Santa Cruz is a small town in the Colchagua Valley in Chile. It has around 40 000 inhabitants. It is the almost inevitable base-camp to explore the famous Colchagua Valley, and, for example, Lolol, Apalta, Cachapoal, Rapel, Curico, and other nearby valleys and regions. It is about 2 hours south of Santiago, in the Chilean region curiously named “General O’Higgins”.
The heart of the town is Plaza de Armas. Here you can see the small but pretty Santa Cruz church that has been completely rebuilt after the big earthquake of 2010, and also the Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza. The town has some well-preserved colonial style houses.
The Museum of Colchagua is famous and well worth visiting. It was inaugurated in 1995 with the purpose of preserving and spreading the cultural heritage if the region. Many considers it to be one of the best museums in all of Chile. It is a privately owned museum that belongs to the same person as the hotel, Don Carlos Cardoen (whose fortune was made in the arms trade) and the surprisingly big casino.
This is how the museum describes it on its website: “A diverse thematic of objects in exhibition surprises to the visitors because its historical transcendence, placing them in the context of changes and evolutive process occurred over time. Without a doubt a ‘straight trip to our origins’.”
There is a curious bell tower on the Plaza de Armas. Starting there, at the tower, the main shopping street extends east. On it, you find all the shops that you need in a small town, including a hat shop where you can buy e.g. one of the typical wide-brimmed flat-topped chupalla hats that cowboys, huasos, and many others wear.
There is a good wine shop next to Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza.
If you want to try the very traditional (although not very “gourmet”) Chilean hot dogs there is one “restaurant” on the main square as well as one at the beginning of the shopping street.
Restaurants in Santa Cruz:
La Famiglia de Santis, Nicolás Palacios 203. Italian cuisine, good quality, nice atmosphere (on the same street as Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza, very close).
Puralma, Avenida Rafael Casanova 568: Ambitious local food (“mestizo”, i.e. blend of indigenous Chilean and the Spanish conquistadores) with some nice wines. This is a ~ 10-minutes’ walk from the hotel, in an area with several restaurants called Boulevard de la Viña: La Posada del Asturiano, La Casita de Barreales (Peruvian), Cava de Fuego, El Cazador… Follow Avenida Rafael Casanova past the bus station and it is on the left-hand side.
Sumaq Ñusta (the beautiful queen in Quechua), Ramón Sanfurgo 66: A good Peruvian restaurant just off the shopping street close to Plaza de Armas.
Prape’s Sushi & Wok, Federico Errázuriz 319: Quite nice sushi and cocktails close to the hotel, next to the casino.
Vino Bello: Italian with a nice garden. 1.5 kilometres from the Plaza de Armas along Nicolas Palacios and Barriales, not far from the Laura Hartwig winery.
Casa Colchagua: a gourmet restaurant with traditional food 2 km from the centre.
Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza: If one wants to stay in the hotel, there is a “fine dining” restaurant inside and a simpler restaurant and bar in the garden.
Some wineries have restaurants (and a few hotel rooms) too.
Now you have all the essentials that you will need for a few wonderful days in Santa Cruz in in the Colchagua Valley. Explore it with us when you come on one of our great wine tours and gourmet travels to Chile and Argentina!