Our stay in Santiago de Chile was short and meant merely as an overlay. It turned into an overlay of three weeks because friends of Lukas are currently living there so we decided to visit them. We don’t really count it as having seen much of Chile… the time was mostly spent working. However, during three weeks we managed to learn quite a bit about the capital of Chile and we definitely like it. Below you’ll find seven things we did and recommend.
Because we got there straight from Colombia we were in for a bit of a cultural shock. We hadn’t had order and higher living standards for months. Santiago is a very nice place and you can tell instantly how much further developed Chile is in comparison to Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia.
It was also immediately much colder than in Bogota (which had already been rather chilly compared to the Caribbean) because we arrived in full-blown winter. Such a weird feeling: The temperature might’ve been the same as in Germany around this time (if you are unlucky and have a freezing Autumn) but instead of preparing for winter people were getting ready for spring. Christmas in spring/summer is something I can’t quite wrap my head around just yet.
Our interactions with Chileaneans were very pleasant and we were often shocked that people working in restaurants or shops spoke English. In the other countries we hardly found anyone speaking English, not even people in the tourist business. But anyways, that fact had greatly helped us improve our Spanish skills 😀
As always, I’ve got a couple of things I recommend you to do while in Santiago:
1. Head To San Cristóbal For A Gorgeous View Of Santiago
Lukas went running to this hill just above Bella Vista a lot of times and always come back with cool stories and pictures. You should have no problems finding this place – head to Bella Vista and at the end of the main road, you will find the entrance of the park. From there you have access to a chain of hills and the zoo of Santiago.
2. Maybe (Don’t) Do The Free Walking Tour
Normally I praise the walking tours (exception Cartagena) a lot. I love this concept and honestly don’t even know how people explored cities before those were established. The one in Santiago I would classify as below average though. It was a bit informative but we covered a very small area and the places we visited were rather unspectacular. I would be fine without that information. Instead, you should just go around the center and explore it by yourself. Santiago is perfectly safe and you will probably have more fun that way.
3. Check Out The Area Around The University
I felt like Santiago was lacking charm and character. Not so much though around the Universidad. There are a few cute streets with cafes, restaurants and interesting architecture. If you want to explore a bit of Chileanean lifestyle and hipster vibes, this is probably the best place to do it. Sorry that there are no pictures here of this area. My computer broke and the Santiago pictures weren’t completely backed up yet :-/
4. Head To Maipo For A Weekend Trip
We will definitely come up with a whole blog post about our weekend in Maipo. There is a lot to tell and we had a super nice time there. But until then just so much: You can reach this area within 1,5 hours (if you have a car) and it is so worth it. You leave the city and are within mountains in the blink of an eye. The place has a bit of a country vibe, with lots of farms and horseback riding offers along the way. You can chill in some hot springs and go for hikes. More details will follow soon 🙂
5. Head To Valparaiso For A Day Or Two
If you have more than a few days in Santiago you should absolutely head over to Valparaiso. In this blog post, I have already praised the city and went on and on about what I love about it. Don’t miss out on it and read there what you can expect.
6. Have A Drink In Bella Vista
The best place to have a drink (or two, three and more) is definitely Bella Vista. During the day this area seems a bit dead and lonely but come nighttime the place is buzzing with countless bars and clubs. Just like in Colombia, Micheladas are THE drink and you will find many enthusiastic tourists and locals to share them with.
7. Check Out The Food Truck Yards
This was a total gem that I discovered way too late. In the very proper and serious looking Padre Mariano street I found a little yard full of food trucks. They are permanently installed and during nice weather, you can sit in the yard and enjoy veggie burgers and smoothies. Super cute and worth a visit.
I can’t even imagine what other cool stuff you can uncover in Santiago if you spend some more time looking – and put some more effort into the exploration. If you come here straight from Europe or the US you might not be so impressed by the city. If you come straight from the countries Peru, Colombia or Bolivia you’ll be amazed by the difference in progress and development.
Also published on Medium.