Visit Santiago – our complete guide

Chile is a country that makes people dream about mountain, nature and the Pacific coast. This very unusual place offers quite different facets between North and South, which are more than 4,000 km away. Today we take you to the capital, Santiago. To visit Santiago is discovering Chile.

The city is located in the middle of the country, rather inland. Between the modern buildings and the colonial buildings, the snow-capped peaks of the Andes Mountains are visible on the horizon. Santiago is a symbolic place of history, since it is the capital of Chile for almost 500 years. You will not have time to get bored with all the activities on offer here. Follow our guide to visit Santiago.

What to do in Santiago?

1. La Plaza de Armas

It is the historical and architectural heart of the city. Santiago was built around this central square, in the middle of the 16th century, by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia. The capital has subsequently expanded to accommodate the 5 million inhabitants it now hosts.

Around the Plaza de Armas, we find the most emblematic sites of the city’s heritage: the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral, the historic post office building, and the National History Museum. Not far from here you will also find Casa Colorada, as well as the excellent Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art.

2. Gran Torre Santiago

To have a view of the whole city and its surroundings, there is no better place. The Gran Torre Santiago is the highest skyscraper in South America, 300 m above the ground. Visitors can access the floors 61 and 62 of the tower, to have a complete panorama on all the districts of Santiago. It’s time to take out your cameras and binoculars.

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3. Bellavista District

It is a rather artistic and festive district of Santiago. In Bellavista, the most visited street is undoubtedly Pio Nono, for its colors and animation. Here, street art frescoes are offered to the eye of the travelers at every corner of the wall, and the bars are always busy, day and night.

Moreover, don’t forget to taste the famous cocktail “terremoto”. Also during your visit Santiago, visit the house of Pablo Neruda, called the Chascona. The Chilean poet has lived in several houses all over Chile, and they are now transformed into museums. This was the setting of his secret passion for his lover of the time, Matilde Urrutia.

4. Lastarria District

This part of the city is a bit more chic than the Bellavista neighborhood. There are museums of visual arts and modern art, as well as beautiful facades. You can take a walk on Plaza Mulato Gil de Castro, or visit the church of Veracruz. Another popular attraction in this tourist area is Santa Lucia Hill. The walk that will take you to the summit is very pleasant, and punctuated with fountains, green spaces, statues, and brick forts. Once upstairs, the view of the city is very beautiful, especially at sunset.

5. San Cristobal Hill

With its white statue of the Virgin Mary opening her arms wide, you will not be able to miss Cerro San Cristobal. This is an opportunity to stretch your legs climbing the hill on foot to access a space full of flowers and one of the most beautiful views of Santiago. But rest assured, there are also funiculars that allow to climb on the cerro.

6. The Forestal Park

This park bordering the Mapocho River is a lung of the city, and an original place. To breathe a little and recharge one’s batteries away from cars, the trees and flowers of the park are perfect. This area of greenery and culture is not far away from the center of Santiago. Forestal Park is not limited to a few rows of plane trees. It is also home to the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

7. Santiago’s Markets

What would be Santiago without its stalls of fruits and vegetables, meat, and empanadas? The downtown markets are a feast for the eyes, nostrils and especially the stomachs! Come stroll among the stands of the producers of Mercado Central or Vega Central during your visit to Santiago.

Stop to discover exotic fruits or taste Chilean specialties, and breathe in the flavors of fresh produce. You cannot leave Santiago without going through its markets and have tasted a paila marina.

Full Days

1. Cajón del Maipo

It is THE nature outing around Santiago. This splendid canyon is at the crossroads between the Andes Mountains and the Maipo River. Here, hikers can go on the stone paths all day. The mountains, the glaciers, the cliffs, the lakes of altitude, the snow… It is a picturesque scenery in which you will take a good breath of fresh air.

If you are looking to explore the Chilean nature while staying close to Santiago, the Cajón del Maipo is the perfect place.

2. Visit Santiago : Laguna del Inca and Portillo Ski Resort

To stay on the theme of nature, this tour will bring you close to the border with Argentina, not far from the famous Aconcagua. You can admire on a clear day, and see with your own eyes the “colossus of America” which reaches almost 7,000 m. Just for that, the two and a half hours of road are worth it. But why stop there when you can also explore a turquoise mountain lake?

The Laguna del Inca is perfect for a short hike and a picnic, before continuing to the Portillo ski resort. This winter sports resort will delight powder lovers who love to hit the slopes in an original setting.

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3. Vineyards of San Esteban

The surroundings of Santiago are particularly adapted to the cultivation of grapes, and therefore to the production of wine. If you like to walk in the vineyards and taste great wines while listening to the history of local winemakers, you will be served.

You will learn the subtleties of the climate in this valley near the high mountains, and you will discover the Chilean wine tradition, which has nothing to envy to ours. This small excursion is perfect to have a good time in all serenity. However, if you intend to drink wine, don’t go to San Esteban by car!

4. Archaeological Park of Paidahuen

If you still have some time after visiting the vineyards, don’t hesitate to take a walk in the archaeological park next door. As you walk along the trails, you will see large rocks covered with very old rock carvings called petroglyphs. These mysterious symbols have not yet delivered all their secrets and you are free to give them the interpretation that inspires you.

5. Visit an Alpaca Farm

The Andes Cordillera is known for its beautiful peaks, but also for its alpacas. These fluffy animals, who always seem to be smiling, have been bred in this area for centuries.

Alpaca wool is particularly warm and soft, and is famous all over the world. In this region, there is one of the largest alpaca farms in the country. You can visit it, see the processes of mowing and processing wool, as well as the manufacture of clothing. Handicrafts are also offered for sale, for 100% Chilean souvenirs.

6. The Penguin Island

If you want to see the Pacific Ocean and penguins, this tour is for you. Starting from Santiago, you will arrive on the coast in about two hours.

From there, you can take a small boat to tour the island and observe the penguins who have elected residence. By choosing an ecoresponsible organized tour and local guides who know these animals, you will satisfy your curiosity while respecting the fragile ecosystem of this place to preserve. Before returning to Santiago, enjoy the seaside to enjoy a dish of freshly caught fish at sunset.

7. Easter Island

This tour lasts more than a day, but it is so exceptional that it was absolutely necessary to mention it. You may not know it, but Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, belongs to Chilean territory.

From Santiago, regular flights will drop you in 6 hours in this mythical place. Easter Island has always intrigued young and old, with its statues so recognizable. Leaving from your country to come to Chile, why not take the opportunity to spend some unforgettable days among the Moais?

Easter Island Chile

Ideas of Stays – Visit Santiago

A week-end in Santiago

If you have only two days in the capital, stroll through the main areas and make some visits to museums. Do not try at all costs to do all the many tourist activities. Instead, take the time to acclimatize, go eat a typical dish in a small restaurant, and enjoy the change of scenery. You are on vacation, so relax!

5 days

By staying a few more days, you will have time to explore the city further. Stop by museums, take a guided tour of lesser-known neighborhoods, and go on a nature excursion.

An outing to see the Aconcagua is definitely a must, as well as a mountain hike if your physical condition allows it. Otherwise, a tour of the vineyards and alpacas is also a good idea. It is not the activities that are missing in the capital and its surroundings.

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A week

If you are a slow traveler who likes to travel without hurry, you are in luck. A whole week will not be too much to visit the city by finding small unusual places, and crisscross the area.

If, however, you are afraid of getting bored, take the opportunity to leave for a few days on Easter Island. It is a destination to see at least once in his life, so take the plunge, and discover the famous stone statues.

Good places in Santiago – Visit Santiago

Where to stay in Santiago

  • Plaza San Francisco Hotel (5-star): This luxury hotel is ideally located, offering upscale rooms decorated in an old-world style with fine woodwork. It has gyms, a swimming pool and a spa area. The gourmet restaurant offers local or continental dishes to satisfy every palate.
  • Mahia house (4-star): this villa with mountain views will make you feel right at home. With its 3 bedrooms, fully equipped kitchen and large living room, you will have everything to spend an independent stay. In addition, the house has a large terrace with a garden and hammocks to rest after a day of sightseeing.
  • Hotel Vegas (3 stars): This boutique hotel, located in the Paris-London district, is surrounded by historic buildings. Warm welcome and close to the must-see sites.
  • Best Western Estacion Central (3-star): This establishment is part of an international chain with high standards. You will not have a bad surprise by booking a room in this simple and efficient hotel.

Where to eat in Santiago?

  • The Piojera: this bar is a pillar of Santiago, frequented by both locals and tourists. He is especially famous for his festive atmosphere and his “terremoto”. This cocktail worthy of an earthquake is composed of ingredients for the least amazing… but do not spoil your surprise! Go taste for yourself and open your appetite with this explosive appetizer.
  • Aquí Está Coco: this is the address that everybody talks about. The chef of this restaurant does wonders in cooking with seafood and Chilean flavors. The place is also exceptional, with its many rooms and its refined decoration.
  • El Hoyo: this restaurant is for carnivores. The typical dishes served here are all composed of meat, declined in different forms, and very well accommodated.
  • The Chakra: vegetarians will be happy to know that there is a good address that serves vegetarian cuisine in Santiago. Between seafood and meat dishes, it’s not easy to find good vegetarian restaurants in Chile.

How to move within Santiago?

The city is quite extensive, so it is difficult to do everything on foot when there is little time. The metro and bus networks are very well served, and the use of the Bip! is quite simple.

You can also borrow public bikes, or take a taxi for short trips when visit Santiago. But do not forget that traveling in a capital, you are likely to find yourself stuck in traffic jams.

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