Santiago is one of our favourite cities in all of South America due to the great mix of attractions and leisure activities, not to mention the amazing Andean backdrop. Below are our must-sees to help plan your time in the city.
Santa Lucia Hill
Santiago is a city full of amazing view points and one of our favourites is the Santa Lucía Hill. This is a very beautiful, well kept park with an elevated centre. Go up one level to enjoy a relaxing moment on one of the benches by the fountain, looking out to the city with a lovely view of Sky Costanera. Head up further to reach a platform accompanied by a guitar player with views even further afield. We would suggest heading up here just before sunset to view the city under both lights.
Very close to Sky Costanera is where the sculpture park can be found. Exactly what it says on the tin, this is a park comprising of various different sculptures throughout. It makes for an interesting stroll and can team up very easily with a visit to San Cristóbal Hill via the cable car.
Sky Costanera is a little pricey in comparison to most attractions in Santiago but it is also the tallest building in the whole of Latin America so we think it’s worth it! Zoom up to the 58th floor and you will have a 360 degree view of the city with the Andes towering in the background; there is no denying the view from here is incredible. There are also plenty of free binoculars to get a closer look. Need some air? Head up one more floor to the same views but with an open roof.
As we mentioned with the visit to Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, cemeteries aren’t often on a tourists list of places to visit but this is all thrown out the window when it comes to South America. The extreme difference they have to cemeteries you may be used to, by stacking the graves up high rather than burying them low definitely makes for an very interesting visit.
Plaza de la Constitution
This plaza is located in the heart of the civic district of Santiago. There are numerous government buildings in the square, including Palacio de la Moneda, the impressive house of Chile’s president.
Villa Grimaldi is a very worthy but emotional destination. Here you will step foot on the actual grounds of and learn about the many Chileans who were held captive and killed here during a military coup. It is free entry and includes an audio guide. To learn more about this, we also recommend visiting the Museum of Memory and Human Rights.
San Cristóbal Hill – Parque Metropolitano de Santiago
Santiago has what could be described as their version of Christ the redeemer but with the Virgin Mary rather than Christ. This is the highest natural viewpoint of the city and is a great attraction due to the transport up to the top being a cable car or a funicular train. A combined ticket is available so we suggest going up with one and down with the other. We personally took the cable car up from Pedro de Valdivia and the cable car down to Bellavista but it can easily be done vice versa.
This is the bohemian area of Santiago, with lots of colourful houses and street art. It is definitely worth a stroll around and is also home to an abundance of lovely restaurants, bars and lively clubs. Here is also where you will find Patio Bellavista, an awesome square full of bars and restaurants, which has a great vibe throughout the day and really comes to life in the evenings. Definitely be sure to check out the many markets in the area too, such as the one on Avenida Bellavista.
Also located in Bellavista is the home of Pablo Neruda, Chile’s Nobel prize winning poet. The house is now a museum dedicated to Neruda’s life and work and even just observed from the outside, it fits right into Bellavista’s bright and vibrant tone.
Parque o Higgins
Come here for a nice chill in the city or up the ante and go to the “theme park” within. If you have a lot of time in the city this is a nice place to take a break from the usual attractions.
Try some of the local produce
- Pisco Sour – There is an ongoing feud between Chile and Peru about who invented the Pisco Sour. Personally we don’t mind as long as they both keep making tasty ones. A great place to give them a go is White Rabbit, who have many different flavours, including more unusual ones such as rosé.
- Terremoto/Replica – A Terremoto (which translates into earthquake) is a drink only found in Chile, which consists of wine, grenadine or fernet and ice cream. It is named this because your legs are likely to be shaking after just one cup. Maybe take it easy and go for the smaller version, named the Replica. The best place to get this from is La Piojera. It is what is best described as a dive bar but remains the most popular place to sample the local drink, by tourists and locals alike. You’ll also get great quantities for a small cost.
- Mote con Huesillo – this is a drink, which is popular during the summer months in Chile. We picked one up at the top of San Cristóbal. It consists of husked wheat and an apricot in peach juice. It was quite strange to us but the Chileans love it so why not give it a go!
- Sopaipilla - these are tasty street food treats consisting of flat fried pastry pieces that come with many different sauces. Put different sauces around to try out all the different flavours. Really good and so cheap!
- Porotos - Chileans love their beans and as a result, many variations of Porotos (beans) are a national dish. There’s a great restaurant called Galindo in the Bellavista district, where you can try them out with meat or vegetarian style.
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