Located in a valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the city of Santiage de Chile is one of the most visited cities in South America. The heart of the city is filled with colonial buildings, large squares and palaces that have since been transformed into museums; there are bohemian neighbourhoods and large parks ideal for long walks or for savouring the local cuisine; and the mountains, with their ski resorts, are located a short ride away.
Explore the city’s museums
The city boasts a large collection of museums. The Chilean Museum of Pre-Colombian Art is worth visiting if you are interested in more than the city’s colonial era art. Bookworms can visit all three of Pablo Neruda’s houses, which have been transformed into museums honouring the poet. Those who enjoy military history can learn about the Chilean Military Coup at the Villa Grimaldi. The Salvador Allende Solidarity Museum is another place for history lovers, filled with pieces of art that were confiscated for many years. Most of the city’s museums are located in the Quinta Normal, an area which the locals call the Museum District.
Visit the mountains
Santiago de Chile’s location means that is has privileged views towards the Andes mountains. If you want to enjoy panoramic views towards the city, then you will have to climb to the top of the Cerro Santa Lucía, a hill in the center of Santiago. If what you want to see are the mountains, then head to one of the many nearby ski resorts. Lagunillas is the most budget-friendly resort, and La Parva and Valle Nevado are located a mere hour and a half away.
Stroll around the historical center
It is worth touring Santiago de Chile on foot. The city’s old city center is the place where you will find the majority of museums and other monuments. Check out the centric Plaza de Armas, the old square that is still the city’s main meeting spot. The Matropolitan Cathedral of Santiago is located on this square: after touring the plaza make sure to go inside the church and the adjoining Museum of Sacred Art.
Close by you will find the National History Museum, and a short walk away is another piece of history, the Royal Audience Palace. The Palacio de La Moneda is the country’s presidential palace, and is housed in the building where the mint used to be located. Tours are offered around part of the halls and the courtyard, which is filled with sculptures.
Enjoy the city’s gastroscene
Santiago de Chile is the ideal destination for those who want to try the country’s cuisine. Traditional dishes include cazuelas boiled dinners, grilled fish, and empanadas accompanied by chicha fruit ciders. Take a walk around the city in the afternoon and follow the locals for the onces, a popular evening meal similar to afternoon tea. Some of the most popular dishes include pastel de choclo meat pie, churrasco grilled meat or a delicious tres leches sponge cake soaked in whole, evaporated and condensed milk. The largest variety of bars and restaurants are located around the Mercado Central central market and Bellavista neighbourhoods.
Shop till you drop
The main streets are filled with bars, restaurants and shops for all tastes and budgets. Some of the most exclusive shops are located along Avenida Vitacura, Alonso de Cordova and Nueva Costanera. If you are interested in less upscale and slightly more authentic shopping options, do not miss the Santa Lucía Artisanal Center or the Pueblito Los Dominicos.