Famous seafood markets, hip cafes, and vibrant street art.
Though not as famous as Rio or Buenos Aires, Santiago is fast becoming an up-and-coming hot destination in its own right. During the last few decades, Chile’s capital city has undergone a serious cultural metamorphosis making it worthy of a visit – from extraordinary fine dining, gorgeous gardens, famous seafood markets, world-class museums, hip cafes, vibrant street art and much more. Here are the top five must-see’s in Santiago, Chile!
1. Plaza de Armas
Corner of Monjitas & 21 de Mayo, Santiago, Región Metropolitana, Chile (map)
For nearly 500 years, Plaza de Armas is considered the symbolic heart of Chile’s historic capital city. Constructed in 1541 (the same year the city was founded), the plaza has a tumultuous history, which at one point featured gallows during Spanish colonial rule. Today, a bronze statue of South America’s famed libertador (liberator) Simón Bolivar on horseback, beautifully shaded by scores of Chilean palm trees, is the proud centerpiece of the plaza.
Tip: Don’t forget to visit Catedral Metropolitana – a neoclassical cathedral, built between 1748 and 1800, overlooking the Plaza de Armas.
2. Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral
An absolute must-see for any visitor to the city is Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral. This beautiful cultural arts center was constructed and named after Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. GAM features two huge exhibition spaces and spacious outdoor plazas, a lovely bookstore, chic café and delightful antiques fair. For museum enthusiasts, this pleasantly contemporary cultural center is an exciting new addition to the city’s rich art scene.
3. Museo de la Moda
Traveling fashionistas need to look no farther than Museo de la Moda! A visit to the extraordinary Museum of Fashion features exquisite and exotic designer pieces worn by some of the world’s greatest artists, fashion icons and world leaders – such as Jean Paul Gaultier’s “cone bra” designed for Madonna and a beautiful evening gown worn by Princess Diana in 1981.
4. La Chascona
La Chascona is the famed house built for Pablo Neruda’s mistress Matilde Urrutia when they needed a secret hideaway to spend time together. The historic building of La Chascona – loosely meaning “messy hair,” named after Matilde’s curly hair – features ship cabin-shaped dining room and living room modeled after a lighthouse, plus collections of glass, shells and an array of artworks. To visit the home of Neruda’s secret paramour, be sure to book a tour ahead of your visit.
5. Cerro San Cristóbal
Providencia, Recoleta, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile (map)
Do not leave Santiago without visiting Cerro San Cristóbal! Located north of Río Mapocho, this nearly 2,900 foot (870 meter) high viewpoint offers gorgeous 360-degree panoramic views of the cityscape below. The ride up to the top of the mountain is simply spectacular on the funicular train, which can be boarded from Plaza Caupolicán (located at Pío Nono in Bellavista). Not to mention, Parque Metropolitano, the city’s largest park, is located here, along with two swimming pools, a botanical garden and a zoo.