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Things To Do in Santiago Chile

Chile is one of the hidden gems of South America and the capital, Santiago, has so much to offer. For most of us visiting South America is a big step in terms of location and there are so many places to go, luckily LAN and other airlines regularly have flights to and from Chile from most destinations, so getting to Chile should never be a issue. Here are some great things that you absolutely must see and do in Santiago.

People Watching at Plaza De Armas

The heart of the city, the Plaza De Armas is a beautiful place to take a stroll, and soak up the colonial architecture. Since 1541, the Plaza has been the centre for all the cities biggest events, so grab a coffee, bring your book and chill for a bit. Don’t miss the Sacramentinos church next door either, beautiful.

Things to see in Santiago
Things to see in Santiago

Take a stroll up St Lucia Hill

This is a small hill in the very centre of Santiago, and getting here is easy with a metro station that has the same name. The hill itself is part of the remnants of a volcano that is roughly 15 million years old and has an altitude of 629m and it rises 69m above the surrounding land. The highest point provides a stunning view of the city and the park that makes up the hill is very large. There are also ornate facades, stairways and fountains to look at.

St Lucia Hill
St Lucia Hill

Check the Views From Cerro San Cristobal

This is another hill in Santiago, but in the northern part and is called Cerra San Cristóbal in Spanish. This hill is much bigger than Santa Lucia Hill and it rises 300m above the rest of Santiago. This is a place that provides one of the best views of the city possible. On top, there is also a sanctuary to the Immaculate Conception and part of this is a large statue of the Virgin Mary. You can reach the summit of the hill by foot (under an hour to walk) or by car, which is much quicker. 

things to do in Santiago
things to do in Santiago

Catch The Changing Of The Guard At La Moneda Palace

Also known as Palacio de La Moneda (coin palace) neo-classic style building that houses the presidential office of the President of the Republic of Chile. It is also home to the offices of some other government ministers. Free guided tours of the palace are possible in several languages, however, you must book at least a week in advance, so remember this if visiting. Another highlight is the traditional changing of the guard every two days. The palace really is a stunning piece of architecture that takes up a whole city block and is one of THE things to see in Santiago.

Things to do in Santiago
Things to do in Santiago; The Changing Of The Guard At La Moneda Palace

Take a Night Tour of The General Cemetery

One of Latin America’s largest cemeteries, dating way back to 1821, is found in the north of the city. They run night tours here, creepy but beautiful.

Things to do in Santiago
Things to do in Santiago

Take A (Free) walking tour, and check out the Santiago Street art

You need to walk a city to understand it, and Santiago is no different. There are all sorts of walking tours available, (including a free one here).

TOP TIP:  The ‘Instagram’ tour is the coolest in my opinion, and makes sure you get to see the best of the city

Santiago Street Art
Santiago Street Art

Winery tour

The best wine in the world? The Chileans certainly have a good shout (although I prefer the Malbec in Argentina personally, but don’t tell the Chileans!). Anyway, you HAVE to visit a vineyard when you’re in Chile, and the easiest way to do that is to organic day trip from Santiago. They can range from $20, 1-hour tours, to half-days.

Personally I think the 4 hour tour, including the wines, to Chile’s most famous vineyard is the best value at about $40 or so

Santiago things to do
Santiago things to do

Sky Costanera

One of the most famous things to do in Santiago is Latin America’s tallest building, the iconic Sky Costanera. It dominates the skyline of the city, so you’ll always feel you’re missing something until you’ve reached the 62nd floor on this bad boy. 360 degree views of the Andes mountains, the best time to come is an hour before sunset so you get to see the scene in light and dark. It’s breathtaking.

TOP-TIP: Buy your ticket online in advance HERE and skip the queue!

Sky Costanera
Sky Costanera

Drink at Bellavista

There are a couple of things you have to order first. One is the ‘Terremoto’, or ‘Earthquake’. It’s a kind of pineapple wine thing, really popular on Chile’s National day. The next is Pisco, a grape Brandy – and SUPER popular across all of Chile (and Peru, they always fight about who invented it). But where should you drink these beauties? Bellavista. The hipster suburb full of cool coffee shops and bars. Check it out on the weekend if you can.

Things to do in Santiago
Things to do in Santiago; Drink in Bellavista

Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

This is the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art and is dedicated to pre-Columbian artworks and artifacts from South America and also Central America. It is located in the city centre and was founded by Sergio Larrain Garcia-Moreno, an architect and collector of antiques from Chile. It was originally intended to be a dedicated place for his own private collection of Pre-Columbian artifacts, however it has transitioned into a museum with the help of the government. It houses some very interesting and unique exhibits from various periods in the Americas.

Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino
Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Visit the Andes on a Cajon Del Maipo day trip

A day trip that takes you straight into the Andes Mountains, complete with picnic lunch and wine? And through in a waterfall to the mix too. That’s’ the ultimate city escape. Budge an extra day to explore Cajon Del Maipo. It’s possible to do it independently of course, but if you’re a little lazy to worry about public transport etc, you can book a tour for about $35 or so. Much easier!

Things to do in santiago
Things to do in santiago; Cajon Del Maipo

Rapa Nui aka Easter Island

I know, I know, it’s not actually in Santiago at all. In fact, it’s about 8000km from Santiago. BUT, in my defence, Santiago is the place you need to come to access Rapa Nui, with flights leaving daily from the airport. Rapa Nui is one of the Top 10 Things to see in South America, it’s really that amazing! It doesn’t come cheap, but it’s worth the extra expense. Factor in at least $1k to get there and back, and allocate yourself 3 or 4 days for the whole expense. 

How many countries in South America
How many countries in South America; 12 but Easter Island doesn’t count!

Thoughts on things to do in Santiago?

I love Santiago, along with Buenos Aires, it’s one of the 2 cities I would be happy to live in when in South America. When you make it to Santiago, and you’re thinking of things to do in Santiago, these 14 things should take you 3 days or so (not counting Rapa Nui). So don’t cut yourself short, it’s a bustling, modern, cool city. But one which most people whizz in and out of. Soak it up, and enjoy!

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