Major hotels work with quality tour operators and can recommend a tour even at the last minute; however, you'd be better off planning ahead and reserving a tour with an operator who can show you the more interesting side of Santiago or who is more attuned to foreign guests' desires or needs (that is, a guide who is truly bilingual). The following tours are operated by Chilean-American outfits.
Culinary Tour: Hip Santiago Centro presents a way to see, and taste, a different side of Santiago. Tours are led by American expat Liz Caskey. The tour kicks off with a walking tour through a typical farmers' market in the old-fashioned Brasil neighborhood, followed by a visit to the Mercado Central and a walk through the picturesque Parque Forestal neighborhood, and then to Liz's spacious apartment overlooking the park for a three-course lunch expertly paired with fine wines. Guests are welcome to join in on the cooking if they wish. Tours are available Monday through Saturday and depart at 10:30am. The tour lasts about 4 to 5 hours. For more information and a price quote, contact tel. 2/226-6939 or 9/821-9230, or visit www.lizcaskey.com.
Santiago Adventures offers a half-day historical and cultural tour of the city, beginning in the Plaza de Armas and visiting La Moneda, the París-Londres neighborhood, the San Francisco colonial church, the Bellavista neighborhood, and the Cerro San Cristóbal. Daily tours are half-day (4 hr.) and visitors may choose one museum to visit: Cousiño Macul museum, the Pre-Columbian Museum, or Pablo Neruda's house. Tours cost $85 (£57) per person, based on two people (price goes down as group size grows), and includes entrance fees, a bilingual guide, transportation, and bottled water. Santiago Adventures can be reached at tel. 2/244-2750 or www.santiagoadventures.com.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.