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Cycling Routes in Santiago de Chile

Cycling Routes in Santiago de Chile
by Colin Bennett

Santiago is a city of many different extremes, from expansive green parks, to concrete jungles filled with urban noise and madness. One of the best ways to see the diversity of places offered is on a bicycle. It is a safe and interesting way to fully experience some of the city’s best attractions.

Biking in Chile is gaining popularity, mostly as a leisure activity or alternative mode of transportation. The Chilean government launched a campaign last summer to promote the use of bicycles called Bicivilízate, which loosely translates to «Civilize Yourself By Riding a Bicycle.» Or something like that. The Department of Transit is also promoting the use of bicycles as well, citing environmental and health benefits for Chileans.

While the government is interested, and a growing number of Chileans ride bicycles, many obstacles still remain for cyclists. The worst of these is due to the traffic, whether it be bus or private auto. Disrespectful drivers, exhaust, and just the general annoyance of a busy street can make certain areas a headache.

This is not to say that biking in Santiago is unsafe. Many of these same problems exist in cities throughout the world – a car can be dangerous no matter how bike friendly the place is. Proper consideration and a safe attitude can minimize most of these risks. Wear a helmet, ride defensively, and stay alert.

Taking into consideration the dangers, one can choose one of several routes and spend hours getting to know different parts of Santiago. This list is geared towards someone who wants to explore Santiago, and also experience the greener parts of the city as well.

San Cristóbal

This is one of the most popular rides, and for good reason. In general it is a safe ride, requiring a small amount of physical exertion, but can easily be enjoyed by a novice. Cerro San Cristóbal is located in the center of Santiago, and features many paved and unpaved routes. The majority of riders approach either from the Pio Nono entrance in Bellavista, or the Pedro de Valdivia entrance in Providencia. From both spots the roads are easily followed all the way to the statue of the Virgin, which is about a 5 km ride each direction.

For the more adventurous many off road trails of varying difficulty arrive to several parts of this large park.

Parque Mahuida

Located in the community of La Reina, this park is at the end of a very tough uphill climb, but is well worth the effort. The park features access to Santiago’s portion of the Sendero de Chile (Chile Trail) that, when completed, will connect the length of the entire country.

Plaza San Enrique

This plaza is the start for two rides, one to the natural sanctuary of Arrayan, the other one towards the ski resort Farellones. These are more serious rides, especially Farellones which is 30 km away, almost all uphill. This is one of the most popular choices for Chile’s biking fanatics.

The Farellones is a tough ride, and should only be attempted during warmer months – September through April. The natural Sanctuary of Arrayan is an easier, but still impressive alternative. Once also a ski resort and hotel, it now features picnic tables with grills next to a mountain river, beautiful views of the mountains surrounding Santiago and several hiking trails.

Within Santiago…

Their numbers are still low, but Santiago does feature several bike paths in the city. Combine several of them, or take just one, they are the first step towards a better biking environment in the city. Some of the best routes are as follows:


Continues along for several kilometers next to a quite canal. The trail is shaded and easy to access. It continues from Providencia towards the south of the city, with its condition deteriorating the farther south one goes.

Parque Bustamante

Alone is a bit short, but very nice. The path runs along for about four blocks as part of the park. A great choice when used as a connection to San Cristóbal or Parque Forestal.

Santa Maria to Bulnes

This route starts in the northeastern corner of Las Condes and continues along the Mapocho River all the way until Bulnes, passing through many interesting and beautiful places. Barrio Bellavista, Parque Forestal, and the Bellas Artes Museum are all on this route.

There are just a few sections of the growing network of inner city rides. The Chilean Department of Transit publishes a free map listing all of the routes, parking, and a few places for repairs.

Colin Bennett is a writer, cyclist and English teacher living in Santiago de Chile, at the base of the Andes. He studied studio art at the University of Iowa.