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San Cristobal Hill: Tours and Guided Visits

San Cristobal Hill is one of the top attractions in Santiago. Sitting in the center of Chile’s capital, it’s one of the highest points in the city with sweeping views across the valley.

You can reach the summit by cable car or mountain bike, depending on how spritely you’re feeling in your San Cristobal Hill tour.

Here's all you need to know about San Cristobal Hill, one of the most exhilarating options for sightseeing tours in Santiago.

Where is San Cristobal Hill located?

This iconic peak is located right in the middle of Santiago, making it easy to access if you’re staying in the capital. You’ll find San Cristobal Hill in the Metropolitan Park, which can be reached by public bus or taxi from across the city.

Many people sign up for one of the guided tours to San Cristobal Hill, but you can visit independently too. If you’re going it alone, you can either take the funicular railway or the cable car up to the top.

Both run regularly throughout the day. Hiking is another possibility – it takes around 2 hours to reach the summit. Taxis are also available.

Mix things up a bit by combining the different transport options for a fully rounded experience. For example, you could ascend by cable car, but walk back down to savor those views.

What are the best things to do at San Cristobal Hill?

Soak up the views

The main reason for visiting San Cristobal Hill is for the views. At the summit, there are several terraces, each offering superb panoramas of the city with the Andes mountains in the background.

There’s also a small sanctuary with a 22-meter-high statue of the Virgin Mary at the top. You can see this towering monument from all corners of the city.

Cycle the mountain trails

If you’re looking for fun activities in San Cristobal Hill, then you can’t go wrong with a bit of mountain biking. There are multiple trails that wind their way down the mountain from the summit.

Some are gravel and some are paved, but none are too arduous if you have a reasonable level of fitness.

Ride the cable car

Most guided tours in San Cristobal Hill use the cable car to reach the top of the mountain. It’s a fun way to travel, and you’ll enjoy 360-degree views as you ascend. The ride takes around 10 minutes.

Try and stand on the downhill side of the cable car for the best city views and keep your camera handy.

Visit the zoo

If you’re traveling with children, they’ll love a stop at the Chilean National Zoo in San Cristobal. The funicular stops here on its way up to the summit, so it’s easy to visit as part of your day out.

There are over 150 different species to encounter, with everything from penguins to white tigers in residence. You’ll discover several native Chilean animals too, including guanacos, condors and the rare Darwin’s frog.

What are the best tours to visit San Cristobal Hill?

When it comes to San Cristobal Hill excursions, you have a lot of choice. Most trips are on a private basis, giving you more freedom and independence while out exploring. There are bike tours too, for those with energy to burn.

Private tour to San Cristobal Hill and Artisan Village

This half-day guided trip takes in multiple stops around the city of Santiago, including the capital’s centerpiece – San Cristobal Hill. It’s an exclusive experience so it’ll just be you and your group on this private tour.

You’ll journey up San Cristobal Hill by cable car, with plenty of time at the top to enjoy the views. Back down in the city, it’s time to explore the historic center where the Plaza de Armas and the cathedral steal the show.

Another highlight is the Artisan Village in El Pueblito de los Dominicos, where you can shop for handicrafts.

Private San Cristobal Hill mountain bike tour

Some of the more unique trips to San Cristobal Hill involve two wheels. The mountain bike private tours are popular with travelers who like to truly earn their views and are a fun way to discover the city peak.

You’ll have a private guide throughout the tour, and will kick things off with a cable car ride to the summit. The bikes will be taken up with you.

After admiring the panoramas at the top, you’ll take to your saddle and ride down to the bottom along dirt tracks and paved roads.

Evening San Cristobal Hill tour with dinner show

Add a dash of romance with an evening visit to San Cristobal Hill, followed by dinner and a show. These small group tours are a fun way to experience the glamor of Santiago at night.

Traveling with other explorers keeps costs down and provides a convivial vibe to the evening.

The tours begin after dark with a cable car ride up the hill and views of the illuminated city down below. You’ll be able to make out many of the major landmarks from the summit.

After descending back down to the center you’ll enjoy a traditional Chilean dinner and a “Cueca” dance performance.

How much does it cost?

Private tours to San Cristobal Hill with a visit to the Artisan Village cost US$160 per person. They include transport, a guide and the return cable car ride. These experiences are 5 hours long.

The private mountain bike trips to San Cristobal Hill are priced at US$140 per rider for a 3-hour excursion. Bikes, cycling gear and a guide are provided.

The 4-hour small group evening tours with dinner and a show start at US$120 per person. There are usually no more than eight people on the trip. Dinner and the dance show are included in the price, as well as a guide and transportation by minivan.

Where does it start?

Many tours in San Cristobal Hill offer hotel pickups as part of the package. Collection locations that are usually covered include the Downtown, Providencia and El Golf neighborhoods.

Where transfers are not provided, you’ll need to make your own way to the starting point. A popular meeting place is the Sheraton San Cristobal Hotel on Avenida Santa Maria.

Mountain bike tours start from El Comendador Street, which is on the south side of the Metropolitan Park. You will collect your bike from here and be fitted with the necessary safety gear.

When is the best time to visit San Cristobal Hill?

San Cristobal Hill tours can be enjoyed throughout the day, at all times of year. If you want to avoid the crowds, come during the week – it gets very busy at the weekends. Come first thing in the morning for a more peaceful visit.

If you can drag yourself out of bed early enough, experiencing San Cristobal Hill at sunrise can be magical. You’ll need to take a taxi up as the cable car and funicular don’t operate early enough.

Travel tips

  • If you’re walking up San Cristobal Hill, make sure you wear comfortable hiking shoes as the trail is steep in places.
  • It’s best to book tours in San Cristobal Hill online so you can compare prices and bag the cheapest deals. This will also save you from standing in the long line to buy tickets for the cable car or funicular.
  • The cable car is closed on Mondays so factor this into your trip planning.