At the foothills of the Cordillera de los Andes mountain range, the capital city of Chile stands out as a destination with something for everyone. It is a cosmopolitan city with a lot of cultural activity, historical places and a vibrant nightlife, as well as having many other activities that can be enjoyed like sport climbing, skiing and trekking in the surrounding mountains and hills.In this route file we present places and activities that you shouldn't miss in your next trip to Santiago. Discover them!Share this destination:
The CityWith more than 5 million inhabitants, close to 30% of the country's population, Santiago is by far the biggest city in Chile. Is is a modern city, cosmopolitan and it is usually the entrance to Chile for foreign visitors, who get impressed with the imposing Cordillera de los Andes guarding the city. The accommodation and gastronomical offer is wide and adjusts to all budgets. If you travel as a backpacker and want good alternatives for hostels and places to eat for good prices, check our section Good and Cheap Santiago.MobilizationThere are several alternatives to move around Santiago. Generally the most convenient one is the Metro subway network, which passes near the majority of points of interest in the city. There are multiple bus lines all over Santiago as well. To get on a bus you have to buy and load a "BIP" card, which can be bought in Metro subway stations and can be used for both transport services. In Santiago there are as well taxi and radio taxi services, but this is obviously a considerable more expensive alternative. You have the possibility of renting bikes, although only some streets have bicycle lanes.
What to VisitHistoric CenterThe historic quarter is located in the heart of the city. It is a triangular area which originates in Plaza Baquedano, and extends between Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins avenue by the south, the Mapocho river and the Forestal park by the north and the Autopista Central highway by the west. Here you can find the Plaza de Armas square, surrounded by emblematic buildings such as the Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago, Palacio de la Real Audiencia and Casa Colorada. Is in this square where fans of the national football team celebrate each victory.In this area you can visit as well the Claustro e Iglesia de La Merced, Teatro Municipal, Iglesia de San Francisco, Museo de Bellas Artes and Palacio de La Moneda, current house of government.Cerro Santa LuciaThis is a beautiful and green urban park located in the center of Santiago, right outside Santa Lucia subway station. It was in this place where Pedro de Valdivia founded the city of Santiago in 1541. This hill was used as a strategical viewpoint by the Spanish at the time.To the interior of the park there are several interesting things to see, like old cannons used by the Spanish, the front and surroundings of the Hidalgo Castle, a series of monuments and a beautiful view of Santiago. Next to the hill you can visit the Santa Lucia fair, popular artisan center where you can buy the remarkable "indio picaro".
Cerro San CristobalCerro San Cristobal is one of the most emblematic places in Santiago and an excellent spot to get an amazing view of the city, since it is the second highest point in the capital. This hill is located in the middle of the city, forming part of a group of mountains that conforms the Parque Metropolitano de Santiago park, the biggest urban park in Chile and one of the biggest in the world.The journey to the top is done by many people each week either walking, jogging or in bicycle. There is nothing better to enjoy a good "mote con huesillo" at the top of the hill while enjoying the amazing view. At the top you can also visit the Santuario de la Inmaculada Concepción sanctuary (place where the Virgin is located), and you can find food stands and souvenirs.
Mercado CentralHistory and gastronomy is what's in offer in the Mercado Central ("Central market") of Santiago, one of the oldest markets of the country and a patrimonial building. It has two floors and 241 locals among liquor stores, butcher's, herb stores, bakeries, fish shops, cheese shops, grocery and artisan stores and restaurants. An authentic spectacle of colors and scents. Here traditional Chilean food recipes are preserved, an excellent place to enjoy a good meal of fish or seafood.La Piojera BarLa Piojera, formerly known as Restaurante Santiago Antiguo, is one of the most famous bars in Santiago. It is located in the Santiago commune, in Aillavilu street, almost in front of Mercado Central. It is a real "picá" (good place to eat and drink cheaply) and an icon of "Chilenity". This bar is know for its classic "terremotos", a Chilean typical drink, as well as a wide variety of drinks and national food, like the "pernil".
Barrio BellavistaThe Barrio Bellavista neighbourhood is located between the north bank of the Mapocho river and Cerro San Cristobal and is known as "the" bohemian neighbourhood of Santiago. Over the streets Bellavista, Constitucion, Mallinkrodt, Darcinac, Pio Nono, Purisima and its surroundings you can find the biggest concentration of gastronomy, with good alternatives to eat and drink for all budgets. At night, you can enjoy the vibrant and intense nightlife thanks to its numerous restaurants, pubs, bars and discotheques. A truly unique place in santiago to enjoy a pitcher of beer with french fries or go dancing.The house-museum La Chascona is part of the neighbourhood's cultural patrimony and one of its main points of interest. It belonged to the Novel Prize poet Pablo Neruda. Bellavista offers as well a rich architecture and a wide variety of cultural activities, like important art galleries and theaters like the San Gines, Centro Mori and the Bellavista Theater, among others. Maybe one of the things that better reflect the artistic and bohemian spirit of Bellavista are its numerous and colorful murals, graffitis and buildings. Here you can find the best urban art in Santiago.
Other Remarkable NeighbourhoodsIn addition to the aforementioned Barrio Bellavista there is a series of very interesting neighbourhoods in Santiago that also stand out for their nightlife and rich architecture. Among the most remarkable ones are Barrio Republica, Barrio Brasil, Barrio Lastarria y Barrio Yungay.Barrio Republica, also known as the "university quarter", is located in the western area of the Santiago commune and is one of the more traditional sectors of the capital with a rich architecture and declared Zona Tipica of Chile ("typical area" of Chile). You can find several palaces and manor houses here, as well as a great variety of pubs and restaurants. Barrio Brasil is known for its XIX architecture, cultural and artistic spaces in addition to being considered a bohemian neighbourhood with several pubs and restaurants. A very interesting place to visit is Barrio Concha y Toro (located within Barrio Brasil), known for its cobblestone streets and old mansions.Barrio Lastarria, declared Zona Tipica in 1996, has a strong intellectual and bohemian character, with a wide cultural offer. Here you can find multiple cafes, bars and cultural centers. A place that you have to visit is here is the El Biografo Cinema, a beautiful traditional cinema with numerated seats, adapted to display modern films. Finally, Barrio Yungay is a place that stands out for its beautiful old buildings and mansions of the XX century. Here you can visit Yungay square, where you can see the Monumento al Roto Chileno, a monument that salutes the poor and anonymous youth of the country.
Cordillera de los AndesThe imposing and massive mountain range that guards the capital is an amazing place full of possibilities. Lovers of trekking, mountaineering, skiing and rafting, among others, find a true paradise in the cordillera few kilometers from Santiago.Only 1 hr from the capital lies Cajon del Maipo, where an infinite amount of trails, routes, camping areas, hot springs and other activities can be enjoyed. Important skiing centers like El Colorado, La Parva and Valle Nevado are also only 1 hr away from Santiago.
Precautions and Recommendations
1. Hostels and places to eat: Check our section Good and Cheap Santiago, with some of the best alternatives of hostels and places to eat.2. Surroundings: If you love nature and amazing landscapes and plan to visit Santiago, Cajon del Maipo is an excellent destination. Only 1 hr away from Santiago, this mountain canyon offers alternatives for camping, beautiful scenery, glaciers, rivers and trekking trails. Everything you need to know about this destination here.3. Security: If you plan to go out at night, it is ideal to go in a group, since like in any other big city, there is a risk of getting robbed.