This eight-day Chilean adventure begins in the capital, Santiago. Explore the city and surrounding region, including the neighboring cities of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso. Next, hop a flight to Easter Island. This Chilean territory, formed of volcanic rock, is 2.5-million years old. As you tour this ancient, Polynesian destination, explore the many moai figures, along with beaches, volcanoes, and significant archaeological sites.

Highlights

  • Stroll the streets, markets, and landmarks of Santiago
  • Tour the neighboring towns of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar
  • Enjoy a free day in Rapa Nui, and relax on the pristine beach of Anakena

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Santiago and City Tour Santiago
Day 2 Viña del Mar and Valparaíso Excursion Santiago
Day 3 Maipo Valley Full-Day Tour Santiago
Day 4 Fly to Easter Island Easter Island
Day 5 Easter Island - Rapa Nui Full-Day Tour Easter Island
Day 6 Easter Island - Orongo & Ahu Akivi Tours Easter Island
Day 7 Easter Island - Free Day Easter Island
Day 8 Departure From Santiago  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Santiago and city tour

Take a cable car up Cerro San Cristóbal
Take a cable car up Cerro San Cristóbal 

Welcome to Chile! Upon arrival at Santiago International Airport, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. Once settled, get out and experience the pulse of this Latin American metropolis on a guided, half-day tour. Like any great city, that pulse is found in its people, marketplaces, and cuisine. 

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. Hop on a cable car to the top of this hill that sits high above the city. Enjoy the 360° panoramas and take plenty of photos, as these are the most incredible views in Santiago.
  • Enjoy dinner in the fashionably bohemian enclave of Barrio Bellavista. This is the trendiest neighborhood in the city.  Find a diverse array of funky cafés, international eateries, and high-end restaurants here.

Day 2: Viña del Mar and Valparaíso excursion

The colorful streets of Valparaiso
The colorful streets of Valparaiso

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 3: Maipo Valley full-day tour

Maipo Valley
Maipo Valley

Today, experience more of Chile's famous natural beauty with a visit to Cajón del Maipu. After breakfast, embark on a 45-minute road trip southeast of Santiago to this popular gorge. First, arrive in the fertile San José de Maipo region, with its hills and vineyards. Then, it's an ascent into the mountains, where the landscapes become even more dramatic as massifs and snow-capped peaks dominate the skyline. Take in the sparkling rivers and streams that wind through this paradise.

After reaching 9,843 feet above sea level, exit the vehicle at the shores of the Embalse de Yeso, a reservoir nestled in the Andes with a glassy surface that shines bright-turquoise. Enjoy the landscape and snap photos of the panoramic vistas. Walk around the shore as your expert guide offers insight into the geology of the area, as well as the history of the reservoir, a result of damming the Yeso River back in 1964.

For lunch, take a seat near the water and enjoy a picnic, accompanied by a selection of top Chilean wines. Afterward, return to San José de Maipo and stop in at a local restaurant to try a traditional snack—the Chilean empanada.

Transfer back to your hotel in Santiago, and enjoy the evening on your own.

Day 4: 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 5: 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 6: 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 7: Easter Island - Free day

Anakena Beach
Anakena Beach

Today is a free day to enjoy the island any way you'd like. If you're feeling active, there are opportunities for diving, snorkeling, and surfing. On land, explore the island's beauty by bike, foot, or horseback.

For some relaxation, spend a day at the beach. Revisit Anakena. It receives few visitors—especially in the morning since most tours arrive in the afternoon. If you're lucky, you may enjoy a small bit of paradise—all to yourself. 

In addition to its restored monuments, Ahu Ature Huki and Nau Nau, the beach is known for its warm water and pristine white sand—an inviting place to sunbathe and swim year-round. On the outskirts of the beach, there are two restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat. To spend your last day here, relaxing with the spiritual statues nearby, is a special experience.

Day 8: Departure from Santiago

Say goodbye to Rapa Nui
Farewell, Chile!

Today marks your last day on the island. Depending on your flight schedule, you should have some free time to explore Rapa Nui a bit more before transferring to the airport. Then, hop a flight back to Santiago, and catch your connecting flight home.

Map

Map of Santiago, Valparaíso, & Easter Island - 8 Days
Map of Santiago, Valparaíso, & Easter Island - 8 Days