Enjoy a cultural adventure through Chile on this nine-day vacation. Start in Santiago to tour the landmarks and markets, and take advantage of the burgeoning restaurant scene. Then, venture to Easter Island to explore the history and moai of the ancient Polynesian destination. Next, return to Santiago, and venture out on day trips to Viña del Mar and Valparaiso, as well as the Casablanca Valley—for a grand finale of wine tasting.

Highlights

  • Visit the bustling markets and enjoy views atop Cerro San Cristóbal in Santiago
  • Stroll the colorful streets of coastal Valparaiso & Viña del Mar
  • Explore the Polynesian history and the ancient stones in Easter Island
  • Tour the vineyards and taste premium wines in Casablanca Valley

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Santiago Santiago
Day 2 Santiago - Guided City Tour Santiago
Day 3 Fly to Easter Island Easter Island
Day 4 Easter Island - Rapa Nui Full-Day Tour Easter Island
Day 5 Easter Island - Orongo and Ahu Akivi Tours Easter Island
Day 6 Fly Back to Santiago Santiago
Day 7 Viña del Mar and Valparaíso Excursion Santiago
Day 8 Casablanca Valley Day Trip Santiago
Day 9 Depart From Santiago Santiago

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Santiago

Hike or take a gondola up to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal
Hike or take a gondola up to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal

Welcome to Chile! Upon arrival at Santiago International Airport, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. You'll have the rest of the day to explore the city at your leisure. 

Suggested activities include:

  • Hike to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal, where you can survey the area from a high vantage point. Pathways lead 2,788 feet up this central hill to a series of lookouts that offer wraparound views of Santiago. If you aren't the hiking type, not to worry—catch a scenic gondola, instead.
  • Stroll the cobblestone streets of Barrio Bellavista. On the north side of Santiago, you'll find this trendy enclave, with a fashionable and bohemian vibe. Stroll past colorful houses adorned with graffiti art and choose between an eclectic array of eateries and bars—great for people watching. 
  • Snap photos in front of the Palacio de la Moneda. Chile's opulent presidential palace (known simply as "La Moneda") is a short stroll from the Plaza de Armas. It was here in 1973 that Chile's armed forces, backed by the U.S. government, overthrew President Salvador Allende, kicking off a brutal right-wing military dictatorship that would last for 17 years. Visitors are welcome.

For dinner, be sure to enjoy a culinary adventure in the city. In recent years, Santiago has emerged as a global foodie destination. Chilean chefs are reinventing traditional dishes, like empanadas, cazuelas (stews), and seafood with ingredients harvested all the way from the northern deserts and southern Patagonian regions. You can find great restaurants and wine bars not only in the Bellavista neighborhood but also in the revitalized historic barrios of Yungay and Italia.

Day 2: Santiago - Guided city tour

Santiago's bustling central market
Santiago's bustling central market

Today, further explore Santiago on a guided tour—choose between half-day or full-day, depending on your preference.

Highlights of the tour include:

  • Wandering the aisles of Santiago's labyrinthine Mercado Central and Mercado La Vega. These markets are the beating heart of the city, overflowing with vendors and local residents eager to get their hands on the day's fresh produce. With the assistance of an English-speaking guide, engage with these vendors and shoppers, learning about their daily routines, while getting the inside track on the most delicious ingredients to try.
  • A visit to the Plaza de Armas, located in Santiago's historic center. There's a lot of history within the four corners of this expansive stone plaza, as it was founded all the way back in 1541. Nearby sits the impressive Catedral Metropolitana, a neoclassical church circa 1748, with towering twin bell towers dominating the north side of the plaza.
  • Ascend to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal, if you did not do so yesterday. Hop on a cable car to the top of this hill that sits above the city.  Enjoy the 360° panoramas and take plenty of photos, as these are the most incredible views in Santiago.

The evening is yours to enjoy on your own time.

Day 3: Fly to Easter Island

Moai, Easter Island's literal figureheads
Moai, Easter Island's literal figureheads

After breakfast, make your way to the most remote inhabited land in the world: Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, as it's commonly known. The trip involves a transfer from your hotel to the airport to catch a three-hour flight to the island. After transferring to your hotel and checking in, spend the remainder of the day exploring at your leisure.

There are around 600 stone figures, or moai, on this island—some of which reach 32 feet in height. Many of them stand on the stone ahu (ceremonial pillars) that dot the island’s green hillsides. For a bit of history, these were fashioned out of volcanic rock by the first Polynesian settlers after they arrived in 800 CE. The figures themselves represent deceased leaders of the five tribes that once inhabited the island, and supposedly offered spiritual protection. Around the 16th century, the islanders exceeded their natural resources, and—as a result of famine and war—tore down many idols believing they outlasted their usefulness.

By the 19th century, Europeans, smallpox, and slavery arrived, annihilating some of the population, while more emigrated to Tahiti to work on plantations. Eventually, the population rebounded, and Rapa Nui was annexed to Chile in 1888. Locals today are governed under a council of indigenous chiefs.

Suggested activities on the island:

  • Explore Hanga Roa. This is the main town on Easter Island with 3,000 residents, or roughly 87 percent of the island's inhabitants. Hanga Roa has a small-town coastal vibe with restaurants serving ceviche, empanadas stuffed with fresh tuna, po'e (a pumpkin and plantain cake), and taro ice cream. 
  • Visit the Museo Antropológico Sebastián Englert. For an introduction to island life, come to this anthropological museum and view exhibits celebrating the indigenous patrimony, such as ancient tools, totems, sculptures, and more.
  • Take a hike outside of town to Ahu Tahai. Here, there are some moai, as well as caves nearby. It also makes a great sunset-viewing spot for your first night on the island.

Day 4: Easter Island - Rapa Nui full-day tour

Ahu Te Pito Kura, Easter Island
Ahu Te Pito Kura, Easter Island

After breakfast, embark on a full-day tour of the island. It's an informative journey that will shed light on Rapa Nui's famous archeological sites. Start at Ahu Te Pito Kura, a unique rock structure featuring a central stone that, according to a legend, was brought over by a king of the first tribes and supposedly still emits spiritual power.

Then, it's off to Rano Raraku, an impressive volcanic crater. Seek out many moai along the base. Next, enjoy a delicious snack at Ahu Tongariki, which is considered the biggest ceremonial platform on the island. Here, there are 15 moai displayed in a row. After touring the site, visit another ceremonial platform called Ahu Akahang and finish off the day at the beautiful, white-sand beach of Anakena.

Day 5: Easter Island - Orongo and Ahu Akivi tours

The seven moai of Ahu Akivi
The seven moai of Ahu Akivi

Today is another exciting day of exploring Easter Island. The itinerary includes two, half-day tours to Orongo and Ahu Akivi.

After breakfast, travel a few minutes to the southwest corner of Rapa Nui and the remains of the village of Orongo. Located on the rim of an inactive volcano called Rano Kau, this area enjoys a special place in the island's history, as it was the principal site of what's known as the "Birdman" era. The cult of the Birdman took root on Rapa Nui in the 16th century, after locals gave up on the moai due to war and famine. 

The cult of the Birdman was also a contest. In order to appease their deity, called Meke-Meke, islanders would hold an annual competition to see who would be crowned the next chief. The contest involved a group of men swimming to two nearby islands and waiting until terns (seabirds) laid their first eggs of the season. Whoever returned with the first egg became chief for a year, also dubbed the Birdman. Orongo was the ceremonial village in which he was crowned. 

You will not only visit the village and the volcano, but also a cave by the sea known as Ana Kai Tangata. Inside this cave,  view petroglyphs fashioned by the ancient inhabitants of the island. This excursion ends in the early afternoon and concludes the first tour of the day. 

The second tour involves a trip about 1 mile inland to visit Ahu Akivi. This place is unique. Not only is it home to seven moai, but in ancient times, it also doubled as a celestial observatory. In other words, this is where islanders came to stargaze. An interesting feature is that the seven moai all face sunset during the spring equinox, and their backs are to the sunrise during autumn. 

While here, take a short hike to two other archaeological sites: the cave of Ana Te Pahu, the largest cavern on Rapa Nui, and the Puna Pau volcano.

Following the tours, the evening is at your leisure.

Day 6: Fly Back to Santiago

Enjoy more of Santiago's dining scene this evening
Enjoy more of Santiago's dining scene this evening

Today is your last day on the island. Depending on your flight, there will likely be time in the morning to explore the island a bit more at your own pace.

Surrounding your travel, a driver will pick you up from your hotel in a minibus to be transferred to the airport in Easter Island for your return flight to Santiago. Expect to arrive back in the city in the mid-evening, in time for a late dinner.

Day 7: Viña del Mar and Valparaíso excursion

The colorful streets of Valparaíso
The colorful streets of Valparaíso

Today, leave the capital on an excursion to central Chile's Pacific Coast. Visit two neighboring cities: Viña del Mar and Valparaíso

First, arrive in Viña del Mar, an upscale coastal resort city teeming with shopping complexes, commercial high-rises, boutiques, and well-manicured gardens. The city's modern image is the result of reconstruction efforts following the numerous earthquakes the Chilean coast has endured over the years. However, there are still 20th-century landmarks, like the Germanic Wulff Castle and the Venetian-Gothic Vergara Palace, the former home of the founder of Viña del Mar. The city is the perfect place to enjoy a seaside lunch at one of the many upscale restaurants on the shore. 

Next, visit the port city of Valparaíso, located adjacent to Viña del Mar. This colorful metropolis is the artistic and bohemian soul of the country. It's filled with street art, music, and poetry. Moreover, it's a throwback to the turn of the 20th century, when electric trollies coasted along the waterfront and lurching funicular elevators carried passengers to the highest points in the city.

Start exploring Valparaíso by visiting the old plazas of Sotomayor and Aníbal Pinto. Then, ride the Reina Victoria funicular and ascend to the top. From here, wander the hilly neighborhoods of Cerro AlegreCerro Concepción, and Cerro Florida. On the last hill, find La Sebastiana, a museum that was once the home of famed Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

No matter where you go, you can always find sweeping views looking out over the colorful houses to the Pacific Coast and the blanket of blue water running out to the horizon. Some liken Valparaíso to San Francisco reimagined by Dr. Seuss

Following the exploration, head to the minivan to transfer back to Santiago, and return to your hotel.

Day 8: Casablanca Valley day trip

Go wine tasting in Casablanca Valley
Go wine tasting in Casablanca Valley

Today, take a scenic day trip to the vine-covered hills of the Casablanca Valley, about 47 miles from Santiago. At Matetic Vineyards, learn about winemaking, bottling, and storage. The visit to this beautiful property includes a tasting of two, premium wines from the Corralillo line, as well as lunch.

From here, visit Isla Negra to see the museum house of Pablo Neruda before returning to your boutique hotel in Santiago during the afternoon. Enjoy your final evening in Chile at your leisure. 

Day 9: Depart from Santiago

Farewell, Chile!
Farewell, Chile!

Enjoy breakfast in Santiago before transferring to the airport. Look back on your cultured Chilean adventure as your board your onward flight home. Safe Travels!

Map

Map of Cultural Chile & Easter Island Exploration - 9 Days
Map of Cultural Chile & Easter Island Exploration - 9 Days