Santiago’s greatest asset is its perfect location, with ski slopes to the east, the Pacific Ocean to the west and wineries in every direction. As one of the safest cities in South America to visit, Santiago is a great place to start exploring this part of the world.
Chile’s vibrant capital is at the foot of the Andes mountain range and is a beautiful city with a buzzy vibe. In Santiago, you’ll find the right balance of historical attractions and contemporary museums, along with plenty of good food and excellent Chilean wine. So here are 20 things to do in Santiago Chile to tick off your list.
Also read: Best Countries To Visit Iin South America
- 20 Things To Do In Santiago (Chile)
- 1- Watch the changing of the guard
- 2- Admire the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral
- 3- Discover ancient wonders at the Pre-Columbian Museum
- 4- Take the funicular to the top of San Cristobal hill
- 5- Visit La Chascona museum
- 6- Wine and dine around El Golf
- 7- Admire The View From Sky Costanera
- 8- Stroll Through Cerro Santa Lucia
- 9- Explore the Architecture of Cementerio General de Santiago
- 10- Eat Seafood at Mercado Central
- 11- Watch the world pass by in Plaza de Armas
- 12- Visit the Open Sky Museum
- 13- Celebrate the arts at Centro Gabriela Mistral
- 14- Reflect at Templo Baha’i
- 15- Opera Nacional de Chile
- 16- Drink Pisco at Chipe Libre
- 17- Horse riding in the Andes Mountains
- 18- Go Skiing
- 19- Visit The Casablanca Valley Wineries
- 20- Explore Vina del Mar
- 21- Visit Valparaiso
- 20 Things To Do In Santiago (Chile)
20 Things To Do In Santiago (Chile)
1- Watch the changing of the guard
The 18th-century Italian-designed Palacio de la Moneda is the place to watch the carabineros, or police, perform the changing-of-the-guard ceremony each day.
For a building that houses the offices of the current president, it is surprisingly accessible to the public.
The building was the city’s official mint before it became the presidential palace in 1846 and is one of the top landmarks in Chile.
Chile has had its fair share of colourful leaders including the country’s first president, Bernado O’Higgins, the illegitimate son of the Irish Viceroy to Peru, who came to office in 1818.
The country’s most notorious leader was General Pinochet who was stood trial for laundering the kingly sum of $US28 million and countless human rights abuse allegations.
2- Admire the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral
It’s a serene escape from the crowds of Plaza de Armas and a place to admire the architecture.
3- Discover ancient wonders at the Pre-Columbian Museum
The city has several good museums but if you only have time for one don’t miss the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (Pre-Columbian Museum).
The ancient Chinchorro mummies on display are a result of Chile’s indigenous culture and are thousands of years older than the Egyptian mummies.
There are exhibits of ceramics, textiles and jewellery displaying 4500 years of pre-Colombian civilization.
4- Take the funicular to the top of San Cristobal hill
The best view of Santiago is from the lookout on top of Cerro San Cristóbal hill, which is around 300 metres above the city.
Catch the funicular railway at Plaza Caupolican to the top of the hill where a 14-metre statue of the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepcion stands above the lookout.
Spending a few hours admiring the view is one of the top things to do in Santiago.
5- Visit La Chascona museum
La Chascona (Museo Neruda) is a museum dedicated to Pablo Neruda who was one of Chile’s most influential 20th-century poets.
Neruda’s works range from erotically charged love poems to political manifestos.
The poet’s ship-like house sits at the foot of Cerro San Cristobal. The decor includes a beautiful bar from Marseille and Bauhaus furniture.
On display is a whimsical array of the poet’s keepsakes including his library of books and the medal for his 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature. English tours are available.
6- Wine and dine around El Golf
Wander around the upmarket El Golf precinct where historic European architecture and gleaming modern glass towers stand side-by-side.
In the evenings, the atmosphere around El Golf is vibrant with diners filling the area’s alfresco restaurants.
7- Admire The View From Sky Costanera
The highest viewpoint in Latin America with spectacular 360-degree views across Santiago is Sky Costanera. Sky Costanera even offers views over the Andes.
Sky Costanera is on the 62nd floor at the top of the Gran Torre Santiago, 300m (984ft) from the ground.
As the viewpoint is open till late, visitors can expect to see spectacular sunsets across the city, before seeing the whole of Santiago lit up in lights.
An elevator from the ground takes only 2 minutes to reach the platform.
Sky Costanera is at Av. Andres Bello 2425, Providencia, Region Metropolitana.
8- Stroll Through Cerro Santa Lucia
Cerro Santa Lucia is a park built on a hill and a perfect place to seek solitude away from the crowds of the city.
The hill is 69m (226ft) high, offering views over the city and the Andes mountain range that frames Santiago.
The hill itself is all that remains of an ancient volcano, and after being used as a lookout by Conquistadors, the hilltop became a park in 1872.
Within the parks vertical 65300 square feet are fountains, states and bronzed gates.
The park offers some terraced areas with seating, however, continuing to climb its various staircases will improve the view with each step.
Cerro Santa Lucia is at 1700000 La Serena.
9- Explore the Architecture of Cementerio General de Santiago
For a more unique stop during your visit to Santiago, head to Cementerio General de Santiago.
Cementerio General de Santiago is a vast labyrinth of ornately carved and decorated tombs. The carvings are made by famous local sculptors and artists.
Buried here are many of Chile’s politicians and social figures from the countries history.
Tombs inside the cemetery include former presidents Salvador Allende and Eduardo Frei Montalva.
Aside from the tombs, there are also many monuments in the cemetery, including ‘Memorial del Detenidoto Desaparecido y del Ejecutado Politico; a memorial for the disappeared during General Pinochet’s dictatorship.
Cementerio General de Santiago is at Av Professor Alberto Zanartu 951, Barrio Recoleta.
10- Eat Seafood at Mercado Central
Chile has over 3000 miles (4000 kilometres) of coastline, so it is no wonder it is famed for its seafood. For some of the freshest seafood, head to Mercado Central.
The market has been open since 1872, and its cast-iron structure was fabricated in Glasgow, Scotland, before being shipped to Chile.
Within the market are 30 restaurants offering varying seafood dishes at the market.
Restaurants catering for tourists are at the entrance to the market; inside and to the back are where the locals eat, and where you will get the most authentic Chilean cuisine.
Mercado Central is at San Pablo, Santiago, Región Metropolitana.
11- Watch the world pass by in Plaza de Armas
Translating to ‘square of weapons’, Plaza De Armas was originally designed as a square to protect the most important government buildings in Chile during the time of the Spanish Conquistadors.
Surrounding the plaza are the Central Post Office’s striking facades, Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago and the Royal Palace.
There are many cafes, restaurants and bars in the plaza with outdoor seating, and a green space filled with palm trees in the square’s centre giving a tranquil appearance to a typically bustling area.
Weekends see the plaza filled with local artists, musicians and dancers providing entertainment.
Plaza de Armas is in Santiago, Región Metropolitana.
12- Visit the Open Sky Museum
Museo a Cielo Abierto, or Open Sky Museum, is an open-air display of murals painted throughout the neighbourhood of San Miguel.
Roberto Hernandez Bravo and David Villarroel Fuentes started the museum in 2009 as a social project to improve their neighbourhood.
The artwork presented around San Miguel features a diverse range of artists, mostly local and those from Chile, however, some European and South American artists have also painted murals here.
INIT, a Chilean street artist, painted the most famous murals. Resignation, a painting of two halves reflecting a style similar to that used in religious paintings, can be found on Tristan Matta street.
Open Sky Museum is at Av. Departamental 1390, San Miguel, Región Metropolitana.
13- Celebrate the arts at Centro Gabriela Mistral
Centro Gabriela Mistral is an arts centre named after the famous Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American woman to win the literature prize.
The centre showcases drama, dance, photography, music and more within its walls.
The centre features striking architecture and a colourful stained glass roof designed by Juan Bernal Ponce.
A collective of artists and sculptors came together to fill the centre with unique artwork, including a water dispenser by Luis Mandiola.
Centro Gabriela Mistral is at 227 Av Liberatador Bernardo O’Higgins.
14- Reflect at Templo Baha’i
Templo Baha’i is a house of worship in the foothills of the Andes, with incredible views over the mountain range and the city.
The temple was inspired by the founder of the Baha’i faith, who discussed what would happen when divine light is let into men’s hearts.
From this, Canadian architecture firm Hariri Pontarini Architects designed a unique temple focusing on light.
The temple is lit up with natural light during the day, while the exterior has a warm glow at night.
The unique shape to the temple features curved and twisted panels of marble and glass.
Surrounding the temple are gardens replicating the same shape as the panels of the temple.
Templo Baha’i is at Diagonal Las Torres 2000, Penalolen.
15- Opera Nacional de Chile
Designed by French Chilean architect Claudio Brunet des Baines, Ernani opened the Opera Nacional de Chile in 1857 with a performance.
The building features a French Neoclassical exterior, however following an earthquake in the early 1900s, much of its opulent interior was replaced with modern fixtures.
Opera Nacional de Chile was declared a National Monument in 1974. Today the opera house hosts world-class ballet performances and classical music concerts.
Opera Nacional de Chile is at Agustinas 794.
16- Drink Pisco at Chipe Libre
Chipe Libre is a bar dedicated to the South American brandy pisco.
The bar has over 100 pisco’s on its shelves from Chile and Peru. Chipe Libre has a relaxed atmosphere with high ceilings, a long green bar and wooden tables.
The patio is a popular place for drinks in the summer.
Chipe Libre offers tasting menus of pisco, as well as cocktails and sours.
If you feel peckish, the bar has an excellent food menu with meals designed to compliment the pisco on offer.
Chipe Libre is at Jose Victorino Lastarria 282.
17- Horse riding in the Andes Mountains
Horseback riding southeast of Santiago in Cajon del Maipo (Rio Maipo canyon) offers spectacular views of the Andes.
The Andes mountain range stretches from Venezuela to the southern tip of South America through Ecuador, Columbia, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Chile.
The mountains began forming about 60 million years ago and reach 6893 metres at Ojos del Salado (in Chile) which is the highest active volcano in the world.
There are a number of horseback-riding lodges offering horseback riding, fly fishing and nature walks.
El Ingenio mountain lodge also offers accommodation and meals. Cajon del Maipo is an easy day trip from Santiago.
18- Go Skiing
Chile has some excellent ski fields, some of which are accessible as a day-trip from Santiago.
Chile’s ski season runs from June to October and getting to the ski fields is no problem as several companies that offer transportation from Santiago to the main ski resorts.
You can leave the city at 8.30 am and return at 5.30 pm after a good day on the slopes.
19- Visit The Casablanca Valley Wineries
With a hot and sunny climate and few major viticultural pests, Chilean wine producers have recently turned to making organic wines.
Located between Santiago and the Pacific Ocean is one of Chile’s coolest wine-producing areas, the Casablanca Valley.
Check out Matetic Vineyard, which offers tours of its multimillion-dollar gravity-flow winery.
The winery’s 2004 EQ Syrah was picked as one of the world’s top 100 wines by Wine Spectator magazine in 2006.
Stop for lunch at their new gourmet lakeside restaurant.
Another winery that stands out for its responsible attitude towards the environment is Vinedos Organicos Emiliana.
A visit to this winery reveals biodynamic farming practices where alpaca droppings are used to fertilise vines and insect-attracting flowers are planted as a natural form of pesticide.
20- Explore Vina del Mar
100 kilometres to the west of Santiago lie the sandy beaches and beachside towns around Vina del Mar.
It’s a popular weekend and summer destination for the locals and beaches can become really crowded during the holiday season.
The city’s art deco casino is also a drawcard.
21- Visit Valparaiso
Valparaiso is a delightful World Heritage site with funicular elevators that connect El Plan (the flat city centre) to a colourful chaotically planned city above.
The upper city is a photographer’s dream with crumbling mansions, cobblestone alleyways and a labyrinth of narrow winding streets.
Looking for more places in South America? Here are some you’ll love:
- 20 Things To Do In Argentina
- 15 Things To Do In Buenos Aires
- 15 Incredible Things To Do In Brazil
- 15 Things To Do In Ushuaia
- 20 Things To Do in Peru
- 15 Things To Do in Lima
- 15 Things To Do in Patagonia
- 15 Things To Do In Santiago
- 15 Things To Do In Quito