The capital city of Chile is saturated in Spanish colonial architecture that is now blended in with steel skyscrapers, including the Gran Torre Santiago, Latin America’s tallest building. The metropolis sits in a valley of the Andes and the snow-capped peaks are visible from any high view. With a population of 5.6 million, a third of the entire country’s population resides in Santiago. Here's what to see, where to eat, and where to stay when in town.
What to See and Do
Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino
Although the city has a multitude of museums to visit, you should start with this one, which houses a stunning collection of artifacts from the many different cultures and ancestries of Central and South America. Expect to find pottery, jewelry, as well as English translations to help make your museum experience a smooth one.
Make your way to the historic center starting at Plaza de Armas, the main square in the center which was constructed in the 16th century. From here, you can visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Teatro Municipal, and the Central Post Office building. Nearby is the Plaza de la Constitucion, and La Moneda Palace, the home of the country’s president.
San Cristóbal Hill
It might be best to save this activity until you are fully acclimated, but once you have your energy, there’s a 45-minute moderate hike to the top of San Cristóbal Hill. There's also a funicular ride for those who want to avoid the trek. Once you reach the top, you'll find the Chilean National Zoo as well as 1,800 acres of park, including a Japanese garden. But, the best part about heading up the hill is the spectacular views.
Explore the bohemian neighborhood near the river where you will find plenty of bars and restaurants painted in bold, bright colors, often with murals on the side. While there, check out some of the shops and keep an eye out for unique souvenirs.
Famous poet and politician Pablo Neruda is one of the most internationally recognized Chilenos of all time, and all three of his homes have been turned into museums for tourists. La Chascona was Neruda's Santiago home, built with multiple levels into the base of San Cristobal hill in Bellavista. Take an audio tour and learn about how the house was vandalized and nearly destroyed in 1973 days after the military coup that overthrew Chile’s president.
Where to Eat
Boragó is frequently named as one of the world’s 50 best restaurants, and is led by chef Rodolfo Guzman, who is credited with reinventing the Santiago food scene. Chef Guzman is known for foraging the Chilean landscape, from the mountains to the seas which results in an unforgettable dining experience.
Located inside the W Santiago, Karai is a sleek restaurant which serves excellent Japanese-Peruvian fusion food, namely impeccable sushi, ceviche, and softshell crab sliders.
For a crash course in the country’s wine offerings, this wine bar showcases over 30 by the glass and offers multiple flights, as well. The food menu is built around the wine so that they can be perfectly paired with the nation’s great Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons.
Where to Stay
Santiago Marriott Hotel
Located in the financial district, this upscale hotel is located next to Parque Araucano, a massive park that's perfect for strolling. Inside the hotel there are nearly 300 rooms along with amenities such as a spa, fitness center, outdoor pool, and on-site dining options. Head up to the top floors for panoramic sights of the Andes.
Hotel Boutique Castillo Rojo
This boutique hotel was once a a 1920s home. With a candy apple red exterior that resembles an old German mansion, the 19-room Hotel Boutique Castillo Rojo is located in the Bellavista neighborhood. Here, you'll find find restored wood burning fireplaces, plush velvet furnishings, and gold light fixtures -- all of which pay homage to its history.