Have you got just one day to visit Santiago? We prepared for you an ideal itinerary which covers the most important places in the capital of Chile. Our “city in a nutshell” guide allows you to enjoy the diversity of the city and it costs just around 8.300 Chilean pesos per person (which equals approximately £11). The price covers breakfast, dinner and the ticket for cable car Teleferico. 😉 Other attractions are free. We personally tested this Santiago trip – we did the route this September and were fully satisfied. 🙂
Regarding inspiration for our trip, we enjoyed this site a lot – link. Although at the beginning, we followed the route proposed on this website, we decided to replace some attractions to visit Cerro San Cristobal, Teleferico and Plaza de Armas in the evening which we consider to be a must-see in Santiago.
Santiago City Tour – Itinerary
0. Your hostel/hotel
Depending on where you start, you may have to wake up early if your accommodation is located outside of the city center. We started a tour at 10 am which I would recommend to you as well (but notice that we had an accommodation in the city center). If you start later, you may miss Teleferico at the end of the itinerary which closes at 7 pm. We advise you to eat a solid breakfast to have enough energy for a long walk. 🙂 For our breakfast, we bought the following things in a local shop: rolls, cucumber, two tomatoes and a green tea. We paid for it 2,700 Chilean pesos (around £3.32) for three people so it was not bad.
Okay, now after this introduction, your first step is to get to Palace “La Moneda”. At this stage, I advise to download an app called “Maps.Me”. Maps.Me is an application which allows downloading an offline map of a given place. So if you don’t have the Internet in your mobile phones like us, then it may save your life in a giant city like Santiago. 🙂 It navigates from place to place almost perfectly.
1. Palace “La Moneda”
Palacio de la Moneda literally means “Palace of the Currency”. It is the seat of the Chilean President and it was built in the neoclassical style in the XVIII century by Joaquim Toesca. During our trip, the security separated three sides of the palace from the public. However, we still managed to take some nice photos. 🙂 What is interesting, at the beginning, in the palace people were producing coins (source). Hence, the name of the building should be now more clear as “la Moneda”, besides a coin, also means “currency”. We weren’t inside the palace, but we’re still happy to present you a photo from the outside. In general, according to what I read on the Internet, if you want to visit the interior of the palace, you have to fill-in an online form at least 2 weeks before the departure. Here is a video, in which you can see the rooms of La Moneda (the video itself is in Spanish).
Although I would love to see the palace covered with snow-white paint, I think that the building is quite impressive and still worth a visit. After all, it is a piece of Chilean history.
2. Bolsa de Comercio – Stock Exchange in Santiago
The main stock exchange in Santiago was founded in 1893. I have to admit that I really liked this building (see the photo below). The exchange trades, for instance, in stocks, investment funds, bonds, gold coins and others. Here is the official site of Bolsa de Comercio – link. What is interesting, Bolsa de Comercio in Santiago is a third largest stock exchange in Latin America.
3. Plaza de Armas
We recommend you to reach Plaza de Armas through the Bandera Street where you can see a lot of interesting shops/buildings. For the ones who don’t know, Plaza de Armas is the name for the city’s main square in the numerous Latino-american cities including Lima, Cusco or Havana. 🙂
Plaza de Armas in Santiago is large and undeniably impressive. Among interesting building, there are Correo Central (Central Post Building), Museo Historico (National History Museum of Chile) and Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago. We weren’t inside the Cathedral because, unfortunately, it was closed. Regarding the central post, I sent a postcard to my grandparents who live in Poland for just 500 pesos. We also visited the National History Museum. 🙂 A good news is that the entrance is free!
3a) Plaza de Armas – National History Museum of Chile
To enter the museum, you have to leave your things (such as backpacks) in the special lockers at the reception. It costs 100 pesos to use a locker, however, you get it back once you leave the museum. If your belongings are too large to fit, then you can talk to a receptionist who will take them for free.
In the museum, you can enjoy paintings from many historical periods. Among the artists, we saw the pictures of, for instance, Alvaro Casanova Zentero, Alejandro Cicarelli, Jose Ortega and Johe Gil de Castro y Morales. Besides, I liked the scale models of Santiago and Valparaiso. In the museum, there are also many other types of exhibits. You can see there, for example, clothes, posters, figures, weapons or coins. Visiting this history museum is a good way to learn something new about Chilean culture.
In the museum there are no English translations of the text displayed on the walls.
4. Mercado Central
We reached Mercado Central (Central Market) at around 2 pm so it was a right time for lunch/dinner. In the Mercado Central, you can definitely eat like a local. Although this place is basically a fish market, there are many restaurants inside. Yes, if you decide to eat in Central Market, it is quite likely that your restaurant will be located opposite the shop with fresh fish and seafood. And as it is a closed building, the smell of fish is quite acute. But it did not stop us from eating there because, after all, the food was cheap and Chilean.
In the restaurant, we took probably the most classic dish in the South America – “pescado frito con arroz” which is a fried fish with rice. The dish was also accompanied by a salad and we received a fish soup as an appetizer. The conclusion is that in Chile you may receive more than you ordered for the same price. 🙂 In the restaurant, we also took one large beer and we paid 5000 pesos (around £6.20) per person in total. Normally, the dinner cost 3500 pesos (around £4.40) but we bought a beer and left a tip.
If you are a European who visit Chile like us, you may notice that everything in this country taste differently. A fish, an apple, even rice… I would say that the food have a strange flavour to which you have to get used to. For me, some vegetables such as tomato or cucumber seemed to be without a flavour at all. By the way, I am not surprised about extremely different opinions about Mercado Central in Santiago (read them here). I think that Central Market is an attraction for travellers who like discovering local customs and food and for those who are fine with eating surrounded by shops with fish (for me it was quite disgusting but interesting experience).
Okay, once you enjoyed a dinner in Mercado Central (or not), the next step of the trip is Barrio Bellavista.
5. Barrio Bellavista
I am not sure if Barrio Bellavista is a district so let’s say is an “area”. Barrio Bellavista is located close to the city center and there are countless shops, restaurants, discos, and boutiques. I loved street art that you can spot in this place. We weren’t shopping there so I cannot provide you with sample prices of the souvenirs, food or clothes but I hope you will enjoy our photos from this place. 🙂
6. Cerro San Cristobal Viewpoint
Cerro San Cristobal is a viewpoint which has an elevation of 880 m / 2,890 ft. above the sea level. You can simply walk up to the viewpoint (it is not an exhaustive walk) or take a funicular railway. The panorama of Santiago from the Cerro San Cristobal is stunning. We just could not stop making photos. 🙂 The only sad thing is that in this place you may encounter many ownerless dogs. Although there are a lot of lonely dogs in Santiago in general, I saw around six dogs just in the area of this viewpoint. They aren’t hostile, however, it’s simply heartbreaking to see them.
On the peak, there is also a 22-meter figure of Blessed Virgin Mary and a sanctuary. As Pope Francis is going to visit Santiago in 2018, we saw a big poster with the pope and the religious music was playing all the time. I think it’s worth to visit Cerro San Cristobal for the astonishing views. And, from this viewpoint, you can take a ride on cable car Teleferico which is an experience that will never bore me.
You can read what other people say about Cerro San Cristobal here.
7. Cable Car Teleferico
Cable car Teleferico in Santiago closes at 7 pm. You have to take this into account and not come too late. Teleferico has three stations – Oasis, Tupahue, and Cumbre. Oasis is located just next to San Cristobal viewpoint. Tupahue is a middle station and Cumbre is a last one situated down the hill. We bought one-way tickets from Oasis to Cumbre and it cost us 1910 pesos per person (around £2.4). This ticket allows you to leave at the middle station and continue the ride after the break. I recommend to seize the opportunity and to leave at Tupahue to make astonishing photos of the sky tower and the Andes. In order to reach the place from which we took the photos presented below, you have to just walk several meters down from the station.
Cumbre station is located around 5 km/3 miles from the city center. But the walk is pleasant as firstly you pass a park and then go through Barrio Bellavista where lots of people have fun.
Plaza de Armas looks so different during the late evening and this is why it again appears on our list. When it’s dark, you can enjoy the lovely architecture of Santiago illuminated by white and yellow lights. At around 8-9 pm there are still crowds on the plaza. But just like during the day, we felt safe.
9. Your hostel/hotel
That’s it for this today! We hope you enjoyed our little trip. 🙂 If you have the opportunity to stay in Santiago a little longer, then I recommend visiting St. Lucia viewpoint which is located close to the city center.
City Tour Santiago – Top Santiago Tips
You may want to have some fun…
If you are a fan of fun, then after teleferico experience, you can return to Barrio Bellavista again and enjoy loud discos.
Funicular Railway at San Cristobal
-You can reach San Cristobal viewpoint by a funicular railway but I don’t recommend it. You have to pay for it and the queue for the railway may be long. Also, the walk up the hill took us just 35 minutes (at the information point they told us that it will take 1 hour but you would have to walk incredibly slowly to get this time).
Tower in the history museum
In the history museum, you can reach a tower with the view over the Plaza de Armas. However, you have to with the guide. It does not cost anything but you have to find a guide in the museum… on your own. Yes, it took us around 10 minutes to find a right person. 😉 So don’t give up easily because the view from the tower is excellent. The guide also told us some stories about, for instance, tower’s clock.
Chaos in the shops
Don’t be surprised that a procedure of shopping may be a bit unusual and chaotic. For instance, in Santa Isabela market when you want to pay, you have to first scan all the items on your own. With the receipt you got (but you don’t pay anything yet), you go to the cashier and show him/her what you scanned. And then, the cashier scans for you the items that you couldn’t scan on your own (e.g. a cucumber for which a special code is needed). After a member of staff will scan for you the rest of the items, you can finally pay. 🙂
Santiago City Tour – the Summary
I hope that you found lots of useful information in our article. I think that this trip covered the most interesting spots in the city. Personally, I cannot even decide what I enjoyed the most. Maybe the wonderful views from Cerro San Cristobal or colourful Barrio Bellavista. By the way, do you need any other info? If yes, leave a comment or write a message to us. 🙂 If you had a chance to visit Santiago, we are happy to hear your comments as well. Do you think that this trip can be somehow improved?
Soon, we are happy to propose you an idea for a 7-Days stay in Santiago. Stay tuned! Meanwhile, we invite you to follow us on Facebook. Share our article with your friends through social media platforms. 🙂