Best things to do in Santiago
Find out more about those top places in Santiago
Do any capital cities have as good a view as Santiago? Unlikely. Situated on a high altitude plain near the foothills of the Andes, Santiago offers breathtaking views of the glacier capped mountains and bubbling volcanoes that tower over the metropolis. While the city’s setting is expansive, many of its historic and cultural attractions are located in a charming and compact center. Packed with some of Latin America’s best museums, buzzing colonial-era squares and art-noveau markets selling the country’s finest produce, the Chilean capital has something for everyone. Santiago also makes an ideal base for touring the nearby mountains with the high altitude Valle Nevado resort offering year round glacier skiing.
Better known as Cerro San Cristóbal, the Parque Metropolitano is one of the world’s most breathtaking locations. Santiago’s largest green space is perched high above the colonial era city center and is reached by multiple cable cars and funicular railways. Once out of the urban sprawl, the park offers truly unbelievable views of the Andes and has a clutch of world-class attractions, including South America’s premier botanical garden and a towering statue of the Virgin Mary.
The best thing about Santiago is its proximity to the unspoiled mountains of the Andes. To get the best experience of this wilderness, take a day tour to Valle Nevado, Chile’s premier ski resort that sits at 3000 meters above sea level. From the resort you can take part in thrilling winter sports, hike up glaciers or simply sit back and marvel at the jaw-dropping scenery.
A treasure trove of Pre-Columbian artifacts, the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino is Santiago’s standout museum. With exhibits ranging from Mayan stone columns to Andean textiles and indigenous weaponry, the museum has a truly all-encompassing collection. For the best experience, tours of the museum are available with expert guides who can reveal little known facts about Pre-Columbian Chile.
Named after the Chilean poet who was the first Latin American woman to win a Nobel Prize for Literature, the Centro Gabriela Mistral has single-handedly revitalized Santiago’s art scene. Housed in a striking contemporary building, the gallery has rotating exhibitions by Latin America’s biggest artists while regular performances, film screenings and concerts are held.
Highlighting Chile’s traumatic history under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos is Santiago’s newest and boldest museum. While a visit to the museum is one of the city’s most chilling experiences, it is a must-see for those wanting to learn more about the country’s recent past.
Lying just south of Santiago, the Cajón del Maipo is a mecca for the city’s outdoor enthusiasts. With organized tours of this rugged wilderness leaving from Santiago daily, it is easy to be in the city one hour and white water rafting, heli-skiing or hiking towards the San Francisco Glacier the next.
Despite lying thousands of meters above sea level, Santiago is very close to the Pacific Ocean meaning it gets some of the world’s freshest seafood. To browse the best of the day’s catch, head to the Mercado Central where you can see the ocean’s bounty and sample regional cuisine in rustic stalls.