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Santiago do Chile

The Chilean capital is suddenly cool.

Santiago has always had its measured charms – fine dining, perfectly landscaped gardens, a famous seafood market, the stunning backdrop of the Andes – but in the past few years it has undergone a cultural metamorphosis. In celebration of Chile's bicentennial, the city poured millions of pesos into the construction of sleek new cultural centers, thoughtful museums and gorgeous green parks.

The upscale neighborhoods of Vitacura and El Golf bloomed with stylish new art galleries, the new W Hotel started drawing A-list celebrities to its rooftop bar, and the faded but beautiful Barrio Brasil was infused with vibrant public art and funky youth hostels. True, Santiago may never be as glamorous as Rio or as dynamic as Buenos Aires, but now it's more than a stop off on the way to Chilean Patagonia or the Atacama. Understated but up-and-coming, Santiago just became a destination in its own right.

Discover more about Santiago

The City

Santiago is one of those metropolitan joys where the more you look, the more you find. Funky cafes and dance clubs dot Bellavista, Forest Park art collections range from pre-Columbian to contemporary, and architecture runs the gamut from the 16th-century San Francisco Church to mirrored office towers. Shop with the locals at Mall Panora¡mico and give your palate meals to remember with hearty Chilean fare.

Night Life

Most of Santiago's nightlife spots are located outside the downtown area. The Bellavista district is home to most of the buzzing bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Its main drag is Calle Pío Nono. Less discovered but perhaps more genuine is the area around Barrio Brasil, an old part of town. Meanwhile, the tidy middle-class district of Ñuñoa is gaining in popularity as a place for a night out among those disaffected by the kitsch of Bellavista. The best bars cluster around Plaza Ñuñoa.



  • Jewel of India: Indian cuisine. Manuel Montt 1007, Santiago, Chile. Tel. +56-2-2985-1000


  • Bocanariz: Wine bar. Avenue Jose Victorino Lastarria 276, Santiago, Chile. Tel. +56-2-6389893. Open everyday.


  • Osaka: Turkey and Asian cuisine. Isidora Goyenechea | W Santiago, Santiago 3000, Chile. Tel. +56-2-770-0081. Closed on Sundays.


  • Aqui esta Coco: South American cuisine and Seafood. La Concepcion 236, Santiago, Chile. Tel. +56-2-2410-6200


  • Anush: Coffee Shop, Argentinian, Chilean and Armenian cuisine. Mayflower 2439, Santiago, Chile. Tel. +56-2-2474-0987. Closed on weekends.


  • Zurriola: Pub & Restaurant. Spanish and Basque cuisine. Nueva de Lyon 99, Providencia, Santiago, Chile. Tel. +56-2-2233-1013.


  • Peumayen Ancestral Food: American and Chilean cuisine. Constitucion 136, Barrio Bellavista, Providencia, Santiago 7520, Chile. Closed on Mondays.

Santiago has grown into one of Latin America’s most successful cities.

Santiago was founded in 1541 by a small band of Spanish conquistadors. The location was chosen for its proximity to Cerro Santa Lucía (high ground that could be defended) and the Mapocho River as well as the temperate climate and fertile ground.

But the conquistadores were met with great resistance from the Incas and Picunche who nearly destroyed the town.

By the 1600s, Santiago was taking shape however, and the expansion was rapid. In 1770, the governor commissioned the Metropolitan Cathedral and La Moneda presidential palace to be built.

The Battle of Chacabuco on 12 February 1817 was a key moment in Chilean history. José de San Martín and Bernardo O’Higgins led the resistance army to victory against Spanish royalists and on the same day Chilean independence was proclaimed.

Growth continued throughout the Republican era and an ambitious plan of civic building was formed, leading to the development of the education system and the forward-thinking landscaping of Cerro Santa Lucía.

The railway arrived in 1857. Santiago was now a modern and reasonably wealthy city with trams and paved streets.

By 1940, nearly 1 million people, many immigrants from Spain and Italy, packed the city. Almost as significant as the railway was the connection of the Pan American Highway, which was extended here in the 1960s.

However, Chile suffered from the same poverty as other southern countries. This led to political instability, the key moment being the 1973 coup d’état that saw the liberal president Salvador Allende ousted (fatally) and replaced by the violent military regime of General Pinochet.

Santiago was the scene of horrific atrocities against those perceived to be anti-Pinochet. Unlike the regime in Argentina, Chile’s government began to look west, opening up ties and trade with Thatcher’s Britain and Reagan’s USA.

Today, Santiago is a modern and lively place, leading one of Latin America’s most prosperous countries.

general info

Country Code




Chile's main air hub for both national and domestic flights is Aeropuerto Internacional Arturo Merino Benítez. It's 26km west of central Santiago.

Lan, Aerolíneas Argentinas and low-cost airline Gol run regular domestic and regional services from here. Major international airlines that fly to Chile have offices or representatives in Santiago.



Mar–Aug: The wine harvest kicks off, while May brings snow to nearby ski areas.

Sep–Nov: Comfortable temperatures make the shoulder season ideal for sightseeing.

Dec–Feb: Summer brings street festivals and excellent quick adventures in the countryside.




Bus - Transantiago buses are a cheap and convenient way of getting around town, especially when the metro shuts down at night. Green-and-white buses operate in central Santiago or connect two areas of town. Each suburb has its own color-coded local buses and an identifying letter that precedes route numbers (eg routes in Las Condes and Vitacura start with a C and vehicles are painted orange).

Bike - Santiago is flat and compact enough to get around by bike and the climate is ideal for it. Although the city still isn't particularly bike-friendly, it does have a small network of ciclovías (bike lanes) - and more and more Santiaguinos are cycling to work. You can rent bikes and helmets from tour operator La Bicicleta Verde.

Car & Motorcycle - To drive on any of the expressways within Santiago proper, your car must have an electronic sensor known as a TAG in the windshield – all rental cars have them. On-street parking is banned in some parts of central Santiago and metered (often by a person) in others – costs range from CH$1000 to CH$3000 per hour, depending on the area. If you're not paying a meter, you're expected to pay a similar fee to the 'parking attendant.'


Taxi - Santiago has abundant metered taxis, all black with yellow roofs. Flag fall costs CH$250, then it's CH$120 per 200m (or minute of waiting time). For longer rides – from the city center out to the airport, for example – you can sometimes negotiate flat fares. 

Subway - Now part of Transantiago, the city's ever-expanding metro (subway) is a clean and efficient way of getting about. Services on its five interlinking lines are frequent, but often painfully crowded. To get on the trains, head underground. You can use your BIP card or purchase a one-way fare. Pass through the turn-styles and head for your line. It's a fine way to get around during the day, but during the morning and evening rush, you may prefer to walk.



Violent crime is relatively rare in Santiago, a city that is regularly ranked as the safest big city in Latin America. Pick pocketing and bag-snatching, however, are on the rise, and tourists are often targets. Keep your eyes open and your bags close to you around the Plaza de Armas, Mercado Central, Cerro Santa Lucía and Cerro San Cristóbal in particular. Look around you before whipping out a digital camera; be aware that organized groups of pickpockets sometimes target drinkers along Pío Nono in Bellavista. Barrio Brasil's smaller streets can be dodgy after dark. Political strife has taken the form as protests (which occasionally turn violent) and anarchist bombings in recent years. It's advisable to avoid political protests unless you are really part of the movement.

If you are robbed, head to the police department to fill out a report (and hopefully) have the goods covered by your travel insurance. Your consulate can also help, but rarely steps in when drugs are involved.

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