Have you finally made it to Santiago and you’re looking for something to do? While you get settled into the busy capital city, here’s a bite-sized list of a couple of places, 5 to be precise, that we think are must-visit spots that you need to visit as soon as you arrive.
Granted, they are mostly mainstream and if you’ve been in Santiago for more than a week chances are you have ran into them even by accident. Nevertheless, we think they’re a fair representation of what Santiago has to offer in regards to culture, cuisine, art and more.
If you’re a fan of Seafood there’s no better place in Santiago to have a go at it than Mercado Central. If you want to make it at home, you can buy fresh catch here at affordable prices (I say decent, because overall fish is expensive in here as most of the catch is exported to be sold at higher prices. It’s still cheaper than other countries though). You’ll want to try the Reineta, Merluza, Salmon and the one and only, Congrio.
If cooking is not your thing, there’s plenty of restaurants inside that will take your palate through a wonderful trip of flavors. Mercado Central is a really good spot to eat, despite the recent criticism that tags it as a tourist trap. The thing is, you’ll want to avoid the main square with all the fancy tables and these silly looking Alaskan crabs where they’ll nail you with a $60 USD bill per person. Instead, you want to go deeper inside the adjacent corridors with plenty of small businesses and restaurants that serve really good seafood on a budget. The easiest way to find these spots is to enter ‘Mercado Central’ from the back through San Pablo street.
Editor’s pick: Order a plate of “Mixto Rey Al Ajillo” at ‘El Rey de la Paila Marina’ and enjoy a hearty meal for two with the finest seafood Chile has to offer at only $12 USD per person. Goes amazing with some great Chilean wine or a Pisco Sour! Here’s a quick peek of the preparation of a ‘Paila Marina’
Barrio Bellas Artes
Bellas Artes is easy to reach on any occasion, with the metro station ‘Bellas Artes’ right in the middle of it. This wonderful barrio is home to some amazing restaurants and cafes. You won’t only find Chilean cuisine in here, you’ll also run into Indian food at “New Horizon” on Merced Street, plenty of high-end sushi joints in Monjitas Street, a Venezuelan fast food joint cornering in Mac Iver and really trendy ice cream shops and cafes all around. There’s some really interesting architecture going on in this place, with plenty of mix between Modern and Antique / Bohemian.
A lovely afternoon can be spent in the beautiful Parque Forestal. Definitely recommend grabbing a pint of Ice Cream in one of the most famous shops here in Chile named “Emporio La Rosa”, located in Merced 291. (The “Manjar Blanco con Chips” is a killer flavor, make sure to try it.) and enjoying a walk through the park.
And there is, of course, the Museum of Bellas Artes and the Museum de Arte Contemporáneo, which can be visited from Tuesday to Sunday with different performed exhibits. Everything is at a walking distance which is great to make the most out of your time.
Steps away from Bellas Artes, you’ll find one of the most touristic and historic places in Santiago. The wonderful Barrio Lastarria is filled with surprises, with artists and street performers. Plenty of great restaurants, bars, and cafes have made their home here, but have seen a price increase due to the neighborhood popularity. There’s also hotels and boutiques that share the same antique / bohemian feel of the barrio, which makes it great even if you’re just sightseeing.
If you want to have some drinks, Chipe Libre is one of the nicest restaurants/bars around. You should definitely come here if you want to taste Pisco, one of the most popular liquors in Chile. They serve a wide variety here including the Piscolas and Pisco Sours, as well as some great quality food to go with it.
Santa Lucia Hill
In the middle of this busy city is an outstanding green lung. The Santa Lucia Hill is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll and it’s very close from Bellas Artes and Lastarria if you just grabbed a bite there. A network of paths and steep stone stairs leads you up through terraces to the Torre Mirador at the top, and there are a scattering of churches and other interesting buildings in between. You don’t need to go all the way up to enjoy the place, there’s plenty to do at the lower level with some vendors and grass patches where you could enjoy a nice picnic.
You don’t need to go all the way up to enjoy the place, there’s plenty to do at the lower level with some vendors and grass patches where you could enjoy a nice picnic.
The tallest observatory in South America at a height of 300 meters. An incredible 360° view of Santiago with two different decks (one in the open). There’s a steep entry fee ($15.000 CLP or approx. $20USD) but it’s well worth the price. You won’t get this sight anywhere else! Catch the sunset on top of this tower and live one of the most amazing moments you’ll get to experience in this city.
Paired with the tower, there’s also the Costanera Center which is the biggest mall in Latinoamerica, with many international and national shops alike. Chains like H&M have made their home here, as well as many important Chilean brands. There’s a great food court on the top if you’re feeling hungry, with classics like Applebee’s, Tony Roma’s, Johnny Rockets and more.