Among travelers around the globe, Chile is known to be a country that has numerous natural beauties. From the deserts of Atacama to the magnificent peaks of Torre del Paine, a nature lover can find literally anything in Chile. Unfortunately, because of these beauties, the capital city eventually becomes a place to stop by instead of becoming an actual destination. Santiago de Chile may become overlooked, but it does not mean it has nothing to offer. So here are a few tips to really enjoy the real Santiago de Chile!
1. Hike up and enjoy the view
One special aspect about Santiago is the cerros (hills) that are located within the city. There are three main hills in Santiago: Cerro San Cristóbal, Cerro Santa Lucia and Cerro Manquehue. Since Cerro Manquehue offers a tougher hike, it is recommended to go to Cerro San Cristóbal and Santa Lucia for beginners, as they have an easier trail that will take you about one to three hours depending on your speed. Many people benefit from these hills for a good dose of exercise, not to mention the view is amazing from the top. So, if you have time to spare and a need for exercising, then head to the cerros!
2. Take a walk around the city
Walking is not a strange thing to do in Santiago, so don’t be shy to stretch your legs. Nowadays, many companies offer free walking tours (the fee is your tip to the tour guide) around the city, and if you are staying in a hostel, then you will most likely hear about these free tours. These tours will take you to the highlights of Santiago, such as Plaza de Armas (main square), Palacio La Moneda (where presidential offices reside), Barrio Lastarria (historical neighbourhood), etc. However, if you would rather enjoy walking around the city alone, then go ahead and grab a map! Santiago is quite a safe city, especially in the daytime, so doing your own walking tour is still a great option; just remember to be alert and keep your things close!
3. Learn from the museums
Santiago has so much history and culture to offer, so it is not strange that they have many museums around the city. If you are an art-lover, head to Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes where you can see the latest art exhibitions; the best thing is it offers free entrance, so this is a good option for budget-travelers.
If you have a passion for history and want to learn more about the Chilean Military Coup, then head to Museo de La Solidaridad de Salvador Allende; the entrance fee 1000 CLP (approximately 1.50 USD), but students discounts are also available. Another option for learning about history of human rights in Santiago is Museo de La Memoria y de Los Derechos Humanos, which offers free entrance.
4. Eat and drink like a local
Chileans love to find an excuse to go out, drink and talk, and you will plenty of those in Santiago. If you want to have a local dining experience, the Calle Pío Nono would be your choice; the street offers you a wonderful Chilean dining experience without draining your entire wallet. In this same street you will also be able to find Chile’s signature cuisine such as pastel de choclo (a kind of savory pie with meat and vegetables), churrasco (similar to a burger), chorrillana (a dish containing fries, onion, meat, and fried eggs), etc.
If you are looking for a place to drink, definitely check out La Piojera for the local drinking experience; go with a few friends and order a glass of the Chilean earthquake drink, Terremoto!
5. Shop for groceries at the mercado
Mercados (markets) are popular places in Santiago and numerous locals go there to do their groceries. Going to the markets in Santiago may not be the usual travel destination, but if you want a glimpse at the life of a local in Santiago, then the mercados are a must-visit! There are a few markets in Santiago such as Mercado Central, La Vega, and Tirso de Molina. All of these markets have their own specialty such as vegetables, fruits, and seafood; it depends on your taste to which market you want to visit. Take note that you will be among locals so it is good to have some ability in Spanish.
So, now we can see that Santiago has more to offer than just a layover spot. With its history and culture, it is indeed a city filled with life and worth exploring. From the markets to the neighborhoods to the food and drinks, they are gems often overlooked. So, if you are traveling to Chile in the future and stopping by in Santiago, take an advice: stay.
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