Santiago – located in a valley and surround by mountains - is the largest city in Chile. Santiago was founded in 1541, and since the colonial times has been the capital of the country. From the city, you can see the Andes Mountains in the distance. The city of Santiago is only a couple of hours from both the Pacific Coast and from the Andes Mountains. There are so many great things to do in Santiago, such as visiting the incredible Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino and the magnificent Cerro San Cristobal.
The economic status of Santiago has grown over the years and it is now one of the finer modern cities. There has been a large increase in the theatrical and restaurant scenes in the city. Santiago is considered a revolutionary city in South America, and boasts the tallest building in Latin America, the Gran Torre Santiago, as well as one of the best freeway systems, the Metro de Santiago. Below is our Santiago travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
MUSEO DE LA MODA – This fashion museum is privately operated and is full of great fashion items from the 20th century, and a collection of western fashion. This museum contains a collection of about 10,000 items but only some is put on display at one time; items are usually displayed by theme. Examples of famous clothing found here includes a jacket worn by John Lennon as well as some famous outfits of Michael Jackson’s. There are also some players’ outfits from back when the world cup was held in Chile.
LA CHASCONA – This getaway house was built by poet Pablo Neruda as an escape for himself and his mistress Matilda Urrutia. A man with a passion for the sea, his dining room was designed to resemble a ship’s cabin and his living room to look like a lighthouse. There are tours offered in multiple languages which will take you through the historic house and to see all the different items that are contained within.
CENTRO GABRIELA MISTRAL – This is one of the most amazing performing–art centres and is full of culture. It is named after the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, Gabriela Mistral. There are performances here most days, and there is also a rotating art exhibit here.
CERRO SAN CRISTOBAL – On top of the hill there is a beautiful park with a few different attractions and a beautiful view of the city of Santiago. Up here on Cerro San Cristobal there is the national zoo, a botanical garden and the 14m high Virgen de La Maculada Concepcion. At the base of this statue there are outdoor benches that the church used when Pope John Paul II said mass in 1984. There is a great park which includes a kids’ area.
PARQUE POR LA PAZ – This Park was once the place where the DINA (National Intelligence Directorate) held and tortured 4,500 prisoners and executed 266. The DINA was working under Pinochet’s Dictatorship in Chile. This park now serves as a memorial to the horrible atrocities that these people were put through. This is a great place to visit and draws out the feelings of sorrow that loom over the park.
MUSEO DE LA SOLIDARIDAD SALVADOR ALLENDE – This museum contains some work from some of the most famous painters in the world. Some of the names include Picasso, Miro, Tapies and Matta. There are about 2000 pieces of art contained here in this museum. Sometimes this art goes on tour and the exhibit is left with replicas.
PALACIO DE LA MONEDA – The presidential offices are inside this building. Designed in the 18th century, this building originally served as the mint. The courtyard is normally open to the public and there are tours offered. One part of the building was damaged in a military attack when President Allende did not want to leave and was overthrown.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
There are plenty of places to see in Santiago. The rich history offered here is fantastic and there are a few different places to explore. Parque por la Paz is one of the more interesting places to go and see the suffering that the Chilean people went through.
There are many different places where you can go to eat here in Santiago. You can find restaurants serving local style food, and international restaurants that serve different food from places all over the world. One place to try is Bajo Llave (Rosal 344), which has a cool underground vibe, with great pizza. Victorino (Jose Victorino Lastarria 138) has a nice terrace, good service, and delicious food. For the best wine in Chile, go to Bocanariz (Jose Victorino Lastarria 276) where the staff even speak English! Prices are from $5 for a glass of fine wine.
Barrio Bellavista and Barrio Brasil are two of the spots where you can find the best bars and pubs. There are all sorts of places, including relaxed jazz style bars and lively discos. If you’re after a unique – although non-Chilean - experience, go to Ky (Av. Peru 631). You’ll be impressed by the eclectic décor, which will make you feel like you’re in another country! Here you’ll find Thai food and delicious cocktails. Fancy a rooftop view over Santiago? At Tramonto Bar and Terrace (Av. Nueva Costanera 3736) you can watch the sunset and enjoy a few drinks before you hit another bar. There’s even a pool, and some typical bar food.
For those who want a big night out, remember that the parties normally start after midnight, with people often hitting the clubs at 2am, so don’t expect to get any sleep! One place you should go to for electronic music is La Feria (Constitucion 275). For pop and dance music, hit up Las Urracas (Av. Vitacura 9245), where you’ll find locals and tourists alike (although it’s not the cheapest). There are also some gay clubs, one of these is called Bunker (Bombero Nuez 159), and like most of the clubs here, it starts filling up around 2am.
Santiago has a fairly cool climate. The average temperature during the summer months (from January to March) is about 18 – 20 degrees Celsius. In the winter months, it can get cooler with a temperature of about 8 – 10 degrees Celsius. Most of the rain falls during the cool months of the year.
Santiago provides an international airport that offers flights to and from all around the world. Some airlines include LAN, Iberia, Latam, and American Airlines. From the airport, you can catch an airport bus into the city centre: your options include TurBus and CentroPuerto. There is also a bus station that has connections to most of the major destinations in South America, such as Lima (Cruz del Sur bus company).
Santiago provides all kinds of places to stay. Here you can find lower budget places that offer cheap beds for those looking for a place for the night. There are also nicer hotels for those people who are looking to spend several days here and wish to have a little more comfort. The centre of the city offers many of the better hotels, and some of them are very close to the Metro. One of these is Chile Apart Hotel, located near the Plaza de Armas. Here you can enjoy staying in a mini-apartment, and there is even a supermarket at the bottom of the building.
If you want to stay in Bellavista to make the most of the bohemian atmosphere and colourful buildings, you can find many boutique hotels. The Aubrey is a restored mansion with en suite rooms, an outdoor pool, and great décor.
Always be careful when walking around at night - don't go alone, and stay within the main streets.
Be careful that you do not get sick when eating food from street vendors.
When you arrive at the airport be wary of unofficial taxis, as you are likely to be overcharged.