Welcome to Santiago!
Surrounded by the beautiful Andes Mountains, Santiago, Chile, is one of the most charming and beautiful places you can ever visit. Although perhaps, a less popular city compared to other South American cities, Santiago has a rich, fascinating history and culture, making it an excellent place to visit for a wide variety of travelers.
Tourists know the famous spots, but a worldwide local knows the best way to see and experience this city. Here is an insider guide of some of the musts in exciting places to visit and things to do in Santiago, Chile.
Santiago is known for its rich culture, fantastic wine, and beautiful landscapes. For a first-time visitor, it can be overwhelming to see it all, but this guide will help you make the most of your visit.
Where to Begin and How to Get There
The best place to begin your exploration of the capital city of Chile is the Plaza de Armas. What was initially built as an execution square, has thankfully been transformed into a beautiful space, with the gallows being replaced by a fountain. Here, you can watch the locals go about their day as you sit on a bench under one of the palm trees.
Getting around the city of Santiago is very easy, with various options like the convenient metro, taxis, or Uber. However, the best way to explore the city is on foot; to learn more about the town, make sure you book a walking tour.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you are on a budget, but still want to learn about the city, take one of the free city walk tours. This is a great way to appreciate the Santiago, Chile, weather, as well as the history and architecture. If you do, be sure to tip your guide.
Surrounding the square are several historical and cultural landmarks, such as the Metropolitan Cathedral which has fantastic architecture, Royal Court Palace (Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago), and the Central Post Office. You could easily spend an entire day just admiring all the sights in and around the plaza. Santiago has many stunning parks where you can just chill out and relax. The two parks you must visit, while in the city are Cerro Santa Lucía and Cerro San Cristóbal. There are a couple of ways to visit Cerro San Cristóbal, either hiking up or hopping in the cable car, which is a lovely scenic ride across the park. Cerro Santa Lucía, a 15 million-year-old extinct volcano in the middle of the city, was transformed in 1872 to showcase how beautiful Santiago was to delegates from Europe. Both parks have some amazing lookout points of the city.
Worldwide Local Tip: Parks are popular hangout spots for couples and PDA is a common sight in Santiago. Do not be shocked to see couples getting intimate in public.
Surrounding Santiago: Wineries, Hiking, and More
Chile is famous for good wine, which you can sample when you visit one of the many vineyards, just a few minutes from Santiago. Nearest to Santiago is the Casablanca region that features 25 beautiful wineries. Make it a fun trip by booking a bike tour and cycling among the vines.
As the city is surrounded by the beautiful Andes Mountains, it would only be right to save some time to head out and explore the captivating natural scenery up the mountains. And the best place to do that is Cajon del Maipo, a canyon in the Andes. There is so much to do here including trekking, soaking in hot springs, horseback riding, and zip lining.
Worldwide Local Tip: There are so many ski resorts in the Andes, making the Santiago area a prime skiing destination. To get the best experience, visit during the winter months of July and August when the snow at the Andes mountain ranges is perfect.
Shopping in Santiago
For a great shopping experience, explore the bustling market of Mercado Central and eat some of the lip-smacking fresh seafood that rivals the menus of the best restaurants in Santiago, Chile. If that is too touristy for your taste, you can cross the river and step inside the La Vega Market for a more local experience. Rub shoulders with the locals as you get your pick of fresh fruits and vegetables. You’ll find some of the most delicious and unique drinks in Santiago. Pisco sour, a brandy that’s made from fermented grape juice and topped with Ice cream, is one of the most popular beverages. You also have to try terremoto, which literally translates to earthquake.
Worldwide Local Tip: The best place to enjoy any of these local drinks while chatting up a local is in Bellavista. The drinks are cheap, and you’ll be sure to have a good time.
Enjoy Your Stay!
You will be certain to have incredible memories of your time in Santiago, Chile, and exploring the city as a worldwide local will make sure your trip is one for the books.