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.