YOUR FIRST DAYS IN SANTIAGO
If you’re planning to fly to Santiago, or you just got there and you’re looking for places to visit, this article is meant to help up.
The capital has been my base camp already for 24 years, so I’m quite prepared to tell you what-to-do in the big city. I hope these following tips will help you during your very first days around! Be ready, the city is BIG.
HOW TO GET TO SANTIAGO FROM THE AIRPORT
If you just arrived at the airport Arturo Merino Benitez, you might want to get to the city as soon as possible, and the airport is kind of …far. You’ll see different transport possibilities, the easiest way will be taking the transfer or if you want to try …a taxi. WATCH OUT, taxi drivers might notice at a first glance that you are not Chilean, and probably charge you a little bit more… yeap sadly that happens all over the world. All right, if you are not interested in privates and super comfy transports, you want to spend your money better in food and adventures are your thing, it’d be better to take the public buses. There are 2 companies that go from and to the city, one is called TurBus and the other one Centropuerto, and they will be outside the main entrance of the first floor of the airport. It won’t cost you more than 4USD, they are actually pretty good and you can choose where to stop. I’ll recommend any Metro Station you can recognize.
ONCE IN SANTIAGO CITY
1.-PLAZA DE ARMAS – SANTIAGO’S HEART
You might be wondering where to start. Santiago has around 8million people, half of the country living there, so get ready for a big city. The capital has been divided in 37 “Comunas” this is how we call the different districts, so forget about visiting them all. The old town is located in the middle –dah…- and is called Santiago Centro –creative of course. There you might find the old town, the PLAZA DE ARMAS. Close to it, you can find Museums, the oldest buildings in the city, tons of shop stores and more, you’ll be right in the center of the capital.
2.-CERRO SAN CRISTÓBAL
Would you like to see the view of the whole city? There’s a fun way to do it! Step off in Metro Baquedano, go north along Pio Nono street (we’re going to talk about this street later, for other purposes, be ready), and at the end, you’ll find the entry of the Cerro San Cristóbal. From there you can choose whether to walk or pay 3USD and take the funicular which takes you straight up to the top. Both ways are fun, it depends on your energy! From the top you’ll be able to see most of the city, hopefully, you have a clear day, and I don’t mean because of the sun, you are likely to have the sun even in winter, I mean it for the smog. Sadly the city has so much pollution we are not able to see the mountains sometimes. WELL Good luck, the view is great! Don’t forget the “Mote con Huesillo” at the top -Classic!
Did you want to see Santiago from a higher perspective? Well, there’s another option! Take the Metro and step off Tobalaba Station, go north and not really hard to see, you might recognize the higher building in South America which is used as a Shopping Mall … Well.. It also used as a Mirador 10USD approx.
4.-CERRO SANTA LUCÍA
Did you like better the hills? Well, there’s a second one in the middle of the city, tiny though but still pretty! It is called Cerro Santa Lucía, and it’s located out of the metro station with the same name. The building around the hill is very interesting and has a font in the middle. Go to check it! Right in front of the main entrance, you can check the Handcraft market, called “Feria Artesanal” if you’d like to take a few souvenirs with you.
Haven’t you eaten? Oh gosh, I forgot! You have to visit Barrio Lastarria. This is actually one street called Lastarria right in front of the Catholic University and outside the Metro Station with the same name…you might be thinking “creative people these Chileans”, well I hope you don’t get lost! Lastarria has many offers, from a fancy restaurant that can cost you an arm to a cheap burger for 2USD. I can’t make a great recommendation for lunch or dinner BUT I have to say that you have to try one of the best Ice cream shops from all over the world! It is called Emporio la Rosa, you won’t regret it!
Ready for the party? Well if you went to Cerro San Cristóbal, you already know Pio Nono Street, but during the day looks different than night. Try it after 7 pm, but be careful because you might get stacked there for many hours! Look for a nice place to sit down and ask for a PISCOLA. Chilean and only CHILEAN drink, don’t listen to the ones who say it’s Peruvian! It’s Chilean. If you want to make your own Pubcrawl, you want to check out HARVARD, OXFORD and some other fancy University of Alcohol/ PUB there. Or if you prefer dancing clubs, there you’ll find many as well! Just move your hips and enjoy being there! YES! hips are important in South America.
Hope “la caña” (hangover) is ok! Did you like Piscola? Get ready for something even better! Do you know Chile has a lot of earthquakes? Well don’t worry, a normal Chilean wouldn’t even feel a 5 or a 6 Richter scale, and it’s because buildings are constructed to resist stronger stuff, so if you are lucky enough to feel a move, just enjoy it, probably nothing dangerous will happen! BUT if you see Chileans getting freaked out by a strong move, then it might be something tough, go under a door and stay there until it’s over. Well.. anyways I wanted to introduce you to a drinkable earthquake. YES! Go to Puente Cal & Canto Station (Yellow line) and right outside you’ll find LA PIOJERA, Chilean pub you can buy an EARTHQUAKE, although it might be better if you ask for it in Spanish “TERREMOTO” Nice pink and sweet – extreme- sweet drink. What does it have to do with earth movements? HA! Drink one or two, and once you step up, you’ll figure it out!
8.-MUSEO DE LA MEMORIA Y LOS DERECHOS HUMANOS
Interested in Chilean Dictatorship? Not finding answers? Well this is a very sensitive topic in Chilean History and it is still among people, so it’s normal if people don’t want to talk about it, or it’s not in normal museums. Well here you can find a place where everything was told, even testimonies and details, videos and pictures are shown, so be prepared to live this moment in Chilean History. Go to Quinta Normal Station, and right across the street, you’ll find a gray modern building. There you go!
Perhaps you noticed that there was a big park right next to the last point, where Santiago has many parks in the middle of big streets. One of the main Parks is PARQUE FORESTAL, and you’ll find it outside metro Bellas Artes. Step off the station and walk East, there you’ll find the park, it continues 10 Km east, although the name changes. Sometimes you get to see acro yoga groups, music bands, fit clubs training and many other lovers in the grass. Pure diversity.
Have you heard about South American markets? Do you want to try nice quality fruits and vegetables? well, out of Puente Cal & Canto Station, close to La Piojera (you might not remember this so good because of the many terremotos), is La Vega located. This is a market, where you can find anything you might ever need if you’re not looking for the glamour of course. But from fruits and vegetables to clothes and house decoration, everything is in there, and best of all.. super cheap. So grab your backpack, be hungry and go buy something for lunch, dinner, and the whole week’s food.