There are many things to do in Santiago de Chile. The capital of Chile lies just accross the Andes from Mendoza in Argentina. Like many South American capitals, European influence is all around. Santiago is a big and charming city and probably one of the most developed capitals that we visited in South America.
Santiago de Chile is a fun city, full of history that speaks to you while walking the streets. We believe that you can visit most attractions yourself without joining a tour. This will save you money if you are on a budget. On the contrary, if you have some extra money to spend, guideds tour are very well organised here. We spent 5 nights in Santiago and it was enough time to visit the following list.
Things to do in Santiago de Chile
1) Plaza de Armas
The Plaza de Armas is the main square in the city. It is the historic center of the city. Surrounding the square are some significant buildings, including the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago de Chile, the Central Post Office Building, the Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago, and the building where the government sit. There many trees and benches and people hanging around. There is a great vibe. On a sunny day the Plaza de Armas is good for a quick picnic. We bought some cheese and crackers and enjoyed observing what was going on around us. People chatting, some old men playing chess. From Plaza de Armas we strongly recommend taking a street called Paseo Ahumada, a bustling shopping street where you will also find the best coffee bars in town. Check out Cafe Haiti where all the businessmen working in the area hang out for a coffee, kindly served by waitresses wearing provocative dresses.
2) Mercado Central
Santiago’s Central Market is much more than a regular market. Here you can purchase the highest quality of a diverse range of products such as seafood, meat, different dairy products, fresh fruit and veg. There is a bakery selling some of the best empanadas, a pharmacy and a tour guide if you want to discover more about the history. This building where the market is situated was built over 100 years ago making it an attractive tourist spot. It is internationally recognised as being one of the best markets in the world!
For more info check the official website: www.mercadocentral.cl/
3) Plaza de la Constitucion and Palacio de la Moneda
The Plaza de la Constitución is a square in the heart of the civic district. It is located in front of the northern facade of the Palacio de la Moneda where the famous leader Salvador Allende was killed in the 1970s and where the Pinochet regime began. For Noelle who loves Chilean history and has studied it at University, visiting the Palacio de la Moneda was very interesting. As for me, I didn’t know too much about it but I stopped a policeman and asked him some things about the history and he was more than happy to explain the history to me. There are here few government buildings such as the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Banco Central de Chile and the Intendencia de Santiago in this area.
For guided tour at Palacio de La Moneda please click here.
4) Barrio Bellavista
Apparently the most carachteristic and bohemien part of the city. Here is also the place to drink and dine. The nightlife is the main attraction of this area. Anyway is also well known for being an unsafe part of the city during the night. So better visit it and walk around during the day.
5) Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
The museum is located at the entrance of Parque Forestal. The entrance at the museum is free. It is one of the best museum of the city and it’s worth it to visit if you are in to Art. Click on the following link to find out timetable and how to get there.
Offical website: http://www.mnba.cl/617/w3-propertyvalue-38958.html
6) Parque Forestal
Just opposite to Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes is the entrance at the Parque. One step in and you will find on the left a really nice restaurant coffee bar called Castillo Forestal. We stopped here for a break after walking the whole morning around the city. I recommend you to try the ice cream! The park itself is a nice quite green area where people lay on the grass.
7) Cerro Santa Lucia
Nice spot to view the city from another persepctive. But attention be careful! We heard stories from people that have been robbed and attacked with a kinfe on their way to the top.
If you are in shopping mood you can go to the “Costanera Shopping Center” where you can find anything you need. Here Fabio bought is new backpack after we traveled for 5 weeks only with one because as you guys remember we have been robbed in Argentina. So Fabio didn’t have anything for few weeks only one pair of pants and few t-shirts. As he needed few things we also went the day after to the Easton Outlet Mall where you can better price and where unluckily we realised that Fabio’s new backpack, just bought the day before, was 10% cheaper! So for good deals go to this outlet!
If you want to know what to pack when traveling with a backpack read our post here.
9) Wine Tours
Chilenian wines have become more and more appreciated around the world over the past 20 years. This land is home of some of the most famous wineries in the world and guess what? You can visit them because they are so close to Santiago! You can have a beautiful day trip to one of these incredible places where you will learn aboout the winemaking process, the harvesting and the grapes. The nicest part is the wine tasting! Two of the most famous and well organised tours are the ones organised by the wineries Concha y Toro and Santa Rita.
For the Concha y Toro wine tour click here and read our beautiful experience.
For more info about Santa Rita wine tour you can click here.
10) Andes Panoramico
If you are up for spending some time outside the city and enjoying one of the best panoramas in Chile, then you should visit the Andes. This is the vast mountain range running through Chile and one of the principal chains in the world. The experience of exploring the Andes by ascending close to 2,500 meters through a mountain road in less than 60 minutes is unforgettable. Visit Valle Nevado or Farellones where you will enjoy stunning scenery which a lot of the time is watched from the sky by the majestic condors of the Andes.
Click the following link to see more information about this tour
Further information and interesting websites
- Bicicleta verde If you are up to rent a bike and visit the city on wheels this is the right place.
- For a good nightout don’t miss miercoles po
- Free walking tours. tours4tips, spicy chile, free tour santiago
- Guided Tours: Turistik
- Nacional Toursit office
Where to sleep:
Like any other capital city, there are numerous options when it comes to choosing a place to sleep. We suggest the following 3 hostels for afforable options!
The Princesa Insolente was our first stay where we were very happy with our choice. Each dorm bed has a curtain, a socket and a personal light. The beds are bigger here than the usual bunk bed too which was nice.
2. Aji Hostel was a hostel we visited as our friends Negar and Allison were staying here. Both breakfast and dinner are included which make it a perfect choice for backpackers.
3. Chile Lindo was where we moved to from the Princesa Insolente when it was booked up. Just down the road and under construction, the rooms were new, the kitchen was big and well equipped.
Avail of one of the many free walking tours mentioned above for an in depth history of the city.
If you go out during the night avoid bringing your valuables. Only take with you the necessary money you need for the night.
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If you are coming from Mendoza check our post Bus from Mendoza to Santiago.