Since we were in Santiago, Chile, I wanted to spend a few days in Mendoza, Argentina. I love wine, and an Argentinian Malbec is probably one of my favorites. Its a quick flight from Santiago to Mendoza (45 Min - 1 Hour), just right over the Andes mountains. Roundtrip airfare for two through SKY Airlines cost us $245 USD total. Its a small town with a population of about 115,000 people. Similar to the size of the Santa Barbara. The temperature in late February was hot, in the 90s. There are two major wine regions in Mendoza, Lujan de Cujo & Uco Valley. They are opposite of each other and its best to spend one day in each region. If I ever go back again, I will stay in the Uco Valley Region the entire time.
We stayed at the Park Hyatt Medoza Casino & Spa. The rooms were very nice and updated and we had a nice view of the city. I got to check out the Casino for a bit, there is quite a selection of games but they didn't have a Craps table and thats the only casino game I really play. The hotel gave me a voucher to play some games so I played the slots until I ran out of money.
Things To Do:
Wine tasting of course!!! I can't say enough about the experience with Mendoza Journeys. They picked us up from our hotel and drove us to several wineries in Uco Valley, they were very accommodating and would use them again and again in the future. Its about a 2 hour drive from the city center of Mendoza so be prepared to spend the entire day in Uco Valley. After watching Chef's Table on Netflix, I was dying to go to Siete Fuegos at the Vines Resort & Spa. Although very expensive, if I were to go back to Argentina, I would stay at this resort the entire time. We also visited the following wineries: Andeluna, La Azul, & Finca Sophenia.
We also went White Water Rafting with Potrerillos Explorer. They picked us up from our hotel and we drove through Lujan de Cuyo towards the mountains. We had the BEST time. They set you up with all the gear you need and all the safety protocols. You can buy the GoPro videos and pictures at the end of your excursion. Kyle almost fell out of the raft!!!! Watch one of our rafting videos below.
We ended our trip going to another Francis Mallmann restaurant in Mendoza called 1884 Restaurant. Its a bit hidden, so we weren't sure if we got to our destination when we got to the parking lot. You must have a reservation to enter and there are two large doors and security to get the front door of the restaurant. The food was fantastic!
Having to spend a week in Santiago, Chile, I wanted to share my adventure with everyone who plans or wants to view what the city has to offer: Transportation, Accommodations, Shopping, Restaurants, and Top Things to Do.
Santiago is the capital and largest city in Chile, with a population of nearly 5.5 Million, February in Chile was definitely a great treat when it came to weather, it is summer there during that time and the temperatures ranged from 80 - 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and temperatures ranging 60 - 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the evening.
The currency used in Chile is the Chilean Peso. At the time I visited Chile 2/21/2017 the exchange rate was $1 USD to $639 CLP at an Apex located in the Providencia Region as you see in the Google Maps below. I highly recommend exchanging in the city, its a better rate than at the airport.
Transportation: From the airport in Santiago, Chile (SCL) also known as Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport is the busiest airport in Chile and about 9.3 miles from Downtown Santiago and about a 20-30 min drive.
You can rent a car from one of the following companies at the airport: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Econorent, Hertz, Europcar, Rosselot but WARNING if you are going to drive in Santiago, nearly every car is manual NOT automatic.
You can take a regular Taxi at the airport as well, they are lined up right at the exit doors.
I highly recommend using UBER and when using this link you will get $15 OFF your first ride. CAUTION: If you use UBER at this airport, its not technically legal and the taxi cab companies are against them. The designated meeting spot for UBER at the airport is the parking lot across the street from the airport, next to the Holiday Inn.
The cost of going to Downtown Santiago Providencia Area from the Airport was $14,744.00 which at the time with the exchange rate came to be about $23 one way.
We stayed at this hotel: Hotel Torremayor Providencia it was a great location in the center of everything with the Costanera Shopping Mall close by. There is a roof top pool and a great area to relax and enjoy the view.
Shopping: I highly recommend going to the grocery store in the Costanera Center called JUMBO. You will find everything you need here from drinks to snacks. There are also other local grocery stores but I find the quality not as good for a higher price.
If you are thinking of bringing back a souvenir from Chile, I suggest Lapis lázuli; It is a beautiful deep blue semi precious stone. What makes this stone so unique, is the majority of where it is mined are only in several areas around the world: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Lake Baikal in Russia, and the Andes Mountains in Chile.
I purchased some beautiful earring sets from Piedras Australes located nearby the Providencia area.
Another great gift gift to bring home is Pisco. It's a Chilean liquor, you can find a great recipe to make a Pisco Sour here.
Peztoro: A great italian place for tapas and pizza. We spent our first evening in town eating here and its was delish! They have two locations, and we took an UBER to the Lastarria location.
La Burguesía probably the best burger I had in Santiago. Rated #23 restaurant on Tripadvisor, with a great beer selection, veggie options, and great burgers, you can't go wrong here. Closed on Sundays, and also closed from 4pm - 7pm, located in the Providencia area.
Uncle Fletch was another Burger place, and its a great location if you are looking to grab a bite and going to visit Pablo Neruda's La Chascona Museum House or Cerro Crisobal Hill. Rated #13 restaurant in Santiago, I felt Laburgesía was a better burger. The burger came with fries or cheesy polenta. They also have a great selection of cocktails and beers.
Mercado Central is a great way to spend your afternoon having lunch and looking at all the vendors that sell fresh fish, although most of the floor space inside the mercado are restaurants. We happened to make a stop at Donde Augosto for lunch, the menu is 8 - 9 pages long, too much to display, but make sure you select a restaurant you want in advance, once you arrive there the restaurants are very aggressive to try and seat you. One thing to note, do not use google maps and type in Central Market, it will not take you to the incorrect location. Warning, its seafood, so its going to smell a little stinky, there isn't any air conditioning and it may be also a bit muggy .
Things to do:Skycostanera is the tallest building in South America. At the top of the 62nd floor you have a spectacular 360 view of the city. Open Monday - Sunday, the best day to go is on a Wednesday for a discounted rate. Last ride in the evening is 9pm.
La Chascona Museum House is one of the top sites to visit the home of a famous poet, Pablo Neruda. General admission is $7000 Chilean Pesos per person and offer a student/senior discount of $2500 Chilean Pesos which gives you an audio guide system in multiple languages. You do not need to make reservations ahead of time, tours are served on a first come first serve basis.
One of my favorite sites in the city was visiting Cerro San Cristobal you can easily spend an entire day there, don't go on a Monday, as everything is closed for maintenance. You can visit the National Zoo , Parks, Ride the Cableway, Take the Funicular, they also have a Public Pool located there during the pool season.
Cajon Del Maipo is a must if you like the outdoors. Hiking, Rafting, Zipline, Horse Riding, and Bungy are just a few options you can do while you are there. There are also some great wineries in this area, you can read my post about Concha y Toro and my experience wine tasting in the Maipo Valley.
There are also many many museums and other sites to see in the city, these are just some of the things I did while I was there and would suggest the same for anyone planning to vacation there.
Check out our trip to Mendoza, Argentina!