Things to do in Santiago

Things to do in  Santiago

Art, culture, and Andes views

Santiago, Chile’s thriving capital, unites the best of modern city life with a prime geographical position between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Mixed into the melting pot of colonial architecture and Latino flair, Santiago highlights such as Bellavista, thronged with street art and chic bars; San Cristobal Hill (Cerro San Cristobal); Plaza de Armas; and Mercado Central (Central Market) top the list for most travelers—and are easy to tick off, plus more, on a hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour. Just 1.5 hours west of Santiago, Valparaiso is a UNESCO World Heritage port city with a historic quarter full of winding alleys; colorful houses; and 19th-century funiculars (cable railways), which take you up Concepción and Alegre hills. Neighboring Viña del Mar, or the Garden City, boasts pretty parks and historic architecture—visit both in one day on a day trip from Santiago. And no visit to Santiago is complete without a jaunt into its valleys. Maipo Valley, or El Cajon del Maipo, is a beautiful natural spot for camping, hiking, and a variety of sports. Just as impressive as the gorge is its array of famous wineries: the vineyards and cellars of Concha y Toro Winery, Santa Rita Winery, and Undurraga Winery all offer wine-tasting tours.

Top 15 attractions in Santiago

Viña del Mar

Nicknamed the Garden City and located just an hour from Santiago, Viña del Mar is a charming seaside town famous for its flowers and its beach. Top attractions include the seafront Wulff Castle, the Flower Clock (Reloj de Flores), and Francisco Fonck Museum, the entrance of which is marked by a stone moai statue from Easter Island.More

Concha y Toro Winery

Open since 1883 and ranking among South America’s largest wine producers, Concha y Toro Winery is one of Chile’s most famous winemakers. The winery has vineyards all over the country and produces a huge variety of wines, including the world-renowned Don Melchor cabernet sauvignon. Its Pirque winery is a favorite Maipo Valley destination for oenophiles.More

Plaza de Armas

The site on which the city was founded back in 1541, Plaza de Armas is both the heart of Santiago de Chile’s historic district and the epicenter of the modern city. The leafy, palm-fringed plaza is surrounded by grand monuments and architectural landmarks, and it’s abuzz with activity at all hours of the day and night.More

La Moneda Palace (Palacio de la Moneda)

The presidential palace known as La Moneda Palace (Palacio de la Moneda)is one of Santiago’s architectural icons. A giant Chilean flag billows before the white, neoclassical building, which houses movie theaters, art galleries, and an independent bookstore. Look for the statue of former president Salvador Allende at the southeast corner of Plaza de la Constitución.More

Santa Lucia Hill (Cerro Santa Lucia)

Threaded with staircases and punctuated by plazas, the 230-foot-high (70-meter-high) Santa Lucía Hill is a landmark of downtown Santiago. Climb the 200+ stairs to the Torre Mirador viewpoint for panoramic views over the city and Andes beyond, catch the ceremonial cannon fire at noon, and people watch in the colorfully tiled Pedro de Valdivia Plaza.More

San Cristobal Hill (Cerro San Cristobal)

The Santiago skyline is dominated by San Cristobal Hill (Cerro San Cristobal), a forested mountain rising 2,821 feet (860 meters) above the city. The site is protected as part of the Santiago Metropolitan Park (Parque Metropolitano), one of the most famous city parks in Chile. Today, the park serves as a scenic escape above the smog that can grip Santiago on winter days, and offers fantastic views across this city of 6.5 million to the Andes Mountains.More


Bohemian Bellavista—sandwiched between San Cristóbal Hill and the Mapocho River—is one of Santiago’s most walkable neighborhoods, known for varied nightlife, some of the city’s most colorful street art, and numerous boutiques. A particular Bellavista highlight is La Chascona House-Museum, Pablo Neruda’s former residence.More

Santiago Central Market (Mercado Central de Santiago)

Located in downtown Santiago, the Central Market (Mercado Central is a great place for visitors to get a peek into the hustle and bustle of local life. Its wrought iron interior houses fruit and vegetable vendors, a fish market, and multiple restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious, authentic, and affordable meal.More

Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana)

Santiago's Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana) is considered one of the finest examples of religious architecture in South America. This is the cathedral’s fifth incarnation (not including numerous additional touch-ups) since a church was first dedicated on this spot in 1561. The structure has dominated the west side of the Plaza de Armas for centuries and serves as the heart of the city.More

Plaza de la Constitucion

At the heart of Chile’s political landscape, the Plaza de la Constitucion is a vast, paved square occupying a full square block in the center of Santiago’s civic district. Surrounded by government buildings like the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice, and the Banco Central de Chile, the most impressive site of all is the square’s Palacio de la Moneda.Designed by the Italian architect Joaquín Toesca and built in the late 18th century, the Palacio de la Moneda is said to be one of the finest neoclassical buildings in South America. Originally intended as the Royal Mint, today the palace houses the Chilean presidential offices.Every second morning, here’s where you can see the changing of the guard set to the Chilean national anthem, and while you can’t go inside the palacio, you can wander its inner courtyards. In front of the south side of the Palacio Moneda, it’s worth visiting the Centro Cultural Palacio de la Moneda. Opened in 2006, the cultural center features temporary exhibitions of South American art and photography.More

Undurraga Winery (Viña Undurraga)

Learn about the history of Chilean wine production, sample full-bodied reds, and explore underground cellars at Undurraga, an award-winning, internationally recognized vineyard outside of Santiago. The winery’s gardens, designed by Pierre Dubois in the 19th century, appeal to nature lovers and wine buffs alike.More

Forestal Park (Parque Forestal)

Forestal Park (Parque Forestal), the natural green lung of Santiago, provides a peaceful break from the frenetic bustle of Chile’s capital city. Stretching from Central Market to Plaza Italia, this area offers walking paths shaded by leafy trees and two popular museums: the MAC (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo) and Palacio de Bellas Artes.More

Palacio de Bellas Artes

Constructed in 1910 at the height of Latin America's frilly neoclassical-meets-art-nouveau architectural wave, the graceful Palacio de Bellas Artes still strikes an imposing figure amidst modern Santiago's cold skyscrapers. Its ornate stone facade and permanent artistic merit make it the perfect home for the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts), with its paintings, sculptures, and drawings dating from the colonial period to present day.More

Farellones and El Colorado

These interconnected villages of Farellones and El Colorado—located only one hour from Santiago—comprise one of the most popular ski resorts in the country, both because of their proximity to the capital and their location among the snow-capped peaks of the Andes. As opposed to Valle Nevado, El Colorado is recommended for beginner and non-skiers.More

El Yeso Dam (Embalse El Yeso)

El Yeso Dam (Embalse El Yeso), which was built in 1964, created a turquoise reservoir that can hold more than 253 million cubic meters of water. Though just a couple hours outside of Santiago, the snow-capped mountains that surround the site are more reminiscent of rural Patagonia than of the bustling metropolis.More

Top activities in Santiago

Andean Tour

Andean Tour

Valparaiso and Viña del Mar

Valparaiso and Viña del Mar

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All about Santiago

When to visit

Santiago is a year-round destination with four distinct seasons instead of a wet or dry period. The summer months of December through February are a great time to visit, as the majority of locals flock to the Lake District and leave Chile’s capital emptier than at other times of the year. Explore the city’s surrounding vineyards in spring (September–November) when they’re lush and green after the winter rains.

Getting around

Santiago’s metro system is fast, safe, and easy to navigate. Its five lines service the city’s top attractions, and it runs from early morning through late evening. Pay as you go for single tickets, or invest in a rechargeable BIP card, which is the only payment method accepted on Santiago’s buses. Avoid traveling in packed morning and evening rush hours. If you want to travel like the locals, flag down a colectivo—a shared taxi.

Traveler tips

Though Lastarria and Bellavista hog the limelight when it comes to Santiago’s most popular barrios, Barrio Yungay in western Santiago is an architectural treasure chest—it's even been featured on a list of the world’s most attractive neighborhoods. Here, you’ll find facades inspired by art deco, baroque, and Bauhaus design, as well as leafy squares, high-end restaurants, and the Quinta Normal Park, with its boating lake, public library, and water features.


People Also Ask

What is Santiago best known for?

Vibrant, cosmopolitan Santiago is known for its alluring location, nestled in a valley surrounded by the snow-capped Andes. The city offers the diversions of a modern metropolis with the bonus of nature on its doorstep. Here you’ll find top-flight museums and restaurants, plus diverse neighborhoods, each with its own character.

How many days are enough in Santiago?

Two or three days is enough time in Santiago to see the main attractions and get a feel for the city. If you have longer, you can make Santiago your base for day trips to nearby wineries, ski slopes, or even as far as the coastal city of Valparaiso.

Is Santiago a cool city?

Yes. Santiago is a cool city. In the past, it had a rather staid reputation, but nowadays, thanks to its revived cultural and food scenes, Santiago has become a South American hot spot. The best way to get a feel for the city is by exploring its diverse, art-filled bohemian neighborhoods.

What do people in Santiago Chile do for fun?

Get a taste of local life at one of Santiago’s colorful markets, such as the Central Market where you can pick up fresh fruit and enjoy a seafood lunch or at the shops of Barrio Italia. You’ll often find local Santiagans heading to the mountains and vineyards in their free time.

What can you do in Santiago for free?

You can wander around Santiago’s colorful bohemian neighborhoods and the historic Plaza de Armas for free, or you can walk up the hills of Cerro San Cristóbal and Cerro Santa Lucía for city views. You can also visit the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Museum of Memory and Human Rights.

Is Santiago a safe city?

Yes. Santiago is generally a safe city. However, be vigilant, particularly in crowded areas, as pickpocketing and bag snatching can occur. Santiago is a hub for peaceful demonstrations throughout the year, but travelers should be cautious on Sept. 11, the anniversary of the 1973 military coup.

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