Santiago is home to roughly one-third of Chile’s entire population, making it a bustling capital city that many Chileans are proud to call home. Multiple days in the area can be spent exploring the surrounding mountains or visiting famous wineries nearby. However, any time spent in Santiago should be made complete by getting a Bip! transit card, putting on some comfortable walking shoes, and heading to these incredible spots.
1. La Vega Central Market
It can be easy to get turned around in the massive Vega Central, not to be confused with Mercado Central, which is primarily a fish market where tourists are practically harassed by vendors. La Vega Central is more laidback, with vendors and other locals attempting to start conversation, but not overwhelmingly so. Chile is known for its produce, and this market is a great place to try some of it firsthand. If you have access to a kitchen, you can get some meat and plenty of vegetables to make a deliciously fresh meal. If not, you can pick up some fruit just to snack on. It’ll be some of the freshest you’ve ever had, and you might even discover some fruit you’ve never tried before.
© Eduardo Woo
2. La Chascona
The famous poet Pablo Neruda is one of Chile’s most famous figures, partially due to his interesting relationship with politics. He owned three houses in Chile, one of which is located in the middle of Santiago. This home is now preserved as a museum called La Chascona and is tucked away in Barrio Bellavista. There is an entrance fee to go in, and unless you really love his work it may not be worth it to you. Either way, it is still worth the walk to check out the outside, considering the house is rather interesting and any walk through Bellavista will present you with lovely street art.
© Andre Oliveira
3. Parque Metropolitano (Metropolitan Park)
Parque Met, as locals call it, is most known as the home to Santiago’s iconic Virgin Mary statue perched at the top of Cerro San Cristobal. The entire park is a beautiful green spot in an urban jungle, but going to the top is a necessity for a stunning view of the city. The uphill walk only takes about a half an hour with great views the whole way up. If walking really isn’t a hobby of yours though, you can take a ride to the top and back down on the funicular for only a few dollars.
© Jennifer Wankmuller
4. Cerro Santa Lucía (Santa Lucía Hill)
This hill not too far from Parque Met has an entirely different vibe from Cerro San Cristobal. Though the view isn’t quite as stunning, it’s still beautiful, as are the almost castle-like structures throughout this park. Overall, it’s also much quieter and less touristy. You can’t take a ride to the top, but the walk is shorter and less steep.
© Rodrigo Pizarro
5. Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights)
Chile has a complicated recent political history, one that locals often don’t like to talk about. Augosto Pinochet’s dictatorship still lives on clearly in the memories of many citizens, but this museum acts as a brilliant tribute to those lost to it. Though the museum is fairly small, it’s packed with content, including many videos to watch. This allows you to either take a brief look through the museum, or if you’re truly fascinated you can easily lose a couple of hours engaging yourself with every detail. It’s also worth exploring the surrounding Barrio Brasil, a less-traveled yet lively part of the city.
© Tim Adams
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Cover photo © Jennifer Wankmuller