The things to do in Santiago Chile are extremely interesting. Compared to other capital cities there aren’t as many tourist attractions but there are still a handful of things to see. Chile is considered the Switzerland of the south not only because of its mountainous terrain but also due to it’s efficiency. It is by far one of the most efficient countries in South America and I absolutely loved living in Santiago. From unique nightlife that starts at happy hour to a great museum in the city, Santiago is a typical capital city with much to offer any tourist. Here are the top things to do in Santiago:
Visit The Cerros (Hills):
Cerro’s in Spanish are hills and Santiago is filled with them. The border with Argentina is home to the massive Andes mountains and a short drive away from the city you can access the highest peak in the western hemisphere, Mount Aconcagua.
Cerro San Cristobal is the one hill in the city where you can spend an entire day relaxing and exercising or simply going to see the gorgeous sunsets. The statue to your right sits at the top of the hill. They have snacks and many times you can catch a wedding while you are going to see the great views.
The next Cerro you want to visit is Santa Lucia. With quite of bit of history behind it this is the actual spot where the city of Santiago was founded in Pedro de Valdivia in 1541. You can get exceptional views of the city here as well and enjoy typical Chilean snacks once at the top (like ice cream).
Sometimes it may be hit or miss do to the pollution in the city but when its clear get your camera ready!
The two central markets are a load of fun to learn about the culture in Santiago and really get to know the people of the city. Before you go to both I would like to warn you to be very careful when you go. Its very crowded and the pick pockets target tourists regularly at the markets.
If you are going to take pictures put your camera back in your pocket right after your done. The first market is La Vega Central is where you can go to really get a look at the local scenary.
There is an abundance of veggies, spices, meat, and even fruit. The colors will overwhelm you and you will be offered plenty of food while you are there. Find yourself a good restaurant that looks good and try a local dish like Chorillana.
The second market you can see is the Mercado Central. Its a bit less busy than La Vega but you can still find a great selection of fish to buy and some fruits in veggies as well. Here can also find a variety of small restaurants where you can flavor the local cuisine. I was able to buy Chilean Sea Bass which retails at $20 a pound in the U.S for under $5 a pound. Very good stuff.
Bella Visa Tourist District:
Newly renovated the neighborhood is the entrance to Cerro San Cristobal and it provides both the nightlife central to the city and a bit of history as well. Here you can find the house of the famous Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda’s, he did win the Nobel prize you owe him a visit at the least. During the afternoons and evenings the place is bustling with Chileans and tourists alike for a nice brew, good food, and a great atmosphere.
La Moneda & Downtown
La Moneda is the name of the presidential palace. Like most presidential palaces in South America the place is filled with security guards in the front and around back. Make sure to walk around the palace a bit as you can find several interesting statues in the area. The downtown area has great architecture to view and you can get a great feeling of what daily life is like. Once you find the central plaza you will find old Chilean men playing dominoes, kids jumping into the plaza fountains, and everyone eating ice cream!
The Chile Pre-Colombian Art Museum
This is one of the most impressive precolombian art museums in the world. Almost everything inside this museum is beyond interesting and one of the museums that I have thoroughly enjoyed. They have a statue in front of the art museum that I consider one of the most powerful sculptures that I have ever seen. If you go to Chile and not see this museum you definitely missed out!