Santiago Bellavista is hands down one of the best neighborhoods in Santiago. It has everything and anything a person would want: hostels, Cerro San Cristobal, deliciously sinful food and one of the best clubs in the city.
When I first arrived in Santiago, I choose to stay at Bellavista Hostel specifically because the neighborhood of Bellavista is smack-dab in the middle of all the action, steps away from the Baquedano metro (where two major metro lines intersect) and walking distance to many of the “must-see” sites in the city. After my week stay in the hostel, I ended up getting an apartment just outside of the barrio and became quite the Bellavista expert.
Sometimes you miss gringo food and that is why I love JACK’s Burgers (right) and some yummy chorillana for those hung-over days.
I am a huge foodie that I loved that Bellavista has a plethora of restaurant options that satisfied all my cravings from gringo food (Jack’s and McDonalds) to pricey up-scale fine dining (Como Agua para Chocolate) to Chilean bar food (chorrillana at it’s finest). My go to restaurant for cheap eats was the Pizza Factory where I would order the “Funghi sin acietunas para llevar” (mushroom pizza without olives and to go) so often that the waiters memorized my order. If you are in Chile, I would also recommend trying a chorrillana, also known as the Chilean version of poutine (I’m Canadian eh!) – basically its a plate of fries covered in onions, meat and egg. It is extremely greasy and a perfect hung-over meal. Be forewarned that many of the bars located on Pio Nono Street serve sub-par chorrillanas (and food in general) and are only good for their massive USD$4 beers. But, if you are hankering for a HUGE plate of greasy goodness, please try out the chorrillana at Azul Profundo, on the corner of Calle Constitucion and Dardignac.
Ready to dig into my chorillana
If I was not eating, I loved just strolling down Pio Nono street on a sunny afternoon. The neighborhood itself has so much character from the various colorful artistic renderings spray painted on almost every building down the street to the vendors selling their many handicrafts to curious tourists. Bellvista has a courtyard, known as Patio Bellvaita, which is home to many restaurants and souvenir shops – my advice proceed with caution. The actual courtyard is quite nice but the food and souvenir prices are just astronomical. The restaurants have good food (except for Backstage – yucky!) but the prices and the quality of food do not match up. If anything Patio Bellavista is the perfect place to meet with some friends for a beer to enjoy the ambience and some outdoor music.
If you are looking for some quality souvenirs than one the corner of Pio Nono and Bellavista (right across the University of Chile Law School) is a small “feria” (outdoor market) that is packed full of one-of-kind finds that are also quite easy on the pocketbook. My favorite stand within the feria is that of a Mapuche collective that sells their hand-woven clothes and accessories. All the money collected goes to help these indigenous women support their families and the items themselves are both fashionable and comfortable.
The barrio also has some great touristy sites, including the not to be missed Cerro San Cristobal. Cerro San Cristóbal (San Cristóbal Hill) has the second highest point in the city and offer spectacular views of the city, especially the day after a rainy day (the rain lifts the smog). Patrons can opt to bike, run, walk or take the elevator up the hill. On its summit there is a sanctuary dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. At the foot of the statue there is an amphitheater for holding masses or other religious ceremonies. At the foothills of Cerro San Cristóbal are the Chilean National Zoo and a Japanese-style garden, and close to the top of the hill are also two municipal pools, Tupahue and Antilén. Finally, Cerro San Cristóbal houses Santiago’s largest public park: the Santiago Metropolitan Park. A short walk from Cerro San Cristobal is La Chascona, which served as the romantic hideaway for famed Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and his wife Matilde. Guided tours are available in English, Spanish and French and the price is approximately $3,500 (USD$7) per person – Spanish tours are cheaper while student and senior discounts are also available.
After a full day of eating and sightseeing it is not time to go and shake a leg. Bellavista is infamously known for its club scene. There is literally a party there almost every single day of the week for every type of partier. Monday? No problem. Salsa lover? There’s a club for that. No matter what you might be into, Bellavista has it. The barrio is also often host to Miercoles Po, the biggest foreign student party inChile. The venue of the party changes every Wednesday but it is often held in one of the main clubs located in Bellavista. Clubs inChile don’t start filling up until at leastmidnight and can go until the wee hours of the morning, so make sure to take a quick nap before you head out.
After a full day or walking and a full night of partying, the barrio also has different sleeping options. Bellavista is home to two hostels: Bellavista Hostel and La Chimba, and various hotels. It is also home to a great Spanish language school – Escuela Bellavista has 25 years experience in teaching Spanish as a foreign language in Chile.
Caution! Please be careful in Bellavista! Thieves run wild in the area (as they do in most areas with a high tourist concentration), so it is recommended that individuals stay on Pio Nono or very close to the main street. Women are asked to refrain from walking by themselves at night and be extra weary of thieves waiting outside of clubs on the weekends. I have personally heard many horror stories of people letting down their guard and getting into trouble. For example, when I was walking by myself to a club on a Friday night I was repeatedly told my numerous security guards that I should not be waking in the area, especially by myself!
Be careful and have fun! Have you been to Bellavista? Email me to tell me all about it and I’ll post your comments on my Facebook!
Fernando Márquez de la Plata 0192, Barrio Bellavista, Providencia, Santiago.
Telephone: 56-02-777 87 41 / 56-02-737 87 12
March – December
Tuesday to Sunday:10 am to 6 pm
Tuesday to Sunday:10 am to 7 pm
Calle del Arzobispo 0605
Telephone: (+ 56-2) 2732 34 43 / (+56-9) 8/7389639
“Salvador” – Line 1 / red line