As the capital of Chile and one of the world’s largest and fastest developing cities, Santiago has a lot to offer. From the diversity of restuarants available to museums and even the opportunities of the Andes right on the doorstep, here’s some suggestions of things to do.
Visit the Costanera Centre and Sky Costanera
It stands to reason that one of the worlds largest shopping centres should also be home to one of the world’s tallest buildings. Towering over the rest of the city at a height of 300 metres, Sky Costanera is taller than the Empire State building and offers spectacular views over the city from all angles, including the magnificent backdrop of the Andes. Be sure to check the weather before going as the best views can be seen on clear days.
A trip to the zoo
Parque Metropolitano de Santiago (or the Santiago Metropolitan Park) is situated on the North Edge of the city and is home to a variety of different attractions, including the Santiago Zoo, worth a visit for its huge range of animals and spectacular views, as well as the unique experience of a trip on the Funicular railway up to the summit of Cerro San Sebastián, which is also home to a Café and a Catholic religious sanctuary.
Take in the views
The two main viewpoints in Santiago, at the summits of Cerro Santa Lucia and Cerro San Sebastián, offer stunning views over the city itself and the landscape further afield. Both are located near to the city centre and are within reasonable walking distance of most hotels and hostels. On a clear day there is ample opportunity to take some great panoramic photographs of the city and the Andes beyond.
Visit the Palacio de La Moneda and Centro Cultural
The presidential palace and seat of power for Chile’s Head of State is surprisingly accessible and can be seen from one of the main roads stretching through the middle of Santiago – guided tours of the building in both Spanish and English can also be arranged in advance if you fancy the chance to see its interior and learn about its history. There is also a regular changing of the guard ceremony organised by the Carabineros de Chile (Chilean National Police) every other weekday.
The Centro Cultural beneath the palace boasts some of Santiago’s largest museum and art exhibitions and entry is free each weekday before midday. Elementary knowledge of the Spanish language is recommended to fully enjoy and understand all the exhibits as for many there are no English translations provided.
One of the main partying and eating areas of Santiago located not too far away from the city centre and various universities, Bellavista is home to a vast number of bars and restaurants catering for nearly every culinary taste. From Chilean fare and seafood to European and Persian food, and an ecletic range of drinks including the Chilean staple the Pisco Sour (a strong Chilean liqeur with egg white and lemon) – there is something for every taste. The Patio Bellavista is an enclosed area with a large mix of restaurants and bars, which can be browsed online.
The unique Chilean cuisine is also worth a try – dishes such as Pastel de Choclo or fast food such as Completas and Empanadas differ greatly from what you would find in the UK and restaurants and outlets selling these can easily be found across Bellavista and the rest of Santiago.
Go for a ski
Although I was nowhere near adventurous enough to go do this myself, the mountains around Santiago are prime skiing territory and offer slopes at a variety of different difficulty levels for both beginners and experts and there a number of organisations that will drive you from the edge of the city to the Andes and hire out skis and protective equipment.
As Santiago’s large indoor market, Mercado Central is home to a variety of easily affordable seafood stalls and restaurants and is definitely one of the best ways to experience some of the local produce. Its best to avoid the central area as this is one of the most touristy and what you are sold is likely to be overpriced, however some of the areas round the edges of the market are excellent spots for bargain hunting.