Top 15 Things to Do in Santiago, Chile

Top Tourist Spots in Santiago Chile

Plaza de Armas in Santiago Chile by Falk2 via Wikimedia cc

Bucket List: 15 Best Places to Visit in Santiago, Chile

Santiago, or Santiago de Chile, is one of Chile’s fascinating cities. Different attractions dot the large capital city, giving visitors a glimpse of its past. Visitors can drop by the several restaurants, boutiques, and shopping centers of the city, but why not visit other landmarks. One of the best ways to learn about Santiago and Chile’s history is to visit one of the many museums based there, like the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, or by trying local cuisines at San José de Maipo.

La Chascona

La Chascona by Arturo Rinaldi Villegas via Wikimedia cc
La Chascona By Arturo Rinaldi Villegas – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,  cc

Pablo Neruda is one of Chile’s most recognized historical figures. He served as a politician for many years and won the Nobel Prize for Literature. As a public figure, Pablo Neruda had to be careful with his affairs, so he built La Chascona for Matilde Urrutia, his secret love at the time. Today, La Chascona is managed by the Pablo Neruda Foundation and is open for visitors to see. The house-turned-museum displays some of Matilde Urrutia and Pablo Neruda’s personal belongings and collections, like their original chinaware and cutlery and African, a carved wood collection that tell an intimate side to the life of the poet.

Location: Fernando Márquez de la Plata 0192, Barrio Bellavista, Providencia, Santiago, Chile
Visiting Hours: 10AM to 6PM, Tuesdays to Sundays, Closed on Mondays
Entrance Rates: CLP 7,000 per head; CLP 2,500 (Students and Senior Citizens)
Website: fundacionneruda.org/en/museums-houses/la-chascona-museum-house/

Sky Costanera

Santiago from sky costanera via Wikimedia cc
Santiago from sky costanera By Charles Hancock – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

Sky Costanera in Santiago is South America’s tallest building and highest observation point. From this viewpoint, visitors can get impressive city views and easily point to the landmarks from a marked map. The best time to get to Sky Costanera is at sunset to see the city get painted in hues of orange.

Location: Avda. Andres Bello 2457, Low Level, Providencia, Santiago, Chile
Visiting Hours: 10AM to 9PM, Daily
Entrance Rates (Mondays to Fridays): CLP 5 (Children, 4 to 12 years), CLP 10 (Adults, 13 years and above), FREE for children under 3 years old
Entrance Rates (Saturdays, Sundays, Holidays):  FREE for children 4 to 12 years (up to 2 children per adult), CLP15 (Adults), FREE for children under 3 years old
Website: skycostanera.cl

Parque Forestal

Parque Forestal by Lodyssee Belle via Unsplash
Parque Forestal by Lodyssee Belle via Unsplash

One of the city’s biggest and most visited urban parks, Parque Forestal is a social gathering hub that locals often frequent to unwind and have fun. Museums, markets, and boutiques are within walking distance. Along the river is a bike path that cyclists can take, and spread out are play areas for children and teenagers. Despite its location in the middle of the city, visitors can breathe fresh air from the tree-lined paths.

Location: Santiago, Chile
Visiting Hours: 24/7

National Museum of Natural History (Museo Nacional de Historia Natural)

National Museum of Natural History in Santiago Chile by Jason Quinn via Wikimedia cc
National Museum of Natural History in Santiago Chile By Jason Quinn – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, cc

The Chilean National Museum of Natural History (Museo Nacional de Historia Natural) is one of South America’s oldest natural history museums, founded in 1830. The museum focuses on biology and the geography of Chile, emphasizing the country’s crops and mineral resources. The museum’s permanent exhibits include the Biogeography of Chile, Minerals, Insects, Mollusks, Juan Fernández Islands, and Cultural Anthropology.

Location: Interior Parque Quinta Normal, Santiago, Chile
Visiting Hours: 10AM to 4:30PM, Tuesdays to Saturdays; 11AM to 5PM, Sundays and Holidays; Closed on Mondays
Entrance Rates: FREE
Website: mnhn.gob.cl

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas in Santiago Chile by Falk2 via Wikimedia cc
Plaza de Armas in Santiago Chile By Falk2 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

Stroll around Plaza de Armas and absorb what the urban life of Santiago has to offer. Literally meaning “square of weapons,” Plaza de Armas used to be the commune for religious events and political affairs hundreds of years ago. Still, today, the main square is a gathering place where locals and visitors dwell and can be the starting point for the several museums and churches around the city. The main square is also filled with statues and monuments like the Pedro de Valdivia and the Monument to the Indigenous People.

Location: Plaza de Armas, Santiago, Chile

Central Market (Mercado Central)

Central Market of Santiago by Rjcastillo via Wikimedia cc
Central Market of Santiago By Rjcastillo – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

Santiago’s Central Market (Mercado Central) is Santiago’s most famous market and the best place to buy fresh seafood. Other products that can be bought in the market include Chilean wine, meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, and local delicacies. A chain of seafood restaurants can be found around the market as well. Other markets around Santiago worth visiting are Pueblito Los Domínicos, La Vega Central, Feria de Santa Lucía, Patronato, and El Persa Bío-Bío.

Location: Mercado Central de Santiago, Santiago, Chile
Visiting Hours: 6AM to 5PM, Daily

Santa Lucia Hill (Cerro Santa Lucía)

Santa Lucia Hill by Jorge Lascar via Wikimedia cc
Santa Lucia Hill By Jorge Láscar from Australia – Cerro Santa Lucía (Santa Lucía Hill), CC BY 2.0, cc

Santa Lucía Hill (Cerro Santa Lucía) is a popular spot amongst locals to get stunning views of the city on a sunny day. Before it became the well-maintained hill known today, Santa Lucía Hill was home to dissidents and was left unattended. It wasn’t until the 1900s that a local mayor transformed it into a beauty. When hiking Santa Lucía Hill, drop by the Neptune Fountain (Fuente Neptuno) and the historic Hidalgo Castle (Castillo Hidalgo), built in the 1800s to protect the city.

Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda

Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda by Rodrigo Fernandez via Wikimedia cc
Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda By Rodrigo Fernández – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,  cc

Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda (Centro Cultural La Moneda) is an exhibition center in the civic center of Santiago, where galleries and a theater showcase Chilean heritage. Some of the center’s past exhibits included objects, such as clay figures, images, and illustrations, by artists all over Chile and artworks with symbolic historical contexts, such as WWI, the rise of Nazism, and mass censorship. Visitors can book guided tours to learn more about curatorial content.

Location: 26 Ciudadanía Square, Santiago, Chile
Visiting Hours: 10AM to 6:30PM, Tuesdays to Sundays; Closed on Mondays
Entrance Rates: FREE
Website: cclm.cl

Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino)

Sculptures at the Pre-Columbian Art Museum in Santiago, Chile by Tim Adams via Wikimedia cc
Sculptures at the Pre-Columbian Art Museum in Santiago, Chile By Tim Adams, CC BY 2.0,  cc

The Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino) is an art museum that studies and displays pre-Columbian artworks and artifacts from Central and South America. It is regarded as one of the best museums in Latin America that focuses on the rich cultural and artistic diversity of the 10,000 years of Pre-Columbian Latin American history. Visitors can view everyday clothing and ceramics throughout the museum, a mummified corpse dating back to 1900BC, and totem poles used as tools to mark graves.

Location: Bandera 361, Santiago, Chile
Visiting Hours: 10AM to 6PM, Tuesdays to Sundays; Closed on Mondays
Entrance Rates: FREE
Website: museo.precolombino.cl

Museum of Memory and Human Rights (Museo de la Memoria y de Los Derechos Humanos)

Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, Chile. by Velvet via Wikimedia cc
Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, Chile. By Velvet – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

The Museum of Memory and Human Rights (Museo de la Memoria y de Los Derechos Humanos) was established to remember the victims of human rights violations during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship between September 11, 1973, and March 11, 1990. The landmark dignifies the victims and their families and emphasizes the importance of respect and tolerance to prevent devastating events from happening again. The museum has various collections on display, like personal and biographical artifacts produced by the victims, publications, reports made in Chile or abroad by international organizations, and photo and audiovisual objects. Visitors can learn through these exhibited collections of the military coup, repression, resistance movement, exiles, and reparation policies.

The museum has several spaces for visitors to explore and peruse; the Esplanade, Exhibition Rooms, Memory Gallery, Auditorium, Cedoc Hall, Cafeteria, and Gift Shop.

Location: Matucana 501, Santiago, Chile.
Visiting Hours: 10AM to 6PM, Tuesdays to Sundays, Closed on Mondays
Entrance Rates:
Website: museodelamemoria.cl

Quinta Normal Park (Parque Quinta Normal)

Quinta Normal Park by Felipe Restrepo Acosta via Wikimedia cc
Quinta Normal Park By Felipe Restrepo Acosta – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

Located in Central Santiago, Quinta Normal Park (Parque Quinta Normal) is an expansive city park with several museums within walking distance, like the Chilean National Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Memory and Human Rights. The park was founded in the 1840s to cultivate native and exotic trees and plants, such as the North American sequoia and the Japanese ginkgo. Today, the park is a gathering place for friends and families. Some of the park’s main attractions are the children’s play areas and the lagoon, where visitors can ride pedal boats.

Location: Matucana 520, Santiago, Chile
Visiting Hours: 8AM to 8PM, Tuesdays to Sundays, Closed on Mondays

National Museum of Fine Arts (Museo de la Bellas Artes)

Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts by She Paused 4 Thought via Wikimedia cc
Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts By She Paused 4 Thought, CC BY 2.0, cc

The Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts (Museo de Bellas Artes) is the oldest art museum in South America, with an extensive collection of 5,000 artworks that tell Chile’s history, from its colonial period to the present times. Back then, paintings, portraits, and sculptures were displayed in separate buildings until they were all transferred to the current Palace of Fine Arts, designed by Emile Jéquier to celebrate the Chilean Independence Centenary. The museum is one of the major centers for Chilean and South American art.

Location: Jose Miguel de la Barra 650, Santiago, Chile
Visiting Hours: 10AM to 5:30PM, Tuesdays to Sundays, Closed on Mondays
Entrance Rates: FREE
Website: mnba.gob.cl

Maipo Valley

Maipo Valley by LBM1948 via Wikimedia cc
Maipo Valley By LBM1948 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

The expansive lands of Maipo Valley are the heart of viticulture in Chile. The first Chilean vines were planted in the 1540s, and are now home to almost 3,000 hectares of vineyards, more than half of which are dedicated to Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet blends. The valley is recognized for producing some of Chile’s most reputable wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon, from various grape varieties like the red Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Merlot, Malbec, and the white Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The soils are fertile, and viticulturists use drip irrigation to help survive the long periods without any rainfall and stainless steel tanks and oak barrels to promote wine aging. Some of the established wineries to visit in Maipo Valley are Antiyal Family Winery, De Martino Winery, and Haras de Pirque Vineyard. Visitors can book winery tours from agencies, like the Maipo Valley Wine Tours, or directly contact the wineries.

Cajón del Maipo

Embalse El Yeso, Cajon del Maipo by Deensel via Wikimedia cc
Embalse El Yeso, Cajon del Maipo By Deensel – Embalse El Yeso, Cajón del Maipo, CC BY 2.0, cc

Rugged mountains, snowcapped peaks, and a glinting lake in the middle; adventurers and travelers alike are captivated by Cajón del Maipo’s natural beauty and exhilarating scenes. Cajón del Maipo is home to the Andes Mountain ranges of El Morado National Monument, where hikers can climb up to the San Francisco Glacier and El Morado, the quaint town of San José de Maipo that serve as the starting point for rating, fishing, and trekking excursions, and El Yeso Reservoir where visitors can take the breathtaking view of the snowcapped mountains and turquoise lake in the middle.

Santiago Metropolitan Park (Parque Metropolitano de Santiago)

Chilean flamingo Parque Metropolitano de Santiago by Penarc via Wikimedia cc
Chilean flamingo Parque Metropolitano de Santiago By Penarc – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, cc

One of the most popular and largest urban parks in Chile, Santiago Metropolitan Park (Parque Metropolitano de Santiago) is a hub for recreation, nature, culture, and sports in the city. The green space is home to popular tourist sites like the Zoológico Nacional and the thousands of animals from hundreds of different species that are housed there; Jardín Botánico Mapulemu, the first botanical garden in Santiago that conserves and protects more than 70 native species of flora; Japanese Garden (Jardín Japonés) built in 1978 by Tadashi Asahi; the interactive outdoor children’s play area Plaza de Juegos Infantiles Gabriela Mistral; and the outdoor swimming pools atop San Cristóbal Hill, Piscina Tupahue and Piscina Antilén.

Of all the attractions in Santiago Metropolitan Park, San Cristóbal Hill (Cerro San Cristóbal) is perhaps the most visited. Visitors can get a panoramic view of the bustling city almost 3,000 feet above the forested mountain.

How to get there

Santiago’s diverse historical and cultural attractions make it such an interesting city. The desolate stories of its past, the stunning landscape, and its current state as a prosperous capital are inspiring stories of how people can change the tides. The closest airport to the city center is the Santiago de Chile Airport, also known as Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport, Santiago Airport, or Pudahuel Airport. From the airport, take a bus or taxi or rent a car before arriving to get to the city.

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