The option to ski Santiago, Chile should not be overlooked if you are planning a South American skiing vacation.
Here we cover the best ski resorts near Santiago, things to do and places to eat and visit while in the city.
You’ll also get our insider tips, with 2 decades of experience exploring Chile’s capital. Suggested ski tours that include Santiago, where to rent skis (It’s harder than you think), and the best place to buy ski and snowboard gear in the city.
If exploring and skiing around Santiago is in travel your plans, you are in the right place. Let’s get started.
Ski Resorts in Santiago, Chile
There are 3 ski resorts near Santiago worth visiting during the ski season in Santiago (June to September). Valle Nevado, La Parva and El Colorado/Farellones make up what is considered Chile’s 3 Valleys, or what locals call Tres Valles.
Depending on traffic, road conditions and where you are lodging in Santiago, you can arrive to any of these Santiago ski areas in 60-90 minutes driving.
Valle Nevado – Founded in the late eighties by French entrepreneurs, Valle Nevado boasts over 900 hectares of skiable terrain at a base elevation of around 3000 meters. This resort, surrounded by impressive cliffs, provides spectacular views on a clear day and even more memorable sunsets. There are several hotel choices to choose from, not to mention numerous bars and restaurants catering to both daily and weekly guests.
More Ski Resorts Close to Santiago
A bit further away but not to be left out is the iconic Portillo Resort. Getting from Santiago to Portillo is a bit more effort but well worth the day trip or extended stay 7 night ski package.
Ski Portillo is often ranked #1 of all the ski resorts in South America.
Pro tip: For day trips to Portillo go on a Sunday. While the resort is always quiet with zero lift lines, the issue is the traffic in and out of the city. Go on a Sunday and it will get you more time on the snow and less time in the car.
Learn more about skiing in Portillo >
Ski Rentals and Ski Shops in Santiago
Despite a booming population and proximity to world class skiing, Santiago is not Denver, Colorado. Surprising enough few Chileans can afford to take advantage of the slopes close to home so only a handful of quality ski rental shops exist in Santiago.
Where to Rent Skis & Snowboards
The best ski rentals in Santiago are found on Avenida Las Condes and Camino a Farellones as you head towards the mountain village of Farellones. However do not expect a great selection and the equipment is generally a few years old at best.
Looking for a fat powder ski or backcountry touring rentals? Not a lot of options. Try KL on Augusto Mira Fernández 14248 in Las Condes across from the gas station as your turn off Ave. Las Condes onto Camino A Farellones. Do not expect what you would find at home unless you are very lucky.
Honestly it is highly suggested you bring your own skis and snowboard to Chile. We know, checking skis on a plane has additional costs and risks, but if you are an advanced to expert skier or rider you are going to have a tough time finding quality rentals in Santiago.
If you insist you on renting, despite the additional cost, it may be worthwhile waiting to rent directly at the ski resort. Valle Nevado, Portillo and La Parva all have a decent selection of rental equipment with the exception of backcountry touring gear.
Best Snowboard & Ski Shops
Oops! Left your Goretex jacket on the plane? Need to pick up some quality ski socks or Smith goggles? Your best bet is the sports mall on Av. las Condes 13451 called Mall Sport. You cannot miss it and it’s worth a visit. The mall even has a wave pool, climbing wall, and inside park to explore.
Try the shops Andesgear or Zolkan for high end outdoor equipment. Hit 7veinte for your snowboard needs or head straight to your favorite brand shop; Patagonia, Billabong, The North Face, Salomon, Helly Hansen.
Pro Tip: Come mid-late August snowboard and ski shops in Santiago begin to really cut prices. We have actually found some better deals in Santiago than the USA on Smartwool socks and Goretex gloves, especially when these mid-late season sales hit Mall Sport.
Ski Tours Visiting Santiago
Aside from the obvious ski day trip from the city or the popular ski resort all inclusive hotel packages, don’t rule out a guided ski tour that includes Santiago.
These hosted ski safaris to Chile include professional ski guides and coaches taking you to all the best ski areas near Santiago plus overnights and cultural excursions in the city.
Why Visit The City?
Santiago, Chile has recently been ranked on New York Times top places to travel.
Praised for the exploding culinary, music and arts scene, and the access to the top Chile ski resorts, the capital city of nearly 7 million inhabitants has changed tremendously since our first visit in 1997.
Constantly over shadowed by Argentina’s Buenos Aires and Brazil’s Sao Paulo, Santiago is truly worth a visit.
When we travel through Chile, we like spending 2-3 days wandering Santiago’s neighborhoods, taking pictures, absorbing the local culture and sampling the scores of new cafes, restaurants, bars and nearby award winning vineyards.
Santiago’s Explosive Tourism Boom
A decade ago it was next to impossible to find good coffee (unless you are a Nescafe fan). Discovering a quality restaurant, well that was a bit of a mission.
Today, there are hundreds of outstanding delis and high scale bistros scattered from downtown Santiago, and the trendy neighborhoods of Bellavista, Providencia, Nunoa and of course the upscale barrios in Las Condes and Vitacura.
However, it should be noted that Santiago is not for everyone. It’s a large and noisy city and the smog can be brutal, especially in the winter months June to September.
But if you are lucky enough to be in Santiago after a rain storm, which cleans the air providing epic views of the towering snow covered Andes, it’s hard to beat.
The views from Santa Lucia, where the city was founded in 1541 are amazing. Few cities in the world access the quality skiing Chile has to offer, just over 30 miles from Santiago’s airport.
Rough Guide Reader’s Award: Coolest City
The readers of the Rough Guide have spoken when it comes to the coolest city in the world, and Santiago, Chile made the list as runner-up in 2017!
Second only to Osaka, Japan, the voters believe that Santiago is no longer just a home-base for exploring the remote areas of the country, as it is now a world-class destination itself. Visitors will love the diversity of restaurants and nightlife, the flourishing cultural scene that is continuously expanding as well as the many historic attractions and museums within the city itself.
For most of the PowderQuest team, Santiago is a great destination after riding the nearby Santiago ski resorts of Portillo, Valle Nevado, La Parva and El Colorado.
Here are some of our favorite places in or just outside of downtown Santiago to grab a drink, something to eat and watch the city vibe.
The coffee shops on José Victorino Lastarría and Rosal behind Cerro Santa Lucia: Watch the sunset from one of the bridges on the Mapocho River then wander these streets. Good coffee, teas, boutique shops, open air markets, music and art.
Mercado Central: At lunch this building is as much as a cultural experience as it is an amazing place to sample Chile’s seafood, in the heart of downtown, freshly caught from the cold Pacific, just 70 miles away. We suggest the seafood soup called paila marina. Delicious with lots of lemon and a bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.
Plaza de Armas: Don’t miss the nearby Plaza de Armas for more international culture and a great spot to take pictures and video. One of the biggest tourist attractions in Santiago.
Liguria Bar: several hip locations serving Chilean-Italian dishes and a great place to grab a drink with Chile’s bohemian scene. What to order? We recommend ordering the osso bucco and a bottle of Carmenere. This place is popular with the locals so expect a wait and a lot of noise.
Sangucheria La Gloria: Looking for a delicious sandwich? This Peruvian eatery with 5 locations through Santiago (and expanding) is one of our go to stops.
Things to do in Santiago: It’s Not All About The Food
Now that you’ve fueled up on local cuisine and cafe it’s time to get out and explore Santiago’s surroundings.
Araucano Park for familes: When you’re lucky with a spring-like day in Santiago, head to the upscale Las Condes neighboorhood and spend the day around the park. (Walking distance from the Manquehue metro stop) Outdoor playgrounds, shaded groves, bird sanctuary, stylish restaurants, food trucks and the not to be missed Kidzania for families with children.
Cerro San Cristobal: From the zoo in the neighboorhood Bella Vista, take the cable car to the top of Cerro San Cristobal to kick off a walking adventure east towards the Andes. The moderate walk provides stellar views of most of Santiago and the three main ski resorts. You will eventually end up in Providencia where you can grab a well deserved micro-brew at one of the many local pubs and bars in this bustling area of town.
Guided Walking Tour: A great way to get up close to the history of Santiago both past and present. Get the latest information about politics, history and culture while stretching your legs-Don’t forget your camera, the streets of Santiago have some of the best graffiti in the world! Ask your hotel concierge for a suggested guide.
Parque Forestal-Bellavista-Casa Pablo Neruda: Depending on where your hotel in Santiago is located this area could be close by or perhaps just a metro ride away. The area of Parque Forestal alongside the Bohemian artsy Bellavista neighborhood is a great way to spend time taking in the colorful streets and daily lives of the Chilean people. Try some “sopaipillas” or “mote con huesillos” from the street vendors and finish your day with a fun stop at “La Chascona”, famed poet Pablo Neruda’s home at the base of the San Cristobal hill.
Los Dominicos: a picturesque historic colonial site, located next to the San Vicente Ferrer church at the end of the metro line in Las Condes. There are quaint shops built with mud and straw that are home to more than 180 artisans, representing the most comprehensive showing of Chilean handicrafts in the city. Getting there is easy thanks to the Santiago Metro system. Get off at the Dominicos metro station and explore the area.
Santiago wine tours: Chile is known internationally for their world class wines boasting the largest production of Carmenere globally. Options range from private tours to group tours and there are over 10 locations to choose from. Tours can be booked directly from the front desk of your hotel.