Santiago de Chile
Updated: Feb 26, 2020
This is a city of juxtapositions, from the architecture to the culture, a city steeped in history and surrounded by Andes mountains, you can't help but be drawn in by the charms of Santiago de Chile.
In just a few words I would describe Santiago as, trendy, artistic & historic. She has all the hustle and bustle you would expect from a big European city, with prices to match. The exception being taxis, taxis are cheap! We stayed in an AirBnB close to St Lucia metro station, a great location for exploring the city on foot.
If you have a day or two in Santiago, the place to start is Plaza de Armas, the main square of the city. You will find the tourist information centre there, plenty of history and some amazingly beautiful architecture to boot. From here it is a short walk to Parque Metropolitano de Santiago where you can hike up the hill known as Cerro San Cristobal (this is what we did as part of our training for Machu Picchu) or if you are feeling slightly less energetic, you can take the teleferico (cable car) or funicular (railway car) to the top. It is easy to spend a whole day here exploring all the park has to offer (the sanctuary of immaculate conception, national zoo, botanical gardens, pools, cafes and more), not to mention the amazing views 300 meters high over Santiago.
After all that excitement you will be hungry and the best district to find some local cuisine and nightlife is surely Barrio Bella Vista so spend the evening here and soak up the lively local culture. There is plenty of opportunity to do a bit of shopping as well and pick up some souvenirs, in particular, lapis lazuli gemstones, mainly found in Chile and Afghanistan!
With more time I would recommend taking a look at Cerro Santa Lucia Park and the Castello Hidalgo. From here you can easily visit one of the many museums, the cultural centre or head over to the fish market (Mercado Central) for a real assault on all your senses. You may consider a day trip to one of the world renowned wineries or Valparaiso on the Pacific coast, only a couple of hours away. Or simply spend time exploring this wonderful city on foot, admiring the varied styles of architecture, street art, parks and exploring local markets and food stalls like we did.
There is so much to Santiago that at first I did not appreciate, but after a couple of days, I felt I could spend so much more time here exploring. Unfortunately, we had a schedule to keep with the Inca Trail in Peru already booked, we had to get on our way. Next stop, Valparaiso Chile, a quaint seaside town with quite the reputation for Street Art (blog post coming soon).
To keep up to date with all our adventures and see more of our pictures, head over to instagram and follow our #gntonefortheroad as we #keepitreal and #keepexploring #beyond40
GnTonefortheroad Travel Tips Santiago:
You can no longer buy a day ticket for the metro/bus so forget about travelling this way unless you want to waste money on a travel card. Taxis are super cheap for getting to and from the airport or bus station and the rest you can do on foot. e.g Taxi from St Lucia to Turbus (Terminal Alameda) station was only 4000 Pesos (~$6).
Best restaurant for local cuisine is Bocanariz in Barrio Bella Vista, the soups are to die!
Try a traditional sandwich, dolce de leche (caramel made from cooking sweetened condensed milk) and some ice-cream, you won't be dissappointed
Vegans - ask for leche de vegetales or leche de almendras (almond milk). Leche de soya (soy milk) I could not find in Chile at all.
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