Despite the fact that one-third of Chileans live in Santiago, the city is more like a really big super-friendly small town.
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Santiago’s 6 million people live in a city that is full of life, with mountains to the east and the ocean to the west. While the beaches of nearby Valparaiso are nice, it’s the Andes, rising 15,000 feet above sea level, that demand your attention. There is plenty to see in the city, which was founded in 1541 and has a distinct cultural feel. If you find yourself there for a day, waiting on a plane or a ride to the mountains, consider yourself lucky.
A metro system runs beneath the city, but it’s also easy to explore by foot. Santiago is filled with more parks than one can count on both hands, and each is full of leafy green trees you’ll likely see young couples canoodling under year-round.
For those looking for a cultural education, La Chascona is a great spot to spend a few hours. The city home of Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda sits at the base of Bellavista, a hill just north of the University District, and features an intimate look into the artistic and architectural interests of the renowned poet. After a tour of the home, ride the funicular up the hill for the “bella vista” of both the city and the Andes to the east, or swing by The Aubrey, a trendy hotel with a piano bar that has some of the best Pisco Sours in town.
Take a walk through the picturesque market at Lastarria for some souvenirs. To cap off your day, head to dinner at Liguria for a taste of the past served in the form of fantastic authentic Chilean fare.
Chile has seen a resurgence of celebrating food endemic to its uniquely slender geography, but you don’t have to go to a restaurant to enjoy it. Tika potato chips feature some of the hundreds of colorful potato varieties that hail from Chile, and each one is delicious.
Lodging & Dining
Santiago’s budding culinary and hotel scene is practically European.
The Hotel Magnolia took a downtown mansion, built in 1929, and renovated it into a hip hotel that is full of modern amenities but still gives testament to the city’s unique past.
Liguria’s first restaurant, near the Manuel Montt Metro stop, features decor that will give you a crash course in local history. If you use the original entrance, you’ll literally walk through history, too.