Ten Things to do in Santiago

 Sunset Santiago

Sunset Santiago

Santiago doesn't have the same reputation for 'must see' attractions as say, Rio or Mexico City, but it still has lots to experience.

If you're there for a couple of days you'll have no trouble filling your time.

 Barrio Bellavista

Barrio Bellavista

Here are ten things we did on our recent visit. Most are free or cost very little.

1. Marvel at the city's grandiose architecture.

 

 Catedral Metropolitana

Catedral Metropolitana

Santiago has some very impressive buildings including: the Presidential offices (which are in the late 18th century neoclassical Palacio de la Moneda), the imposing Santiago Stock Exchange, the 18th century Catedral Metropolitana and the Palacio de Belles Artes.

 Santiago Stock Exchange

Santiago Stock Exchange

 Palacio de la Moneda

Palacio de la Moneda

2. Climb Cerro Santa Lucia (Santa Lucia Hill)

At the bottom of the cerro is some stunning landscaping to admire before the not overly onerous ascent to the top.

 Cerro Santa Lucia

Cerro Santa Lucia

From the viewing area (mirador) you get some good views of the city and beyond.

 The View from Cerro Santa Lucia

The View from Cerro Santa Lucia

3. Conquer the Metro

This should probably be the first on the list as once you've worked out the metro getting around to the other 9 things is easy.

 La Moneda Metro Station

La Moneda Metro Station

Santiago has an efficient and inexpensive metro system where you generally don't have to wait long for the next train. You just need a BIP card (available at most Metro stations and elsewhere) which you add credit to. It can also be used on the buses.

With a loaded BIP card in your hand you'll be able to roam the city like a local Santiaguino.

 Santiago Metro during a less busy part of the day

Santiago Metro during a less busy part of the day

Note to transport buffs: From the airport to the city we caught a door to door shuttle bus called Transvip. It was cheaper than a taxi but more convenient than the local bus. Tickets available at a desk in the arrivals hall.

4. Visit the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombiano

 Mapuche Burial Statues

Mapuche Burial Statues

This museum of precoloumbian art, close to the central Plaza de Armas, has a great collection of artefacts from all over Latin America.

 pre-Columbian Pottery

pre-Columbian Pottery

It's well laid out and there's a free smartphone app to download which will tell you all you need to know about the various exhibits.

 Inca Knotted Calendar

Inca Knotted Calendar

5. Drink a Pisco Sour.

It's not just the Peruvians that drink pisco sours, Chileans do too. After a hard days sight seeing it's good to relax with a pisco sour and some people watching at a café on the Plaza de Armas.

 Pisco Sour O'clock

Pisco Sour O'clock

It's made from a grape brandy called pisco and includes lemon and egg white (though Chileans don't always include this). If you don't fancy a pisco sour then just have a beer.

 Or if you prefer...

Or if you prefer...

6. Dine al Fresco

There are lots of great restaurants to choose from in Santiago, especially in the barrios (suburbs) of Bellavista, Lastarria and Bellas Artes. Plenty offer outside dining which was very pleasant when we were there in summer.

 Barrio Bellavista

Barrio Bellavista

 Lastarria

Lastarria

Bellavista is also a colourful and interesting place to stroll around.

 Barrio Bellavista

Barrio Bellavista

7. Visit the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights).

Chile's history under the military junta and the torture and human rights abuses perpetrated by the government from 1973 to 1990 are documented in this relatively new museum (opened 2010). Most of the exhibits are in Spanish but it is still very clear what took place, including the 'disappearance' of 40,000 people.

Audio-guides are available in English.

 

This is an important place to visit in order to better understand what contemporary Chilean society has been through.

8. Take in the Galleries

Santiago has lots of galleries including the Museo de Artes Visuales, Museo de Artes Contemporaneo, Museo National de Bellas Artes and the Centro Gabriela Mistral to name but a few, and many are free.

 Museo de Bellas Artes

Museo de Bellas Artes

 Inside Museo de Belles Artes

Inside Museo de Belles Artes

9. Watch Some of the Many Buskers and Street Performers

Buskers are abundant in Santiago's many pedestrian streets. Lively bands, tango dancers and puppeteers all compete for attention and a few pesos.

 

 Street Performers - Plaza de Armas

Street Performers - Plaza de Armas

 'Transformer' Busker

'Transformer' Busker

10. Catch the Funicular up Cerro San Cristobal

 Funicular Station

Funicular Station

For some of Santiago's best views take the funicular up 870m Cerro San Cristobal . It is the home of the city's largest park, Parque Metropolitano.

 On the Funicular

On the Funicular

Apart from the great views you'll find swimming pools and a zoo.

 View from Cerro San Cristobel

View from Cerro San Cristobel

Ken