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24 FUN Things to do in Santiago, Chile

24 FUN Things to do in Santiago, Chile

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Santiago, Chile is one of my favorite South American capital cities. Known for being just over an hour from the Pacific Ocean and surrounded by the Andes Mountains, this is one location you should add to your Chile bucket list right away!  

This city is often a starting or finishing point for many people visiting Chile, so even if you only have one day in Santiago, there’s so much to see and do!

Besides the scenery framing this city, Santiago also has the largest mall in South America, numerous beautiful and unique neighborhoods, and great nightlife for anyone interested in staying in the metropolitan area.

It is truly difficult to run out of things to do in Santiago, thanks to all that the city and its day-trip locations have to offer. For those who enjoy swimming, hiking, skiing, or any type of exploring, there are a ton of opportunities to experience the different parts of Santiago and all its surrounding beauty.

When you first arrive, it can be hard to know where to start when there are so many amazing options! To help you narrow it down, here are 24 of the best things to do in Santiago, Chile. You don’t have to do all of these things to truly experience Santiago, but pick some of the ones that catch your eye and get ready for an amazing trip. 

The BEST Things to do in Santiago

1. Go on a free walking tour  

Visitng a market on a free walking tour around the city
We visited a market with the friendliest locals!

One of the best ways to experience any city is by walking it, and I can’t emphasize this enough when it comes to Santiago. You’ll see cafes, shops, and food stands, hear people talking and enjoying the city, and notice little details that you might miss if you go from the airport to the metro to your hotel, and then drive or take the metro everywhere afterward.  

You don’t have to walk everywhere, though Santiago’s walkability is quite impressive, but it is worth starting out your trip with a free walking tour to help you get acquainted and learn a bit about the city. We started our trip to Santiago this way and couldn’t recommend it enough!

Currently, there are 2 options for free walks tours in Santiago that you can choose between:

The first, is the walking tour of the historical center, which will help you understand its history, diversity, Indigenous cultures, and why Santiago is a popular place for immigration from other South American countries. You’ll go from La Moneda Palace to Santa Lucía to Plaza de Armas, the true city center, and see so many other important areas of Santiago along the way. 

The second option is to go around the Yunguay area, referred to as the most untouched district of Santiago. It’s central to the development of education and trade movements in Chile. The tour will teach you about the history of this area, and you’ll get to see markets, restaurants, museums, and so many other aspects of this cultural center. 

Both tours are 2 hours long and have open schedules every day of the week. You can book ahead to reserve your spot but don’t have to pay anything, thanks to the volunteers that help make this experience a possibility. Be advised, though, that it is tip-based, so have some cash on hand to tip your guide.

2. Climb Cerro Santa Lucía  

Neptune fountain at Terrace of Santa Lucia Hill in Santiago, Chile
This place is impressive!

Santa Lucía may not be the biggest hill you’ve ever seen, but it does have some of the coolest architecture at the top! Located in the Lastarría neighborhood in Northeast Santiago, Santa Lucía is actually what remains of a 15 million-year-old volcano. Climb up to the top (about 69 meters/230 feet) and you’ll have a great 360° view of the city!

It’s a bit of a walk to get to the top and ends in some stairs to the observation area, where you can use binoculars that are provided. The paths curve and aren’t too steep, and the stairs have a railing that you can hold on to if you are nervous about heights. The architecture found on this hill is stunning, and when you’re at the observation area at the very top, it feels as if you’re very central to the city itself.  

The history here is really neat too. This spot was a lookout point the conquistadors utilized as they conquered Chile and it was here that Pedro de Valdivia (the first royal governor of Chile) declared the founding of Santiago itself.

You can take a bite to eat or grab something from the stand that sits near my personal favorite part – the giant yellow fountain that is complete with none other than a huge, intricate stone terrace. Santa Lucía is a great place to sit in the sun, practice your drawing, journal, read a book, or just take in the city itself.  

Since this is free and open from 9 am to 6:30 pm, visiting here is one of my top recommendations for things to do in Santiago. It’s an easy place to pop into, even if you’re not going to be in Santiago long.

Related read: Use Santa Lucia as a warm up before you tackle some of the best hikes in South America like the famous Mirador Las Torres hike in Chile.

3. Visit Valparaíso  

View of Valparaiso from the hills behind the city in Chile
Valparaiso is so stunning!

If you want to experience all that this region of Chile has to offer, you’ll want to make sure to include a trip to Valparaíso. This colorful coastal city is simply beautiful and truly one of the best cities in Latin America!

Valparaíso is a wonderful day trip from Santiago as it’s only 1.5 hours away to this place where art meets history and, of course, if you want to see the ocean, you can do that too. You can take a bus from one of Santiago’s bus stations or drive if you have a rental car.

If you don’t want to worry about transportation or planning the details of the day trip here, join a tour! This specific tour includes round-trip transportation from Santiago to Valparaíso and Viña del Mar (the next place on our list!). You’ll get to take pictures of amazing street art, see the gorgeous beach and even have a taste of Chilean wine. The tour is $99 USD per person.

This area of Chile has an edgier vibe and draws backpackers, artists, and anyone who prefers to avoid tourists. There’s music, tons of street art and vendors, and overall a great, upbeat energy. The city of Valparaíso also holds a lot of history and part of it has even been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Called “Valpo” for short, you’ll find street art all over the city on walls, roads, and anywhere else you might expect to see a mural. In fact, there is a set of stairs that has the lyrics to Calle 13’s ‘Latinoamerica’ broken up on each step which is a cool piece of artwork but also pays homage to the history of the area. Head to the area around Casa Aventura to see the stairs and other amazing artwork!

Another fun aspect of Valpo is the nightlife. Expect crazy rooftop clubs, cheap covers, great DJs, and to party until dawn! Terraza Bellavista is a club that is worth stopping by if you happen to be in the area for a night. If not, don’t worry – Santiago still has you covered on the clubbing front! 

Valparaíso is right next to another town called Viña del Mar on the coastline of Chile, so you can quite easily walk from the end of one to the end of the other. In my experience, they balance each other out nicely, and it is worth visiting both areas to get a full sense of what this region is like.

Related read: Planning to stick around Valparaiso longer? Check out our recommendations of where to stay in Valparaiso to find best spots for any budget.

4. Visit Viña Del Mar 

Scenic shot of the coastal roads in Viña del Mar, Chile
The upper-class coastal town is only a short drive from Valpo!

Viña Del Mar, or Viña for short, is a big draw for visitors and families thanks to its beauty, museums, and beaches. Once you arrive, you’ll immediately see why this is a popular destination.  

This coastal area located right next to Valparaiso is certainly calmer, with more of an emphasis on the beach, but there’s still so much to do and see throughout! You can walk the streets for hours, popping in and out of shops, and trying dozens of varieties of empanadas. I recommend getting at least five different kinds in restaurants and street carts alike and enjoying pristine beaches with lots of space. 

There are some lovely museums in Viña Del Mar where you can admire the artwork, learn about archaeology and history, and spend time walking around the grounds. You can also take a funicular up to the top of one of the many hills in the area if you are looking for something unique to add to the mix of walking around. 

You could easily take the bus from Santiago. I recommend Turbus, for a small cost of usually under $10 USD each way, to either Valpo or Viña.

But suppose you are like me and appreciate the ease of a tour once in a while. In that case, this full-day tour leaves from Santiago and gives you a great overview of Santiago’s coastal outskirts.  One thing I really appreciated about this tour is that it has a maximum space of 15 people on the bus, so you don’t feel overly crowded or like a huge gaggle of tourists.  

You get to go on the funicular I mentioned above, have a wine tasting, and explore both of these areas extensively during your 10-hour day tour that also includes hotel pickup! This tour visits Valparaiso too for the $99 USD pricetag. 

5. Explore Plaza de Armas  

view of Plaza de las Armas square in Santiago, Chile
Every city in Latina America has a Plaza de Armas to see!

You cannot visit Santiago without at least stopping by the main square in the city – Plaza de Armas. It’s known for beautiful cathedrals, statues, palm trees, and the contrast of its traditional architecture to some nearby modern buildings. Also, the governor’s palace is located on the edge of the plaza! 

You can walk through this plaza during the day, or it is lit up at night as well. I recommend dropping by around 9 or 10 am to miss the heat of midday and avoid some of the crowds.

6. Explore Barrio Lastarría and its vendors 

Barrio Lastarria in Santiago, Chile
Just take a walk and enjoy this vibrant and safe part of Santiago!

One of my personal favorite areas in Santiago is called Barrio Lastarría, a neighborhood located at the base of Cerro Santa Lucía.  

This area has a ton of vendors with their artwork, crafts, jewelry, and other goods that you can shop around as you enjoy the beautiful murals and greenery on the buildings. The overall vibe of this area is so laid back, and it’s hard to beat. As a plus, there’s often live music playing from a musician in the area! 

I was able to buy one of my favorite rings and the coolest journal I’ve ever owned from vendors in Barrio Lastarría. And I can tell you first-hand that they are so well-crafted.  

It’s an experience in and of itself to talk to artists and vendors and get to learn about what they do and how they make their products. You won’t want to miss this part of Santiago! 

Tired of shopping? I’d highly recommend stopping into any of the cafes around the neighborhood to grab a jugo de frutilla (strawberry juice) and an empanada. These cafes are great places to journal, read a book, get some work done, research your next trip (my go-to), or catch up with friends! 

7. Casablanca Valley wine tasting  

Vast vineyards in the Casablanca Valley in Chile
The Casablanca Valley wine region is unbelievably beautiful!

Did you know that Chile is actually a huge producer of wine, and produces over 4% of the world’s wine? I didn’t either, until I visited my first winery in the region and learned all about their production of wine. If you’re looking for wine of exceptional value, I highly recommend starting to look for labels with Chile on them! 

It was thanks to this wine tour and tasting tour that I really started appreciating all that Chile’s wine industry has to offer. Casablanca Valley is a wine-growing region located northwest of Santiago, and the tour actually transported us up there so that we could enjoy guided tastings and take in all the scenery without any worries! 

The tour is about 8 hours total, between transportation and the wine tour experience itself. You’ll get to visit four different vineyards, though, so it offers lots of variety and is such a fun way to get out of the city and appreciate one of Chile’s most acclaimed products. 

We opted for the tour with 3 wine tastings included and took home our fair share of wine! We actually drank a bottle on our hike in Torres del Paine National Park – so worth the extra weight! 

Related read: If craft beer or gin are your drinks of choice, consider touring a distilery or brewery while visiting Puerto Natales, Chile!

8. Tour to Cajón del Maipo  

snow capped mountains and blue lake at Cajon del Maipo in SanTiago, Chile
Don;t forget about the mountains!

If you’ve ever seen Lake Tahoe in the United States, this is like the Chilean version! Cajón del Maipo is an incredible area, and the moment you get there, you’ll understand why people rave about this one.

There are so many cool hikes, a lake with insanely blue water, and often snow-capped mountains surrounding the whole thing. 

You can visit this area on your own, especially if you have a rental car. The lake is located an hour from Santiago, at a distance of only 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the center of Santiago.

There is a full-day tour to Cajón del Maipo, that’s about 9 hours long that we took. It was SO worth it to escape the city, enjoy the scenery, and feel like we got the most out of our visit. You get picked up from your hotel in an air-conditioned van by a professional guide and driver. This is a nice contrast to taking a local bus, which can get quite hot in the warmer months.  

The trip is made so much more memorable still by the picnic you get to have at El Yeso Dam, which includes Chilean wine and homemade empanadas with an incredible view of the mountains. The tour is about $99 USD a person and allows you to experience all the best parts of this beautifully scenic location without having to worry about driving or planning the day. 

9. Portillo Inca Lagoon  

scenic of Portillo Inca Lagoon in Santiago, Chile
The Andes are calling!

Speaking of scenic and beautiful, Portillo Inca Lagoon is another spot where you can see unbelievably blue water surrounded by the Andes. 

Located 150 kilometers from Santiago, this alpine lake is deep in the Andes. The road to get there is just as interesting as the lake. Los Caracoles, as it’s called, has 17 bends! If you get motion sickness, this could be one to skip. 

There’s another great day tour you can go on, which also includes a wine tour – how could you go wrong?! I’m all for enjoying nature and drinking some wine, so I absolutely love that this tour combines the mountains and lagoon with a tour of the nearby San Esteban Vineyard and includes a wine tasting.  

As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll also get to check out some walking trails that lead to petroglyphs from the Aconcagua culture, which they tell you more about. Since this trip includes a bit more in the way of beverages and locations, it costs about $119 USD and is still 9 hours long, includes hotel pickup, and you get empanadas on this one, too! You’re starting to see the theme! 

So, basically, Cajón del Maipo and Portillo Inca Lagoon are both fantastic options where you get to eat empanadas, drink wine, and enjoy all of the beauty that the region has to share. If I had to choose one, Portillo Inca Lagoon would be my choice simply because the scenery and backdrop of the lake and winery are breathtaking! 

10. Sightseeing tour of the city

view of Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Santiago, Chile
Santiago has some interesting history!

There’s so much to do around Santiago, but I wouldn’t want to overlook what you can do in Santiago itself. If you’ve had your fill with the nature around Santiago and really just want to experience some more time in the city, there’s a half-day tour for that, too! 

For just under $50 USD, this tour combines aspects of other city tours that I loved. Plus, it’s actually less expensive if you want to see a huge variety of attractions in Santiago in a short amount of time. You’ll get to go from Santiago de Compostela Cathedral to La Moneda Palace, see Mercado Central (the Central Market) and Plaza de Armas, and visit Cerro San Cristóbal, Cerro Santa Lucía, or both! 

My favorite thing is the flexibility, so as long as you have at least two people, you can do this for 4 hours in the morning or afternoon based on your scheduling of other activities. 

I had a few weeks to explore Santiago, so I didn’t need to join this tour. However, this is perfect if you’re not going to be in Santiago long, but still want to see a lot of the city in a short amount of time.

11. Day trip to Pomaíre and Isla Negra  

pottery and clay goods at Pomaire in Santiago, Chile
Photo credit: MTO Tour Chile

Pomaíre is an infamous area of Chile that produces almost all of the pottery and clay goods for the country, and Isla Negra is known for being where one of the late poet Pablo Neruda’s three homes is located.  

Since these two are easily accessible from one another, I always recommend them as a combined day trip, especially because neither area was very touristy, and we were able to thoroughly explore and enjoy these areas.  

For about $80 USD, you can take a trip to this area and also stop by San Alonso del Mar, which is a seaside resort nearby. You’ll really be having a day full of diverse experiences with this one! 

I really loved the contrast of seeing the town where so much pottery is created with a famous poet’s old home and the beautiful resort views. This offers quite a mixture of locations, but it’s a great trip to take! 

You get hotel pickup, which is pretty standard, as I’m sure you can tell by now, all entrance fees included, and since the tour usually lasts 8 to 9 hours, you’ll be able to expect a full day of sightseeing and activities! 

12. Go skiing in the Valle Nevado 

skiing at the Valle Nevado in Santiago, Chile
Not many people know about skiing in Chile!

Remember how I mentioned Santiago being great for skiers since it is surrounded by the Andes? Well, don’t miss a trip out to Valle Nevado – a ski resort in the heart of the Andes Mountains.

You can drive yourself from Santiago to Valle Nevado as it’s only about 90 minutes. However, if you’re not used to winter driving, I wouldn’t advise it. The road can be slippery and there are some sharp turns! I’d recommend grabbing this small-group tour that is really just round-trip transportation from Santiago to Valle Nevado for about $30 USD so you don’t have to navigate the roads yourself.

For skiing, you can either purchase a day pass ahead of time online or you can show up and buy a day lift ticket at a ticket office when you arrive. You can expect to pay around $70 USD for the day, along with a $5 USD charge for the electronic card you’ll need for the lift system, and any rentals are extra.

Skiing season here starts in June and goes until September and sometimes into October if there’s enough snow. The weekends are busy, as well as the “winter break” in mid-July and the Independence Day holiday in September. If you can, try to avoid the busy times so you’ll have more room and less of a wait for the lifts.

If you’re here in the summer, don’t worry, there are still activities to do here once the snow melts. There’s horseback riding, rock climbing, or you can ride the chairlift to enjoy the view! Plus, stay for lunch and a pisco sour at the restaurant here.

13. Cerro San Cristóbal  

The view from Cerro San Cristóbal in Santiago, Chile
The view of the city from up here is priceless!

Cerro San Cristóbal may as well be its own tiny town in Santiago. There’s so much to do that stopping by is one of the best things to do in Chile!

Don’t let the word “cerro” which means “hill”, fool you. Cerros are somewhere between big hills and tiny mountains, and this one is much bigger than Santa Lucía (that I talked about earlier!)

This hill is famous for being Santiago’s largest green space, and there are a lot of green spaces in the city. It is also home to the Chilean National Zoo, a Japanese friendship garden, and a bunch of other little spaces to explore and discover for yourself! You can visit a huge swimming pool close to the top of the hill, see a famous statue at another part of the top, ride cable cars, hike, and more.  

When it comes to getting up the hill, you can hike it, take an Uber, or use the funicular or cable cars. We opted to use the funicular and really enjoyed our visit. We wandered the different trails and ate tons of food! The best part is, the funicular only costs $2.50 USD on weekdays and $3.50 USD on weekends. With that said, there was a huge line on the Saturday that we went! 

You’ll take the cable car from Metropolitan Park to the top of Cerro San Cristobal. The cable car runs from 10 am to 6:45 pm every day but Monday for just under $6 USD (4,900 pesos).

Save your feet and explore Cerro San Cristóbal by bike! This mountain biking tour meets in the Providencia neighborhood, where you’ll hop on your bikes and head to Cerro San Cristóbal. After using the cable cars (there’s a bike rack for your bike on these), you’ll head to some mountain biking paths on the back of the hill.

You’ll get to ride around for about 10 km (6 miles), all while seeing beautiful views and exploring a side of this area that many people don’t even know exists! The 3-hour experience costs about $140, but prices vary depending on how many people are in your group. As long as you are comfortable on a mountain bike, this tour is a must. 

Related read: While you can pop into the zoo in Santiago, if you want to see some incredibly cute animals in the wild, you HAVE to see the penguins in Punta Arenas!

14. Templo Bahá’í Santiago 

view outside of Templo Bahá'í de Sudamérica in Santiago, Chile
The architecture is so unique!

Templo Bahá’í is a nondenominational temple with incredible spiral-centric architecture. Located on the outskirts of the city, you get to learn more about the faith upon visiting the temple, and it is a very cool experience all around.  

Also, this is yet another place that offers great views of Santiago as you look out over a reflective pool just outside the temple. 

Open every day, but Monday, from 9:30 am to 12:45 pm and then again from 2:30 to 6 pm, you should expect a wait to get in. Even pre-pandemic, there was a tight capacity allowed inside to encourage visitors to have a quiet, more mindful experience of the temple.  

You can take an Uber, a taxi, or get the bus from the city to the entrance, but from there, you either need to walk 40 minutes to the temple or take the private shuttle for a small fee. If you choose to walk, just be aware that the trek is a bit steep and completely in the sun. Bring some water, and maybe a hat! 

Please note: Our Uber driver would not take us all the way to the top, but I have heard they allow private vehicles at the top now. However, be prepared to pay for the shuttle or walk. 

15. Take in the views from the Sky Costanera 

View of the city inside the observation deck of Sky Costanera in Santiago, Chile
One of the best views of the city!

You will have seen this building towering over the Santiago skyline and now’s the time to go see what it’s all about! So, the Costanera Center is a mall that is located in the Providencia neighborhood just outside of the city center and the Sky Costanera is at the veryyyyyy top!

The mall is located in Gran Torre Santiago (the grand tower) and occupies 6 floors of this 62-story building which happens to be the second tallest building in Latin America. The mall itself is the largest shopping mall in Latin America and has just about everything you could ever ask for – food courts, movie theatres, and a crazy number of shops compared to any mall I’ve ever been in.  

This is where the Sky Costanera part comes into play. Part of the overall Costanera Center complex, it is located at the very top of the skyscraper as opposed to the mall portion, which occupies the lower floors.  

Sky Costanera is an observation deck that offers 360° views of Santiago. It’s like the observation area at Santa Lucía but way higher, cooler, and with views of Santiago’s many neighborhoods. 

You have to make reservations beforehand, which currently go from 10 am until 8:30 pm, with the last elevator group going up at 8 pm sharp. These times are known to change, so you should always check first. Tickets cost $18 USD (15,000 pesos) for adults or $12 USD for kids under 12.  

16. Parque Bicentenario 

Parque Bicentenario, Santiago
Parque Bicentenario, Santiago!

Bicentennial Park, in English, is a beautiful green city space located in the Vitacura neighborhood of Santiago and is located east of Cerro San Cristóbal and on the west side of the Mapocho river.  

You’ll see people doing everything from picnicking to playing sports games, reading books on the grass, or taking strolls with family and friends.  

This community area is a great space to head if you’re looking to find a leisurely afternoon activity that is free, beautiful, and allows you to see a plethora of native species of trees and plants.  

I remember how in awe I was when I first saw this park and all its nature, even though it’s central to a big metropolitan city. This is a great place to kick back before dinner or take a morning walk before diving into an activity that you have planned for the day. 

17. Casa Museo La Chascona 

Casa Museo La Chascona in Santiago, Chile
Photo credit: Diegograndi Depositphotos

Alright, so let’s talk about famous poet Pablo Neruda and his three houses again. There is one located in Santiago! If you are a big Pablo Neruda fan and want to see where he lived and worked, but don’t know that you have time to make it over to Isla Negra, this is the place to be. 

This is also located near the base of Cerro San Cristóbal, but to the south in the Providencia neighborhood. 

The house was built for Neruda’s secret love, but we’ll let the guides tell you more about that! For now, just know that it is a beautiful, colorful house on a hill and costs $8.50 USD (7,000 pesos) per person. For that price, you get access to an audio guide system so that you can explore at your own pace.  

Open every day but Monday, you can plan a visit between 10 am and 6 pm. In January and February, hours extend to 7 pm, since it is summer in South America and there is daylight for longer. 

18. La Moneda Palace 

View of La Moneda Palace in Santiago, Chile

This is where the Chilean president lives and works, and is home to some of the most critical historical moments in Chilean history.  

La Moneda Palace originated as a mint, but was later shifted to be used for other government purposes. You’ll find La Moneda Palace located at the edge of Plaza de Armas, but it is also not far from the Lastarría neighborhood and Cerro Santa Lucía, Mercado Central, and other museums and theatres.  

While a good portion of the building isn’t accessible to the public, there are still areas you can see beyond the outer walls. The courtyards and some of the private rooms are usually open to the public if you book a guided tour in advance online. You do this through the official government website that I linked to, and you’ll typically need to book at least a week in advance.

If you don’t want to book a formal tour, there is a Cultural Center inside the palace you can visit. It has two galleries and a rotating exhibit to explore along with a cafe and a gift shop.

You can also witness the changing of the guard that happens at 10 am on weekdays and 11 am on weekends. This happens on even-numbered days during January, April, May, August, November, and December and on odd-numbered days during February, March, June, July, September, and October.

You could easily spend a day going between the palace, theatres, and museums and stopping at the market before taking a picnic over to Santa Lucía for sunset.  

19. Join a cooking class  

Ingridients on a cooking class in Peru
This was a highlight and a skill I’ll always have!

One of the best parts about traveling is eating, but I’ve found that learning to cook the amazing foods I’m tasting is always extra fun! There’s something about being able to go home and show your friends and family a new food that you love because you actually understand the process that goes into it. 

In Santiago, you can even join a local in her home for a traditional Chilean cooking class, which speaks to the hospitality of Chileans and their pride in their food. Getting to learn in this sort of environment was so cool because I felt like I was really experiencing the food and its preparation in an authentic way. 

The course is $90 USD and includes the ingredients, some local alcohol (either wine or pisco, most likely), and a delicious meal at the end of it all. I can’t recommend this enough – you spend about 3 hours really immersing yourself in a typical Chilean cooking style, and it is so much fun and really tasty too!

20. Enjoy a dinner show  

Speaking of dinner, if you are satisfied with your restaurant experiences and maybe even decided to try the local cooking class, you might want to mix it up a little bit more with dinner and a show. 

Book a Chilean dinner and show, one of the most traditional in Santiago, you can enjoy dances from each region of the country while dining on a starter, one of 3 main course options, dessert, a pisco sour, and an additional drink or half a bottle of wine and a coffee.  

The dances are from all regions of Chile, including the Polynesian-influenced culture of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), and will not only teach you about the cultures across the country but are beautiful and enthralling to watch. 

The dancers certainly knows how to put on a show, but also how to create a delicious meal that will have you wanting to come back again! At about $90 USD, you will arrive with a group and be given round-trip transportation between the restaurant and a few central points around Santiago.

21. Visit the Central Market  

Bailey eats a traditional meal at the Central Market in Santiago, Chile
This is one of the typical working-class meals at the market. It’s huge!

Known in Chile as Mercado Central (literally just Central Market in Spanish), this market is a cool area to explore when you want to get a look into where actual residents buy their groceries and other goods. There are also small restaurants serving typical Chilean dishes for lunch that are huge!

There is a produce market, a fish market, a flower market, and other outdoor vendors and smaller market spaces in the surrounding area. You will have to walk outdoors between these markets because they are each located in standalone buildings, so don’t be fooled when, despite the name, you don’t see one central building.  

To make sure you don’t get lost and get to see the highlights here, you can actually take a tour of these markets – there’s that much to see! It takes about 3 hours, and you get to bike around instead of walking, and you get lots of time to explore the market spaces.

This is a bit pricey compared to some tours at $96 USD a person, but it is quite the experience and a fun activity to do with others! I liked getting to learn about the specifics of places when I travel, and Mercado Central is a very cool space to see while visiting Santiago. 

22. Enjoy the nightlife in Bellavista  

View over Bellavista in Santiago at night
Photo credit: Diegograndi Depositphotos

When you are looking to go out in Santiago, Bellavista is the place to be! A neighborhood at the base of Cerro San Cristóbal, this is a hub for any type of nightlife you might be searching for.

This is also a popular location for ex-pats and gap year students to rent an Airbnb or apartment to be in the center of the nightlife. That’s how you know it’s good! 

I remember going to a place called Club 57 in Bellavista, which has a fun mixture of international students, other ex-pats, and locals of all ages. There is a downstairs dance floor and also a balcony for ‘VIPs’, but you can typically just pay a few extra pesos to gain access if you’re a bit overwhelmed by the crowds. I went here to celebrate my birthday one year.

Looking for a place that is slightly more local? Mito Urban is located slightly out of Bellavista, near Manual Montt metro station but it is another spot that I can confirm is a fun environment and a little more low-key. 

23. Drink a pisco sour 

Two Pisco Sours on a table in Peru
I must say, we took a liking to Pisco sours – maybe a little too much!

Okay, where do I even start when it comes to talking about pisco, especially the infamous pisco sours that you’ll come to love while in Chile? If you’re someone who enjoys drinking, even just once in a while, this is going to be a must-try.  

Think of a refreshing, smooth beverage that you might enjoy at the beach but then picture yourself drinking it at one of the city’s various happy hours or during a night out on the town (in Bellavista, perhaps!).

Pisco is a type of brandy that is native to the winemaking regions of South America, notably Peru and Chile. Very popular local, therefore cheap, beverages you’ll see Chileans ordering are piscolas (pisco with coke), pisco sours, or taking shots of straight pisco.

Now, keep in mind that Chilean and Peruvian pisco sours will differ, so even if you’ve had the latter, you shouldn’t expect to automatically know about the version you’ll find in Santiago.  

A Chilean pisco sour is made of 1.5 ounces of pisco, an ounce of lemon juice, .75 ounce of simple syrup, and one egg white. An egg white, what?? Yep, this drink is comparable to a whiskey sour, gin fizz, vodka sour, gin sour, well… I think you probably get it, egg whites are common in the ‘sour’ cocktails. It creates the white foam you get on the top to ass a creamy texture – I personally love it!

So, just try it, and thank me later! 

Related read: Like I mentioned, the pisco sours are different in Peru, but still super tasty. Try one for yourself as you explore all the different things to do in Cusco, Peru!

24. Tupahue swimming pool 

Piscina Tupahue in Santiago
Piscina Tupahue in Santiago

If you are visiting Santiago between November and April, expect some hot days. Don’t forget that the Southern Hemisphere has opposite seasons from those of us who may be based in the Northern Hemisphere.  

If you aren’t used to a dry desert climate, Santiago’s summer heat in the high 80-90°F (26-32°C) may come as a shock to you. The city only exacerbates the heat, so the best way to beat it is to go swimming!  

On top of Cerro San Cristóbal is a swimming pool called Piscina Tupahue that costs about $7 USD (6,000 Chilean pesos) to enter, and is so worth it for the beautiful space, huge pool, and views looking down across Santiago.  

This is a must if you’re traveling in Chile during the summer months. You get views, pools, and relief from the heat! 

Where to Stay in Santiago, Chile

Great city views at the executive suite of Mandarin Oriental in Santiago, Chile
Photo credit: Mandarin Oriental, Santiago

With all the amazing things to check out in Santiago, it’s worth booking a stay here while you’re in South America. Even if you’re just passing through the city and can only stay for a night or two, get out of the airport and explore. We have recommendations for all price points – whether you’re traveling on a budget or prefer a luxurious hotel. These are our top picks!

Lucia Agustina Hotel Boutique$

This cute little hotel is tucked into the city center and looks out onto Cerro Santa Lucía – which is literally across the street! It’s only a few minutes from downtown or the trendy Bellavista area. It’s on a relatively quiet street and while the rooms aren’t big, they are still a good size. The staff is really helpful too and you can stay here for under $50 USD a night.

Novapark $$

Located in the heart of historic Santiago, you’re within walking distance of many of the main attractions like La Moneda Palace and Cerro Santa Lucía. While you may not be spending a lot of time in the room, it does have air conditioning, free Wifi, and Netflix to relax with after a busy day walking around the city. Standard rooms are around $60 USD and you can book larger rooms with a balcony and king bed for around $90-100 USD.

Mandarin Oriental, Santiago$$$

Treat yourself to a stay at this elegant property with luxurious touches like marble bathrooms and suites that open up onto larger terraces overlooking the garden. There’s a stunning lagoon-style swimming pool to cool off in or just enjoy the incredible views of Santiago and the Andes Mountains from a room on the upper floors. Accommodations here start around $200 USD per night and increase for the larger suites.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfi in Santiago
Thanks for reading!

While you’re in South America, Santiago is a city that shouldn’t be overlooked. While you don’t need to spend a long time here to enjoy it, there’s plenty to do including some amazing day trips if you’d like to base yourself in the city for a while … and you should even just to try one (or a few!) of the pisco sours 🙂

If you’re planning a larger trip around South America, make sure to check out our site including the blogs about Chile as you plan your itinerary. We’ve done a lot of traveling in this part of the world, so if you have any questions or need some advice, comment or send us a message!

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