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Vina del Mar Mini Guide
Who Goes to Vina del Mar?
It would seem that just about everyone from Chile and Argentina goes there for their summer holidays as it’s the premier beach resort in Chile and one of the best in South America. The name of the city means ‘vineyard of the sea’ and it’s Chile’s fourth largest city with a population of over a quarter of a million people. Once an important manufacturing centre, the downturn of the 80s made the city turn its attention to services and tourism now provides most of the city’s income.
What is There to See and Do in Vina del Mar?
To begin with there’s what everyone comes for; the beautiful beaches. Soft golden sand that sweeps for miles along the coast including Renaca Beach, the northernmost and least crowded which is acclaimed as one of the beaches of the world you simply must visit. Be aware though that there are dangerous currents offshore and that you should avoid going out of your depth, even if you are a strong swimmer. La Quinta Vergara is a great place to spend an afternoon if you tire of the beach. It’s a beautiful park with stunning gardens of trees and plants brought from Japan and Canada. Another good place to see the city is to wander through the new apartment blocks and hotels of the waterfront which look a little like a dockside redevelopment back in the UK but which has some interesting architecture.
What Can I buy as Souvenirs in Vina del Mar?
Beach resort souvenirs vary little around the world and Vina del Mar is no exception. Look beyond the tat for things like traditional crafts made from bamboo and leather or pick up a bottle or two of Chilean wine – you can almost always be guaranteed it’s very drinkable. Otherwise you can buy boxes of the city’s famous cookies which are simply delicious.
What is There to Eat in Vina del Mar?
The speciality of the region is alfajor which is a cookie, filled with caramel, dried fruit or nuts and coated in sumptuous chocolate. Many bakeries sell these throughout the city and they’re great as a snack or with delicious South American coffee. Being by the sea, there are a number of excellent fish restaurants selling unusual meals including locally caught clams served with fried fish.
What About Festivals in the City?
Vina del Mar is renowned for its festivals including South America’s version of Glastonbury which is held outdoors in La Quinta Vergara each February. International artists regularly perform there in a concert lasting several days. The city also hosts an international film festival each year showing and critiquing films from several Latin American film makers. Finally, it wouldn’t be Chile if there wasn’t a wine festival, and in a city that takes its name from the industry there’s a great wine festival held every April.