable.
The Micros: confusing (although they will be more streamlines starting in 2006) and a bit scary, the micros are the best way to get oriented to the city. Just make sure you pay attention. Especially later at night, sit as close to the driver as possible and on the aisle side to avoid dangerous situations, try to get your money ready ahead of time (350 pesos), HOLD ON!! and pay attention to where you're going. If you're in doubt, ask the driver, they are usually very nice about telling you if this is the right bus for where you're going and also notifying you once the bus is at your stop.
I would recommend using the micros as much as possible, when you have the time to figure them out and soon enough you will be more than comfortable with the city.
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