Sightseeing in Santiago, Chile

Tourist attractions in Santiago, Chile.
A winter view of Santiago de Chile with the Andes Mountains in the background

   Santiago, also known as Santiago de Chile to differentiate it from other cities in the world with the same name, is the national capital. The population reaches just over 6 million inhabitants. Although founded in 1541 by Pedro de Valdivia, it was not until the end of the 19th century that Santiago acquired the status of a big city and, above all, the last few decades have represented a period of great transformation and expansion. 

Today, according to the Inter-American Development Bank, Santiago is considered the most sustainable city in Latin America, and although landlocked, its proximity to the Andes Mountains, modernity and commercial dynamism make it one of the most important tourist destinations within the South American subcontinent.

How to Get to Santiago de Chile

By air: The "Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport", located 17 km from the national capital, connects with the main cities of the country, meets the highest international safety standards and is the most important point of arrival of international passengers. The air terminal has been operating since 1967, but with the inauguration of the new international terminal in February 2022, it has become one of the largest and most modern in Latin America, a sustainable project that considered the reduction of environmental impact, generation of electric energy through photovoltaic panels, recovery of heat generated by computer equipment to reinvest it in heating systems, anti-seismic technology, etc.


By land: More than 80 border crossings connect with neighboring countries, most of them with Argentina, the main and closest to Santiago being the "Paso Los Libertadores", 153 km. NE of the Chilean capital, in the Andes Mountains, at 3,200 meters above sea level, connecting with the province of Mendoza, Argentina.  

Santiago, the most sustainable city in Latin America
according to the Inter American Development Bank 
  On the other hand, the
Metro de Santiago is the subway train that covers most of the city, being the longest metro line in South America.  Here you can see detailed information about the stations and/or download the line map.

The hours of operation are Monday to Friday: from 06:00 to 23:00 / Saturday: from 07:00 to 23:00 / Sunday and Holidays: from 08:00 to 23:00 hrs.

Regarding surface transportation, the most common means of transport are the buses of the Red Metropolitana de Movilidad (buses also called "micros"), taxis and colectivos (black similar to taxis but carrying more passengers and with a pre-established route). 

Below is a list of the best places to visit in Santiago.

Palacio de La Moneda

  Seat of Government
of the Republic of Chile, a building that represents the civic heart of the city of Santiago, normally open to pedestrian traffic through an interior alley that runs between Bernardo O'Higgins Avenue and Moneda Street.The palace is much visited by national and foreign travelers, not only for being the seat of the Government of Chile, but also for the important events that have taken place in it. It was bombed and partially burned in 1973, being rebuilt with the same exterior architectural features with which it was created, modifying only some interior rooms. 

The palace. of Italian neoclassical style, is also known as La Casa de Toesca (Toesca's House) in memory of its designer Joaquin Toesca. Inaugurated in 1805, this was the building where coins were minted, hence its name. The Palacio de La Moneda can be visited internally every year on the occasion of "Cultural Heritage Day", which is celebrated on the last Sunday of May, when the most significant buildings for the history and culture of the country are opened to visitors.


Plaza de la Constitucion

Adjacent to the Palacio de La Moneda, surrounded mostly by buildings occupied by government offices, and a minority by commerce. Until the early twentieth century the place was a residential area, in 1925 began the construction of two large buildings, which until today belong to Ministries. Other buildings around the Plaza belong to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Central Bank of Chile and the Ministry of Labor. The Plaza de la Constitucion is within walking distance of the Universidad de Chile and La Moneda subway stations.

Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago is the main catholic temple in Chile. Its current building dates from 1748, but before this church there were other buildings, destroyed by fires or earthquakes. In fact, the current structure is the fifth to be rebuilt on the site for the same purpose. The Cathedral is located in the heart of Santiago, next to the Plaza de Armas, a place known today as the "Km. 0 of Chile". 

Since 1952 the Metropolitan Cathedral is a National Monument, it also has an incalculable historical value for the country because here lie the remains of many bishops of the Chilean Catholic Church, other great personalities and it is the place where the most important commemorative ceremonies of the Nation are celebrated, such as the "Te Deum Ecumenico" of the National Holidays.

Mercado Central

Image: Consejo de Monumentos Nacionales de Chile
  One of the most traditional places to eat in Santiago, declared a Historic Monument, located just 3 blocks away from the Plaza de Armas, a very popular site for tourists. The Mercado Central is considered one of the symbols of the Chilean popular culture, you can go to many typical restaurants that specialize in serving national and international travelers with tasty dishes based mainly on fish and seafood. There is also a great variety of handicraft stores, meat, fish, fruit and vegetable stalls, etc.


Cerro San Cristobal and Parque Metropolitano

The Santiago Metropolitan Park (also known by its acronym PARQUEMET) is a large green area in the city, under the jurisdiction of the Ministerio de Vivienda y Urbanismo, with more than 720 hectares that make it the largest in Chile and Latin America. 

It is made up of the San Cristobal, Chacarillas, Los Gemelos hills and intermediate sectors, the heart of this urban park is San Cristobal Hill, on whose top you can see from anywhere in the city the image of the Immaculate Conception, a huge statue of the Virgin Mary brought from Paris at the beginning of the 20th century. 

At the base of the Virgin is the Sanctuary from where Pope John Paul II blessed the city and the country during his visit to Chile in 1987. Nearby is the Mirador Terraza Bellavista, a lookout from where you have a good panoramic view of Santiago and where the Funicular's Summit Station is also located. Further down, the Funicular also stops at the Estacion Zoologico, where visitors to the National Zoological Park go down to visit a great variety of native and exotic fauna. Another attraction to tour PARQUEMET is the Santiago Cable Car, detailed below.

A former observatory and Historical Monument of the Metropolitan Park is the Manuel Foster Astronomical Observatory, installed in 1903 by an American expedition with the permission of the Chilean government, still with its almost original equipment. Other attractions of the park are the Tupahue and Antilen swimming pools, restaurants, convention centers, the "Pablo Neruda" Amphitheater, the "Gabriela Mistral" children's playground, botanical gardens, lookout points, numerous trails frequented by athletes, etc.

Parque Forestal

This urban park has been in existence for more than a hundred years since its creation in the early twentieth century, however, it continues to be one of the main green lungs of the Chilean capital. It is located in the northern part of the commune of Santiago, flanked on the North by the Mapocho River. On the southern border of the park there is a continuous façade of elegant buildings, these residences from the 50's and 60's are highly appreciated for their view of the park and central location.

Along the park, from the Pío Nono Bridge to the Mapocho Cultural Center, you can visit significant and emblematic places such as the Lastarria and Bellas Artes neighborhoods, the Historic Center, the Museum of Fine Arts, the German Fountain and other important monuments of Santiago. 

One of the main attractions in Parque Forestal is the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Arts). The neoclassical building designed by the Chilean-French architect Emile Jequier exhibits an interesting collection of sculptures by Chilean artists.  Adjacent is one of the buildings of the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (Museum of Contemporary Art of Santiago).

  
 

Santiago Cable Car

Teleferico de Santiago is a means of transportation of tourist character reopened at the end of 2016, located in the Metropolitan Park of Santiago, the largest urban park in Latin America. With 47 state-of-the-art cabins and room for six passengers each, some of them adapted for people with reduced mobility and baby carriages, special demarcation for the blind and bicycle racks to transport four bicycles each. Access is through Pedro de Valdivia street, a short distance from the metro stop of the same name.  

A total of three stations make up this renewed transportation network: Oasis (main access), Tupahue and Cumbre. From its reopening, the Teleferico de Santiago is once again becoming one of the favorite attractions for locals and tourists since from here you get excellent views of the city and the Andes Mountains. Tickets are sold online through  https://telefericosantiago.cl

 Cerro Santa Lucia

Image: filmcommissionchile.org 
  Santa Lucia Hill, formerly called Huelen by the pre- Columbian natives, is located in the heart of the city, very close to the subway stop of the same name. It is a small hill (69 meters high), however it has a historical significance for the Chilean nation, since it was exactly here that the city of Santiago was founded on February 12, 1541.

On the southern slope, carved in stone, is the reproduction of the letter sent by Pedro de Valdivia, founder of the city, to Emperor Carlos V, enthusiastically communicating on the new lands conquered and the advantages of settling in Chile. During the colonial period, the hill served as a watchtower and fortifications with defense batteries were built on its summit. In 1872, at the initiative of the mayor of Santiago, Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna, a complete remodeling plan was initiated to transform the area into a public promenade. From then until today, Cerro Santa Lucia is one of the most visited places in Santiago because of its easy access, exceptional location and beautiful surroundings. An ancient tradition is the cannon shot daily at exactly twelve o'clock to announce noon.

Iglesia San Francisco

San Francisco Church, located on Avenida Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins, in downtown Santiago, is the oldest architectural monument in Chile, built between 1586 and 1618 although it is worth mentioning that the first adobe temple was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1583. 

Next to the temple there is a museum with valuable religious relics from colonial times. Since 1951 it has been a National Monument and in 1998 was proposed by the Chilean authorities to UNESCO for consideration as a World Heritage Site. In addition, this monument represents an extraordinary example of architectural solidity, since its thick walls are part of the first construction, dating from the late sixteenth century. Not even the earthquakes that have devastated the city throughout history have been able to destroy them.

Museums, Culture in Santiago

 The Chilean capital is not only a bustling city of great economic dynamism, but there is also a good space for a diversity of museums and cultural activities. Santiago offers a great variety of galleries to learn about the country's culture, people, history, art and natural wonders. For information about culture in Santiago visit
Museums and Culture in Santiago.

Winter Resorts near Santiago, Chile

The Andes Mountains have been generous in providing fantastic natural scenery for the practice of winter sports, and Chilean ski centers have taken advantage of this opportunity provided by mother nature. 

The season starts in mid-June and lasts until mid-October. The high season usually runs from the beginning of July to the end of August. In southern Chile there are other important ski resorts mentioned in the post South of Chile. It is worth mentioning that most of the winter centers in Chile offer multiple mountain activities and excursions at any time of the year. Here are the most important Mountain Resorts near Santiago:
 
* Valle Nevado,  Website
* La Parva,  Website     
* El Colorado, Website 

* Farellones, Website 
* Portillo,
 
Website (Province of Los Andes, Valparaiso Region)
* Lagunillas, Website  

More places of interest and recreation

Parque Bicentenario, Santiago, Chile.
A view of Parque Bicentenario at sunset
Image: Radio Zero
  *
Zoologico Nacional, National Zoo, located on the slopes of Cerro San Cristobal, belonging to the Parque Metropolitano de Santiago (PARQUEMET).
Address: 450 Pio Nono St., - Santiago, Phone: 56 227301368  

* BuiZoo,  the largest and most modern zoo in Chile, located in the commune of Buin, 32.6 km. from the center of the Chilean capital
Address: Kilometer 32 Ruta 5 Sur - Buin, Phone: 56 223061600

 * Fantasilandia, Amusement Park, one of the most popular attractions in Santiago   
Address: 938 Beaucheff Ave.,  Phone: 56 224768600

* Club Hipico de Santiago, horse racing track since 1870, with beautiful infrastructure and view of the Andes mountains, declared a National Historic Monument in 1972, guided tours are available from local agencies
Address: 2540 Blanco Encalada Ave., Union Latinoamericana Metro Station - Phone: 56 226939600

* Cementerio General, Santiago General Cemetery, the largest and oldest graveyard in Chile, inaugurated in 1821, one of the great attractions of the city. Day and night tours are available from local agencies and on the cemetery's website
Address: 951 Profesor Zañartu Ave. - Commune of Recoleta, Santiago 

* AcuaPark El Idilio, Water Amusement Park,  complete and fun water park in the Metropolitan Region, just over 30 minutes from downtown Santiago
Address: 461 Caupolican Ave. - Peñaflor, Phone: 56 228126202

* Wave House Chile, wave simulator, practice of water sports with the help of machinery that generates tubular waves, ideal to enjoy surfing
Address: 13451 Las Condes Ave., next to Mall Sport - Santiago, Phone: 56 224293030  

* Parque Bicentenario, Public Park, among the most recent and attractive in the Chilean capital, one of the several green areas that make up the network of parks on the south bank of the Mapocho River. The nearest metro station is Tobalaba, where you can take a bus or walk for about 30 minutes.
Address: 3236 Bicentenario Ave., Vitacura commune, Santiago, Phone: 9 63656750

* Parque Quinta Normal, old and emblematic green area of the city. Founded in 1841 and administered by the Municipality of Santiago, it is still considered one of the most beautiful urban parks in the country. It has facilities designed for the practice of sports and recreation as well as a great cultural heritage including some of the most important museums in Chile. Nearest metro station: Quinta Normal (right at the main entrance)
Address: 520 Matucana St. - Santiago

* Costanera Center shopping mall, Santiago's largest and most modern commercial center, located in the heart of the Providencia commune, with more than 300 stores on six levels, hypermarket, movie theaters and the widest range of restaurants, among other services. The Gran Torre Santiago, the tallest skyscraper in South America, is part of the complex. On the 61st and 62nd floors is the Sky Costanera observation deck, from where you can enjoy an unparalleled 360° panoramic view of Santiago. Costanera Center has become a must-see attraction for national and foreign tourists. 
Address: 2425 Andres Bello Ave., Providencia commune - Santiago, Phone: 56 229169226
 
* Parque Arauco, another of the elegant shopping malls in Santiago and a pioneer in the country, for all types of people and ages, national and foreign visitors. Located in one of the most exclusive areas of the city, in addition to providing the most attractive commercial offerings, Parque Arauco highlights a superior gastronomic and entertainment experience, with more than 350 stores, cafes, restaurants and movie theaters.
Address: 5413 Presidente Kennedy Ave., Las Condes commune, Santiago, Phone: 600 500 0011

* Funicular Cerro San Cristobal, the top of Cerro San Cristobal can be reached in several ways, but the most traditional and one of the best is by funicular, one of the oldest facilities in the Metropolitan Park, operating since 1925 and today completely renovated and modernized. The funicular covers 485 meters, connecting three stations: "Pío Nono" (at the foot of the hill), "Zoologico" (for those who visit the zoological garden) and "Cumbre", where the Sanctuary of the Virgin is located and there is a connection to the Santiago cable car. 

* Movistar Arena, multi-purpose domed stadium for international sports events, live music, etc.
Address: 1204 Beauchef Ave., Phone: 56 227702300

Main Bus Terminals in Santiago

* Terminal de Buses Santiago, also known as Terminal Sur, the most important in the city, with destinations to almost all regions of Chile but mainly buses going to central and southern Chile. There are also departures to other South American countries. Nearest Metro Station: Universidad de Santiago
Address: 3850 Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins Ave., Estacion Central commune

* Terminal Alameda, just one block away from Terminal Santiago (Terminal Sur), this bus station offers destinations to almost all the regions of Chile. Nearest Metro Station: Universidad de Santiago
Address: 3750 Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins Ave., Estacion Central commune

* Terminal Pajaritos, mainly focused on bus trips to the central coast, it also provides shuttle service to Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport.
Address: 5600 General Oscar Bonilla Ave., Lo Prado commune. Nearest Metro Station: Pajaritos (the bus station is located in the same building as the "Pajaritos" subway station)

* Terminal San Borja, also known as Terminal de Buses Norte, the area is also home to the country's main train station. Buses depart from the terminal to destinations throughout the country, mainly to cities in northern Chile and the Valparaiso Region. 
Address: 235 San Francisco de Borja St., Estacion Central commune. Nearest Metro Station: Estacion Central.
 

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