Getting a bird’s eye view of a city is more than just a great photo opportunity. It allows for reflection on the urban jungle below, brings out the details, the buildings, parks, roads and waterways which giver personality to a community. Santiago has some perfect look outs over the city, but a ride up the cable car or teleferico and down the funicular is the perfect way to see the city from above as an excursion or part of your Santiago city tour.
Both the cable car and funicular are on Cerro San Cristobal, which stands out for the large statue of the Virgin Mary visible from many parts of the city. The hills is part of the Parque Metroplitano, also known as “Parquemet”. This year, 2017, is a special landmark, the park celebrates its 100th anniversary, marked in a celebration which took place on May 27th and 28th.
There is much to do and see on the park. This includes a zoo, two swimming pools, countless trails, an astronomical observatory, a restaurant and event space called “Vista”, and plenty more. It’s a spot that as a resident, I return to often. It’s my son’s favorite, especially for a bike ride on the weekend.
For a visitor, the summit and view is the main highlight. But by all means do not drive up or take a taxi. Take advantage of their newly inaugurated Cable Car, and then take the funicular back down.
The cable car was out of commission for a number of years, 2010-17 after some maintenance issues and a slow concession process to find a new operator. Now it falls under the care of the operator of Santiago’s hop-on-hop-off service, who also runs the funicular.
In total, the ride lasts about 15 minutes long, and in cars of 4, takes visitors along the ridgeline from the Pedro de Vadivia entrance, with an opportunity to get off in the middle station, and then on to the summit and virgin. The cost runs between CLP 2500-3000 per adult depending if it is the weekend or not, for a round trip ride. Riding down the funicular will eventually be available in a round trip format. However the last time we visited they still had to be purchased separately.
The new cars have a great view, Do be prepared to share with strangers if you don’t have the four and there is a line. And on the weekends there is almost always a line.
Once at the top and after enjoyed the view, you can buy a ticket down the funicular. This tram can fit around 40 people in the two cars. This will take you right into the heart of the Bellavista neighborhood.
If you do this in the afternoon, note that it runs until 7pm in winter (last trip down) and 8pm in summer. So in summer at least you won’t get the full sunset. The funicular’s last run starts 15 minutes ahead of the cable car times, noted above. It makes a great way to close your Santiago city tour, and a great primer before hitting one of the happy hour specials in Bellavista.
Want to follow this excursion with a nice Chilean craft beer? Here are some recommendations for Bellavista.
We can also add this to our tailored Culinary Contrasts Tour, which combines food, history and culture for the perfect Santiago city tour.