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The capital of Chile has always had plenty of charm, and when you book a flight to Santiago with Qatar Airways you’ll discover a magical city of landscaped gardens, colourful markets and a breathtaking mountainous backdrop.
New museums and art galleries have been built to celebrate the city’s bicentennial and nowadays Santiago is fast becoming a bright new star in Chile’s cultural firmament. Fly to Santiago and explore the hidden treasures and natural wonders of one of South America’s most up and coming urban centres.
You’ll soon discover on your trip to Santiago that this is a big city with a bewildering number of attractions to see and things to do. So break yourself into city life gently with a walk around the ornate gardens and fountains of Cerro Santa Lucia Hill, Santiago’s founding location, to get a real feel for the city’s history.
In the Paris Londres Neighbourhood you’ll find one of the oldest of the city’s streets and many examples of its historic architecture. The main square of Santiago is Plaza de Armas, levelled when the city was founded back in 1541 by the Spanish. There’s a museum here, and separate sectors for artists and musicians as well as cafés where you can play chess with the locals.
Don’t miss the grand Presidential Palace, a beautifully ornate building with a museum and many other attractions. You can see the loud and colourful changing of the guard ceremony at 10.00am here each morning.
In the bohemian arts district of the city, Barrio Bellavista is one of Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda’s houses, containing many original books and manuscripts relating to his life and works. The Museo de Ciencia y Tecnologia is a great place for kids to learn more about science and technology in a fun way, through interactive exhibits and models.
A good spot for just hanging out and soaking up the atmosphere of this magical old city during your trip to Santiago is Barrio Brazil. Here, beautiful architecture and chic bars pull in the younger crowds every evening. You can get tasty snacks of traditional Chilean street food too, and there’s a handy Metro station close by.
Many families spend their weekends in the Parque O’Higgins, picnicking in the shaded areas and wandering around the small museums in the park. There’s also a roller coaster theme park for the kids on the site. For street performers, jugglers and other street entertainers, go to the Parque Forestal any Sunday and revel in the authentic atmosphere. You can pick up second-hand clothes, books and antiques at the stalls.
Chile has a very long coastline and this is reflected in the popularity of seafood across the country. Mussels, clams, sea urchins and other fruits of the sea are served with rice and salad on street food stalls and in small cafés and plush restaurants throughout the city. But don’t worry if seafood is not to your liking because there are also plenty of Spanish-style meat dishes on offer too.
Try the empanadas, which are tasty meat, cheese or seafood wraps sold practically everywhere. Pastel de Choclo is the favourite dish in Santiago; it’s a chicken and beef pie with a sweet corn topping baked in a clay pot.
If you’re travelling to Santiago with the hope of doing some serious shopping you’ll be happy to learn that the city has a great range of opportunities to splash the cash. The stalls and markets of the downtown area are the best places to look for bargains, though if you prefer American-style, air-conditioned malls there are plenty of those too.
There are also a large number of stores which specialise in antiques and traditional handicrafts, such as those lining the Plaza de la Ciudadania and the Barrio Lastarria.
Flights to Santiago with Qatar Airways arrive at Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport, 15km northwest of the Santiago. Use a Centropuerto bus to reach the Los Heroes station on the Santiago Metro, which will take you into the centre of the city.
Visa restrictions for entry into the country will depend on your country of origin, length of stay and whether your trip is for business or pleasure. So before you fly to Santiago please check the visa and passport requirements.
Currency: Peso (CLP)
Voltage: 220 V 50 Hz
Plugs: Type L
International dialing code: +56