Chile’s capital city has plenty to offer when it comes to things to do and see. Nestled between the Andes mountains and endless wine regions, not only do you have the opportunity to hang out in the city, you also have the plenty of options for day trips and excursions. We had the chance to hang out in the city for a few days, and here are some of the things you’ll definitely want to do before heading home!
Hang out in Bellavista
Barrio Bellavista is Santiago’s bohemian quarter, full of street art & perfect for a self-guided walking tour. Known for its vibrant clubs & restaurants, Bellavista is full of locals every evening. Patio Bellavista, the outdoor complex of shops, cafés, restaurants and bars set around a large main square lights up at night with live music and entertainment. Come here to kick back and watch a soccer game at one of the many bars while eating a local favorite, chorrillana.
Visit Cerro San Cristobal
At the edge of Barrio Bellavista, you’ll find the entrance to Cerro San Cristobal, often noted as Chile’s answer to Brazil’s Cristo Redentor in Rio. To get to the top, you can either take the funicular that leaves from Bellavista or you can hike from any entrance up through the park.
Once you arrive at the top, enjoy the panoramic views of the city.
PRO TIP: You can also make a visit to the Santiago Zoo, as it’s halfway up the hill leading towards San Cristobal.
Check out the Gran Torre Santiago at Costanera Center
If Cerro San Cristobal isn’t high enough for you, take a visit to Gran Torre Santiago in the Costanera Center. The tower boasts the highest point in South America, at 300 meters high. A quick elevator ride takes you to the 61st floor of the building to enjoy a 360 degree view as far as the eye can see.
Have a Piscola
Pisco is a liquor distilled from Muscat grapes and is considered the national drink of Chile and most of us have heard (or experienced) a Pisco Sour, however another common way to enjoy the national liquor is the Piscola. As the name suggests, the mix of pisco and cola (or ginger ale, depending upon the bar) is often the way locals start their night. While you'll definitely enjoy plenty of wine, make room for a Piscola as well!
A short bus ride will take you from Santiago to Valparaíso, the quieter, hilly neighboring city. Known for it’s colorful houses & public elevators to navigate the mountain town, Valpo will give you a different experience than Santiago’s modern hustle & bustle. What you will experience here is plenty of unique street art, great seafood and quick access to Casablanca, one of the local wine regions.
PRO TIP: Valparaíso is nice, but don’t bother spending more than 2 days here.
Eat all of the seafood!
You’ll have some of the freshest tasting seafood while in Chile, but to make sure you’re getting a full experience, we suggest visiting Mercado Central in Santiago or Puerto Viejo in Valparaíso. Mercado Central features several seafood restaurants with fresh caught delights brought in daily. Pick up a meal at Donde Augusto’s, which sits right in the center of the market.
In Valparaíso, make a stop for lunch at Puerto Viejo, a neighborhood restaurant that all of the locals recommend for a great meal. The restaurant’s warm ambience was a perfect match for the delicious menu options. Order a chardonnay sour and enjoy some of the seafood in an off-the-beaten path location.
Visit a vineyard
Chile is known for producing some of the world’s best wine, so it goes without saying that any visit to the country is incomplete without indulging in several bottles worth! Near Santiago, you have two wine regions, the Casablanca and Maipo valleys. During our stay in Valparaíso, we hung out in Casablanca valley and visited two of the local vineyards for tastings. You can find tours for either wine region easily, but you can just as easily create your own itinerary (and for a fraction of the cost)!
In Casablanca, there are more than 10 different vineyards to visit, all with distinct wine-producing methods and blends for you to discover. We recommend taking a visit to Bodegas RE for their one-of-a-kind wine blends or Emiliana, the largest organic wine producing vineyard in the world!
Check out our guide to creating your own self-guided wine-tasting tour here!
Have dinner at La Mision
If by chance you don’t get the opportunity to visit Casablanca or Maipo, your best bet for an educational wine experience in Santiago also comes with the best meal you’ll have in the city. La Mision Wine Bar not only carries at least one wine from every wine producing region in the world (140!), each of its waitstaff is well-versed in the world of wine, as they are all sommeliers. As you dine, your waiter will ensure you have the best possible wine options to accompany your meal, and teach you about each wine you taste. It doesn’t hurt that the menu (created by award winning chef Jonathan Michel) is full of fantastic dishes too. You’ll definitely walk away full from your newly acquired wine knowledge and a delicious meal.