Last Updated on June 19, 2023
Santiago, the capital of Chile, sits in the Andes mountain range on the western edge of South America. It is the largest city in the country and one of the largest in the Americas; with its surrounding suburbs Santiago de Chile is home to a staggering 7 million people.
The city was founded in the 1500s by the Spaniard Pedro de Valdivia. Today, the city is well known for its neoclassical architecture, one of many attractions for tourists. Unlike many cities views, the sprawling urban area is complemented by the beauty of the rugged Andes.
If you are considering visiting Santiago, you are probably wondering what there is to see and do. In this article I list some of the best sights that the vibrant city has to offer so that you can plan the trip of a lifetime!
Here are the 15 best things to do in Santiago:
1. San Cristóbel Hill
San Cristóbel Hill is the best place for a hike in Santiago. The hill is the second highest point in the city, but the view from the top is second to none; it’s a great way to get a panoramic view of the city and is one of the most popular locations for visitors and locals alike.
The original name for this hill was Tupahoe, but it was renamed by the Spanish in honor of Saint Christopher.
2. Central Market
An excellent way of getting into the life of a city is to pay a visit to the market, and the central market in Santiago is amazing. The market was originally opened in the late 1800s and is still one of the most popular places in the city.
This colorful location is home to a massive array of stalls selling a variety of goods and also has a brilliant choice of places to eat so that you can really make a day of your visit.
3. Plaza de Armas
A city break wouldn’t be the same without visiting the main square. This is where all the action happens, and it’s a great opportunity to meet the locals and get a feel for the city.
There’s a variety of statues here for you to admire. If the artful architecture of the city appeals to you, you will be pleased to know that the square is flanked by multiple impressive buildings.
There’s also a great selection of places to eat and drink.
If you are looking for somewhere to eat in Santiago, you should try Boragó. The restaurant has won many awards, so you know you’re in for a top-notch meal.
The highly rated restaurant is owned by the chef; he puts an interesting and unique spin on classic Chilean cuisine, and he cooks with locally sourced ingredients. Additionally, the restaurant grows their own vegetables.
If you’re looking for a delicious, eco-friendly meal, visit Boragó.
5. Barrio Bellavista
Going to an art museum is one thing but how about experiencing the local art that Santiago has to offer right on the streets?
This incredible and colorful area is home to some of the most impressive street art you will ever lay eyes on. After marveling at the artwork, stop by one of the great bars and restaurants nearby.
6. Costanera Center
If you are looking to indulge in some retail therapy while staying in Santiago, then there’s no place better equipped than the Costanera Center, home to a fabulous shopping mall.
The skyscraper is also host to businesses and a beautiful hotel if you are looking for accommodation in the city center.
Take the elevator to the top of the building for an excellent view across the city.
7. Cajón del Maipo
If the hustle and bustle of the city is becoming too much and you want to spend some time relaxing and enjoying the beautiful Andean scenery, then why not consider a trip to the Cajón del Maipo for an incredible natural hot spring experience?
Here you can get back to nature as you appreciate the mountainous scenery and cascading rivers. There are several active volcanoes around the rugged canyon, and the area stretches all the way to Argentina!
8. Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral
Whether you wish to visit the cathedral for spiritual purposes or you simply want to take in its majestic architecture, you will not be disappointed.
Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral is the seat of the archbishop of Santiago and an important place of worship for the religious people of the city. The building dates back to the mid-1700s, but there was extensive restoration work in the 19th century after the building was partially destroyed by an earthquake.
If you are traveling with children, you are likely looking to find something to keep them entertained. Fantasilandia is perfect place to let the kids blow off some steam.
The theme park features a selection of rides for all ages and has been loved by locals and tourists alike since it opened in 1978. While at the park, you can to take advantage of the many fast food outlets inside for a quick and tasty meal.
10. La Parva
Anyone who has a passion for the great outdoors should visit La Parva ski resort. Great for experienced skiers or eager beginners, you can show off your skills or take lessons.
In the summertime visitors can mountain bike or walk and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
11. Mirador Interactive Museum
Another great stop for families visiting Santiago is the Mirador Interactive Museum; there are a wide range of activities for people of any age. If you are looking for an educational day out and enjoy hands-on learning, then this is the perfect location: the museum is full of interactive exhibits.
There’s also a 3D theater and even a night museum for those who wish to visit later in the evening.
12. National Museum of Natural History
A trip to the local natural history museum is always a great choice for any traveler, from the solo tourist looking to broaden their knowledge to families with small children wanting to learn.
There are three national museums in Santiago: The Natural History Museum, the Museum of Fine Art, and the History Museum. They are a great trio if you are looking for a more educational trip.
13. Aguas de Ramón Park
Get out into the great outdoors and visit the Aguas de Ramón Park where you can partake in a range of activities including cycling, hiking, and exploring the amazing forest and waterfalls in the area.
There is an education center that is great for learning about the area and its conservation as well as finding out more about the local flora and fauna.
Whether you are adventurous and want to try rope climbing through the canopy or would prefer to take one of the guided walks, there really is something here for everyone.
14. Japanese Garden
There is nothing quite as peaceful and tranquil as a Japanese garden, and the one in Santiago is truly a sight to behold. This beautiful landscaped garden is the ideal opportunity to take a few deep breaths and step away from the busy city into more calm surroundings.
15. Buin Zoo
For all the animal lovers out there, Buin Zoo is the perfect place to visit in Santiago! With a butterfly sanctuary, a dino park, and a marine area there are animals for everyone. If you want to make a day of it, there are plenty of places to eat at the zoo.
There are also seasonal events, giving you something unique to experience depending on the time of year you visit. Check the zoo’s website for further details.
Santiago has a diverse range of activities for anyone visiting. Set against the beautiful Andes mountains, this is a city like no other. It’s no wonder why it’s such as popular tourism destination.
Whatever type of traveler you are and however you like to travel, there is something for everyone in this incredible South American paradise!