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27 Fun Things To Do in Santiago, Chile

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Have you ever thought of traveling down to South America? Well the capital of Chile is one of South America's most popular cities. There are tons of great things to do in Santiago, Chile, and it's the perfect  spot to soak up some city vibes before exploring the great nature that this country has to offer. 

Santiago de Chile also has a lot to offer in terms of nature, as well as architecture and food! This city has surprised us for good, so even if you have a few days to spend in here, make sure you check this post because it will help you saving a lot of time!

So let's dive right in and discover the top things to do in Santiago, Chile.

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Where is Santiago, Chile?

Santiago, or fully known as Santiago de Chile, is the capital of the country of Chile. Chile is a very long and thin country, where everything is wedged between the Pacific coast and the Andes mountains. 

Santiago is situated in the middle of the country, making it the perfect spot to get to both popular areas of Chile- The Atacama Desert, and Patagonia.

where is Santiago Chile

Santiago is located in the middle of Chile.

Getting to Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile is one of the main hubs of airports in South America. Not only does it have plenty of domestic and International flights, but it is also a very popular place for a layover. That's why we're here to share the top things to do in Santiago, Chile, for even a short trip you may have.

Flying to Santiago from the East is definitely one for the bucket list! You'll fly over the Andes, which is one of the biggest mountain ranges in the world.

flight to Santiago, Chile
flight to Santiago, Chile

Domestic flights into Santiago include Arica, Antofagasta, Balmaceda, Calama, Castro, Copiapo, Easter Island, Iquique, La Serena, Puerto Montt, Osorno, Punta Arenas, Temuco, and Valdivia.

International flights into Santiago include Atlanta, Aukland, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Campinas, Concepcion, Cusco, Guayaquil, Houston, Lima, Madrid, Mendoza, Mexico City, Miami, Montevideo, New York, Panama City, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates for flying to Santiago.

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Plan on traveling by bus? There are also bus routes to Santiago from surrounding cities.

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Entry Requirements for Chile

Before booking your trip, you'll want to know if there are any specific requirements for entering. Here's what you need to know to visit Chile.

Visa Requirements for Chile

There are 95 different nationalities that can enter Chile visa free for up to 90 days. Those countries can be found be found on the offiicial visa page for Chile. If your country does not fall into the list, you must in fact get a visa before entering the country.

Covid Entry Requirements for Chile

In order to enter Chile one must either be vaccinated, or present a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of flying.

Chile is now open to all travelers, and does not require any extra tests or vaccinations.

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Local Adjustments for Santiago

When traveling to any new country, there are plenty of local things to adjust to. Here are a few to keep in mind while traveling to Chile.

What is the Language of Santiago?

The official language in Chile is Spanish. However, out of all Spanish-speaking countries, we believe Chileans are the most difficult to understand. They speak extremely fast, run their words together, and even have plenty of different words than other Spanish-speaking countries.

Nevertheless, it is still helpful to learn a bit of Spanish before going! Just don't feel bad if you have a hard time understanding the locals.

What Currency Do I Need in Chile?

The currency used in Chile is the Chilean Peso. Currently (As of January 2024) 1 USD is equivalent to 930.27 Chilean pesos. Credit card is taken in many restaurants, hotels, and shops. However, you may want to take some cash out for smaller shops, street food, and local attractions.

What Plug Type is Used in Chile?

The country of Chile uses plug types C and L. Plug type C is the one with two round pins (like Europe), and plug type L has three pins across. They run on a 220 V supply voltage and 50Hz.

Is it Ok to Drink the Water in Santiago, Chile?

The tap water throughout the country of Chile is safe to drink, and that includes the city of Santiago.

How Much Do You Tip in Santiago, Chile?

The universal average tipping culture is 10%, and that is exactly what is expected throughout Chile. Some restaurants may already add it to the bill, but you are always encouraged to leave a bit more.

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Things to Do in Santiago, Chile

The city is full of fun things to see! Here are some of our favorites for a quick trip to Santiago de Chile.

1. Take a Free Walking Tour

One of the best ways to experience a new city is by taking a walking tour. While we think the paid ones are usually overrated, we do love the free walking tours. This is because when people work for tips they usually are much more engaged, and give so much valuable information.

If you want to learn more about the history of Santiago, and get local recommendations, we definitely suggest signing up for a free walking tour.

We used Guruwalk, and did the Yungay neighborhood tour, which we highly recommend.

Yungay, things to do in Santiago, Chile
Yungay, things to do in Santiago, Chile
Yungay free walking tour, things to do in Santiago Chile
Yungay, things to do in Santiago, Chile

Free walking tours are a great way to see the hidden gems in Santiago.

2. Walk Around Cerro Santa Lucía

This is way more than just a hill. Cerro Santa Lucía is one of the public parks most visited by national and foreign tourists. This makes it one of the most recognizable icons of the capital and the country.

You can find various tree species, ornamentation of European origin and relics of the Chilean colonial past. Also, in Cerro Santa Lucía attractive spaces stand out, such as the Castillo Hidalgo, and the Neptuno and Caupolicán terraces.

Free bilingual tours are held on Sunday at 10:00 a.m, and on Mondays it is closed to the public.

Cerro Santa Lucia, things to do in Santiago Chile
Santa Lucia Hill, things to do in Santiago Chile

Cerro Santa Lucia is one of the top tourist highlights in Santiago, Chile.

3. Discover Barrio Bellavista

This extensive area combines the most varied clothing and handicrafts trade with multiple international food restaurants offering various specialties.

Intellectuals and artists, such as the poet Pablo Neruda chose it as a preferred space. Bellavista neighborhood is also one of the most important meeting points of bohemian Santiago.

You can find the largest urban park in Santiago de Chile here. From here, it is possible to have the best panoramic view of the city. Together with the possibility of enjoying swimming pools, gardens, funicular and cable car, this neighborhood is one of the most important attractions in the city. We recommend visiting it.

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things to do in Santiago, Chile pin
things to do in Santiago, Chile pin
things to do in Santiago, Chile pin

4. Visit La Chascona

La Chascona is one of the three houses that the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda owned. You can find it in Bellavista neighborhood of the Providencia commune in Santiago de Chile.

Currently, it is a museum that houses the author's collections and is the headquarters of the Pablo Neruda Foundation. It was declared a National Monument in 1990.

La Chascona, things to do in Santiago, Chile

5. Take in the Views at Sky Costanera

With its 300 meters height, the Sky Costanera (a.k.a. Gran Torre Santiago) it is the tallest tower in South America. Since march 2020, it is also the second tallest building in Latin America (after the opening of Torre Obispado in Monterrey, Mexico).

The building consists of a shopping center, two hotels and two office towers conform it. Believe it or not, it's one of the world's mega-structures located in a high seismic risk sector. We suggest heading here in the late afternoon, watching the sunset, and staying for a drink while the night sky lights up. 

Sky Costanera is open from 10 am to 10 pm, and tickets are 18,000 pesos for adults, and 6,000 pesos for children. They are sold with time slots, but you can stay as long as you wish.

Sky Costanera, things to do in Santiago, Chile
Sky Costanera, things to do in Santiago, Chile
Sky Costanera, things to do in Santiago, Chile
Sky Costanera, things to do in Santiago, Chile

Sky Costanera has the best views of Santiago.

6. Explore Barrio Lastarria

The neighborhood is an active cultural, gastronomic and tourist center. Since 1997 it has been a Typical Zone, which is a big deal in here. Chile has a National Monuments Law that determinates specific areas that they consider a representation of Human Evolution.

In 2018 the travel section of the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia. considered it "one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world".

7. Check Out Plaza de Armas

A lot of major cities in South America (especially in Peru) will have their main plaza named "Plaza de Armas". Under the Plaza is currently the Plaza de Armas station of the Santiago de Chile Metro, opened in 2000.

You can find a lot of movement here, as it is one of the top things to do in Santiago, Chile. There are also plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops in this area.

Plaza de Armas, things to do in Santiago, Chile
Plaza de Armas, things to do in Santiago, Chile

Plaza de Armas is the main square in Santiago, Chile.

8. Admire the Metropolitan Cathedral

One of the top things to see in Santiago is the Metropolitan Cathedral, which is located in Plaza de Armas. You can go in and visit for free of charge and enjoy the beauty inside.

Santiago Cathedral, things to do in Santiago, Chile
Santiago Cathedral, things to do in Santiago, Chile
Santiago Cathedral, things to do in Santiago, Chile

9. Go to Museo de La Memoria y Los Derechos Humanos

This iconic museum was dedicated to commemorating the victims of human rights violations during the military dictatorship that took place between 1973 and 1990.

It also has a documentation center, a digital library and a area for cultural activities.

Museum in Santiago, Chile

10. Visit Palacio de la Moneda

The "White House" of Chile. It houses the General Secretariat of the Presidency, and the General Secretariat of the Government.

Palacio de la Moneda, things to do in Santiago, Chile

Want to take a tour around Santiago? Here are a few that you can sign up for:

11. Hike Cerro San Cristobal

Cerro San Cristóbal is the second highest point in Santiago de Chile, at 845 meters. For exactly this reason, it has been an important place for Chileans for centuries. You can go up in 4 different ways: by walking, biking, by car (although you can't make it to the very top by car) and by Funicular (cable car).

Cable Car, things to do in Santiago, Chile

The Funicular itself is a thing; it has 3 stops; the first, at the foot of the hill, the second, in the middle of the road and serving the Santiago de Chile Zoo, and the one at the top of the hill, where the viewpoint and the Sanctuary are.

We recommend you to check the sunset time and go to the Fonicular just before so you can enjoy stunning views of the whole city while the sun sets.

Sky Costanera, things to do in Santiago Chile

The top of the hill has beautiful views over the city.

12. Walk around Mercado Central

Located in the historical city center, this amazing food market has preserved traditional Creole recipes — its specialties include typical dishes such as marshal, paila marina, and fried fish — 3 forming part of the Chilean culinary heritage.

The government declared it a Historical Monument in 19841 and it's part of the «Santiago patrimonial» circuit of the «Capital Route». National Geographic magazine highlighted it as the «fifth best market in the world»

Mercado Central, things to do in Santiago, Chile

13. Eat a Parrillada at a Food Market

South America is well known for the quality of its meat (we also talk about this in our Buenos Aires Travel Guide), so if you're visiting Santiago de Chile make sure to stop at a food market and ask for a Parrillada, a combination of different meats that is just delicious.

The magic about Parrilladas is that they involve much more than just food; it's an event itself because people gather around and talk to each other while waiting for the food, with some wine or beer. It's definitely a fun thing to do!

Other than Mercado Central, you can also check out Mercado Tirso de Molina and La Vega, which both have great Chilean food and local products.

market, things to do in Santiago, Chile
market, things to do in Santiago, Chile
market, things to do in Santiago, Chile

Santiago is full of great markets.

14. Browse the Colorful Streets of Barrio Italia

Looking for one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Santiago? Well, Barrio Italia is full of cute shops, colorful art, and beautiful cafes. If you're a digital nomad, then this is definitely the place you'll want to hang out.

Barrio Italia, things to do in Santiago, Chile