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Culture in Chile

A look at Chile's cultural offerings...

With such a diverse geography stretching from the remote Tierra del Fuego in the very south of the country to the deserts and altiplano lagoons in the very north of the country, it’s natural that Chile should have an extremely diverse culture and history too. While Santiago has, for a long time, lagged behind Buenos Aires and Rio as a cultural destination the growing number of restaurants, theatres and museums is attracting more and more people to the capital and the country is starting to make more of its cultural traditions. Outside of the capital and particularly in rural areas where communities have always had strong ties with the land they live on, you’ll find peoples with deep rooted cultural traditions and unique styles of folk music and dance.

The starting point for most visitors to Chile is the capital of Santiago. Home to the majority of Chile’s population it has long struggled with a reputation for being one of South America’s less exciting cities. In the last few years, however, neighbourhoods like Lastarria and Bellavista with their theatres, museums, restaurants and wine bars have helped to turn Santiago into a cultural destination in its own right. One of Santiago’s major advantages is its relatively small size and excellent metro system which makes it easy for visitors to the city to explore and move between one area and another. Whether it’s learning more about Chile’s history by visiting the historical centre and Palacio La Moneda, discovering more about Pinochet and the relatively recent dictatorship at the Museum of Memory or trying a few steps of the national dance known as “cueca” in Barrio Brasil, there’s plenty to fill a couple of nights in the capital before moving on elsewhere.

In the southern Araucanía region of Chile, which encompasses much of the Lake District, live Chile’s largest group of indigenous peoples, the Mapuche. Once occupying a territory covering most of Southern Chile and Argentina, the Mapuche are famous for their 350 year struggle against the Spanish conquistadors and later the leaders of the fight for Chilean independence. This area of Chile with its peaceful lakes, rivers and forests, is stunningly beautiful and a visit can be even more rewarding after learning about Mapuche traditions as well as their strong ties to La Araucanía and the environment they strive to protect.

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    At a glance…Chile

  • Population: 17 million+
  • Location: South America
  • Recommended time to go: 5 to 14 nights
  • Time to visit: November to March
  • Go here for: Walking, nature and wildlife, activities
  • Further reading...

  • › Where to go
  • › The "W" Trek Torres del Paine
  • › Chile Honeymoons
  • Our Top Five Culture Hotels in Chile:

    1. Tierra Chiloé - external view

      Tierra Chiloé

      This is the newest of the three Tierra hotels and the only luxury hotel on the enchanting island of Chiloé; an archipelago just off the coast of Chile’s Lake District in Northern Patagonia with its own unique culture and traditions. Unlike at the other two hotels in Patagonia and the Atacama, the... More...

      Our rating:
      5
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      5
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      5
    2. The Singular Patagonia - External View

      The Singular Patagonia

      One of the more recent additions to the list of luxury adventure lodges in Chilean Patagonia, the Singular Puerto Bories has fast become one of Chile's top hotels and a firm favourite for travellers to the region. Housed within a former cold-storage plant on the banks of the Ultima Esperanza Fjord... More...

      Our rating:
      5
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      5
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      5
    3. Zero Hotel

      This charming, converted town house is one of our pick of the bunch while staying in the Valpariaso. Set high up on the hillside, the Zero Hotel is ideally located for wandering around the multi coloured streets or simply relaxing by the terraced pool and lounging area that look magnificently out... More...

      Our rating:
      4
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      3
    4. Luciano K Hotel - Terrace Restaurant

      Luciano K Hotel

      The sister property to the Lastarria Boutique Hotel, Luciano K is a stylish boutique hotel named after one of Chile’s most famous architects. With its art deco style and lively rooftop bar it’s a very different style of property to the calm and classic Lastarria B. Despite being a bigger property... More...

      Our rating:
      4
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    5. The Aubery - Hotel

      The Aubrey

      Located in the chic Bellavista region on the capital, the Aubrey is a relatively new venture from the owners of the superb Pasta e Vino restaurant in the nearby Valparaiso. Definitely one of the most designed of the city’s hotels, the hotel features a second of the award winning restaurant, but for... More...

      Our rating:
      5
      User rating:
      4
      Price:
      4