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Down below the picture-postcard backdrop of the snowy Andes, something is stirring. That something is Santiago, a colonial-outpost-turned-modern-metropolis. From the cash-flow capital of “Sanhattan” to the Bohemian bars of Bellavista, it’s a city that brims with self-confidence. ¡Bienvenidos!
Palacio de la Moneda has seen its fair share of drama. Once the national mint (La Moneda means “the coin”), this neo-classical palace is now the president’s place of work. In 1973, it was strafed by the air force in the iconic climax of Augusto Pinochet’s military coup. While it’s been done up since, conserved bullet holes speak of the drama that unfolded here.Accommodations near Palacio de La Moneda
The beating heart of Santiago. In days gone by, this parade ground was the nucleus of colonial power, with imposing edifices encircling a central gallows. Today’s Santiaguinos come here to hang out in the dappled shade of oversized palm trees. Kids frolic in the fountains, youngsters canoodle on benches and old timers chat over chessboards. Quite an improvement.Accommodations near Plaza de Armas
This is where it all began. In 1540, Spanish conquistador, Pedro de Valdivia, stood at the foot of Santa Lucia Hill and proclaimed a new city. Fast-forward five hundred years and the crucible of the nation is a leafy hillside park. Winding paths criss-cross copses on the way to the summit, where the crenellated viewing tower offers a tip-top photo op. Nice spot Pedro!Accommodations near Santa Lucia Hill
Fish! Fresh fish! This market is a paradise for seafood lovers. All manner of tasty, glistening creatures are plucked straight from the pristine waters of the Humboldt Straits and displayed on beds of crushed ice. You don’t have to wait around for your fishy fix – just head to one of the eateries inside the market for a tasty bowl of “paila marina” (seafood soup).Accommodations near Central Market
“All change!” This former train station was Chile’s main transport hub for until disrepair forced it to close in 1987. It reopened in 1994 as a cavernous cultural centre, swapping iron rails for picture rails and train fares for trade fairs. Check timetables for upcoming exhibitions and workshops, on everything from cutting-edge design to tribal weaving techniques.Accommodations near Mapocho Station Museum
Ooh la la! Gazing up at this museum’s sophisticated façade, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d just been teleported to Paris. But no, this French-inspired palace, with its art nouveau flourishes and squared cupola on top of neoclassical columns, is right in the heart of Santiago. Under the majestic glass dome is a treasure trove of Chilean, Spanish and Italian art.Accommodations near Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts
Ave Maria! A giant, ice-white statue of the Christian Virgin Mary presides over Santiago from San Cristobal Hill. Lit up at night like a beatific beacon, she’s always visible from the city sprawl below. She certainly chose a good spot – the views from this hill are breath-taking. On clear days, the panorama sweeps up from the city streets all the way to the snow-dusted Andes.Accommodations near San Cristobal Hill
Think big at Costanera Center. This all-singing, all-dancing complex can boast South America’s tallest building, as well as its largest shopping centre. The gargantuan Gran Torre Santiago dwarfs the rest, soaring up in a bid to outstrip even the mighty Andes. As for the shopping centre, it’s a cathedral of commerce, with a full six floors of retail, from Lego to leggings.Accommodations near Costanera Center
“Parque Arauco, much more than shopping”. So goes the saccharine jingle that echoes through this much-more-than-shopping centre. Despite the cliché, it has a point. Besides the rows of chain shops and the purpose-built luxury retail street, Parque Arauco houses a multiplex cinema, pricey restaurants, a bowling alley, an ice rink and even a private clinic. A real one-stop shop!Accommodations near Parque Arauco Mall
Stuck for souvenirs? Search no further. This crafts market showcases the best of Chilean handiwork. Wicker baskets, woollen ponchos and lapis lazuli jewellery are all up for grabs here. It’s set in a quaint mock-up of a colonial-era village, complete with trickling streams and wooden footbridges. Worked up an appetite? Tuck into a hearty plate of “pastel de choclo” (corn pie).Accommodations near Los Domínicos Market
History is everywhere here. Go and see for yourself from the top of Santa Lucia Hill. Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral impose with old-world grandeur, and Palacio de la Moneda bears the scars of conflicts past. And for a trip back to the days before cameraphones – and even conquistadors – head to the Museum of Pre-Colombian Art.Accommodations in Downtown Santiago
A 24-hour hive of activity. During the day, errand-running Santiaguinos scuttle past busy cafés. Cash registers at the Drugstore Mall and Costanera Center ker-ching with the sound of retail therapy. And at nightfall, fun-seekers quaff cocktails on busy Orrego Luco Street, before moseying down to Bellavista for a late-night boogie.Accommodations in Providencia
Money flows like the rushing Mapocho here. Known affectionately as “Sanhattan”, this area’s high-rise flats are home to Santiago’s well-heeled and well-paid. Contribute to the cash flow by splashing some pesos in Parque Arauco Mall and Los Domínicos Market. Or climb up to Aguas de Ramón Park to breathe the mountain air high above the rat race.Accommodations in Las Condes
Bellavista brims with bohemian charm. Sleepy streets and colourful houses hold artists’ studios and indie theatres. Snap up a lapis lazuli trinket before coming over all poetic at Pablo Neruda’s old pad. Scale San Cristobal Hill for a peerless panorama and come back down to earth with a bump (or a hefty glass of “piscola”) in a Bellavista bar.Accommodations in Bellavista
They say money doesn’t grow on trees. But it does in El Bosque! This business district’s name translates as “the forest”. It’s an urban “woodland” where shiny skyscraper trunks sprout from the concrete, and sharp-suited professionals scurry from metro to office – all under the shade of the mighty glass redwood that is Gran Torre Santiago.Accommodations in El Bosque
The other side of the river. That’s what the indigenous Mapuche used to call Recoleta, and it’s where they were sent to live once Santiago was claimed for Spain. Today’s Recoletanos hail from all over Latin America, giving the place a cosmopolitan splash of colour. Speaking of colours, La Vega Market is a veritable artist’s palette of fresh fruit.Accommodations in Recoleta
The whiff of privilege is everywhere in leafy Vitacura. On Nueva Costanera Street, stiletto-sporting “señoritas” totter past designer outlets. Impeccably uniformed schoolchildren march to and from their private academies and gardeners trim the lawns outside plush abodes. And in Parque Bicentenario, joggers and dog walkers lap up a life of leisure.Accommodations in Vitacura
This district takes its name from the exclusive Los Leones Golf Club. Once known for its elegant townhouses, that image was shanked into the rough when urban planners built upwards and multinationals set up shop in the resulting skyscrapers. There’s a smattering of embassies too, ensconced in what’s left of El Golf’s old mansions.Accommodations in El Golf
Bolivian Diego is a big music fan who enjoys football, cycling and being at one with nature.
The 30-minute drive to the town of San José de Maipo will take you about 50 years back in time! This peaceful oasis offers you a glimpse of authentic Chilean culture and is a great place to try local food, visit craft markets and enjoy activities such as paragliding.Accommodations nearby
Fashion-lover Martin moved to Santiago from Buenos Aires and can’t get enough of city life.
Based around Jose Victorino Lastarrias Street, Lastarria is one of Santiago’s trendiest neighbourhoods. It’s home to the GAM Cultural Centre and Mavi Visual Arts Museum – a must for culture lovers – and lots of cool restaurants and bars. At weekends there’s also a popular antiques market.Accommodations nearby
Alejandra spends her free time travelling, playing the piano and enjoying good food and wine.
Located close to the Mapocho River in Santiago’s Metropolitan Park, Cerro San Cristobal offers great views of the city. You can climb this hill on foot, by bike, by car or by funicular – I’d recommend the last option! Nearby you can visit the Bellavista district and Pablo Neruda's house.Accommodations nearby
Bruna was born in Brazil but feels Chilean, and loves the urban activities Santiago has to offer.
The best way to see Santiago is by walking. Start in Plaza de Armas Square, home to the Cathedral and central post office, then head to the nearby Presidential Palace and Colonial Museum. Stop for lunch in trendy Lastarria, then visit historic San Francisco Church in the Paris Londres district.Accommodations nearby
Guitarist Israel moved to Santiago from Mexico City 8 years ago, and loves music and arty films.
Eurocentro Portal in the city centre has everything a real music fan needs. It’s a whole building dedicated to music and gaming shops, where you can find memorabilia, games, CDs, DVDs and clothing to suit all tastes, from rock and hip-hop to J-pop, K-pop and manga.Accommodations nearby
Booking.com asked travelers...What's the best way to make the most of Santiago by foot?
Take a hotel in the city-centre. Santiago is a big place, but the main city-centre area is small enough to cover on foot. There's lots of parks, gardens, and hills, so enough places to get a respite from the sun, or a small siesta under the treesSee all 3 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What makes Santiago one of those classic city-trip experiences?
United States of America
It doesn't. The city of Santiago was not a great highlight of our trip, in part because we already had plans to go to the staples just outside of Santiago (wine country and Valpraiso) on our own.See all 4 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What aspect of the culture in Santiago was so different than back home?
Street Art, natural suburb where you can sample Chilean lifestyle alongside everyday people. You will benefit from learning basic Spanish before you visit. Very limited English is understood!See all 3 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What makes the people from Santiago so friendly? Tell us your story.
Very well trained people doing services, friendly people helping you when asking for city details, people taking care about their enviromentSee all 6 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...How was the wine culture different than what you'd experience at home?
United States of America
The wineries in the area have different ideas in how the wine should be made and why the make it the way the do.See all 5 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Is there more to shopping in Santiago than just brand-name stores?
I suggest costanera mall and stores at isidora goyenechea.they have very classic and european clothes.See all 3 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What's the number 1 reason to hit the slopes in Santiago?
Valle Nevado has a wide variety of runs for all abilities. Very accessibleSee all 3 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Where should people go if they don't want to eat in a tourist trap?
My favourites are :Liguria,cafe torres,baco,delaostiaSee all 3 answers
Santiago International Airport is a 20-minute drive from the city (allow 40 minutes between 08:00–09:30 and 17:30–20:00). Authorised taxi desks can be found in Arrivals – prices range from 15,000–20,000 CLP depending on destination. Shared minibuses can also be booked in Arrivals for 5000–8000 CLP, but you may have to wait a while for the minibus to fill up. If budget is a priority, buses are slow but cheap: TurBus and Centropuerto operate daily from 06:00–00:00.
Santiago’s extensive metro system is safe, efficient and reliable. It runs from 05:45–23:45 daily (from 06:30 on Saturdays and 08:00 on Sundays) and costs 610 CLP to 740 CLP per trip, depending on the time of day. Watch out for rush hour (08:00–09:30 and 17:30–20:00), when trains get incredibly crowded. If you plan to use the metro regularly, it’s worth paying 2000 CLP for a Bip! top-up card instead of buying tickets – pick one up directly inside the metro station.
TranSantiago buses are seen by locals as an inefficient but essential way to reach the places that the metro doesn’t cover. The city’s bus and metro systems are integrated, so the price per trip is the same and you can switch between them for free to continue your journey. To pay, you’ll need a Bip! top-up card: pick one up at a metro station for 2000 CLP. Buses are often crowded and routes can be confusing – check the website to plan your journey in advance.
Taxis are a popular and safe way to move around Santiago, although not necessarily cheap. Street taxis are everywhere and are very easy to spot: they’re all black with a yellow roof. Fares are metered so they quickly add up during rush hours (08:00–09:30 and 17:30–20:00). Some less scrupulous drivers may also choose longer routes if it’s obvious you’re not familiar with the city. Radio taxis are a more expensive option, but offer convenient door-to-door service.
Driving in Santiago is relatively easy – the city’s roads are very well-maintained and clearly signed. Local drivers are very respectful of the rules of the road, and pedestrians are given priority: even failing to let a pedestrian cross is frowned upon. It’s best to avoid driving during peak hours (08:00–09:30 and 17:30–20:00) when commuters take over the roads. Petrol prices in Chile are high, so driving isn’t recommended for those travelling on a budget.
Santiago is a cyclist’s dream, or at least it's getting there: it’s flat, drivers are respectful and cycle paths are popping up rapidly all over the city. Locals zoom around on orange Bikesantiago bikes, part of the public transport system, but these aren’t available to tourists. Luckily you can rent a bike from La Bicicleta Verde in exchange for a photo ID and 5000 CLP per half day. Helmets are provided and must be worn – cycling without a helmet is illegal.
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