Plaza de Armas picture
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Key Info

Plaza de Armas

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.2scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Food Scene
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia (who founded Santiago) established this historic square back in 1541, creating a religious and political hub teeming with architectural treasures. Amid the many sights on display in the Plaza de Armas, you can't miss the graceful Metropolitan Cathedral set along its western border. You'll also stumble upon the former Governor's Palace, which has been converted into the city's main post office as well as the Historical Museum (Museo Histórico Nacional), which houses fascinating exhibits cataloguing Chile's history from the pre-Conquest period to the 20th century. Meanwhile, the plaza fills with comedians, artists, photographers, performers and street vendors on a daily basis, making this a popular spot to simply relax and soak up the city's culture.

"This palm covered square is the soul of the city […] many museums are within a few blocks walk and it's a great place to people watch," explained one TripAdvisor user. As you stroll through the plaza be sure to exercise caution and look after your valuables; pickpockets tend to frequent the area.

The Plaza de Armas pulses with round-the-clock activity; however the cathedral and other attractions within the colonial square maintain varied visiting hours. You'll find the Plaza de Armas anchored in the center of Santiago off of the Alameda, the city's main thoroughfare. To reach the square, take Line 5 to the Plaza de Armas metro station.

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#1 Bellavista

Beckoning to an artsy crowd, the Bellavista neighborhood features graffiti-lined streets with cafes, art galleries and boutique shops. Here, you'll find inventive cocktail bars and eclectic eateries rubbing shoulders with antique homes and colonial mansions. Spend some time exploring La Chascona — the former home of celebrated poet Pablo Neruda — before scouring the Patio Bellavista shopping area for souvenirs. Also be sure to continue north to take in the scenery from Santiago's crown jewel: St. Christopher Hill, a nearly 3,000-foot high hill tucked inside Metropolitan Park.

The creative energy, trend-setting boutiques and laid-back vibes found in Bellavista make this a popular hangout spot among travelers and locals alike. And according to some recent visitors, the best way to experience it all is by wandering away from the main drag, Pío Nono. "This place is like an outdoor art museum. Between the colorful houses and the street art there seems to be a surprise around every corner," one TripAdvisor user said.

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Luigi Giarino/Flickr
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