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Santiago Travel Guide

Santiago Photo info
Jorge Lascar/Flickr

You might associate Santiago with towering skyscrapers, rolling vineyards and soaring mountains — and you wouldn't be wrong. Set in the Maipo Valley (framed by the snowy Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west), Santiago captivates visitors with its arresting views, neoclassical architecture and imaginative cuisine. Santiago hasn't always been so alluring: In its nearly 500-year history, the city has withstood invasions, dictatorships and earthquakes. But over the past few ... continue»

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When to Visit Santiago

The best time to visit Santiago is from late-September to November, or from March to May; these months mark the spring and fall shoulder seasons in Chile. Although the city experiences a moderate climate with mild temperatures year-round, spring and fall are especially alluring with plenty of sunshine, thinner crowds and affordable flight options from popular U.S. destinations. Fall (March through May) makes is a particularly pleasant time to visit if you enjoy vino: Wineries celebrate the season with grape harvest festivals. From November to April (summertime in the Southern Hemisphere) temperatures, crowds and hotel prices start to swell. Meanwhile, May to September (the winter season) experiences showers, cooler temps and increased smog levels, but the powder blanketing the nearby Andes beckons to skiers.

Best Times to Visit Santiago»

Santiago Temperature (F) Santiago Precipitation (in)

Temperature [+ enlarge]Precipitation [+ enlarge]

Getting Around Santiago

Santiago Neighborhoods

Santiago is composed of distinctive barrios, each with its own personality. While there are 32 neighborhoods vying for your attention, the city's most popular attractions pepper the districts skirting the Mapocho River. The city's main corridor, Avenida Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins (or Alameda), winds through Santiago's central district and forms an east-west channel through the downtown area, making a great reference point for first-time visitors. You'll probably spend most of your time strolling along this central thoroughfare as it leads to many notable landmarks, like the Church of San Francisco and the Renaissance-inspired Municipal Theater. There are also many affluent areas situated to the northeast of the city center — including Los Condes — that are worth exploring for their upscale shopping, restaurants and nightlife scenes.

The Centro

Santiago's central district is characterized by political sites and notable landmarks, making it an excellent jumping-off point for first-time visitors. This neighborhood is anchored by the lively Plaza de Armas, around which you'll find museums (like the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art), government buildings and shopping areas. Once you've taken in the Plaza de Armas' sites, head south past the Alameda to the quaint Barrio París-Londres — located between Prat and Santa Rosa streets — which charms visitors with cobbled streets and tranquil gardens. You can reach Santiago's central district via metro Line 5 to Plaza de Armas.

Santa Lucía

Tucked between the Plaza de Armas and Plaza Italia you'll find Santa Lucía (also referred to as Barrio Lastarria), a popular stop for those seeking optimal photo-ops. The main attraction here is Santa Lucía Hill, a hilltop park, which affords panoramic views of downtown Santiago. Another selling point: the area's bookstores, bars and restaurants, which lend the neighborhood a lively atmosphere. You'll find Santa Lucía to the north of Avenida Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins, along the eastern outskirts of Santiago's center.

Bellavista

Bellavista is a hip, bohemian district filled with museums (including La Chascona) and fashionable shops, galleries and restaurants. Pío Nono, the area's main drag, is a great place to grab a meal, while Patio Bellavista also boasts a cluster of vibrant restaurants, bars and shops. You'll find Bellavista situated northeast of The Centro near Metropolitan Park and St. Christopher Hill.

Providencia

A lively neighborhood flanked by the Mapocho River and Santiago's city center to the west and Los Condes and Vitacura to the northeast, Providencia draws foodies looking for a memorable meal at a trendy restaurant or drinks from a local winery. Known for its European ambiance, this barrio beckons to visitors looking for an upscale place to stay and easy access to top city attractions. You can reach Providencia via metro Line 1 to Baquedano.

Barrio Brasil

Buzzing with activity at all hours, this neighborhood on the north side of the Alameda — west of Santiago's central district — attracts visitors with its chic cafes, blend of neoclassical and baroque architecture and its affordable accommodations. Students tend to congregate here, especially on the weekends. During your visit, be sure to stop at Barrio Concha y Toro, a sophisticated area known for its cobbled streets. The easiest way to access Barrio Brasil from Santiago's central district is via metro Line 1 to República.

Los Condes and Vitacura

Venture east from Providencia and you'll reach Los Condes, a high-end residential area filled with sleek high-rises and swanky hotels, including the W. For the best eats in Las Condes, pick a restaurant along El Bosque Norte, Apoquindo and Isidora Goyenechia avenues. Head north of Las Condes and you'll find Vitacura, a venerable commercial and culinary destination, embraced by gardens and tree-lined streets. Within Vitacura, you'll discover a variety of luxury hotels, boutiques, galleries and museums, including the Museo de la Moda. For a refined meal in Vitacura, consider one of the fine dining establishments at BordeRio, which houses a number of restaurants that dish up everything from Italian to Moroccan cuisine. To access Las Condes and Vitacura, take metro Line 1 to El Golf.

Ñuñoa

South of Providencia, this flourishing neighborhood is best known for its thriving nightlife and versatile dining establishments, which dish up regional staples like pork sandwiches and empanadas. A visit to this part of town will offer opportunities to mingle with locals and students from the Universidad de Chile. At Ñuñoa's center, you'll find Plaza Ñuñoa, which becomes a nightlife epicenter on the weekends. To reach Ñuñoa, take metro Line 5 to the Irarrázaval stop.

Safety

Santiago is a relatively safe city with very few instances of violent crime. Still, you should keep your wits about you and be wary of pickpockets, particularly when you're visiting well-trafficked tourist spots like Barrio Brasil, Central Market, Santa Lucía Hill, Plaza de Armas and St. Christopher Hill. After dark, you should also stay alert if you plan to venture to Bellavista, which is a well-known magnet for petty thieves.

The best ways to get around Santiago are by foot and by metro. Since the city's streets are laid out on a grid, exploring on foot is an easy way to take in the sites. The metro also serves as an efficient, inexpensive and reliable way to travel between barrios, plus its lines service the city's top attractions. That said, taking the metro means combating heavy crowds, which can lead to an uncomfortable commute and, if you're not careful, a stolen wallet. Taxis are another convenient and affordable way to get around the city; however, you'll want to be sure to flag only those with yellow tops to avoid getting scammed. Buses are another compelling option, thanks to reasonable rates as well as extensive, easily navigable routes.

Getting Around Santiago»

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