Santiago is a stunning city in South America, ideal for a city break, with its sparkling glass towers, historical structures, and snow-capped mountains. It is nestled among the Andes Mountains, so many of the best activities are suitable for practically anyone.
Santiago, Chile's social and artistic center, enchants visitors with a blend of the new and the ancient. Just down the street from trendy new gastropubs are neighborhood working-class diners that have remained unchanged for over a century. It has the largest skyscraper on the continent and grand art-deco institutions.
Let's hop on the most extraordinary things to do in Santiago, Chile.
1. Climb Cerro Santa Lucía
Despite not being the tallest hill you've ever seen, Santa Luca's summit is home to some of the most amazing buildings! Santa Luca, found in Santiago's Northeast Lastarra district, was once a volcano that erupted 15 million years ago. You may get a fantastic 360° perspective of the city by climbing 69 meters/230 feet to the summit.
This place has a pretty interesting history. The conquistadors used this location as a viewing point while they conquered Chile, and Pedro de Valdivia, the country's first royal governor, proclaimed Santiago's creation here. You can eat something from the stand beside the enormous yellow fountain with its expansive, beautiful stone terrace.
2. Enjoy looking at Santiago’s street art.
Santiago's street art, dispersed across the city's streets, attracts locals and tourists. The grafiteros of the city serve as a showcase for Santiago's artistic nature, which needs to be contained outside a museum. The city's rising international flare is evident in its effect on people from all over the world.
Both well-known and recently produced street art is quickly becoming one of Chile's top tourist destinations. Street art ranks among Chile's top tourist attractions and can be found in the city's core neighborhoods.
3. A visit to Plaza de Armas
This historic square was built in 1541 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, who also fo Santiago. He established a political and religious center brimming with architectural marvels. The elegant Metropolitan Cathedral, situated along the Plaza de Armas' western edge, stands out among the many sights on show.
You'll also come across the Historical Museum (Museo Histórico Nacional), which includes fascinating exhibits charting Chile's history from the pre-Conquest period to the 20th century. The former Governor's Palace has become the city's major post office.
4. Eat Seafood in the Central Market
Eating seafood at Mercado Central is unquestionably one of the most amazing things to do in Santiago. This thriving market has been operating since 1872 and is still a famous destination for dining and shopping.
Enjoy the city's guided tour, including a great lunch at Mercado Central, or explore it on your own.
Chile is the source of a wide variety of delectable seafood due to its extensive coastline and thriving fishing sector. Every day of the week, Santiago's Central Market is a hive of activity. Locals visit the market in the morning to shop, and visitors come in the afternoon to eat at one of the many eateries.
5. Enjoy the views at Valle Nevado.
There’s a fantastic site just 90 minutes outside Santiago if you enjoy skiing and snowboarding. If you want to leave the city, Valle Nevado has some of the best skiing in the Andes and is one of the best things to do in Santiago.
Valle Nevado has slopes suitable for skiers of every ability level, regardless of their proficiency at skiing. Visiting is simple, as the slopes are divided according to different skill levels.
6. Enjoy Palace Life at La Moneda Palace.
One of the many stunning structures you must see is Palacio de La Moneda, which houses the office of the President.
The neoclassical palace was built by an Italian architect named Joaquin Toesca in the 1700s. The building is stunning.
In addition to scheduling a free tour of the palace, visitors are welcome to roam about the interior courtyards at their leisure. Daily tours are available multiple times; to schedule one, contact the palace directly through email or inquire at your hotel.
7. Explore the Downtown Area.
Most of Santiago's attractions are in this city's center, the area's business hub. Colonial, contemporary, and early to mid-20th-century buildings are all in this region. When you're going around, observe the beautiful architectural elements on the buildings. Don't hesitate to check inside the gates and stairwells; you might discover some genuine treasures.
Give Santiago's downtown a fair chance because it is much more than it first appears. You will find few people there in the evenings because this is mostly the financial and commercial area of the city, so go there during the day to get the most out of it.
8. Go Underground
The fastest way to go swiftly in Santiago is to use the large metro system, which has seven lines and 136 stops. However, viewing some of the metro stations is another reason to go underground because those are the areas of great contributions to the city's cultural and artistic life.
In addition to the many cultural events heavily advertised in the metro, you can also see literary quotations (such as those by Pablo Neruda, the most well-known poet from Chile) and the artwork. The Universidad de Chile station is the most stunning since it has a huge mural depicting Chile's history.
9. Visit the City’s World-class Museum.
In terms of fine art, Santiago is a veritable horde of riches. The Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos provides detailed documentation of the atrocities done by General Augusto Pinochet's dictatorial administration, which was only overthrown in 1990, for visitors seeking insight into Chile's turbulent previous half-century.
Take a guided tour of the museum and a trip to a Santiago neighborhood where the effects of the military dictatorship are still clearly felt to learn more about this stain on the nation's history.
10. Try Ice Cream From Emporio La Rosa
Emporio La Rosa is a famous ice cream parlor in Santiago, Chile. In 2012, Time Magazine ranked it among the top 25 ice creams in the world.
They produce certain distinctive Chilean flavors, such as Murta (Chilean Myrtle) and Lucuma, in addition to its more traditional flavors, such as chocolate and dulce de leche (which taste like caramel). A cup or a cone is available, and milkshakes are also available.
It opens from 10 AM to 10 PM every day, excluding Sundays.
11. Enjoy an Exquisite Dinner at Santiago’s Top Restaurant
The most renowned restaurant in Chile, Boragó, lies at the opposite end of the dining spectrum. Chefs in Santiago are experimenting on a new level with regional ingredients and flavor combinations as the city's dining scene gets more sophisticated.
You can enjoy up to seven courses with optional wine pairings at Boragó's dinners. It is the number 1 spot on Santiago's top eateries list.
12. See the Incredible Natural Beauty of Cajon del Maipo
On the Rio Maipo, a significant gorge is about 25 kilometers southeast of Santiago. Many Santiago locals go here for outdoor activities and to eat a local delicacy.
At Cajon, you may go camping, hiking, rafting, skiing, biking, and visiting the excellent winery nearby. Remember that because Chile is in the Southern Hemisphere, its seasons are the reverse of those in the North, particularly if you intend to go skiing over the holidays.
13. Ride the Funicular at Metropolitan Park.
The greatest places to see Santiago are in Metropolitan Park, where cable cars can take people to the summit of San Cristobal Hill.
The park also has a zoo, botanical gardens, a religious sanctuary, a children's park, a funicular built in 1925, and much more. You should also ride the Teleferico Santiago to see some amazing views.
14. Tour a Vineyard
Chile is renowned for producing top-notch wine since the country's climate is ideal for grape harvesting. This list of the pleasurable things to experience in Santiago easily includes visiting a winery.
The good news is that visiting a vineyard can be done in the city center. Cousio Macul is only 15 km from Santiago's downtown and is easily accessible by taxi or local bus.
The vineyard offers a few different tour options, with the basic tour costing approximately $22 and the deluxe version costing $38. With this, you receive a tour, six wine tastings, a commemorative glass and corkscrew, and a cheese and fruit plate.
15. Dive into Santiago’s Nightlife.
The current party scene in the capital is well-known in the area. Due to the late dinnertime in the area (10 p.m.), things start slowly. You might be the sole one on the dance floor if you arrive at a pub or club before midnight with the intention of dancing. However, things will only end once they begin once the sun is fully up.
Recoleta's Bar Constitución and Havana Club play salsa and merengue and electronic/reggaetón music, respectively, Club de Jazz in La Reina, and La Pea del Nano Parra, which also play a variety of live local music, are some of the most famous venues.
To Wrap Up
Santiago, Chile, ranks among the most beautiful destinations to visit in the holidays. Enjoy the breathtaking views, enjoy the nightlife, explore some history, and spend the day at spectacular and fun outdoor locations. We have put down some of the most extraordinary things in Santiago that will make your trip amazing!
So let's get going!
I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.