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Santiago in Chile is a cosmopolitan metropolis with much to offer the South American adventurer. A culturally diverse city, its lively neighbourhoods are peppered with verdant parks, art galleries, museums, cafes and restaurants. There are many exciting things to do in Santiago if it’s your first time in the city. If you are unsure of what to do when in Santiago, here are our top 10 highlights.

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1. Stroll Around Bellavista Neighbourhood

Home to Santiago’s creative crowd, the streets of Bellavista are lined with vibrant cafes, boutique shops and art galleries. There’s colourful street art to admire, and you can spend time exploring La Chascona – the former home of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

  • Location: Bellavista
  • Recommended time of the day: Daytime
  • Tips: Wander down the side streets for hidden street art

2. Treat Yourself at Central Market

Ardent foodies should head straight for Santiago’s Central Market, also called Mercado Central. Specialising in seafood, you will see locals and restaurateurs haggling over giant squids, sea urchins and fresh catches of the day. Don’t be put off if you are not a fish fan, the kaleidoscope of mouth-watering fruits, spices and vegetables are enough to tempt anyone’s palate. You will find the best of Chilean cuisine here!

  • Location: East Central District
  • Recommended time of the day: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (Monday to Friday) / 9:00 am – 3:30 pm (Weekends)
  • Tips: Arrive early to browse stalls before the crowds gather

3. Conquer St. Christopher Hill

Standing at almost 3,000 feet above Metropolitan Park, St. Christopher Hill affords incredible vistas and photo opportunities for those who venture to the summit. There’s a funicular railway at the edge of the park if you don’t feel like trekking on foot. However, a hike to the summit is worth it too and can be done in almost an hour’s time. There are also biking tours available if you are up for it.

  • Location: Metropolitan Park
  • Recommended time of the day: 1:00 pm onwards (Mondays) and 10:00 am – 7:00 pm (Tuesday to Sunday)
  • Tips: Visit on a clear day; possibly after a rain, for the best city views
St Christopher Hill is one of the best things to do in Santiago Chile
At the summit of the St. Christopher Hill or San Cristóbal Hill, a 22 meter beautiful statue of Virgin Mary awaits

4. Sightseeing at Plaza de Armas

Things to do in Santiago
The palm lined historic square is the religious and political hub of the city

This palm lined historic square is the religious and political hub of the city. It is home to the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Governor’s Palace and the National Historical Museum. During the daytime, the plaza is abundant with street artists and vendors vying for trade; later in the afternoon, comedians and musicians come out to entertain passers-by.

  • Location: Just off Alameda thoroughfare
  • Recommended time of the day: Anytime
  • Tips: As with any other major city, it’s always wise to keep an eye on your valuables

5. Visit the Museum of Memory and Human Rights

The Museum of Memory and Human Rights documents atrocities faced by the Chilean people under General Pinochet’s rule. Discover photographs, video coverage, legal documents and artefacts from the late 20th century, in this enlightening, yet sombre experience.

  • Location: Avenida Matucana 501, Santiago.
  • Recommended time of the day: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (Tuesday to Sunday)
  • Tips: For a better experience hire an audio guide. They are available in several languages and cost around USD 3.50

6. La Moneda Palace

La Moneda, also known as Palace of the Currency, is the seat of the President of the Republic of Chile. The impressive building takes centre stage in picturesque Plaza de la Ciudadania in the Civic District of Santiago. A changing of the guard takes place several times a week and includes parading horses, troops and a lively band – a magnificent sight that is not to be missed. 

  • Location: Downtown Civic District, Santiago
  • Recommended time of the day: Daytime (Everyday)
  • Tips: Tours are available in English and Spanish and should be booked a week in advance
Visiting La Moneda Palace is one of the best things to do in Santiago Chile
The seat of the President, La Moneda was built in 1784

7. Walk into the Chilean Museum of Pre-Colombian Art

With a vast collection of sculptures, textiles and artefacts from Mesoamerica and the Andes regions, this museum is a fascinating sight to behold. Main highlights include the Chinchorro mummies and displays of ancient treasures from Inca and Aztec civilisations.

  • Location: A short walk from Plaza de Armas
  • Recommended time of the day: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (Tuesday to Sunday)
  • Tips: Guided tours in your own language can be arranged in advance

8. Hike up Santa Lucía Hill

Things to do in Santiago
The view of Santiago from Santa Lucia hill

Santa Lucía Hill is a great place for hiking, photography, relaxation and picnicking. An oasis of tranquillity in an otherwise vibrant city, it has an altitude of 629 metres and is built on remnants of a dormant volcano dating back 15 million years!

  • Location: Downtown Santiago
  • Recommended time of the day: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm
  • Tips: You can take an elevator to the top of Santa Lucia Hill from the intersection of Agustinas and St. Lucía

Located less than half an hour’s drive from Santiago, Maipo Valley is well known for producing Cabernet Sauvignon and a plethora of full-bodied reds. Jump in a taxi, or choose from a variety of Santiago tours and prepare for a day of delicious wine and Chilean food tasting.

  • Location: Maipo Valley
  • Recommended time of the day: Daytime
  • Tips: If your preferred tipple is Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir, visit Chile’s Casablanca Valley 50 miles north-west of Santiago. There are plenty of wine tasting tours in Santiago.

More information on Maipo Valley here.

Wine tasting is one of the best things to do in Santiago Chile
Wine tasting tours are a great way to know the rich food and wine culture of Chile

10. Relax in Parque Forestal

Parque Forestal is a tree-lined urban oasis in the centre of Santiago which hosts flea markets, riverside walks, music and entertainment. You can also visit National Museum of Fine Arts and Museum of Contemporary Art in the park, both major centres of the South American art scene.

  • Location: Downtown Santiago
  • Recommended time of day: The museums open from Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 am-6:45 pm
  • Tips: If travelling by metro, Bellas Artes and Baquedano stations are located at the main park entrances

Whether you wish to seek out local culture, history, beautiful scenery or regional cuisine, Santiago offers something for all age groups and interests. One day you could be discovering ancient Aztec relics in a museum, the next you are soaking up the sun in a vineyard with the Andes mountains as your backdrop. Whatever your vacation goal, there are things to do in Santiago to tempt and satisfy the most demanding traveller.

If your trip to Chile includes more than Santiago, then you might also be interested to discover things to do in Chile

Looking for an off-the-beaten-path holiday? Try a tailor-made holiday to Chile. Reach out to our travel experts for assistance. 

Published by Jane Andersen, updated on August 24, 2023

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