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A towering skyline set against a backdrop of misty Andes Mountains sums up Santiago’s charm. The booming capital of Chile is also the nation’s economic and cultural epicentre. To celebrate the country’s bicentennial, new museums and art galleries have been built across Santiago, giving the city a sophisticated makeover.
Formerly a Spanish outpost, it is now fast becoming a bright star in Chile’s cultural firmament and one of South America’s tourism gems. There is never a dull moment in Santiago. World-class restaurants, a lively mix of cultural offerings, sprawling open spaces, and outdoor adventure options – you will be spoiled for choice.
Book a flight to Santiago with Qatar Airways and explore a city bursting with energy and teeming with natural treasures.
Santiago is a city of architectural contrasts. On Nueva York St, you will find three iconic Renaissance-inspired buildings located on a wedge-shaped city block: Santiago Stock Exchange, Edificio Ariztía and Edificio Ex Hotel Mundial. A 17-minute drive from this area will take you to the county’s commercial hub, Providencia, home to Gran Torre Santiago. At 300 metres to its tip, it is currently the tallest building in South America.
Explore the city on foot and soak up some of its history. Start your tour by walking through the verdant gardens of Cerro Santa Lucía , Santiago’s founding location. In the Barrio Paris-Londres, you will find one of the city’s oldest streets and many examples of its historic architecture.
The main square of Santiago is Plaza de Armas, which was levelled when the city was founded in 1541 by the Spaniards. It houses the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art and a string of cafés, and is where locals go to play chess or feed the pigeons. The square also serves as a platform for street performers.
Don’t miss La Moneda, the grand presidential palace, a beautiful neoclassical building. Within the palace’s complex is the Cultural Centre Museum, which exhibits Chilean, Latin American, and international artefacts.
Barrio Bellavista is the Bohemian arts district of the city. Here you can find one of Nobel Prize-winner Pablo Neruda’s houses, containing books and manuscripts related to his life and works. The Museo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología is an excellent place for a day out with your kids. The museum’s interactive exhibits and models will keep their curious minds busy.
A good spot for just hanging out and soaking up the atmosphere of Santiago is Barrio Brasil. Here, beautiful architecture and chic bars pull in the younger crowds every evening. You can also sample tasty snacks of traditional Chilean street food, and there is a Metro station close by.
Many families spend their weekends in the Parque O’Higgins, picnicking in the shaded areas and wandering around the museums and craft stalls. There are also rollercoasters and assorted rides for children, as well as a lake where you can rent paddleboats.
Aside from Plaza de Armas, street performers and entertainers can be found on Parque Forestal on Sundays. It is popular among joggers and bikers, as it features several winding paths. Families also frequent the park, which is replete with sculptures and other attractions, including the Fuente Alemana (German Fountain). You can pick up second-hand clothes, books and antiques at stalls across the park.
Owing to Chile’s long stretch of coastline, seafood is a popular ingredient in most national dishes. Mussels, clams, sea urchins and other fruits of the sea are served with rice and salad at street food stalls, in small cafés and plush restaurants throughout Santiago. Try the machas a la parmesana (clams broiled with Parmesan cheese).
If you’re not a seafood fan, don’t fret. There are plenty of Spanish-style meat dishes on offer, too. Empanada – short-crust pastry filled with chopped beef, onion and spices – is a Chilean culinary treasure. Pastel de choclo, a beef and corn casserole, is another local favourite. Throughout the city, many restaurants also serve churrasco or barbecued sirloin steak, often served with fried potatoes or as part of a sandwich.
Santiago’s retail scene offers plenty of opportunities for you to splash your cash. The downtown district has stalls and markets that offer the best bargains. But if you prefer American-style, air-conditioned malls, the area has those on offer, too.
There are also several stores that specialise in antiques and traditional handicrafts, such as those lining Plaza de la Ciudadanía and Barrio Lastarria.
Essential facts about Santiago
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip