10 things to see absolutely in Santiago de Chile

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Santiago de Chile, the capital of Chile founded in 1541 by Pedro de Valdivia, stands majestically on the spur of San Cristòbal and along the Mapocho River. A city that is enriched day by day with new attractions that are added to gigantic historical, cultural and architectural heritage present.

Santiago looks like a modern city, but at the same time surrounded by an atmosphere of ancient history to be retraced in its essential tourist stops. Rich in lively squares, spectacular parks and incredible vantage points, Santiago is truly a must-see destination.
Here are the 10 things to see absolutely in Santiago de Chile.


  1. Parque Metropolitano de Santiago (with Cerro San Cristòbal)
  2. Palacio de la Moneda
  3. Parade ground
  4. Metropolitan Cathedral
  5. Museum of Memory and Human Rights
  6. Sky Costanera
  7. The chascona
  8. Central Market
  9. Cerro Santa Lucía
  10. Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art
  11. Plan your stay in Santiago de Chile: flights, hotels and tours
  12. User questions and comments

1 - Parque Metropolitano de Santiago (with Cerro San Cristòbal)

A wonderful 720 hectare park formed by hills, at the top of which stands the Cerro San Cristòbal with the monumental statue of the immaculate conception, which seems to want to embrace the whole city.
From 1921, thanks to the then mayor Alberto Mackenna Subercaseaux, the area began to be filled with typical vegetation, forming a wonderful forest that over the years also gave space to Chilean National Zoo with many species typical of the region, from the Andean fox, to the condor to the pudu, to the flamingos and penguins.

There are also the Shrine dedicated to the Virgin, the Japanese Garden and the Bicentennial Park for children. There are also several bars, swimming pools and picnic areas from which to admire splendid breathtaking views.
To go up the hill the historic funicular is recommended dating back to 1925, or the cable car, renovated in November 2016 and capable of carrying up to six people per cabin.

  • the main entrance to the park and zoo is at Pío Nono 450, Recoleta (Get directions) - for the Japanese garden entrance from Pedro de Valdivia (Get directions) - for the bicentennial park entrance Av. Perú 1001, Recoleta (Get directions)
    The funicular has 3 stations, at the main entrance, at the zoo and at Cerro Cristobal. Highly recommended for those wishing to climb to the top of Cerro Cristobal and the statue of the Immaculate Conception.
    For those wishing to enter with their own car, motorbike or other vehicles, you can opt for the inputs of Pio Nono or Zapadores in Recoleta (Get directions), and Pedro de Valdivia Norte in Providencia (Get directions)
  • open every day from 8:30 to 20:00; the Japanese garden from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 19:00; the zoo from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00, in summer until 18:00; funicular from 10:00 to 18:45. the Bicentennial Park every day 24 hours a day
  • park, Japanese garden and bicentennial park for free; zoo CLP 4.000 (€ 5,21) for adults, CLP 2.000 for children and seniors (€ 2,61). The funicular (round trip) CLP 2.000 (€ 2,61) for adults, CLP 1.500 (€ 1,95) for children and seniors

2 - Palacio de la Moneda

Palacio de la Moneda is located in the Barrio Civico, overlooking the splendid Plaza de la Costìtution and Plaza de la Ciudadanìa, in the heart of the city. The Palace is the official residence of the President of the Republic of Chile, as well as being the seat of the General Secretary of the Republic and of the Government and of the Ministry of the Interior.

It was designed by the architect Joaquì Tosca and inaugurated in 1805 as the seat of the minting of coins (Toyal House of Currency in Santiago), while in 1846 it became the seat of the government. On 11 September 1973 it was shaken by one of the worst attacks committed in Chile: it was restored and over the years the subject of some changes. In any case, it remains the only example of Italian neoclassicism and among the most beautiful and representative colonial buildings in all of Chile.

  • Get directions
  • every day from 9: 00 to 17: 00
  • free

3 - Plaza de Armas

Considered the real heart of Santiago, designed by the architect Pedro de Gamboa in 1541, is among the main attractions of the city. The square is surrounded by the green of the gardens, the Cathedral of Santiago, the National Historical Museum, the Town Hall, and the old building of the Central Post Office. Nearby you will find galleries, restaurants and shops, as well as two large shopping centers, such as the Portal Fernandez Concha, built in 1869, full of local and international gastronomy.

Even today, the Plaza de Armas remains the undisputed center of the social life of the city, a unique place where much of its cultural and architectural history converges.

  • Get directions
  • always accessible
  • free

4 - Metropolitan Cathedral

Located north of the beautiful Plaza de Armas, the Santiago Cathedral mixes different architectural styles, such as neoclassical and baroque, visible above all in the bell towers and columns. Over the years it has unfortunately been devastated by fires and earthquakes: currently its structure is the one created in 1748 by Gioacchino Toesca.

Inside you can admire finely decorated arches and numerous religious frescoes, but also the crypt of Diego Portales, a Chilean businessman and politician, whose remains were found right in the cathedral during its renovation, almost two centuries after he was assassinated.

Cathedral it also houses the Museum of Sacred Art, which houses works of art of great value dating back to the sixteenth century made by Bavarian Jesuits, and many other precious objects and sculptures.

  • Get directions
  • every day from 09:00 to 20:00 (times may vary according to religious services); The museum is open every day, from April to October, from 9:00 to 20:00, from November to March from 10:00 to 20:00
  • free (both)

5 - Museum of Memory and Human Rights

Opened in 2010, the museum aims to remember the victims of human rights violations committed during the military dictatorship, certainly among the saddest and most negative facts in Chilean history.
The Museum exhibits a series of interactive exhibits, which invite the viewer to reflect on what happened, a great way to teach and educate about the 1973 coup d'état and the military regime that ended in 1990.

It consists of three floors and among the most significant activities and works we find La Geometría de la Conciencia by Alfredo Jaar, a work created with the silhouettes of Chileans who disappeared during the dictatorship, listen to the latest speech by President Salvator Allende, see the short film of the attack on the Palacio de la Moneda of the Pinochet regime, and much other important significant material.

  • Get directions
  • every day (except Saturday) from 10:00 to 18:00
  • free (separate audio guide for a fee)

6 - Sky Costanera

A fabulous 360 ° panoramic point located on the 62nd floor at 300 meters high, in thetallest building in Latin America, the Grande Torre Santiago in the business district called Sanhattan. An obligatory stop for those who want admire the immense breathtaking panorama of the entire city, especially when the days are clear or before sunset.

You can observe the Cerro Cristobal, the Andes and the Barrio Lastarria among all. The construction of the Tower started in 2006 and ended in 2013 with an interruption of the works caused by the global economic crisis in January 2009. An ultra modern tourist attraction and not to be missed.

  • Get directions
  • every day (except holidays) from 10:00 to 22:00 (last lift ride at 21:00)
  • children aged 4 to 12 CLP 10.000 (€ 13,01), adults aged 13 and over CLP 15.000 (€ 19,52), fast pass CLP 20.000 (€ 26,06). Children under 4 do not pay

7 - La Chascona

The house of the great Pablo Neruda, the third in Chile together with the Black Island and the Sebastiana in Valparaiso. La Chascona was built in 1953 and represents a gift of love for his lover Matilde Urrutia, who later became his third wife: the name would in fact be in his honor and would mean "the ruffled one".

In addition to love, the house was like a treasure chest of new ideas for the poet. It was the subject of vandalism raids during the coup d'état in 1973, where unfortunately some precious material such as books and paintings was lost; Neruda was in fact a declared member of the Communist Party. Matilde lived in the Chascona until 1985. Inside you can also find an art gallery, a café, a souvenir shop and a beautiful terrace overlooking the city.

  • Get directions
  • from March to December, from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00; January and February from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 19:00. Monday closed
  • general admission CLP 7.000 (€ 9,12), CLP 2.500 for students and over 60 (€ 3,26)

8 - Mercado Central

A must for tourists who like to discover the gastronomic culture: the Chilean one is mainly composed of fish and seafood. In the Mercado you can also find local handicraft products, shops, restaurants and much more.

It was inaugurated in 1872 and is mainly characterized by a wrought iron roof, imposing arches and pillars that offer a remarkable brightness to the building. The doors, too, are made of iron and decorated with stars, leaves and stems.
Among the most popular dishes you will find the Paila Marina, a kind of Chilean fish soup, and the big fried red crab, as well as the classic empanadas. A journey through delights and truly tasty gastronomic culture.

  • Get directions
  • from Thursday to Sunday from 7:30 to 17:00; on Friday from 7:30 to 20:00; on Saturdays from 7:30 to 19:00
  • free

9 - Cerro Santa Lucía

The hill of Santa Lucia or hill of Huelèn as it was called before the arrival of the Spaniards, is the place where Pedro de Valdivia founded the capital, on the day of Santa Lucia on 13 December 1540. About 70 meters high, today it is a beautiful green park in the French style in the heart of the city, formed by fountains, terraces, viewpoints and paths, strongly desired by Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna, mayor of the city at the end of the 19th century. An extraordinary place to admire a beautiful panorama of the Andes.
On the highest point of the hill you will also find the Castillo Hidalgo, fortification that is now used as a location for events. In the Artesanal de Santa Lucìa center you can find stalls selling musical instruments and local handicrafts. In the Centro de Exposicìon de Arte Indigena it is possible to observe indigenous artifacts.

  • Get directions
  • every day from 8:00 to 21:00 (the lift is in service from Tuesday to Saturday)
  • free

10 - Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art

An interesting museum founded in 1981 by Sergio Larraìn Garcìa-Moreno, a famous architect and collector of historical artifacts, which has as its main objective the dissemination of the history and culture of the pre-Hispanic Chilean people.

The story speaks of the first settlements of populations in the Chilean territory dating back to about 14 thousand years ago with aboriginal cultures such as Tacameños, Diaguitas, Mapuches, Rapa Nuis, Aymaras, Quechuas, Incas, Atacameños. Don't miss the chemamüll, gigantic funeral statues carved in wood, which were positioned above the tombs of the dead, a sort of spirits that helped the passage to the afterlife, and the finds of pre-Columbian art from the peoples of Central America, the Andes, the Amazon and the Caribbean. Also very interesting are the finds found before the arrival of the Spaniards in Chilean territory such as feathers, stones, bones and objects in metal and wood.

  • Get directions
  • Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00, closed on Mondays, January 1st, Good Friday, May 1st, September 18th and 19th, December 25th
  • CLP 6.000 tourists (€ 7,82), CLP 3.000 foreign students (€ 3,91), Chilean and CLP 1.000 residents (€ 1,30), Chilean students and CLP 500 residents (€ 0,65), free for children with less than 10 years. Free entry on the first Sundays of each month

Plan your stay in Santiago de Chile: flights, hotels and tours

As far as costs are concerned, the most expensive part is certainly that of the flight from Italy (direct only from Rome with Alitalia) to Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL) about 15 km from Santiago, reachable by shuttle, shared taxi, bus etc.

The cost of living is definitely lower than in Italy, both for efficient public transport (less than € 1,00 per one-way ticket), and in restaurants and supermarkets (average cost for a three-course meal less than € 20,00).

Better to stay in the center of the city near Avenida and avoid the areas near the station, Terminal de Buses Norte area: it is a fairly safe and quiet city but it is better to always be careful and avoid areas like this.

  • starting from € 497,00 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 15,00 per room -

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