Wedged between the Andes and the Pacific, Santiago is a well-placed base for seeing the best Chile has to offer, including nearby vineyards, beaches and even a ski slope or two. But this vibrant city is well worth lingering in for its leafy parks, appealing neighbourhoods, and wonderful food. Get your bearings at the top of San Cristobal, Santiagoans favourite spot for lazy Sunday walks and picnics. Make it a truly lazy day by taking the funicular up the side of the forested mountainside to find a viewing platform and giant statue of the Virgin Mary.
At the foot of San Cristobal, the artsy area of Bellavista has colourful houses and a lively café culture. Sip a froth- topped cortado on the main drag of Pio Nono before heading to Lastarria, another up-and-coming district with independent shops and galleries along cobblestone streets. Santiago has a thriving arts scene from street art to traditional galleries, including the Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, which houses works by Picasso and Miro. Be sure to saunter through Plaza de Armas, the main square, and around the wealthy neighborhoods of Nueva Costanera or Vitacura to admire the upscale boutiques and villas.
Santiago is the best place to appreciate Chile’s bountiful produce. Art nouveau Mercado Central has an amazing array of seafood while bustling La Vega offers food carts stacked with street food at bargain prices. Chile’s native ingredients are also being championed by a new wave of chefs such as Rodolfo Guzman at Boragó in the Vitacura district.
A Pisco Sour
Peumayen in Bellavista is another, celebrating the ancestral cuisine of the Mapuche, Aymara and Rapu Nui. A pisco sour, the local cocktail, is a must-do on an evening out, after which you might even be tempted to head into a salsoteca to see how the Chileans shake it.