A local’s guide to Santiago

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This time as part of our ‘Local Insider Series’ we asked Claudia, our Brochure Content Executive, to tell us all about Santiago. She studied there for 5 months on an exchange program (there and Paris, lucky gal), eating all the ice cream, drinking all the wine, and travelling around the country whenever she could. 

Skyline view of Santiago

Trapped inside a valley, this towering metropolis offers a dramatic skyline with the mystic Andean mountains surrounding colossal high-rises. Wander colonial Bellavista to see its eye-popping street art, get lost in Barrio Italia’s shaded cafés and vintage stalls, climb Cerro San Cristóbal for sweeping city views and go people-watching in historic Plaza de Armas. 

With the mountains only a short bus ride away, get the best of both worlds here in this cutting-edge city. Fuse a city break with a mountainside escape all in one trip.

Welcome to Santiago de Chile.

Where to visit in Santiago

Pablo Neruda’s house ‘La Chascona’

For music-lovers: Teatro Cariola is your best bet. Previously known for its theatre performances, make your way here for live music concerts featuring local and international artists. Jazz-lovers, Club de Jazz de Santiago is where it’s at. Here, the likes of Louis Armstrong and Herbie Hancock have busted a tune.

For art and culture: Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s beautiful house ‘La Chascona’ is home to intricate interior design and unusual architecture.

For fashion fiends: Costanera Center is South America’s largest shopping mall and boasts all of the big names. For vintage pieces, browse Barrio Italia’s boutiques for one-off pieces and Bellavista’s markets for Lapis Lazuli.

For lazy Sundays: Hop on a funicular to the Metropolitan Park on Cerro San Cristóbal mountain for fabulous views of the city’s colossal buildings against the Andes.

The views from Cerro San Cristóbal mountain

Where to eat in Santiago

Barrio Italia chocolate bar

Breakfast spot: Eat in Café de la Candelaria’s tiled inner courtyard in the charming quarter of Barrio Italia. Find a huge range of teas, cakes and healthy breakfast options on the menu.

Brunch: Guzzle on ice cream waffles in Providencia’s El Taller and make for El Holm in Pedro de Valdivia for an alternative ‘Full English’, with caramelised grapefruit, apple crumble and avocado up for grabs.

Cheap eat: Croq Delice is your ideal lunch spot in Nueva Los Leones, with crocs, crêpes and burgers on the menu to alleviate your midday hunger pangs.

Bit of a treat: Bocanáriz 620 in Lastarria has over 400 wines in their cellars and fabulous food on the menu. Opt for a tasting wine trio to accompany your meal.

My favourite place: For tasty arepas that fuse Chilean and Venezuelan food, Avila Gourmet is the dream. Located in one of Barrio Italia’s cosy inner courtyards, we recommend the patacón sandwich; its bread made up of sweet plantain slices.

Where to drink in Santiago

Just a few wine samples at Bocanáriz

For the weeknight boozing: Shimmy up to La Piojera for a Chilean terremoto: made from wine, pineapple ice cream and grenadine. Its name literally translates as ‘earthquake’ – don’t be fooled. Order plenty of stuffed empanadas (think Chilean Cornish pasty) to soak up the alcohol in this famous, no-frills haunt.

For the party animals: Every Wednesday, a BNO known as ‘Miercoles po!’ is held for ‘extranjeros’ (foreigners) and Chileans alike in different venues across the capital to dance away to reggaetón and drink plenty of pisco sours. A national favourite, combining lemon and egg white.

For a fancy few: Head to Santiago’s Red2One rooftop bar atop the luxurious W hotel for sweeping views of the capital. Enjoy cocktails on chic leather sofas with a live DJ set, and soak up the sunset across the city’s striking skyline.

If I only had 24 hours in Santiago I would…

Set my alarm early for a leisurely stroll around the Plaza de Armas and the nearby Santa Lucía Hill with its tropical vegetation. Make for Barrio Italia for a spot of lunch and vintage shopping before walking it off with a hike up Cerro San Cristóbal for panoramic city views. Take a cable car down and visit poet Pablo Neruda’s charming home. Grab a choripán (a juicy chorizo sandwich) to go from the colourful streets of Bellavista, wash it down with pisco sours on the bar-lined streets of Bellavista and round off with a salsa class in nearby Maestra Vida.

The graffiti streets of Bellavista

Convinced you need to hit up Santiago? I recommend it! Have a look at our affordable return flights… or check our our Chile travel guide!

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