This is one of the more beautiful little towns to visit in Chile. As the story goes, there was a former military man who had mysteriously made a lot of money and decided to reinvest it into the town. With his private ventures the town that used to blend into the background is now flourishing. Perhaps the most appealing aspect about the town is the way it maintains its traditional roots yet provides tourists with all the modern conveniences. Arrival in Santa Cruz feels like a warm homecoming. Everything is centrally located around the Plaza de Armas (main square), making it a good destination for tourists without a car.
When to Go
The best time to visit Santa Cruz is in March when there is the wine harvest, as well as the festival of the harvest. This festival is one of the best in Chile in regards to wine.
What to Do
Museo de Colchagua
This is the largest private museum in Chile and considered by many to have the best collection of Chilean artifacts. It has a vast eclectic collection containing pre Columbian pottery and textiles as well as fossils, artifacts from the conquistadors, wine making equipment and religious artwork. Our personal favourite is the room dedicated to huasos (Chilean cowboys). You can find the museum across the small river from Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza at Errázuriz 145.
Hacienda el Huique
The house dates back to the early days of the Republic (around 1829), but the Hacienda goes back to colonial times. The house is centred around a large patio filled with trees and vines of jasmine and it has a beautiful display of personal and household items belonging to the Echeñique family. The family owned the home until 1976 when they donated it as a museum. There is even a chapel on the land with its own 23-metre high bell tower. Hacienda el Huique is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11am-5pm.
La Ruta del Vino del Valle Colchagua
The office for this wine route tour is located at the Plaza de Armas in the middle of town. Nine vineyards in the area have banded together to offer guests the opportunity to tour their vineyards, learn about the winemaking process and sample some of Chile's best wines. You can choose between a half day and full day tour which include transportation and lunch. Reservations must be made at least 48 hours in advance.
Where to Stay
Hostel Santa Cruz is at a good location if you are staying on a budget. You can find it only one block from the main square on the second floor of a building. The owners are incredibly generous and love to chat with you about the city over a glass of wine though the place can sometimes be noisy in the early mornings as traffic goes by.
Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza. This modern hotel is done in the traditional hacienda style. It is a truly beautiful building filled with luxurious rooms and it also has the city's best restaurant. Reservations are necessary and you need to book well ahead if you want to stay when the wine festival is on.
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