Things to Do in Santiago Chile

By Sydney Tong on March 01, 2017. Read time: 6 min.

Chile's capital is one of the world's most underrated cities. Most people only visit while en route to Patagonia in the south or the Atacama Desert in the north.

Santiago is a bustling city with some of the best restaurants, bars, markets and parks that I have ever been. Get lost in this beautiful city spread across the vast Andes Mountain range.

If you're like me, then you have been the traveler that has been too tight on cash to rent a car or book an expensive tour. Luckily for us, Santiago has an efficient public transportation system with many attractions conveniently located near metro or bus stops. Even if you do have the funds to rent a car, driving in the city can be stressful and finding parking can be even more so. Save some cash and take public transportation, you'll find your best adventures this way.

The public transportation system was rehauled in 2007 and since then it has been so easy to navigate through this amazing city. You can purchase rides for the metro as you go. Make sure that you have cash. If you are planning to ride any of the buses then you will need to purchase a 'tarjeta BIP!'. It is a reloadable card that can be purchased at any metro station's ticket office for 1,650CP.

I strongly recommend that visitors purchase a card if they are planning to spend a bit of time in Santiago as it can save some cash. Cards need at least 1,000CP to be refilled and rides vary between 520-580 CP depending on the route and the time of day. Transfers under 90 minutes will be no to little extra charge. Trains run frequently so do not stress out if the station is full and there isn't room for you, a new train will be by soon.

Most of the action is around L1. Most of the action is around L1.

Cerro San Cristobal

The view from the top of Cerro San Cristobal gives spectacular, not-to-be-missed views of Santiago. The hike to the top is around 45 minutes and has a lot of rest points along the way. Visitors can visit the giant statue of the Virgen Mary, a quiet chapel and a memorial for Pope John Paul II. There are small souvenir shops, and snack stands on the way to the top. Bring cash if you want to purchase souvenirs, buy snacks, or use the restroom.

Also located on and around the hill is the Santiago Metropolitan Park, the National Zoo, and a Japanese-style garden. During the summertime, it is worth checking out the two giant swimming pools. A whole day could be spent exploring this busy hill.

To get here via the metro, exit the Baquedano station and head north towards the hill. There is a funicular station that can take visitors to the top for a fee. We recommend doing the hike to stretch your legs. The first part of the hike is quite steep, but it levels out fairly quickly. Make sure to bring a lot of water.

At the top of Cerro San Cristobal At the top of Cerro San Cristobal

Cerro Santa Lucia

This European-style fort has been converted into a park and is quite romantic. It is where school kids go when they skip school and want to hang out with their boyfriend/girlfriend. There are a lot of shade providing trees and is a welcomed relief from the city life. Spend an hour or two here relaxing and passing the time.

Cerro Santa Lucia is located one block to the east from the Santa Lucia Metro Station.

This is the bottom of the hill. This is the bottom of the hill.

Cerro Manquehue

Cerro Manquehue, the third and most challenging hill in Santiago. Don't expect to find stands selling cold juices or snacks on this hike. I don't recommend children or people who are out of shape attempt this hike. The hike isn't particularly difficult, and some areas require balance and strength.

Go in the morning because there isn't much shade and it can get hot. Depending on the route this hike could take up to 5 hours and as little as 2 hours. Bring a lot of water.

Getting here will require a metro ride and a taxi. Take the metro to the Escuela Militar station and then get in a colectivo located right outside the station. Ask to be taken to 'el punto de partida para escalar Cerro Manquehue en la ruta lo curro'.

Or, take the metro to the Escuela Militar station, take the C22 bus north to Rotonda de Lo Curro. From there take a colectivo or taxi up the hill to the starting point.

It was so hot! It was so hot!

Mercado Central

Head to Mercado Central for the freshest seafood. It is a very busy market expect to get your feet wet. The market is a fusion of wet market and a variety of seafood restaurants. If you have access to a kitchen, then buy fish to bring back to your apartment. Otherwise, try one of the many seafood restaurants.

Our favorite restaurant in the market is 'Donde Blanco'. I recommend trying the Reineta, which is a Chilean fish. I also recommend giving their ceviche a try.

Exit Cal y Canto metro station and head south for one block until you see this bustling building.

chile santiago fish mercado central Be careful here!

La Piojera

Also located a block south of the Cal y Canto metro station is the most Chilean bar you could ever go. The building is falling apart, and its rugged charm is why people love this place. Walk into 'La Piojera' or the flea, and you will immediately see a bunch of rowdy Chileans cheering on their favorite soccer team.

The house special is 'terremoto,' or earthquake. It is a few scoops of coconut ice cream in a glass filled with 'pepeño,' which is a Chilean sweet wine. If you'd like a little extra sugar, they can add cherry syrup on top. This place is a blast, and you must go if you want to experience a Chilean good time.

The best bar in Santiago The best bar in Santiago

Persa Bio Bio

This market is the coolest in Santiago. This market seems like it goes on forever with thousands of booths filled with second-hand and vintage electronics, furniture, and clothes. Feel free to barter for a good price on souvenirs or other items that you want to bring home with you. Be ready to pay cash. There is a lot of good street food and food stalls, try them out. The surrounding area also has good local restaurants.

Getting here via metro is easy, exit Franklin Station and cross San Diego Street and walk down Placer Street. On the weekends all the shops are open from 10am-4pm, and some are open even later.

You can find anything at La Bio Bio! You can find anything at La Bio Bio!

El Pueblito de Los Dominicos

Wander through the small shops and dirt streets while looking at the beautiful handmade jewelry. The artisans buy copper from local mines to make their jewelry. Admire the unique artwork created by the local artists.

Drink 'mote con huesillos,' which is peach juice with barley and munch on hot and freshly made empanadas. That was a perfect snack while on the go.

This pueblito is in the Las Condes area of Santiago. Exit the Los Dominicos Station on the red line and walk through the park until you see the entrance.

The weekend market The weekend market

Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos

I insist that anyone who visits Chile takes some time to visit this museum. The museum highlights the violations of human rights committed by the Chilean government from 1973-1990. The museum lays light on the fight and what Chilean citizens had to do to survive during the military coup. To understand Chile and it's people visitors must visit this museum.

Exit the Quinta Normal metro station and walk one minute to the east towards the museum. There are also many other museums located very close to this metro station including; Museo de Ciencias y Technologia, Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, and Museo Ferroviario Santiago.

Never forget Never forget

Plaza de Armas

Centrally located is the heart of the city, Plaza De Armas. The surrounding buildings are exquisite and include the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago, Central Post Office and the Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago. Spend an afternoon in this area browsing through the small shops, eating at the local restaurants and sipping coffee in the nearby cafes.

Get off of the 'Plaza de Armas' metro station and bam you are there.

Chilean horse, Gabe said this has been around since he went to Chile when he was a kid. Chilean horse, Gabe said this has been around since he went to Chile when he was a kid.

Concha y Toro vineyard

Concha y Torro is the largest and most famous winemaker in Chile. Book reservations for the tour ahead of time online and arrive 15-20 minutes before your scheduled tour time. The guide takes guests around the vineyard, and there is an area where people can try different varieties of grapes straight from the vine. The tour takes visitors through their wine making process and the corresponding rooms.

The on-sight restaurant has a fantastic menu and a vast collection of Concha y Torro wines. I recommend the 'pastel de choclo,' which is a sweet corn pie with spiced ground beef, paired with a Carmenere.

The tour is 9,000CP and includes 3 generous glasses of wine and an engraved glass.

Getting to the vineyard is easy, but it takes quite a bit of time. Take the blue line to Las Mercedes Station and exit through 'Concha y Torro Poniente'. From there you can bus numbers 73, 80 and 81 which costs 650CP. Taking a taxi from the metro station will cost 4,000CP.

Our first glass. Our first glass.

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