The Andes provide a dramatic background for Chile’s engaging, rapidly developing capital, and whether you’re in the city for work or pleasure, here are ten essential experiences you cannot miss while visiting Santiago de Chile:
1. Cerro San Cristobal
Besides the Cerro Santa Lucia, the 880m high Cerro San Cristobal is the second hill in the urban area of Santiago de Chile, whose green idyll promises refuge from the hustle and bustle city life in the country’s capital. A whole day can be easily spent in the labyrinth of hiking trails, zoos, botanical gardens, swimming pools and viewing platforms without getting bored.
Santiago’s culinary scene is flourishing and the city had six representatives on the Latin America edition of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2019. The highest ranked, at number five, was Boragó, which has an inventive, locally focused menu and a sustainable ethos. Head to Santiago’s premier food market, the Mercado Central, a short stroll from the Plaza de Armas. Its stalls sell fresh produce from across Chile, while the marisquerías serve oysters, ceviche and local favorites such as paila marina, a hearty seafood soup.
Founded in 1541, Santiago is Chile’s oldest city and has the range of architectural styles to prove it. You can see many notable buildings close to the Plaza de Armas, Santiago’s leafy main square, including an immaculately preserved 18th-century mansion, Casa Colorada, and the neoclassical Palacio de La Moneda.
4. Bellavista Neighborhood (Barrio Bellavista)
Bellavista is a bohemian area with nice restaurants, bars and clubs. If you find yourself feeling thirsty or hungry, head to this neighborhood. It is also home to the Nobel Prize winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s house La Chascona. Neighborhoods in Chile are known for their wealth of street art, murals and graffiti. Several companies, including Santiago Street Art Tours, offer guided tours. It’s also a great place to find your Santiago hotel option as this and surrounding neighborhoods offer a great variety of accommodation options.
5. Palacio de La Moneda
La Moneda is Chile’s presidential office. The inner courtyards are generally open to the public, and you can watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony. It is one of the city’s postcards, and a place of great importance to Chile’s political history – notably, where the socialist president Salvador Allende made his last speech when he was overthrown by a coup d’etat.
6. Viña del Mar
This place has a wonderful array of gardens and colorful boulevards laced with lucious palm trees. Walk along the beautiful gardens and parks, and see if you even spot a sea lion on the rocks by the coast. There is also an original Moai from Easter Island in front of the Fonck Museum – you can’t miss this place!
Chile produces an impressive amount of varietals: Carménère, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc…and so forth! You can also head to Casablanca Valley between Santiago and Valparaíso for a day of wine tasting. Every winery offers a different experience so if you love wine try to visit at least two to get a good feel of the wine-making in Chile.
8. Pisco Sour
Pisco is a type of brandy, a spirit distilled from wine produced in Chile and Peru. Pisco Sour is the most well-known pisco cocktail, prepared with: pisco, egg white, lime juice and syrup. Simply delicious!
9. Valle Nevado
Valle Nevado is one of the best ski resorts in Chile, located high in the Andes. The ski season lasts from late June to early October, and you can get here straight from Santiago.
10. A place for everyone
In a city the size of Santiago, with its buzzing barrios and dramatic Andean backdrop, you need to choose the perfect place to rest. Thankfully, Chile’s capital brings spoonfuls of spirited South American energy when you want it and sleep-ready boutique hotels when you don’t. There’s so many beautiful accommodation stops, so you have no little to no excuse for stopping over!