Our programs in Chile operate in Viña del Mar – Spanish for “Vineyard by the Sea,” which is simplified to Viña by Chileans, and Valparaiso. Viña and it’s sister city, Valparaiso, are just an hour and a half west of Chile’s capital city, Santiago. Viña Del Mar is often called the “Garden City” due to the surrounding large parks and green areas alongside the city. Chileans have dubbed this city the ideal community to live and work in the country. Valparaiso goes by the monikers of “Little San Francisco” and “The Jewel of the Pacific” due to its historical significance as being one of the most important seaports of the South Pacific region. Today, the port city is a major educational center boasting several vocational colleges and four traditional universities.
A turreted granite castle called Castillo Wulff and a huge floral clock greet visitors who arrive by boat. It’s easy to get to so many places from here. The ski resort Portillo, old hippie beach town Horcon, and Casablanca Valley wineries are all a short ride away. Don’t forget Patagonia – another drive but this one a bit more off the grid. (Easter Island is unforgettable and a once in a lifetime visit, but it’s pricey to get there)
Closer to “home” is Quinta Vergara, a large public park on the top of a hill overlooking Viña. The park serves as a kind of cultural center of its own – think Song Festivals, Summer Concert series, international Arts Fairs. And La Serena, a quiet coastal town, near a number of observatories offering stargazing in the Atacama desert. Lastly, the beach. We can’t forget the beaches! Long, winding, and populated by a wide, paved boardwalk that stretches for miles. Joggers, moms walking strollers, random stray dogs, public exercise areas, and more, make this a go-to part of town, even in winter. You have the ocean in front of you and incredible mountains right behind you.