We ended our time in South America in Santiago, Chile. Half of the country’s population calls Santiago home. It is a beautiful city nestled between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean making any view in the city a good one. Santiago is more than just a pretty face though. There are a number of renovated neighborhoods that offer stylish galleries, cafes, museums and parks, as well as a thriving culinary scene throughout the city. I hope to return to this beautiful city (hopefully in their Summer) to experience even more of what it has to offer. Keep reading for our trip recap.
Following three days full of wine in Mendoza, we took a bus through and over the Andes from Argentina in to Chile. The drive was absolutely beautiful, but the journey did not go as planned. We missed our first bus, had to wait on another that was not sold out, and then sat at border control for hours. After a very, very long day of travel we finally arrived in Santiago. We checked in and walked to a nearby wine and tapas bar. Following just enough vino, we crashed.
The next morning after a full night’s sleep. We woke up and started exploring the city. We heard about a party in a cleared out theatre that evening so following a day full of exploring, pisco sours, and delicious food we decided it would be fun to go. We were right! It was the perfect ending to our long summer traveling South America. The next morning we got up, explored a little more and headed to the airport before our overnight flight back home. Planning a trip to Santiago? Keep reading for my Santiago travel guide and recommendations for a wonderful time when visiting Chile’s capital city.
GETTING THERE & AROUND
You can take a bus (as we did) from Mendoza to Santiago, rent a car, or hire a drive. All of those require stopping at the border, a process that is extremely drawn out. While the drive provides you with a stunning drive (really, the most beautiful I think I’ve ever been on), flying would give you a nice bird’s eye view and would be much faster.
Once your in Santiago, public transportation is available and taxis and Ubers are plentiful. The city is also walkable depending on where you are staying. Each neighborhood has a unique feel and different sites to offer. You can visit museums, take in the impressive architecture, and pedestrian malls of Centro. There are also a number of parks that are perfect for exercising or for an afternoon picnic. The nightlife in Santiago includes discotecas, cafes, neighborhood bars, and restaurants in the Brasil, Lastarria, and Bellavista neighborhoods. In Providencia and Las Condes, you will find Santiago’s upper-class as well as great restaurants and renowned hotels.
THINGS TO DO
Santiago has a lot to offer with it’s growing economy and art scene.
- Cerro San Cristobal: take in the view of gorgeous Santiago from the top of the hill. You can either hike or take a 10 minute funicular from Bellavista to the top. Once at the park on top, there is a 72-foot statue of the Virgin Mary. There are typically carts at the top where you can purchase snacks or cocktails to enjoy with your view.
- Cathedral Metropolitana de Santiago: this cathedral is in the city’s historic center facing the Plaza de Armas. The architecture is gorgeous and it is stunning when it is lit up at night.
- Plaza de Armas: this plaza was the birthplace of Santiago in 1541 by Pedro de Valdivia. A statue of him can be found in the plaza, as can a plethora of performers, preachers, palm trees, and pigeons.
- Museo de la Moda: a museum dedicated to fashion including a conical bra designed by Jean Paul Gaultier for Madonna. After you see take in the fashion, stop at the on-site cafe, El Garage.
- Museo Nacional Bellas Artes: a museum featuring Chilean and foreign art from colonial times to today.
- Shopping on Avenida Alonso de Cordova: this luxury store-lined street has a number of shops that include both upscale and outlets.
- La Bicicleta Verde: rent a bike and take a cycling tour through the city or up to the nearby vineyards in Maipo. There are a number of winding roads and wineries in Maipo, located about 30 miles from the city. A few wineries to consider visiting include: La Montana, Perez Cruz, and Huelquen.
- Havana Salsa: watch shows or take salsa lessons here.
- Foto Ruta: photography tour throughout Chile that offers courses and tours that allow visitors to see both popular and local parts of the city.
- Head to the nearby port city of Valparaiso for a day trip.
WHERE TO EAT
- La Mar: a popular Peruvian restaurant with several locations throughout South America and even some in the U.S. The atmosphere is great and their fresh ceviches and fish are so delicious that the restaurant is typically packed.
- Boca Nariz: this is a wine tasting restaurant with killer tapas. We tried several and all were great. The staff is extremely friendly and the atmosphere is laid back, making it perfect for day or night.
- La Picantera: a sandwich restaurant located in Bellavista with the most amazing sandwiches and burgers.
- Osaka: located in the W hotel, this restaurant is a must for sushi lovers. I ate at their locations in Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo and I loved everything I had. It’s a must for any sushi lover.
- Astrid & Gaston: traditional Chilean and Peruvian fusion in an old manor house. The quality is great and the food is beautifully presented.
- Casamar: delicious seafood in a glass-framed space that is full of gorgeous bamboo. They have great ceviches to try, as well as other adventurous seafood dishes.
- Casa Lastarria: home cooked meals that are expertly crafted, this restaurant set in an old tudor-style building is definitely one to try.
- Mercado Central: while you can buy fish here, there are several market restaurants. The more touristy ones are larger and in the middle and the more ‘local’ ones are the smaller ones on the sides. It closes early in terms of South American dinner dining times, so lunch is likely your best option.
- Galindo: located in Bellavista, this popular restaurant is your go-to for several Chilean favorites such as pastels de chocolo, a completo, or churrascos (read more below).
- Emporio La Rosa: Chileans love their helado (ice cream) and this is a favorite in Santiago.
- Closed door restaurants: these are a great way to see what area chefs are cooking with local ingredients. The locations and menus of these restaurants change often. Some popular options include: Dugnad, Colmado, and Borago.
- A few things to try while in Santiago-
- Completo: a burger or hot dog topped with a lot of mayo, ketchup, avocado, and a variety of other toppings
- Pastel de Choclo: meat and veggies with a cornmeal topping
- Sopaipillas: fried Chilean pumpkin served with a variety of sauces
- Chorillana: a large pile of fries covered in meat, onions, and fried eggs
- Chupe de Marisco: fish and cheese baked dish
- Empanada: the classic Chilean empanada is called a “pino” and has meat, onions, an egg, and olives.
- Terremoto: a classic frozen drink that you can get sweet or sour
- Pisco Sour: the drink of Chile.
BARS & NIGHTLIFE
- La Piojera: this is a locals bar located near the Mercado Central and it is a must. It is the place to have a terremoto. I could have stayed here and people watched all day long.
- Chipe Libre: a great, relaxed ambiance with extremely friendly staff and great varieties of the Pisco Sour. Our bartender even took the time to provide us with some history and information about Pisco and variances of the Pisco Sour.
- Noi Hotel: they have a tramonto bar and terrace with great views of the city
- Bocanariz: great place to do some tasting with their large selection of wine flights
- Whiskey Blue: located in the W hotel, this bar is a great spot to kick back with a cocktail
- Bar Constitucion: a local favorite with great drinks, music, and both indoor and outdoor spaces
- W rooftop bar: this also provides a great view of Santiago
- San Cristobal Tower: this bar has a great 360 view of the city, although the ambiance was not as lively as some of the others mentioned above that also provide great views
- Baco Vino y Bistro: casual ambiance with a great wine list (and food if you get hungry between glasses or bottles)
- For more of a club atmosphere, check out: Happy Ending, Club La Feria or a number of the other great spots in Bellavista.
WHERE TO STAY
- Noi Hotel: this modern hotel is so charming and has enough there that you won’t have to leave if you don’t want to. With cute restaurants, bar areas, and a pool with one of the best views in the city, it’s easy to see why this hotel is one of the top rated.
- Casa Sur: located in the design district of Barrio Italia, this small bed and breakfast hotel is nothing but charming. The staff and the service they provide is great and makes guests feel like home.
- Andes Hostel & Apartments: stay in a shared room, get a private room + bathroom, or have your own apartment. This is one of the top rated places to stay and has a fun atmosphere with a perfect location in Bellas Artes.
- Hotel Bidasoa: this boutique hotel is located in Vitacura. It boasts a fabulous restaurant, attentive staff members, and comfortable and stylish rooms.