As I look back at my year long stay in Santiago de Chile (which originally was supposed to be two months), I often find myself missing many aspects of the city that I had taken for granted. So as I sit here lamenting my stay, I realized that I could share some of the gems of the city for anyone who might be lucky enough to step within its boundaries. Here are 16 things to do in Santiago Chile
16. Its Terremoto time! Just to re-fresh your memory, a terremoto is a Chilean drink that mixes a cheap type of wine with pineapple ice-cream. YUM. The best place to gulp down this infamous drink is in La Piojera (translation: the flea). It was founded in the early 1900s and was given its name by former president Arturo Alessandri, who stated that the bar was a “piojera” because of all the working-class people drinking within its walls. I recommend going during the week (and going early – around 5 pm) as the place fills up very quickly.
15. Visit the Ralli Museum, a private non-profit organization mainly dedicated to promoting awareness of the work of living American artists. The Ralli Museum of Santiago, nestled in the exclusive commune of Vitacura, has a great building and beautiful gardens. This museum has 16 exhibition rooms that house a major collection of American art, unique to Chile. Best of all, admission to the museum is absolutely FREE.
14. Museums, museums. I would also recommend visiting the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, a museum dedicated to showcasing the human rights violations committed during the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990).
13. Ride some rides at FANTASILANDIA! This Chilean theme park is no Canada’s Wonderland, but it has a great selection of rollercoasters and rides for every type of age group. Entrance is around $20 CAD for an unlimited day pass and is a fun experience if you have some time to spare.
12. Consignment Shopping on Avenida Bandera. Santiago de Chile is famous for its consignment shopping and has a large selection of vintage chains, like Orange Blue, Nostalgic and Cero99. Shoppers will find over 30 different consignment stores in less than two blocks on Avenida Bandera. Happy Shopping!
11. Artisan Markets. I love collecting local jewelry, so I visit “ferias” to scope out pretty and original earrings. In Santiago, I recommend visiting three ferias: Bellavista, Santo Domingoand Santa Lucia. These places offer great (and cheap – be ready to haggle) jewelry made from glass, tagua nut and the official gem of Chile lapiz lazuli. It’s also important to note that most vendors are Peruvian, so there is a large selection of hand knit gloves, sweaters and hats year round. Bellavista is an extra special market because one vendor offers tourists the opportunity to purchase Mapuche handcrafted items produced from vegetable fibers and natural sheep’s wool, all spun, dyed and woven by hand.
10. Eat steak and drink wine. Las Vacas Gordas is a great restaurant for tourists to relax and eat scrumptious steak while sipping on a glass of red. The restaurant has a wood fired grill, which provides excellently barbecued meat that is beyond palate teasing. The outstanding reviews on Trip Advisor also signify that the restaurant can get quite busy. Reservations are suggested as wait times can be up to 30 minutes.
9. Climb the Cerros. The best time to visit Cerro San Cristobal (Metro Baquedano) is the day after a rainy day as the view from the top is breath-taking and crystal clear. There are two ways to get to the top: if you are feeling ambitious you can run (or bike) or if you’re like me (quite lazy) there is also an elevator that takes you to the top for around $4 CAD. At the peak, there is a church with an amphitheater, and a 22 meter statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary inaugurated in 1908. Near the base are the Metropolitan Zoo and a Japanese-style garden, and near the top there are two municipal pools, Tupahue and Antilén. Cerro San Cristóbal also houses Santiago’s largest public park: Parque Metropolitano. Cerro Santa Lucia (Metro Santa Lucia) is not quite as high as San Cristobal but also offers stunning views of the city. One side of the hill houses the restored architecture of Fort Hidalgo which was built in 1820.
8. Burn through some cash. Consignment shopping may not be your thing, so it’s a good thing that Santiago is building the largest mall in South America right beside Metro Tobalaba. Partly open, the CostaneraCenter, has everything that a shopper needs from a large food court, great shopping for men and women (I recommend Zara, Mango, Topshop and Rapsodia) and a movie theatre on the top floor. If you want to venture farther away from the centre, another great mall is located near Metro Manquehue. Parque Aracuo offers the same things as Costanera including great shopping (it houses the only GAP in Chile), food and a movie centre.
7. Go see a movie. Is it raining? Are you feeling lazy? Low on cash? Don’t fret! Why not reach deep into your pockets and find some loose change. In fact, all you need is $2,000 CLP (around $4 dollars!). Best part? Most movies are subtitled so you’ll enjoy the movie in English.
6. Row, row, row your boat. Metro Parque O’Higgins is named just so because of the large park that is located right beside the metro station. Also, located right beside Fantasilandia, Parque O’Higgins is the ideal place for a stroll or a picnic. It is also home to a number of tennis courts, a Japanese garden and a lake where you can rent paddle boats!
5. Grab a bite and dance it up in Bellavista. Painted with graffiti, the buildings in Bellavista are home to some of the greatest clubs in Santiago. On the corner of Avenida Pio Nono and Avenida Dardignac is a small pizza place that offers great pizzas. There is also a large selection of restaurants at Patio Bellavista (PLEASE PLEASE avoid Backstage Experience it was the worst dining experience I’ve ever had and everyone I have spoken to have repeated the same thing). The Patio also hosts Jazz nights! After you are done eating you can walk over to some of the hippest clubs and bars (Constitucion Street) like La Feria, Chocolate and Bar Constitucion. BEWARE: The limit is Pio Nono Street. If you just want to relax and have a nice night, dont go to west. Women should avoid walking alone.
4. Miercoles PO! Every Wednesday many tourists are heard asking “are you going to Miercoles Po?” The location of the party changes every week and is free for all extranjeros (foreigners – with proof of identity), with special drink offers until 11:30 (usually 2 for 1 drink specials). To find out where the next Miercoles Po is located, find them on Facebook.
3. Take a tour. A lot of hostels know of tour guides that do not charge for tours but only ask for a gratuity at the end of the tour. If you are adamant in doing it yourself then start of by taking a stroll to Plaza de Armas, the centerpiece of the initial layout of Santiago that has a square grid pattern. Surrounding the square are some historical buildings, including the Metropolitan, Cathedral of Santiago, Central Post Office Building, Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago and the building that serves as the seat of local government for Santiago. A short walk from the Plaza de Armas is La Moneda, originally a colonial mint but is now the seat of the President of the Republic of Chile. Unfortunately tourists may not enter the building.
2. Eat at La Vega. La Vega Central is a large open air market that has an astonishing array of vegetables and fruits at extremely low prices. After shopping for some fresh veggies, tourists can also eat at one of the small restaurants located right next door to the market. I would recommend the Chilean Pantruca soup – a type of dumpling soup with vegetables. Food usually costs around 3 – 5 CAD dollars. Cheap and filling!
1. Drink a coffee at a Café con Piernas. Yes you read right – a coffee with legs. Want to know more about it? Click here.
The city offers a number of hidden gems and if I have missed anything I would love to hear some of your favorite places to visit within the city. Enjoy your time in CHILE!