2011's tourism hotspots: what to do in Santiago, Chile

In January the
New York Times featured Santiago at the top of its list of places to see this year, saying that the Chilean capital has become "decidedly more vibrant."

Santiago is already by far the most popular place for tourists to visit in Chile, but has been experiencing something of a cultural renaissance of late, with new museums, music events and art galleries popping up all over the city.

That's been reflected in an astronomical rise in the number of places to lay your head - Santiago's hotel boom began over a year ago and the city is now home to some new luxury properties from names such as W Santiago and Radisson as well as smaller new properties such as the Hotel Boutique Le Reve.

So what can visitors do in a city that seems poised to emerge as one of South America's leading tourism destinations?

See the stars. Thanks to the positioning of the largest astronomical observatory in the world in the Atacama desert, Chile considers itself something of an astronomical attraction. Santiago isn't left out thanks to the new Observatorio Astronómico Andino, the city's first tourist-style observatory.

Ski. It may not be an immediate association, but some of Chile's best slopes are located near Santiago, with the season starting in June and ending in October.

Look up. Santiago is rather impressively nestled underneath the Andes mountain range, making one of the most beautiful skylines in the world, especially as the sun rises or sets.

Admire the art. Santiago is home to the Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts, which holds one of the finest collections in South America inside a beautiful building constructed in 1910.

Take a walk. San Cristobal hill offers one of the best views of Santiago (smog-permitting) and sits in the city's latest public park, meaning a pleasant stroll up and down.

Lose yourself. At the base of Metropolitan Park is the Barrio Bellavista neighborhood - an area bustling with activity day and night. Enjoy lunch or a drink in one of its charming terraces, overlooked by quaint houses, during the day, or visit at night to sample some of the city's best nightlife.

Listen. Iconic American festival Lollapalooza takes places in Santiago for the first time April 2-3, its first ever international expansion.

http://www.chile.travel/

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