So you’ve landed in the capital of Chile and need to know what to do in Santiago, where to eat traditional Chilean food and what Santiago hostel to stay at? We’ve got you sorted! Read on for our travel guide which includes top things to do in Santiago, local institutions where you should eat and more…
Disclaimer: Chasing a Plate’s stay at Hostal Providencia and our Bike + Wine Tour with La Bicicleta Verde was complimentary. All opinions are our own. This post contains affiliate links, thank you for supporting our blog by using these links.
Things to Do in Santiago
Wondering how you should fill you time and what to do in Santiago? Santiago is a city of museums, lush parks and mouth watering food. You’ll find plenty to fill your time here no matter what your interests. Read on!
1. Witness the Changing of the Guard at the Presidential Palace
If you’re after pomp and ceremony, you’ll get it at the Changing of the Guard which takes place on every odd numbered day at 10:00am. The Palacio de La Moneda is a spectacular setting for the exchange of guard which includes a full military band, horses and impeccably dressed police (Carabineros de Chile).
2. Join a Bike + Wine Tour with La Bicicleta Verde
Cousiño Macul is a vineyard which has literally been enveloped by Santiago city and you get to explore this family owned vineyard, the oldest left in Chile we might add, by bike! La Bicecleta Verde‘s Green Gurus (your guides) are friendly, know their stuff and over the next 2 hours will show you around the vines. They’ll explain about the wines they produce at Cousiño Macul as well as the winemaking process. You ride for about 45 minutes at a really easy pace and then you get to peek into the Cousiño family’s incredible cellar, watch the grape sorting process and wander amongst gigantic wine barrels. And did we mention you get 4 tastings? We guarantee you it’ll be a fascinating couple of hours!
Watch our YouTube video of our tour with La Bicicleta Verde!
3. Buy truckloads of fresh fruit at La Vega Central market
If you’re planning on visiting Mercado Central (Central Fish Market) then you must pop your head into the nearby La Vega Central market. You will be astounded by the variety and inexpensive fruit and vegetables on offer. If you’re staying in accommodation with a kitchen, it’s the perfect place to stock up on some essentials. During our visit we bought 3 kilos of raspberries, blueberries and cape gooseberries for under $6USD! (See our video below).
4. Hike up to Cerro San Cristobal (San Cristobal Hill) for an epic view of the city
You can opt to ride the funicular up to the peak of Cerro San Cristobal but it’s far more satisfying to walk the 2.6km to the top. Once there, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the city and surrounding landscape- even the Andes if you’re there on a clear day. Sample the traditional Chilean summer drink of mote con huesillo (a nectar made from dried peaches and wheat) from one of the many vendors at the top or base of the hill.
5. Learn a bit about Chile’s history after Pinochet’s coup in 1974 at the Museo de la memorial y los derechos humans (Remembrance and Human Rights Museum)
Avenida Matucana 501, Santiago. Closest subway station: Quinta Normal
Open Tuesday to Sunday 10:00am to 6:00pm. Free entry
The Museo de la Memorial y los Derechos Humans is a must visit in order to understand a bit more about this part of Chile’s brutal history. The museum is free and offers a comprehensive English audio tour (2000CLP/$3USD). Learn how Pinochet came to power, hear the powerful stories from families of those executed by the regime and discover how Chile emerged from the dictatorship after a period of 16 years. A moving and necessary experience.
6. Wander around the picturesque barrio of Lastarria
Lastarria is as charming as it gets. Cobble stone roads flanked by street vendors selling art and knick knacks, chic restaurants and boutique fashion shops. It’s a great spot to wander through and is close to the bohemian Bellavista where you’ll find some excellent bars and food spots on the side streets off Pio Nono Rd.
Where to stay in Santiago
Vicuña Mackenna 92, Santiago
Dorms from 10,000CLP/$15USD, double rooms (shared bathroom and private bathroom available) from 47,000/$72USD
The hostel in Santiago that we recommend is Hostal Providencia. It’s located in Providencia which is a stones throw from Lastarria, Bellavista and barrio Italia areas with great bars, restaurants, cafes and shops- they’re all within walking distance. Whether you’re a single, a couple or a group, Hostal Providencia will have the room to suit you, from a dorm bed to a private room with a private bathroom.
The hostel is big, boasting a bar, two kitchens and numerous common areas to while away your time in when you’re not out exploring the city. They have a washing machine and dryer (pay for use), free breakfast and they do nightly specials like 2 hamburgers and a schop (draught beer) for 5,000CLP/$8USD or free pisco sours for happy hour! Plus, the staff are super friendly and helpful!
Where to eat in Santiago
Restaurants abound in Santiago from soda fountains to local institutions serving traditional Chilean food. In this list we’ve focused on cheap to reasonably priced eateries which serve tasty Chilean food.
Dardignac 95, Providencia. Open daily, 24 hours.
Galindo is a locals favourite. Their menu includes all the Chilean dishes you have to try whilst here from lomo a lo pobre (steak, fries, eggs and onions) to cazuela (stew). And once you’ve tried their pastel de choclo or corn pie we guarantee you’ll be back for more! Service is attentive and meals arrive quickly. Make sure you start with a pisco sour- they do an excellent (and strong) version here!
2. Any of the restaurants in La Vega Chica
Artesanos 719, Santiago . Open for lunch only.
La Vega Chica is the small market in front of La Vega Central. Here you’ll find lots of mom and pop restaurants serving traditional Chilean food like cazuela de vacuno (Chilean beef stew) at a fraction of the cost of restaurants in areas like Bellavista and Lastarria. It can be a bit frenetic and if your Spanish isn’t great come armed with a translating app on your phone, but we guarantee it will be fun, delicious and memorable. Tip: if you’re in the mood for pastel de jaiba (crab pie), Eben Ezer restaurant does an AMAZING version!
3. Fuente Alemana
Pedro de Valdivia Nte 210, Providencia. Open daily 10:00am to 10:00pm
O’Higgins, Av Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 58, Santiago. Open every day except Sunday 10:30am to 10:30pm
You’ll probably have noticed that Chileans love their sandwiches. Fuente Alemana is an institution in Santiago and their lomo rolls (pork) which sport a glacier of mayonaise, tomato and avocado are a must. If you’re into beef, try the churrasco completo a satisfying tomato, sauerkraut and mayo combo. Try and get a spot at the counter where you can watch all the action (see our video below).
Watch our YouTube video where we visit Fuente Alemana!
4. Emporio La Rosa
Merced 291, Santiago. Open daily 8:30am to 9:00pm
Emporio La Rosa is seldom empty. In fact, most hours of the day throngs of people jostle to get a better view of the ice cream flavours on offer at this popular helado parlour. Creamy and rich, the helado here is a must eat whilst in Santiago. We think the chocolate naranja (chocolate orange) and the dulce de leche are pretty special. Grab your cone and nab yourself a bench at the park across the road to enjoy your sweet treat.
Hotdogs are pretty much on equal par with sandwiches in the popularity stakes. Hunt down a Domino, a popular Santiago soda fountain where you can get a decent hotdog. We reckon the Italiano (avocado, tomato and mayo) is worth eating or the Chilean which is loaded with pebre the ubiquitous Chilean table salsa (see our video below).
Watch our YouTube video where we visit Domino!
6. Seafood lunch at Mercado Central
Open for lunch only.
Seafood is an important part of Chilean cuisine and it doesn’t get any fresher when you’re eating at the restaurants located in Mercado Central the fish market. Steer clear of the expensive, touristy restaurants in the centre of the market and instead look out for busy restaurants on the periphery. These spots are usually where you’ll find the locals tucking into a bowl of sopa de marisco (seafood soup).
Getting Around Santiago
Uber or taxis are a convenient way of getting around Santiago if you have limited time. If you’re here for a bit longer then consider buying a BIP card for the metro. These can be bought at metro stations and costs 1500CLP/$2.50USD and you can load money onto them. Metro rides cost between 610CLP/$0.80USD and 720CLP/$1USD. Note that you can share BIP cards between a group of people, just make sure you scan the card the appropriate number of times.
We use the app Maps.Me to guide us around cities by GPS using offline maps.
No matter where you’re travelling to we always recommend you have travel insurance. We use and love World Nomads. The great thing about them is that you can purchase travel insurance while you’re already travelling!
Spending more time in Chile? Check out our posts on How to Explore the Atacama Desert by Car and How to Explore Chilean Patagonia
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