Our time in Santiago flew by in a flash and despite having three whole days in the city we managed to fill all of that time. Admittedly some of it was spend sitting in cute cafes reading but this was meant to be a holiday after all. However, with the rest of our time we were in full explorer mode and walked our way around most of Santiago in one day. Santiago is a relatively small city, especially when you compare it to Rio de Janeiro, which we had previous been in. Due to its size we chose to walk everywhere and providing you don’t mind a bit of walking I would totally recommend doing the same.
How to spend 24 hours in Santiago
People don’t seem to rise early here, enjoy the lie in and rise around 9am with the aim of being out around 10am. Begin your day with a wander along the river towards the downtown part of the city, you can pick up a pastry or similar for breakfast from the street stalls by the river, before heading into the Central Mercado. I wasn’t hugely keen on the market especially as it involves a lot of fish with heads on, which I am scared of. However, a wander around here is worth it for the atmosphere of the stalls all shouting over each other in Spanish.
From here, head away from the river and towards Plaza de Armas. A place which reminded me of the Plaça Reial in Barcelona, like there, the square was lined with palm trees, gorgeous European style buildings and lots of activity. Take in the atmosphere then head inside the Cathedral for a little rest bite from the sun and to admire the beautiful architecture here. Next up, take those walking legs all the way down Ahumada until you reach the university. Cross over the main road and head for the streets called Paris and Londres. These beautiful cobbled streets appear in what feels like a random spot of the city, lined with beautiful trees, quaint buildings and a few cafes (which on Boxing Day 26/12 were all closed up). These two streets are very different to the rest of the city and worth a visit just for their beauty.
There is time for one more stop before lunch, head over to Jardin Japonés to explore Cerro Saint Luica and the wonderful views it offers over Santiago. You’ll have to sign in at the gate but the castle is totally free to visit. Prepare for several slopes and steps to climb, however, I promise it will be worth it. From the top you can see all the way across the city, from the streets you have just walked to the Andes Mountains in the far distance. Take your time up here, enjoy the view and the shaded spots away from the hot summer sun. Once you have finished, exit from the river side of the garden and head for José Miguel de La Barra. There are several cafes for lunch here but one particular vintage place called Cafe Bistro de la Barra is where I recommend. The interior is quirky with tea cups and glasses used to decorate the walls and lights. Their menu is wonderful and the portions are large, I had a salmon salad and couldn’t believe the size. Once you have digested lunch it is time for some more walking.
Wander over the river and into the Bellavista district, at this time the area will be pretty quiet so check out the street art and then head for the funicular railway which will take you up to Cerro San Cristóbal. Buy a return ticket and join the queue, it moves quickly so don’t worry if it looks long. Once on the railway be sure to keep watching as the whole city just opens up in front of your eyes. This hill is much higher than Cerro Saint Lucia and the views really will wow you this time. Take in the views around the top of the railway then head out to the viewpoint (which you’ll find if you follow the track from the right of the railway) for the perfect view over the Andes Mountains and parts of Santiago. Head back towards the railway and there are some little cafes at the top, it is the perfect spot of a refreshing drink and ice cream (providing you are visiting in the summer) before you head down on the funicular railway.
By now I’m sure you deserve a beer, head for Pio Nono and find a bar you fancy having a drink at. They are all pretty similar and have tables outside for you to sit and enjoy the world go by, just be careful of the beggars that frequent this area. My dinner suggestion is just around the corner and I suggest heading there early as the tables gets filled up quickly. Galindo is a typical Chilean restaurant and has a great choices of dishes. Just be aware they have a rule which means to order any drink there you have to also order food, but the food really is worth sticking by the rule for. Once dinner is done and if you are lucky you have had a musical dance performance or two then take the time to head back to your accommodation and freshen up. That is if you want to go out…
Bellavista is known as the heart of the night life and all around this area are bars and clubs which have parties every night. You can dance and drink the night away as you like…