I wasn’t expecting Santiago, Chile to charm me like it did. It kind of snuck up on me! But with the booming winery industry, warm people, fresh seafood, and expressive street art, it’s no wonder I loved it. One of the things that makes Santiago a unique city is that it doesn’t have a major monument that puts it on the map, like the Eiffel Tower does in Paris or the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janiero. Instead, Santiago is a very livable city, and if you know what to do in Santiago when you get here, you’ll really enjoy it! To show you what I mean, I’ve put together for you these top 15 things to do in Santiago!
Best Things To Do in Santiago:
- Culinary tour
Delve more deeply into the culture by engaging with the cuisine! Let an expert chef take you through the markets, buying fresh produce for your meal. Then he will show you how to prepare some famous Chilean dishes like pisco sour, ceviche, and empanadas. You get to enjoy the dishes you help to make (and trust me, you will enjoy it!) and then you take the recipes home with you to show off to your friends! Check out the culinary tour where I made EMPANADAS right here! >>
- Visit Valparaíso
The colorful city by the sea, Valparaíso is a great day trip from Santiago. Take a walk around this hilly town (it’s got 45 of them!), searching for the best street art and little artisan shop. Cerros (hills) Alegre and Concepcion are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and therefore their preservation is top priority. And since the hills are where people live and socialize, while the flat land is where they go for work and school, the hills are where you want to start exploring to appreciate the lively energy of the city!
- Dine on Lastarria
This street has all the best restaurants, including one with over 300 wines to choose from! At either end of the street you’ll find Emporio La Rosa, an award-winning ice cream shop that’s definitely worth a try. Along the street you’ll also find artisans, vendors, and musicians.
- Take a winery tour
To not tour the vineyards in Santiago would be like going to Napa and not touring a vineyard while you’re there. Chile has some of the best terroir for growing high-quality grapes, with its ocean front and mountainous slopes. Take a tour of the vineyards and learn about the process of wine production while you find the varietal that suits your taste buds! This is definitely one of my absolute favorite things to do in Santiago!
- Explore Barrio Brasil
The neighborhood of Barrio Brasil is the most colorful, thanks to the creative street art everywhere. If you want a neighborhood with character, this is it! There’s also a number of lively open-air restaurants nearby where you can grab a drink and enjoy the ambiance.
- Go up the Sky Tower
Every city has that skydeck observatory that tourists love to visit, but this one stands out. Nowhere else can you see mountains popping up in the middle of a bustling metropolis. The landscape in Santiago is uniquely beautiful and can only be truly appreciated from a bird’s eye view.
- Eat ice cream at Emporio La Rosa
I already mentioned that Emporio La Rosa can be found at Lastarria, along with other locations around Santiago. This ice cream shop has been ranked as top 25 in the whole world, so it’s definitely a great idea for what to do in Santiago. You would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t go while you’re in town. Give the rose petal flavor a try!
- Hike one of the cerros
As I said, you get a great view of the landscape from the Sky Tower. You can hike these cerros (hills) for yourself. And I promise no other hiking has been made this accessible, it’s right in the middle of the city. So take a day hike on one of the cerros and then reward yourself with Emporio La Rosa!
- Visit the Museo de Bellas Artes
If the street art is any indicator, Santiago has a great art scene. Explore the more traditional side of it at the Museo de Bellas Artes. Admission is free and the building that houses the artwork is arguably the greatest piece of architecture in the city!
- Take a Tours4Tips
I love to find the free attractions when I travel, and the Tours4Tips city walking tour is another awesome activity that has no ticket price. Join up with the guides wearing Where’s Waldo shirts and get a glimpse of the city as you walk around to either the main attractions or the off-beat ones, depending on what tour you choose. The guides are passionate about Santiago and about Chile, and their enthusiasm will help you to better appreciate your visit here. (Note that tipping is encouraged, as they run these tours voluntarily.) I highly recommend this to do in Santiago!
- Walk the Puente to Mercado Centrale
The Puente is the pedestrian street, and it’s where the locals walk to work and school and to meet friends for coffee and to shop at the market. Join them and walk up to the Mercado Centrale, where you’ll be overwhelmed with an offering of fresh produce. The market a full city block, and you can get quite a steal on the produce! Continue past that to La Vega to see the meat market in full swing!
- Explore Barrio Italia
With a massive antiques market in the day and a lively bar scene at night, Barrio Italia quickly became one of my favorite neighborhoods in Santiago. It’s not touristy either, so you’ll get a feel for real life in Santiago when you visit.
- Bike+Wine tour
The only thing better than a vineyard tour is a biking tour through the vineyard! Imagine biking through the rows of grapevines, stopping occasionally to sip some wine in the vineyard, before going to see the processing facility and having a full wine tasting. These innovative bike and wine tours operated by La Bicicleta Verde are super fun and a unique experience in Santiago!
- Have a picnic in the Parque Forestal
The Parque Forestal is right nearby the Museo de Bellas Artes, and is like the Santiago equivalent of New York’s Central Park. Come take a picnic in this beautiful park and join the locals as they visit the playground, go for a walk, relax on the grass, listen to musicians, and enjoy this green retreat in a bustling city!
- Learn the history of Santiago & Chile
Chile has a troubled history of dictatorial oppression, from which they’re still recovering financially, structurally, and emotionally. Everyone here has a personal connection to the conflict and thus, an opinion on it. Ask the people you meet here about it and you’ll learn more than you would in a textbook, you’ll learn what it was like for the people living here and how it continues to affect their lives and culture.
Santiago, Chile is a city very dear to my heart. I came for the wine culture, but was swept away by the kind-hearted people and I look forward to going back. These are my top 15 things to do in Santiago! Have you been to Santiago? What other sights and attractions did you enjoy? What would you add to this list of things to do in Santiago?