Sun, surf and culture: Viña del Mar is a favorite among Chileans

Santiago and Valparaíso also scored well in the annual poll aimed at finding the best cities in Chile.

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Known as Chile’s garden city, Viña del Mar has long been a favorite among local holidaymakers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Santiago and relax by the seaside. And its strong reputation remains healthily intact.

For the second year in a row, Chileans have given Viña del Mar top place in the ‘City Brand Barometer’ survey, outscoring its edgier neighbor Valparaíso, and the buzzing urban metropolis of Santiago. Led by local consultants Visión Humana and international advertising agency BBDO, the poll invited 1,400 people throughout Chile to rate the country’s 20 largest cities.

Survey participants were asked to nominate the country’s best places to live, work, study and visit in Chile, while also considering a range of other factors including the friendliness of locals, the environment, cultural offerings and outdoor activities. But there was a major condition: the people taking part in the survey were not allowed to vote for their own city.

With all the data gathered and compiled, Viña del Mar emerged as a clear favorite, topping the lists of the best places to live and visit in Chile, while taking out second place in the work, environment and cultural activities categories. It was also voted the country’s third best place to study and its laid-back inhabitants were considered among the friendliest.

“Viña del Mar is like [Chile’s] Rio de Janeiro,” Visión Humana Director Patricio Polizzi told La Tercera. “[It’s] a place that is associated with well-being and people consider it the ideal place to live or retire.”

And while Chile’s favorite city is often overlooked by young travelers from abroad seeking adventure, Viña del Mar has much to offer. The city’s picturesque beaches are dotted with fairytale castles, its sprawling botanical gardens are among the best in the country and the shady Quinta Vergara park, just minutes from the city center, is home to the massive outdoor amphitheater where the Viña del Mar International Song Festival takes place each year in February.

Other strong points identified by the survey were the strong presence of several major companies, providing plenty of work opportunities, along with the city’s top class universities, high quality health services, efficient local government and its vibrant nightlife.

The enigmatic port city of Valparaíso, popular with scores of foreign tourists, was ranked the second best place to visit and study in Chile and the third best place to live. It also scored well for its nightlife, its diverse cultural activities and its proximity to Santiago.

For its part, the Chilean capital was declared the country’s third best city. While the New York Times declared it the top place to visit in the world, locals appreciate its functionality, highlighting the many opportunities for working and studying as well as the myriad cultural and outdoor activities.