Home to 5 million inhabitants, Santiago, Chile’s capital, is one of Latin America’s most sophisticated cities. Although far less popular than Rio de Janeiro, and not really a tourist hub by itself even within the country, this vibrant metropolitan city has a variety of cultural and tourist attractions for the discerning visitor – ski slopes, sandy beaches, excellent wineries and heritage homes. Nestled at the foothills of the Andes Mountains, the snow capped peaks provide a breathtaking backdrop for the city. Most of these spectacular views, however, are blocked by the smog that envelops much of Santiago. The best time to visit is the period between December and February. That’s the time when most Santiaguinos leave the environs of the city to spend summer elsewhere, leading to a dramatic drop in the smog level and thus, better vistas of the peaks. The city has left most of its troubled military ruled past behind and is in the process of reinventing itself. Newer restaurants and night life venues have sprung up and the cultural and arts scene is undergoing a makeover. All these reasons added to the fact that Santiago is the countrys historical center, make Santiago definitely worth more than just a transit stop on the way to the more popular Patagonia or Lake District areas.