Best of – Santiago

Our favourite things to do on a trip to the capital of Chile

Santiago is growing fast and so is its fantastic offer on activities, restaurants and cafes that are a must visit.  We asked our local Instant Tours Santiago and Valparaiso host Camilo about his favourite things to do in his city. Here are his recommendations:

Coffee

Wonderland Café: Located in the charming Barrio Lastarria, this tiny café is inspired by children book classic “Alice in wonderland”. The entire interior decoration is based on the world Lewis Carroll created back in the 19th century. Their furniture and even the menu are an invitation to wander through his fantasy world.

 

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Camilo recommends their delicious “brunch” dishes such as smoked salmon bagels, crispy toasts, tasty croissants and Eggs Benedict. They also offer a number of desserts (my all time favorite is the Alfajor) to accompany their tea selection, hot chocolates and caramel, strawberry and chocolate milkshakes.

Open every day and no reservation needed.

Address:

  • Rosal 361, Santiago (Universidad Católica Metro Station)

 

Lunch

After a morning exploring on the Urban tour you will need to recharge your batteries. There are many great lunch options. The Chilean wasn’t able to recommend just one so here are two that you should check out.

Fuente Mardoqueo: The Chileans love sandwiches and hot dogs. Therefore new shops pop up all the time. Fuente Mardoqueo, located at the heritage area of Barrio Yungay, has huge portions (some might see even too large, but that’s what makes them perfect for sharing). Their menu reflects the longstanding sandwich tradition in the country.

You should definitely try their “Barros Luco” sandwich. This mouthwatering snack was named after the former Chilean president Ramón Barros Luco. It is filled with minced beef steak (churrasco style) and delicious melted cheese.

For a bit more “green” and just a tad less meat we recommend you try another classic, the “chacarero sandwich” (beef, tomato, green beans and mayonnaise).

Lomito Italiano

Photo by Paul Lowry on Foter.com / CC BY

Last but not least, my favorite is the “Lomito italiano”. You will find it filled with tasty pork, ripe tomatoes and LOAS of avocado and mayonnaise. The sandwich is named “Lomitio italiano”, as the color of the ingredients are matching the Italian flag.

Address:

  • Libertad 551, Santiago. (Cumming Metro Station)

Mercado Central: This is a classic Santiago spot; it is over 140 years old (and we also show it in our Santiago Classic tour). The skeleton of the structure was forged in Scotland and sailed back to Chile in 1872.

Mercado Central

Photo by Leandro’s World Tour on Foter.com / CC BY

Inside, you can find a large number of restaurants dedicated to what seafood products the longest coast line in the world (over 4.000 kms!) has to offer. We recommend you try the “Caldillo de congrio” (conger eel soup), fried fish with boiled potatoes on mayonnaise and a side of “Chilean” salad (tomato with onions) and of course the delicious “ceviche”, in either its Chilean or Peruvian version (both countries claim to have invented it).

Ceviche

Photo by T.Tseng on Foter.com / CC BY

Ceviche is made of raw fish cured with lemon juice, onions, capsicum, cilantro and corn.

Address:

  • Av. San Pablo, Santiago (Plaza de Armas/Cal y Canto Metro Station)

 

Dinner

Liguria: This restaurant is one of Santiago’s most awarded venues. They elevate the countries cuisine to a new level by which combining long standing traditions with fine international cuisine. Their dishes are inspired by typical Chilean produce such as fish, steak, seafood and vegetables from all parts of our long-narrow country.  Try “mechada”, a pulled beef steak, pichangas (assorted pickles, onions, olives, carrots and cheese cured in vinegar), lengua (beef tongue), costillares (ribs) and various creative salads and pastas who are also part of the inheritance of the European communities that colonised Chile’s Southland, where the restaurant owners are from.

This place will excite you with a harmonious combination of local folk and rock and roll.

Address:

  • Av. Providencia 1353. (Manuel Montt Metro Station)
  • Merced 298 (Bellas Artes Metro Station)
  • Luis Thayer Ojeda 019 (Tobalaba Metro Station)

 

Drinks

Jardín Mallinkrodt: Music, cocktails, craft beer, food trucks, and even tattoos! Why not? You can find all of this at Jardín Mallinkrodt, an open space inspired by Brooklyn’s or Portland’s “Beer Gardens”.

 

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An old parking lot of 600 square meters turned into a place that welcomes 4 different food trucks with a menu that changes every 30 days, plus a great variety of craft beers and ciders.

A trendy barber shop and a tattoo studio are situated right next to the “garden”. This makes it one of new musts in the city.

Tip: Make a reservation because the place gets crowded!

Address:

  • Mallinkrodt 170, Providencia (Baquedano Metro Station)

Editor’s note: This entry is not sponsored by any of the places above and reflects solely the authors opinion

Why Santiago should be more than just a pit-stop

Santiago is an exciting and vibrant metropolitan capital city that is definitely worth your time to explore. While most visitors fly into Santiago and use the city as a pit-stop before heading to the extreme corners of the country, there is plenty to offer for adventure and culture seekers alike.

Here are just a few reasons why you should add a couple of days in the city to your Chile visit and see for yourself why Santiago should be more than just a pit-stop:

Hills in Santiago

Skyline Santiago de Chile from the hillsThe city was built in a valley so that means it’s surrounded with the Andes and Coastal mountain range. If you’re visiting during the winter, you can’t miss out heading towards Farellones to one of the three ski resorts. A must do is climbing San Cristobal Hill for the best view of the city. Santa Lucia Hill is the heart of the Santiago where the city was born and every day at noon you can hear a cannon “el Cañonazo”, a tradition in the city that’s worth experiencing at least once.

Markets

This is a must-do on your list while visiting Santiago because it’s the best way to really see how Chileans live normally every day. La Vega is the largest fruit and veggies market. Mercado Central is the best place to get fresh fish. If you want to find the fanciest antiquities and knick-knacks then Persa Bio-Bio is your place to visit, especially on the weekends.

Wineries

Vineyard Santiago de ChileThe central region of Chile is wine country. Just in the Maipo Valley, you can find over 30 wineries to visit. Ranging from massive global brands to small boutique wineries that use wooden barrels and hand-pick their grapes. The Casablanca Valley is also close by on your way to Viña del Mar or Valparaiso that has incredible wineries worth going for a day trip to.

Santiago Street Art

Santiago’s street art scene is growing and is totally worth spending a day exploring it. Nothing to compare to Valparaiso but definitely take a spin around the Bellavista and Bellas Artes neighborhood. If you’re a fan of large murals then you must take the time to visit Santiago’s open-air museum right outside the subway station Departamental (yellow line 2) in the San Miguel neighborhood to explore over 40 spectacular murals painted by Chilean and International Artist. Editor’s note: You can do that on the Santiago Urban tourStreet Art Santiago de Chile

Museums

Santiago has a number of great options to spend a couple of hours to an entire day in. The best part is that most, if not all, are free. The Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center always has interesting activities all year round and the National Fine Arts Museum is the oldest museum in whole South America with an impressive collection of Chilean art. Tip: Remember that all museum are closed on Mondays so make sure you plan accordingly.

Downtown Santiago

Downtown Santiago is filled with history and beautiful buildings that any aficionado can definitely appreciate the architecture in the city. Start your morning at Plaza de Armas, the main square in Santiago, and check out the Central Post Office Building inside. It’s amazing. Later, explore downtown and make your way towards La Moneda, which was once used to make all of the countries coins and is now the seat of the President of the Republic of Chile.

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

This place is for any outdoor lover. The Cajon del Maipo is just an hour away from Santiago and has everything from hiking trails, glaciers, white water rafting, and even natural hot springs. Come out for the day or even spend a couple of days enjoying the natural beauty just outside the city.

Are you convinced yet? These are just the basics to cover a couple of days in Santiago before heading to the other amazing areas throughout Chile.

There is so much more the city has to offer that will surprise you and exceed your expectations.

About the author: Andrea is running the independent news site Today in Chile. You can also follow her on Instagram.