If you are looking for the best things to do in Santiago, you’ve come to the right place. We spent five days seeing all the top attractions in Santiago before and after our Exodus Travels tour of Chile. Even though we visited the Atacama Desert, Patagonia, and more, we fell in love with Santiago the most. It’s such a fun city filled with energy and excitement.
Santiago, Chile is a huge city in South America with plenty of things to do. Whether you’re looking for culture or great food, there’s something for everyone. We fell in love with the capital city of Chile and even managed to meet President Gabriel Boric during our stay. Read on to see how that happened.
Top Things to do in Santiago
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Okay, now it is time to explore Santiago with us. Here are our top picks for things to do in Santiago, Chile.
1. Plaza de Armas
If it’s your first time in Santiago, make your way to the main meeting place in the city. Plaza de Armas is the main square in Santiago and a popular place for locals and tourists to gather. The plaza is surrounded by important landmarks, including the Cathedral, Presidential Palace, National Museum, and more.
Plaza de Armas is the perfect place to start your Santiago tour. It’s where all the buses come into town so if you are on an overland trip in Chile, you’ll probably end up here first.
The square itself is beautiful, with fountains, palm trees and green space, outdoor terraces, and street performers. There are also lots of shops and restaurants if you want to grab some food or souvenirs before heading out on your adventure!
2. Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral
One of these landmarks that you should definitely visit when you visit Plaza de Armas is the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral. The cathedral was built between 1872-1904 based on designs drawn up by French architect Paul Chenavard (who also designed Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal – A little Canadian connection there). Not only does this cathedral have beautiful architecture but it also has amazing stained glass windows which depict scenes from Chilean history.
It is a working cathedral so be respectful when entering, but going inside is a must. It’s also a cool respite from the hot Santiago heat.
3. Cerro Santa Lucia (Santa Lucía Hill)
Cerro Santa Lucia is one of the most popular places in Santiago to go for a walk and enjoy the views. The hill is located right in the center of the city, with museums, shops, and restaurants on its slopes.
It’s best to visit at sunset when you can see all of Santiago lit up below you as well as a beautiful view of part of the Andes (and maybe even some stars!). It’s a great place to spend an afternoon taking in the sites. There are old forts, a chapel, fountains, and walls to explore. There are even basalt columns to keep an eye out for. I was surprised to see them leading up to the top of the hill.
The high platform is small and you will be sharing it with a crowd, but it is definitely worth visiting for a panoramic view of Santiago. From here it’s also easy to catch buses or taxis back downtown.
This hill offers views of Santiago and beyond—all without having to climb too far! It’s less busy than Plaza de Armas but on the weekends it can be very crowded with locals. Plus there are plenty of trees around so if you ever get tired (or thirsty), just sit down under one of them! Make sure to bring some water with you.
4. San Cristóbal Hill (Cerro San Cristóbal)
San Cristóbal Hill is the second-highest point in Santiago. It’s also the site of an old chapel (La Catedral) and the Virgin Mary. Standing 860 meters high, it overlooks the city offering 360 degree views.
The views from up there are some of the best in Santiago, although you will need to work hard to find an unobstructed view at the top, there are many viewpoints from halfway up. You can see all of Santiago, as well as some nearby hills and mountains.
This is a popular place for sunset because it’s so beautiful overlooking the skyscrapers of the business district. But be warned, if you go up for sunset, you will need to walk back down. So we suggest for first-time visitors go earlier. It’s the perfect spot for eating lunch with a view or going out on a picnic.
5. Teleferico or Funicular
There are two ways to get to the top of San Cristóbal Hill: take the funicular from Barrio Bella Vista or take the teleférico (cable car) from Metropolitan Park. We took both and found them each to be worth the visit. They embark from different sides of the mountain. The funicular leaves from the Bellavista neighborhood and the Funicular leaves from Metropolitan park in the Providencia area of Santiago
When staying in the financial district, take the Teleferico to the top as you’ll only need to walk through Metropolitan Park. This is a lovely neighborhood to walk through and the park has restaurants, shady areas, and fountains.
The funicular takes you through the Bella Vista neighborhood which is a lively area of Santiago. We walked from the city center through Barrio Bella Vista enjoying some of the fun restaurants and bars on our way. When you get to the funicular, it looks like a castle from an amusement park.
There are vendors and the Santiago Zoo. It is a steep incline railway with a stop at the zoo on the way up. Make sure to keep your tickets for both as you will need them to get back down.
6. Metropolitan Park of Santiago
Metropolitan Park of Santiago is one of the largest urban parks in Latin America with San Cristobal Hill standing at its center. Besides San Cristobal Hill there is the Santiago Zoo (Zoológico de Santiago), Botanical Gardens with a Japanese Garden, two swimming pools, hiking trails, and a children’s park. You can even go on a high ropes course located beside the entrance to the teleferico.
There are several parks and greenspaces in Santiago located along the river. You’ll find families out for picnics, strolling through the gardens or simply relaxing in the sun. We enjoyed simply walking along the river taking in the views.
7. Sky Costanera
Located in the Costanera Center a shopping mall with a view of the city, Sky Costanera is located on the 61st floor of the building. This building is considered to be one of the tallest buildings in South America.
It has panoramic views, restaurants, and bars that is visited by locals and tourists from all over Chile and around the world.
Go up for sunset for fantastic views of the Andes Mountains and Santiago. There is a cocktail bar at the top where you can pull up a seat by the window to enjoy a romantic toast to the city. Make sure to stay until the sun goes down, that’s when the view really comes to life.
8. Costanera Center
Sky Costanera is located in a financial district but there are many things that tourists can do when they visit. The shopping center is massive with several stores selling everything from fine Chilean wine to luggage. There are many restaurants to choose from including local favorites and international cuisine from Japanese food to American classics like the Hard Rock Cafe and Tony Romas.
This six-story shopping mall is filled with everything you want for shopping. There is an excellent grocery store where you can pick up some fine Chilean wine. The wine selection in there is huge.
9. Palacio de la Moneda (La Moneda Palace)
La Moneda Palace is the seat of government in Chile and has been since 1837. It was built in 1784, but it was destroyed in an earthquake. The palace was rebuilt in 1837 and became a national monument in 1931. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
La Moneda Palace grounds are open to visitors from 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays only. You can pre-arrange guided tours to see the Ducal Palace of Modena, the Military Academy, and the rooms of the State apartment. The gardens surrounding La Moneda Palace are open from 8 am until 6 pm daily and offer some nice spots for a picnic lunch or just enjoying some fresh air if you’re tired of sightseeing indoors!
10. Palacio La Moneda Cultural Center
After seeing the Presidential Palace, go into the Palacio La Moneda Cultural Center. This gathering place was built underground so as to not interfere with the grounds of the Presidential Palace. The huge building houses cafes, rotating displays, museums, and boutique shops.
11. Barrio Bellavista (Bellavista Neighborhood)
For nightlife, Barrio Bellavista is the place to be. This neighborhood is a lively entertainment area filled with bars and restaurants. Street art decorates many walls around Barrio Bellavista. It’s one of the most popular neighborhoods in Santiago among tourists because of its vibrant atmosphere and beautiful views of downtown Santiago from above thanks to its rooftop bars.
Art Tour of Barrio Bellavista
Santiago is a city filled with street art, so it’s no surprise that the best place to see it is in Bellavista. This neighborhood is home to the highest concentration of murals and graffiti in all of Chile.
If you want to get an insider’s look at these colorful works, there are plenty of tours available. Tours can last anywhere from 2 hours up to 5 days and typically cost between $10 USD and $25 USD per person. Most tours will take you through several different neighborhoods, but some focus on just one area or specific type of street art—like graffiti artists who use stencils rather than paint or chalk on the sidewalks!
No matter what kind of tour you do, they’ll all lead through Bellavista where most tourists start out before branching out into other neighborhoods like Providencia (another popular destination).
12. Central Market
The Central Market is a great place to eat, buy souvenirs, and even purchase food. There are several types of vendors inside the market that sell everything from flowers and fruit to meat and fish. This beautiful building was built in 1872 and has been restored several times over the years.
13. Emporio La Rosa
Emporio La Rosa is a popular ice cream shop in Santiago, Chile. It was named one of the top 25 ice creams in the world by Time Magazine in 2012. There are several stores in Santiago. Just put its name in Google maps to find one near you.
In addition to its more traditional flavors such as chocolate and dulce de leche (which tastes like caramel), they also make some unique Chilean flavors like murta (Chilean myrtle) and lucuma. You can get a cup or a cone and they have milkshakes too! They’re open from 10 AM-10 PM every day except Sundays when it’s closed; I recommend getting there early if you want a cone since most people go for cones rather than cups.
14. La Chascona – Pablo Neruda Museum
Pablo Neruda was a famous Chilean poet. The Museo de Pablo Neruda is located in the house where he lived and worked, and it’s a great place to learn more about his life and work. If you take the funicular up to Cerro San Cristobal you can easily make a detour to see this museum. It is located in the Barrio Bellavista neighborhood as well.
The museum has many of his personal items on display including clothes, books, paintings, furniture and even some food that was left over from meals at his house. His desk is also there so you can see where he wrote some of his most famous poems such as “Ode to My Socks” or “Twenty Love Poems for Dummies” (okay we made that last one up).
15. Museo de Historia Natural (Museum of Natural History)
The Museo de Historia Natural is another must-see for any visitor to Santiago. This museum offers a wide range of exhibits about Chile’s natural environment and the animals that live there. The museum also has a planetarium, where you can learn more about astronomy from an expert astronomer. The museum was founded in 1883 by Antonio Varas, who was also president at that time, so it is one of the oldest museums in Chile.
We Met the President of Chile
After visiting the Museum of Natural History we walked across the street to eat lunch at a lovely terrace overlooking the park. During our lunch, the people started asking a man for photographs who was dining there as well. We asked the next table ‘Is this man famous?’ and he said, ‘He is the president of Chile’. We said, ‘yeah right.’ And then the manager said, ‘Yes he is!
He was leaving at the same time as us, so we introduced ourselves and said we were from Canada and we chatted for a bit and said in our excitement, “We’ve never even met our Prime Minister before!” He said “I’ve met Justin (Trudeau)”
He then asked if we were going to Patagonia because that is where he is from. And we said, ‘We will say hi to your home for you’ His Excellency Gabriel Boric was very gracious, friendly and welcoming. We are still a bit in shock that we actually talked to a President of a country out in a normal everyday setting. And that happened on our first day in Santiago. Not a bad first day in Chile!
16. Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanos (The Museum of Memory and Human Rights)
The Museum of Memory and Human Rights commemorates the atrocities carried out by the dictator Augusto Pinochet between September 11, 1973 and March 10, 1990. Unfortunately, it was closed when we took the metro out to see it on a Monday, but it is a place that should be visited when in Santiago. Inside there are displays depicting the torture and indignities that took place during this brutal reign.
17. Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (Museum of Pre-Colombian Art)
The Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, or the Museum of Pre-Colombian Art, is located in the Bellavista neighborhood which is a great place to see some of Santiago’s best street art. This museum has an extensive collection of pre-Columbian art from all over Latin America as well as artifacts from Chile and Easter Island.
The museum was founded in 1888 and it’s one of Chile’s oldest museums on display! There are over 6,000 pieces on display here at this museum so you’ll definitely want to come with multiple visits if you want to see everything! The museum itself is open every day from 10 am – 6 pm (except Mondays).
18. Watch Sunset from the W Hotel
One of our favorite places to watch the sunset was to go to the top of the W Hotel. Overlooking the Andes Mountains, the city, and Sky Costanera it greeted us with stunning views. There is a bar and rooftop patio complete with an infinity pool.
Make sure to book reservations as the patio is for guests of the hotel. We got lucky and they let us up but, you will need to book a table. Be prepared to spend some money. We paid about $15 USD per cocktail. But it was worth it for the view and atmosphere.
19. the Museo Historico Nacional
A visit to the Museo Historico Nacional is a great way to learn about Chile’s history. The museum is located right next door to the Plaza de Armas and is easy to find. As you enter, you’ll be greeted by an impressive collection of weapons and artifacts from various periods throughout Chilean history. You’ll also see several different uniforms worn by soldiers dating back centuries ago, including those worn by Native Americans or Spaniards during the colonial period.
- Address: San Francisco 469, Providencia
20. Cementerio General de Santiago (General Cemetery)
Cementerio General de Santiago (General Cemetery) is a must-see for history buffs. You’ll find the mausoleum of Nobel Prize-winning poet, Pablo Neruda, as well as several other notable figures from Chile’s past buried there (including Gabriela Mistral, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1945). The cemetery was established in 1822 and is still an active burial ground today.
If you’re into things that go bump in the night, you’ll have fun on a ghost tour of Cementerio General de Santiago. Tours last about an hour and a half and include stops at the grave of Carlos Gardel (a famous tango singer) and Pablo Neruda
21. Metro Art Santiago – Subway Stops
Getting around Santiago is quite easy. We took the metro and found it to be the most affordable way to travel. It is fast, efficient, and affordable. You need to purchase a BIP card and then fill it up. Our hotel gave us free BIP cards, so all we had to do was load it with enough pesos to cover a few days of fares. The subways are worth visiting just to see the art installations. The fare to ride one way is 750 pesos. (85 cents US).
We put the subway stations in our list of things to do in Santiago, because many of the underground stops have beautiful art displays.
Where to Stay in Santiago
We stayed at the Four Points Sheraton located in the heart of the business center of Providencia. We found this to be an excellent location that was within walking distance of Sky Costanera and the modern shopping centers of Santiago. It was also within walking distance to Metropolitan Park and the Teleferico. We were just two blocks from the Subway so it was easy to get to the old city center and Plaza de Armas as well.
Book a room on a higher floor for great city views. Breakfast here was amazing. We loved the buffet with an array of fresh fruits, pastrys, meats, and cheeses and an omelet station. See their website for rates and availability.
Another place to stay in Santiago is the W Hotel for a more upscale experience in the El Golf neighborhood of Santiago. It’s a little farther away from the attractions, but it’s close to a metro line so you can easily hop on to explore all of the city’s top attractions. It also has one of the best views in all of Santiago for sunset. See reviews and prices on TripAdvisor
Santiago is a huge city with a lot to do
There are plenty of things to do around Santiago on easy day trips. Here are a few suggestions to get you out of the city.
21. Day trip to Valparaiso
Valparaiso is a port city in Chile, and you can take a ferry from the port of San Antonio to Valparaiso. This is an especially popular day trip for visitors who wish to see the colorful houses and hillside views, as well as the many murals and street art on buildings throughout the city.
Valparaiso has been nicknamed “La Ciudad de las Artes” (The City of Arts) because of its many museums, theaters, galleries and music venues. The most impressive attraction here is Cerro Alegre; it’s literally a hill but offers 360-degree views over Valparaiso’s bay area where you will see colorful houses built into hillsides along with churches scattered throughout this picturesque townscape.
22. Andes Mountains, Valle Nevado, El Colorado
The Andes Mountains run the length of Chile and Argentina, which means they’re often visible from Santiago. They’re the longest mountain range in the world, and they contain some of the most beautiful scenery you can find anywhere on Earth.
The Andes are home to two peaks that actually make it into their own category: Aconcagua (22,841 feet), which is also the tallest peak outside Asia; and Ojos del Salado (23,838 feet), a volcano in northern Chile with an active crater on top that has been active for over 400 years.
Valle Nevado is a ski resort close to the city. In the winter is offers the best ski and snowboarding in South America and in the summer you can do some downhill mountain biking.
23. Wine Tasting in Chile Valley
Santiago is the perfect base for wine tasting in Chile. The country produces 40% of the world’s wine and is best known for its reds, made from grapes grown high up in the Andes Mountains. There are many different vineyards to visit throughout Santiago but we recommend starting with a visit to Chile Valley.
The Maipo Valley is home to some of the best vineyards in Chile, and they’re all within easy reach of Santiago. A wine-tasting tour here is a must for any wine lover, as you’ll be able to sample a variety of wines made from different grapes at each vineyard. Many tours will also include lunch or dinner at one of the wineries on your way back into Santiago.
This tour takes you to two top wineries, Concha y Toro and Viña Undurraga where you’ll enjoy 3 tastings at each vineyard while learning about the Chilean wine industry.
Map of the Best Things to do in Santiago
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Santiago. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or an overnight adventure, there’s something for everyone! We spe
Santiago is the capital of Chile and one of Latin America’s largest cities. It has a population of over six million people, which makes it home to more than half of Chile’s entire population. Santiago has everything you’d want in a big city: an impressive skyline, shopping malls, museums, and theaters galore!
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