Santa Cruz is a small town in Chile’s Colchagua Valley. It has around 40,000 inhabitants and is the obvious base-camp for exploring the famous Colchagua Valley as well as (for example) Lolol, Apalta, Cachapoal, Rapel, Curico and other neighbouring valleys and regions. It is about two hours south of Santiago, in the Chilean region that goes by the curious name of General O’Higgins.
The heart of the town is Plaza de Armas. Here you can see the small but pretty Santa Cruz church (completely rebuilt after a major earthquake in 2010) and 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 promoting the region’s cultural heritage. Many consider it to be one of Chile’s best museums. Privately owned by one Don Carlos Cardoen, who made his fortune in the arms trade (he also owns the hotel and surprisingly large casino).
Starting from the curious bell tower on the Plaza de Armas, the main shopping street of Santa Cruz extends east. Here you’ll find find all the stores one might need or expect in a small town, including a hat shop selling the wide-brimmed, flat-topped chupalla sported by the local huasos (cowboys), amongst others.
There is a good wine shop next to the Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza.
If you’d like to try the very traditional (although not particularly special) Chilean hot dogs, there is one casual dining destination on the main square and another at the beginning of the shopping street.
Restaurants in Santa Cruz
La Famiglia de Santis, Nicolás Palacios 203 : Italian cuisine, good quality, pleasant atmosphere (very near Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza, on the same street).
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 (meaning 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: pleasant sushi and cocktails close to the hotel, next to the casino.
Vino Bello: Italian with an attractive garden, about 1.5 km 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 you prefer to dine at the hotel there is a gourmet 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 wonderful visit to Santa Cruz 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.
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