Things to do in Santiago, Chile


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Things to do in Santiago

As a city that has has a reputation of being a place to get in and get out, I wanted to share a few things to do in Santiago. It’s definitely worth staying for a day or two when you arrive.

image of things to do in Santiago

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived, having heard a lot of the above. However, I found a really pleasant and enjoyable city.

So, here are my tips on some of the things to do in Santiago.

Take a free walking tour

Funny how most of my guides start with this, but honestly it is the best way to get to know a city when you first arrive.

I joined a Tours 4 Tips tour, and they were fantastic. The highlights of Santiago tour meets everyday at 3pm at the Bella Artes. I highly recommend joining, quite a few of the below are featured on the tour!

They also have a ‘Santiago Offbeat’ tour, which meets at 10am each day in the same place. I didn’t join this one, but a few people I met said how great it was.

Take a look at their website here.


The Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM), is actually featured on the walking tour. I liked the building so much, I popped back again afterwards to take another look. It is home to art exhibits, has a cultural programme as well as a theatre and wine store.

The amphitheatre outside hosts events, but also there are often spontaneous groups of people researching street dance and the like.

Plus, it is a pretty impressive building.

Nearest Metro station: Estación Universidad Católica

image of GAM, things to do in Santiago

Plaza De Armas

The historial Plaza De Armas is the most popular square in Santiago. The Cathedral de Santiago, the Central Post Office and other government buildings all located here.

You can clearly see the different sides of Santiago here, with the old architecture of buildings such as the Cathedral, against new modern skyscrapers.

Image of Plaza De Armas

The Cathedral is also open to the public, to take a look around. Very dark inside, and the lack of windows are due to the risk of earthquakes.

Nearest Metro station: Plaza de Armas

San Cristóbal

The view point from the top of Cerro San Cristóbal are quite something else. The hill rises 850m above sea level, and 300m above the rest of Santiago!

There are options on how to get up to the top. Firstly you can hike. I would recommend doing this first thing when it is easier, and taking a lot of water. Although I have heard there are stations along the way where you can fill your bottle up. As you guessed, I did not hike.

There is also a cable car, and a funicular which both head to the top. Unfortunately on the day I went, the funicular wasn’t working and then the cable car had closed when I headed back down, so it was a simple bus for me.

Once you are at the top, however you get there, the views are insane. Plus the rather large statue at the top!

Nearest Metro Station (to funicular): Banquedano

image of view from san cristobel - one of the top things to do in Santiago

Mercado Central

So, I am going to put this one in here because so many people rave about it. And I see why, I really do. However, I am not sure it was the place for me.

Firstly, let me explain the market. It is Santiago’s central fish market (although does have a lot of fruit and veg as well). If you get there early in the morning (very early) you can see the stall holders stocking their stalls for the day.

Around the edge are lots of restaurants which serve seafood dishes, purchased from the stalls themselves. So pretty much as fresh as it gets. It’s nosy, busy and a little chaotic, but definitely a good taste of Santiago.

And for me? Well, I don’t eat fish. Cannot stand it. So the smell was my first real turn off. I had also just landed, was exhausted a little intimated and just found it all a bit overwhelming. If I had had more time in the city, I would have definitely returned and checked it out again though. But I walked in, and left fairly quickly. Didn’t even manage to take a photo. Sorry.

Nearest Metro station: Plaza de Armas

Barrio Lastarria

Santiago is made up a Barrio’s, or neighbourhoods. Lastarria was one of my favourites. It is a meandering warren of cobblestone streets and packed with restaurants and bars. It’s an excellent place to hang out.

The area itself is quite small, and located among Santiago Centro. But is has distinctive historic architecture, and the government have worked hard to keep it authentic.

Nearest Metro station: Estación Universidad Católica

image of Lastarria

Relax in the parks

Santiago is famous for having lots of city parks, they are everywhere. And a perfect place to go and chill in the sun; escape the city for a little bit.

Some of the most famous are:

Parque Metropolitano De Santiago – This is the park that spreads over San Cristóbal and is one of the largest in the world. Perfect for relaxing or for some exercise if you feel like it!

Parque Quinta Normal – This is Santiago’s oldest, and often regarded as most beautiful. It also houses a several museums and historic buildings

Parque Forestal – Located in the Bella Artes area, it is in a great location. Not too large, tree lined and perfect for relaxing in the heart of the city.

image of parque Forestal, Santiago

Largest Chilean Flag

For an extra bonus, why not take a peek at the largest Chilean Flag in history. Raised as part of the city’s bicentennial celebrations, it is a huge 27 metres long and 18 metres wide. It is rarely seen waving into wind because of the sheer size. But it can be found in the Citizenship square, in front of La Moneda – the presidential seat of Chile.

Nearest Metro station: Los Heróes 

image of largest Chile flag

Emporio La Rosa

Because who doesn’t love ice cream? Voted as one of the world’s top 25 ice cream parlours in the world, how can you not go?

There are many flavours to choose from, some normal and some not some normal. Plus there are now 12 branches around the city.

I visited one in Lastarria, as well as in Valparaiso.

Nearest Metro station: Estación Universidad Católica

How to get around

The Metro is super easy to navigate. Firstly you need to by a Bip! card. These are 1500CP which you can buy from any station from the manned booth. From then you can top up using the machines, either with cash or a local card. Fares range from 700CP in rush hour to 590CP off peak. If you are travelling together, you only need one card which can be used for both of you. Tap in and then pass it back.

I also used Uber when I was in the city, although this is a bit of a grey area.

Where to stay

I stayed in two hostels in my time in Santiago.

Casaltura – this boutique hostel is located seconds from Mercado Central, and a 5 minute walk from the Plaza de Armas, so a fantastic location. It is a 1900 mansion, and the best part was the  amazing roof terrace. I had a small, but clean, single room with a shared bathroom. CLICK HERE TO BOOK

image of rooftop in Santiago

Hostal Forestal – This hostel was within seconds of Lastarria, so perfect for me! It was a really friendly place, great for solo travellers. They helped me organised a taxi to the airport and organise lots of social events in the evenings. CLICK HERE TO BOOK. 

Have you been? What would be your top things to do in Santiago?

If you are interesting in Chile don’t miss these posts:

One week in Chile itinerary

Day Trip to Embalse el Yeso with BellaBike

What to do in Valparaiso, Chile

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roseobrienwriter March 12, 2019 - 9:48 pm

Very interesting. I must go to Chile!

Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders March 13, 2019 - 11:25 am

You must! I really liked it 😊

Melis Living March 13, 2019 - 9:08 am

Wow, so much to see! Thanks for sharing this lovely place with us – a part of the world I really need to see more of. I love how you always have good recommendations of things to do even on a budget – definitely a like-minded traveller!

Melis //

Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders March 13, 2019 - 11:25 am

There is so much! I barley scratched the surface. It was a more expensive city than I thought it would be. So nice to have budget things to do.

Courtney Minor March 18, 2019 - 12:32 pm

Looks like there’s so much to do in Santiago!

Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders March 19, 2019 - 7:15 am

There’s loads to do! I didn’t even get time to visit any of the museums etc

jasonlikestotravel March 18, 2019 - 8:35 pm

The view from San Cristobal looks incredible. Not a continent I’ve been to yet but Santiago is definitely on my list to visit. Some great tips here 🙂

Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders March 19, 2019 - 7:14 am

It was my first time in South America too! I think it’s a great place to start

Ann April 6, 2019 - 9:04 pm

This is on my list to visit!

Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders April 8, 2019 - 4:35 pm

You definitely should!

lakicabeatrice November 4, 2019 - 12:59 pm

This is very informative. Definitely a must visit place.

Charlie - Where Charlie Wanders November 4, 2019 - 5:42 pm

I’m pleased it helps 😊 hope you make it soon


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