Leisure and excursion possibilities
Viña del Mar is a beautiful city to spend your semester abroad. It is located almost perfectly in the middle of the country and, since the capital of the country is not too far away, it is also particularly well located for longer trips and weekend trips.
Viña is known for its beaches, the large shopping centers, the rich gastronomic offer, the many colorful flowers and the casino. For the wild Chilean life, it is best to take a micro to Valparaíso (approx. 5-10 minutes) and let the chaotic, loud, colorful sister city organize the day for you. For that real big city feeling, Santiago de Chile is only 1: 40h away from the greater Valparaísos area and the intercity buses leave there every 15 minutes. The nightlife in Viña as well as in Valparaíso is just as colorful as the cities themselves and there is something for every taste in music and “way out” type. Here are a few suggestions:
- Cafe Journal (Vina): On Wednesdays you can only find students there.
- Cafe Juglar (Vina): Cool pub with good terremotos.
- La Sala (Valpo): Smaller student club in the basement of a building with mixed music.
- Proa (Valpo): Club with exclusively Latin American music for dancing with a funny audience.
- La Terrazza de Mimi (Valpo): Super cool bar on the roof of a building with a cool view over the city, mostly live music.
- Ilicito (Valpo): Pub where the Couchsurfing Meeting takes place every Thursday.
- Mascara (Valpo): Very suitable for dancing alternative, crazy music, preferably on Thursdays.
I lived in the Recreo district during my semester abroad and was very satisfied with my choice. From this hill I got to the university quickly, it only took me 10 minutes to walk to the beach and 3 minutes to the metro and bus station, from where I could go to Valparaíso or the surrounding cities. Concón is the closest town to the north and is a paradise for surfers (also for beginners!) And riders.
Tip: Please do not take any valuables with you to the beach!
The National Park La Campana, which was also climbed by Charles Darwin, is easy to reach by metro and a trip there is highly recommended. This promises a wonderful view of the snow-capped Andes on one side and a view of the sparkling Pacific in the other direction. For longer trips, there are intercity buses that connect cities and countries throughout South America. Since Chile is a well-developed country for tourists and adventurers, these buses are mostly punctual and experience has shown that they are also very comfortable. In addition to blankets, pillows and TV, there are also snacks and plenty of legroom. The best way to reach the north and south of the country is via Santiago de Chile, but you can also find good offers and travel destinations from Viña or Valparaíso. The vastness of the country can also be explored by plane, and there are good offers on LAN and SkyAirline. The cheapest way to get your flight is from a machine in the LAN Shop.
In addition to breathtaking natural beauty, Chile is probably best known for its deep-fried or baked dumplings, the empanadas. The traditional variant “Pino” includes meat, a boiled egg, onions, raisins and an olive. Typical dishes that can be found on the menus in restaurants are chorrillana, pastel de choclo, and lomo. Breakfast is often eaten sweet: toast with dulce de leche, fruit and cake. Since the greater Valparaíso area is located on the Pacific, the fresh seafood is not far. The best place to eat fish (e.g. ceviche) is in the restaurants near the “Porta-les” metro station. One of my favorite places in Viña was the Feria Marga Marga. There you can get fruit, vegetables, spices, cheese, meat, fish and flowers etc. all day on Wednesdays and Saturdays – fresher and cheaper than in the well-known supermarkets. If you go in the evening, you can negotiate the price pretty down and buy 2kg of Palta (that’s how they call the delicious avocados in Chile) for the equivalent of € 1.
Tip: When shopping in supermarkets, fruits, vegetables and bread must be weighed.
Of course, when I hear typical Chile drinks, I think of Pisco first. This is made from grapes, it is typically drunk with cola (piscola) or as a pisco sour (with lemon, goma and in some bars an egg white) and in Chile it is always better than the Peruvian pisco. The second national drink is called Terremoto and is a drink made from white wine, fernet, a dash of grenadine and pineapple ice cream. According to the vernacular, the best are in “La Piojera” in Santiago.
- For information about Chile and South America, please visit physicscat.
Thank you for your support and the opportunity to spend my semester abroad in Chile. I wish all future exchange students a wonderful time and lots of fun! You will not regret it.