Skip to Content

Is Santiago Worth Visiting? 15 Reasons Why You Should [2024]

Last updated on March 6th, 2024 at 06:20 am

is santiago worth visiting, is santiago chile worth visiting

Visiting Chile and deciding if is Santiago Worth Visiting? In this guide, we go in-depth with the pros and cons of visiting Santiago to let you decide.

Is Santiago Worth Visiting?

Absolutely, yes. Santiago, the capital of Chile, is a city that surprises many with its vibrant mix of modernity and rich cultural heritage. Nestled in the central valley, Santiago is framed by the awe-inspiring Andes Mountains, offering stunning views and easy access to outdoor adventures.

This city is not just a sprawling metropolis; it’s a gateway to diverse experiences, from skiing in the nearby Andean slopes to exploring the colorful street art in its urban neighborhoods.

Despite being overshadowed by more famous Latin American cities, Santiago holds its own as a destination rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. It’s a place where the past and present coexist harmoniously, making it a must-visit for anyone traveling through South America.

Let’s boil it down to 15 reasons why Santiago is worth your visit to Chile. And to make it fair, we also discuss the reasons why people think it’s not worth it, to give you a better way to decide.

Related Travel Guides

Why the Doubt – Is Santiago Chile Worth Visiting?

is santiago worth visiting, is santiago chile worth visiting

When considering Santiago as a travel destination, some travelers may hesitate, influenced by certain misconceptions and less exposure in popular travel narratives. Common doubts include:

Perceived Lack of Tourist Attractions

Compared to cities with famous landmarks, Santiago’s attractions are less known internationally, leading to the misconception that it lacks significant tourist sites.

Urbanization Concerns

As a bustling capital city, potential visitors might worry about issues like traffic congestion and the urban sprawl overshadowing the cultural and historical aspects.

Understated Historic Appeal

Unlike cities with a pronounced colonial past, Santiago’s mix of historical and ultra-modern architecture might lead to assumptions that it lacks traditional Latin American charm.

Cultural Misconceptions

The city’s cosmopolitan nature and modern lifestyle might not align with some travelers’ expectations of a typical South American cultural experience.

These doubts are natural, but as we’ll see, Santiago has a unique charm waiting to be discovered.

Top 15 Reasons that Make Santiago Worth a Visit

The Majestic Andes Vista

is santiago worth visiting, is santiago chile worth visiting

The Andes Mountains are a treasure trove for nature lovers – easily making a trip to Santiago worth it. It offers everything from tranquil hikes through lush valleys to challenging treks up to soaring peaks.

In winter, these mountains transform into a premier ski destination, with resorts like Valle Nevado attracting ski enthusiasts from around the globe.

For those less inclined towards physical exertion, scenic cable car rides provide breathtaking views of the city below, with sunset vistas being particularly spectacular.

Historical Richness of Plaza de Armas

This iconic square is the birthplace of Santiago, where the city’s history began – Santiago’s top sight to see! It’s surrounded by buildings like the neoclassical Metropolitan Cathedral and the historic Central Post Office.

Street performers, local artists, and chess players bring this square to life, offering a glimpse into the vibrant local culture – a worth it addition to Santiago’s allure.

Regular cultural events and exhibitions in and around the plaza make it a dynamic space that reflects the city’s past and present.

Barrio Bellavista’s Vibrant Street Art

Bellavista is a visual feast, where every wall and alleyway is adorned with murals that range from political statements to abstract art.

The neighborhood is also home to La Chascona, one of Pablo Neruda’s houses, now a museum, adding a literary layer to the area’s cultural richness.

At night, Bellavista transforms into a lively hub with a plethora of bars, clubs, and restaurants, each adding its own flavor to the area’s eclectic charm.

Culinary Delights in Mercado Central

Renowned for its fresh seafood, this market is a bustling hub where locals and tourists alike come to savor traditional dishes like caldillo de congrio and machas a la parmesana.

Food tours here offer an immersive experience, letting you sample a variety of local specialties while learning about their origins and preparation methods.

The surrounding area brims with small eateries and cafes, where you can relax and watch the daily hustle and bustle of the market.

is santiago worth visiting, is santiago chile worth visiting

The Elegance of Barrio Lastarria

This historic neighborhood is an eclectic mix of old and new, with beautifully preserved architectural gems sitting alongside contemporary art galleries and trendy boutiques.

The area’s cultural life is vibrant, with frequent art exhibitions, film screenings, and live music performances at venues like the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center.

For a leisurely afternoon, the tree-lined streets offer cozy cafes and gourmet restaurants, perfect for people-watching and soaking in the local ambiance.

Parque Metropolitano’s Urban Oasis

This expansive park, one of the largest in Latin America, is a green haven in the heart of Santiago, offering a variety of recreational activities.

It features several attractions, including a botanical garden, two swimming pools, and the National Zoo, which houses a diverse range of wildlife.

The summit of Cerro San Cristóbal, accessible by foot, bike, or cable car, provides stunning panoramic views of the city and is home to the iconic 22-meter-tall statue of the Virgin Mary.

Valle de Colchagua Wine Tours

Renowned for its high-quality wines, especially reds like Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon, Valle de Colchagua offers a delightful escape for wine enthusiasts.

The wine tours here often include guided visits to multiple vineyards, each with its own unique history and wine-tasting sessions.

Many wineries also feature gourmet restaurants where you can pair exquisite wines with fine Chilean cuisine, all set against the backdrop of the picturesque Chilean countryside.

Pablo Neruda’s La Chascona

La Chascona, in the heart of Bellavista, offers a glimpse into the life of Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda, showcasing his eclectic taste and passion for the arts.

The house is filled with a fascinating collection of artwork and memorabilia, each with a story linked to Neruda’s life and work.

Guided tours provide insights into Neruda’s contributions to literature and his political involvements, making it a must-visit for literature enthusiasts.

Ski Resorts Near Santiago

The proximity of world-class ski resorts like Portillo, El Colorado, and Valle Nevado makes Santiago unique, offering thrilling winter sports just a short drive from the city.

These resorts cater to all levels, from beginners to advanced skiers, and often feature additional amenities like spas, restaurants, and shopping centers.

During the off-season, these areas become hubs for hiking and mountain biking, showcasing the Andes’ year-round appeal.

Cultural Richness at Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

This museum is a treasure trove of ancient art, exhibiting a vast array of artifacts from pre-Columbian cultures across Latin America.

Its collections include textiles, ceramics, and goldwork, offering a comprehensive overview of the artistic achievements of indigenous peoples.

Interactive displays and educational programs make this museum engaging for visitors of all ages, providing a deeper understanding of the continent’s rich cultural heritage.

Santiago’s Modern Skyline at Gran Torre Santiago

  • The Gran Torre Santiago, part of the Costanera Center complex, stands as a symbol of Santiago’s modern architectural prowess.
  • Visitors can ascend to the Sky Costanera observatory for unparalleled 360-degree views of the city and its surrounding landscapes.
  • The complex also offers a myriad of shopping, dining, and entertainment options, reflecting the city’s growing cosmopolitan lifestyle.

Festivals and Cultural Events

  • Santiago’s calendar is packed with a variety of festivals, from the vibrant Santiago a Mil theater festival to the renowned international film festival SANFIC.
  • These events showcase a blend of traditional Chilean culture and contemporary arts, offering something for everyone.
  • Local festivals like Fiestas Patrias celebrate Chilean heritage with music, dance, and traditional foods, providing an immersive cultural experience.

Shopping at Costanera Center

  • The Costanera Center is not just the tallest building in Latin America but also a premier shopping destination, housing an extensive range of local and international brands.
  • The mall also features a variety of entertainment options, including a cinema complex and a range of dining choices, from casual eateries to upscale restaurants.
  • Its central location and comprehensive offerings make it a convenient and popular spot for both locals and tourists.

The Bohemian Charm of Barrio Italia

  • Barrio Italia is a delightful mix of old-world charm and contemporary flair, known for its vintage furniture stores, independent art galleries, and artisan workshops.
  • The neighborhood is also a culinary delight, featuring charming cafes and restaurants that offer a blend of traditional Chilean and international cuisine.
  • Frequent cultural events, such as art openings and live music performances, contribute to the area’s vibrant atmosphere.

Nightlife and Entertainment

  • Santiago’s nightlife is as diverse as its population, ranging from trendy rooftop bars in Providencia to vibrant nightclubs downtown.
  • For a more laid-back evening, the city offers a variety of wine bars and jazz clubs, showcasing local and international talents.
  • Cultural venues like the Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral host evening events and performances, adding to the city’s rich nightlife offerings.

Reasons Why Santiago May Not Be Worth a Visit

is santiago worth visiting, is santiago chile worth visiting

Now of course even if we think Santiago is worth a few days of visit when you’re in Chile, we understand that there are reasons why people avoid it. And we’re here to lay down the details so you can decide

Busy City Life

Santiago’s fast pace can be a bit overwhelming at first, especially if you’re more accustomed to quieter places. The city’s energy is palpable, and while it’s part of its charm, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

To ease into it, try exploring the city during off-peak hours. Early mornings or late evenings can be quieter and more enjoyable.

And remember, there are plenty of peaceful retreats within the city, like the lush Parque Forestal, where you can unwind and take a breather from the urban buzz.

Air Quality on Certain Days

It’s true, Santiago’s air quality isn’t always perfect, especially in the cooler months when the city experiences thermal inversion.

On days when the air feels heavier, plan indoor activities. Santiago has an impressive array of museums, art galleries, and indoor markets that are worth exploring.

Also, consider trips to nearby coastal towns or the Andean foothills on such days, where the air is clearer and the scenery is a welcome change.

Language Hurdles

Navigating a new city where you don’t speak the language can be daunting, but it’s also an opportunity to learn and immerse yourself in a new culture.

In tourist areas, hotels, and restaurants, you’ll find many English speakers. Plus, simple Spanish phrases for greetings, directions, and basic transactions can go a long way.

Embrace the challenge! You’ll find that many Chileans are patient and helpful, and your efforts to speak Spanish, no matter how basic, will often be met with appreciation and encouragement.

If You Decide to Visit Santiago: Suggested Duration and Activities

So, you’ve decided to give Santiago a shot? Awesome! Here’s how long you might want to stay and what you can do:

Day Trip Wonders

If you’re short on time, a day in Santiago can still be fulfilling. Start with a morning walk in the historic center, exploring Plaza de Armas and the surrounding streets.

Grab lunch at Mercado Central, where you can enjoy fresh seafood and local flavors.

Spend your afternoon in Barrio Bellavista, soaking in the vibrant street art and maybe catching a glimpse of the sunset from Cerro San Cristóbal.

A Few Days to Immerse

With a few days in Santiago, you can really dive deep. Dedicate a day to exploring the city’s museums and cultural sites like the Pre-Columbian Art Museum and La Chascona.

Reserve another day for a wine tour in the nearby Maipo Valley, where you can indulge in some of Chile’s finest wines.

Don’t miss exploring the city’s diverse neighborhoods, each offering its own unique flavor – from the trendy shops and cafes of Lastarria to the peaceful greenery of Parque Metropolitano.

A Week or More for Full Exploration

If you’ve got a week or more, you’re in for a treat. You can take day trips to places like Valparaíso or the Andes mountains for skiing or hiking.

Dedicate time to leisurely explore Santiago’s culinary scene, from high-end dining experiences to local street food adventures.

Immerse yourself in the local culture by attending live music performances, visiting local markets, and even taking part in cultural workshops or language exchange meetups.

Santiago is a city that caters to all kinds of travelers, whether you’re there just for a quick visit or for an extended exploration.

Practical Tips for Your Santiago Journey – Is Santiago Worth Visiting

Where to Stay in Santiago

  • Providencia: Known for its blend of modern amenities and quiet residential streets, Providencia offers a range of accommodations from luxury hotels to cozy B&Bs. It’s well-connected by public transport, making it ideal for families and those who want a mix of tranquility and city life.
  • Bellavista: For those seeking a vibrant cultural scene, Bellavista is perfect. Filled with colorful street art, lively bars, and eclectic restaurants, this neighborhood is great for younger travelers and art enthusiasts.
  • Las Condes: Offering upscale accommodations, Las Condes is known for its shopping centers, business facilities, and fine dining, suitable for luxury travelers and business visitors.
  • Centro Histórico: For history buffs, staying in the historic center near landmarks like Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral of Santiago offers a deep dive into the city’s past.

Top Places to Stay in Santiago

Browse the map below to see the best priced accommodations for Santiago, Chile.

Finding the perfect place to stay can make all the difference. Here are some top picks:

Luxury and Comfort in Las Condes

For a luxurious stay, Las Condes offers upscale hotels with stunning views of the Andes and excellent amenities.

Cultural Heart in Bellas Artes

Stay close to Santiago’s cultural pulse in Bellas Artes, ideal for those who love being surrounded by museums, galleries, and theaters.

Bohemian Flair in Bellavista

If a vibrant nightlife and artistic streets are your thing, Bellavista is the place. It’s lively, colorful, and full of character.

Chic and Trendy in Providencia

Providencia strikes a balance between trendy urban life and quieter, leafy streets. It’s great for shopping, dining, and exploring Santiago’s café culture.

Historic Charm in Barrio Lastarria

For a more intimate experience, Barrio Lastarria‘s boutique hotels are nestled among historic buildings, offering a quaint and cozy stay.

Best Time to Visit Santiago

Timing can be everything when planning a trip. Here’s what to consider for Santiago:

Spring (September to November)

The city blooms with flowers and mild weather. It’s perfect for outdoor activities and exploring the city’s parks and gardens.

Summer (December to February)

Ideal for enjoying Santiago’s vibrant outdoor life and cultural festivals. Expect warm weather, perfect for day trips to nearby vineyards or the coast.

Autumn (March to May)

The city is less crowded, and the fall colors are beautiful. It’s a great time for wine tasting, as it’s harvest season in the vineyards.

Winter (June to August)

The best time for skiing in the Andes. Santiago can be cooler, but it’s a great time to enjoy the city’s indoor attractions, like museums and cafes.

Each season in Santiago has its own charm, making the city a great year-round destination.

Getting Around Santiago Chile

  • Metro System: Santiago’s metro is one of the most modern in Latin America, with six lines covering key areas of the city. It’s a fast, safe, and affordable way to get around.
  • Buses: The extensive bus network complements the metro, reaching areas outside the metro’s scope. Using a Bip! card for both buses and metro is recommended.
  • Taxis and Ride-Sharing: Taxis are plentiful, and ride-sharing apps like Uber and Cabify offer convenient options for direct travel.
  • Car Rentals: For more flexibility or for exploring beyond Santiago, renting a car is a good option. Keep in mind that traffic can be heavy, and parking in the city center is limited.
  • Biking: With dedicated bike lanes and bike-sharing programs, Santiago is increasingly becoming bike-friendly, offering a fun way to see the city.

Is Santiago or Buenos Aires Better?

Choosing between Santiago and Buenos Aires depends on what you’re looking for:

  • Santiago offers a unique blend of modern city life with stunning natural landscapes like the Andes. It’s perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and those who appreciate a mix of urban and natural experiences.
  • Buenos Aires is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, vibrant arts scene, and iconic tango performances. It’s ideal for those interested in history, architecture, and a bustling city atmosphere.

Is Santiago, Chile Safe?

Santiago is generally considered safe for tourists, especially in the main tourist and business areas. Like any big city, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings, take standard safety precautions, and be cautious in crowded places. Common sense measures such as not flaunting valuables and staying in well-lit areas at night go a long way in ensuring a safe visit.

Is Santiago, Chile Expensive?

The cost of visiting Santiago can vary. It’s generally more affordable than many North American or European cities but can be more expensive compared to other South American destinations. Accommodation, dining out, and entertainment can be found to suit all budgets, from economical to luxury. Planning and budgeting in advance can help manage expenses effectively.

Our Final Thoughts and Conclusions if Is Santiago is Worth Visiting

So is Santiago worth visiting? For the historic and vibrant city center, it’s worth a day or two especially if it’s in your route in Chile.

Santiago is not just a city, it’s an experience. Its unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and urban dynamism makes it an unmissable destination for any traveler. Whether you’re seeking adventure, culture, gastronomy, or just a new city to explore, Santiago promises memories that will last a lifetime. So, is Santiago worth visiting? Absolutely – it’s a city that surprises, delights, and welcomes all.

To sum it up, yes, Santiago is definitely worth a visit. It’s a city where you’ll find stunning nature, rich culture, and an exciting city life all rolled into one. Whether you’re into outdoor adventures, exploring arts and history, or just enjoying good food and wine, Santiago has got you covered. It’s a place that might surprise you with its variety and warmth. So, if you’re wondering whether to add Santiago to your travel list, our advice is to go for it – you won’t be disappointed!

FAQ: Santiago Travel Tips – Is Santiago Worth Visiting

Is Santiago safe for tourists?

Santiago is generally considered safe for tourists, especially in the main tourist and business areas. Like any big city, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings, take standard safety precautions, and be cautious in crowded places. Common sense measures such as not flaunting valuables and staying in well-lit areas at night go a long way in ensuring a safe visit.

What is the currency used in Santiago?

The currency used in Santiago, and throughout Chile, is the Chilean Peso (CLP).

Can I get by with English in Santiago?

English is widely spoken in tourist areas and many Santiago residents have basic English skills. However, knowing some basic Spanish phrases can enhance your experience.

What are the must-try foods in Santiago?

Don’t miss trying empanadas, pastel de choclo, and local seafood dishes. Also, sample a pisco sour, Chile’s famous cocktail.

What are the best day trips from Santiago?

Popular day trips include the coastal cities of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, the wine regions like Valle de Colchagua, and the Andean ski resorts.

Are credit cards widely accepted in Santiago?

Yes, credit cards are widely accepted in most restaurants, hotels, and shops. However, it’s a good idea to have some cash for smaller purchases and in less touristy areas.

What electrical plug type is used in Santiago?

Chile uses plug types C and L, and the standard voltage is 220 V.

What is the best way to get from the airport to downtown Santiago?

You can take a taxi, shuttle, or use the official airport bus service that connects to the metro system for easy access to the city.

What should I pack for a trip to Santiago?

Pack according to the season. For summer, bring light clothing and sunscreen. In winter, warm clothes are essential, especially if you plan to visit the Andes.

Is tap water safe to drink in Santiago?

Yes, the tap water in Santiago is generally safe to drink. However, if you have a sensitive stomach, bottled water might be a better option.

What are some common local customs I should be aware of?

Chileans are known for their friendliness. A common greeting is a handshake or a kiss on the cheek. It’s also polite to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in Spanish.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on these links and make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Please note that we only recommend products and services that we have personally used or believe will add value to our readers. Your support through these links helps us to continue creating informative and engaging content. Thank you for your support!