Your guide to Santiago

Santiago is more than just a getaway to South America.

With the frequently snow-tipped Andes Mountains always hovering, the Chilean capital of Santiago is a visually stunning collaboration between the old world and the new.

Thanks to the many landmarks and scenic spots around the city, visitors come for the sights but stay for the eclectic cuisine and world-class wine, which helps to make Santiago a spot for those with all different sorts of wanderlust. For those ready to take a step closer to seeing the famous vistas from the top of San Cristobal Hill, here’s a breakdown of what to look for when planning a trip to Santiago.

The main attractions:

Nearly five centuries after the arrival of founder Pedro De Valdivia, Santiago is a flourishing modern metropolis built right into the Andes. With its sharp elevation inclines and stunning views from the surrounding areas of the city, plenty of the attractions in Santiago involve stunning eye candy from the many different high-up vantage points.

Although those looking for a workout can burn off lunch by marching up to San Cristobal Hill in the heart of the city, most travellers choose to hop on the funicular (cable car) and enjoy the scenery on the way to the top of the 880-metre high hangout. Once there, you’ll have a panoramic view of the city nearly as good as the hill-topping Statue of the Virgin Mary, one of the most famous landmarks of Santiago. On the other side of the Metropolitan Park, St. Lucia’s Hill offers another elevated park as well as more space to spread out and enjoy the escape from the city.

Another central hub for the city is Plaza de Armas, a bustling urban square that was hand-picked by Valdivia all the way back in the 16th Century. While the Historical Museum and former governor’s palace both are draws, the flagship is certainly the Metropolitan Cathedral, which marks the western edge of the square with a masterful combination of neoclassical and baroque architecture. Although the cathedral was originally attempted soon after the founding of the city, a couple of devastating earthquakes brought previous versions of the building down before it was reconstructed in the late 1700s.

Santiago is also home to a bevy of impressive museums, including the family-friendly Mirador Interactive Museum, the National Museum of Fine Arts, and the much more contemporary Fashion Museum.

Eat and Play:

Even though Santiago has some great views and architectural marvels, it’s also well-known for vibrant neighbourhoods like Bellavista. Thanks to a thriving artistic community and a throng of boutiques, Bellavista has a flavour all to its own and is a terrific spot to stay, eat, or just spend an afternoon. Bellavista also is where a visitor can find La Chascona, the one-time home to poet and national icon Pablo Neruda. While Bellavista might be best for a morning or afternoon, those looking for a fun night out also might turn up in Barrio Lastarria, a local hot spot packed with some of the top-rated bars and restaurants in the city.

Thanks to a sterling reputation for Chilean wine, it’s no surprise that Santiago also has plenty of award-winning wineries surrounding the city. About an hour away from central Santiago, Maipo Valley is a haven both for advanced wine-tasters and the novice – not to mention a serene afternoon getaway to break up a trip. Visitors tend to enjoy wandering the sprawling vineyards while getting a sneak peek at how to make staples like Cabernet Sauvignon from some of the top wine producers in the world.

Where should you stay?

One of the easiest ways to get connected with Santiago is to simply stay downtown in an area like Barrio Lastarria, as prices tend to be very reasonable and you’re a short distance from most of the city’s main attractions. Despite being a safe city overall, pickpockets have been known to operate in the evening in the central part of the city, which makes it a good idea to be cautious with personal valuables after dark.

Pricier than downtown, Providencia is another popular spot to say thanks to an excellent set of options for restaurants and night life. Although Providencia can get expensive, there are also apart-hotels in the area that can still keep you within budget. Those looking to splurge a bit more on accommodation might want to try Las Condes, the financial centre of the city that offers a more upscale spread of luxury hotels, restaurants and shopping options. The slopes of Farellones also become a natural gathering point for skiers during the peak of winter (between June and mid-September), providing a variety of options that are about an hour away from the city.

When to go?

Thanks to its temperate climate, there isn’t really a bad time to go to Santiago, although the summer months between December and February are ideal. While the weather rarely surpasses 35°C, hotel rates drop and streets get less busy as the locals head out for their own holidays. Santiago is also very popular in the spring due to the lush green landscapes and the winter because of the exceptional skiing nearby. In the autumn, the vineyards can be at their busiest thanks to the terrific foliage, although the top wineries stay busy all year.

Santiago is a great destination and guaranteed to provide some amazing memories.   Now you’ve got some great ideas for your trip to Santiago, don’t forget to arrange travel insurance as soon as you’ve made a booking. Get a quote today or call one of our friendly team on 1300 819 888 to discuss your requirements.