Santiago de Chile Travel Guide
Introduction to Santiago
Located roughly at the halfway point between the most northern and southern extremes of the lengthy country of Chile, Santiago is situated in a fitting location to govern over its significant land mass.
Wedged in a valley between the Andes and the coastal ranges to the west, Santiago has a climate that would be enviable if it weren’t for climatic phenomena known as temperature inversions. In the winter especially, it causes ground-level pollution to get trapped in the lower levels of the valley, burdening what is otherwise an amazing city with perpetual air quality problems.
Despite this challenge, Santiago is far from the boring city that it once was a couple of decades ago – visit here, and you will find no shortage of great restaurants, nightlife options, and shopping opportunities to kick off your visit to Chile in grand fashion.
Cultural Attractions in Santiago
While Santiago is an exciting metropolis that will thoroughly impress you during your visit, begin your time here with a stop that will be one of the more somber experiences you’ll have in Latin America by seeing the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos.
Translating directly into English as the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, the aim of this institution is to help locals and visitors from abroad to learn about and understand what went on during the brutal rule of Augusto Pinochet.
From 1973 to 1990, Augusto Pinochet ruled the skinny nation of Chile with an iron fist, brutally suppressing any dissent directed towards his military government. He came to power in a coup that announced its arrival via fighter planes that dropped bombs on civilians, and by rounding up political opponents en masse, many of which were executed.
In the years that followed, thousands more were disappeared for daring to speak out against this form of government; if you want to find out the details of this trying time in Chile’s history, walking through the halls of this museum will relay to you in saddening detail about what occurred during those decades.
After this, cheer yourself up by heading over to the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, which contains an extensive collection of pre-Columbian art from across Latin America. From the local tribes that used to inhabit Chile before the Spanish arrived, to artifacts from the Mayan civilization, there are many statues, masks, pieces of pottery, and much more to admire and fawn over in this institution.
Like many other Latin American capitals, Santiago de Chile has an impressive Plaza de Armas that is well worth checking out on a beautiful day in this city.
Surrounded by the Metropolitan Cathedral, the central post office, and a series of heritage buildings that presently serve as offices for the municipal government, this part of Santiago is ideal for photo opportunities, and observing the people of this city as they go about their daily lives.
Intersected by a number of pedestrian shopping streets, it is also a great place to get caught up on your shopping, whether you are looking for souvenirs or consumer goods.
Other Attractions in Santiago
Looking for a place with a great view of modern Santiago? Head up the elevators of Grand Torre Santiago, which is located in the Costanera Center. This skyscraper presently holds the title as the tallest building in Latin America, as it stands 984 feet (or 64 storeys) above the streets of Providencia below.
Not only does the observation deck of this tower have a commanding view of the city, but the shopping mall located at its base, with its six floors and more than 100 stores, is the largest in Latin America as well.
If you’re looking for a more natural view of the surrounding area in the commune (the local term for neighborhood) of Providencia, exploring the park that sits atop Cerro Santa Lucia is a great way to achieve this goal.
With impressive viewpoints, fountains, and no shortage of trees and shrubs, not only is it a great place to get an excellent picture of this part of Santiago, but it is also a choice place to enjoy lunch in the park if you are looking to dine al fresco during your time here.
Want to get up as high as you can within city limits? Cerro San Cristobal is the place where you will want to go. Here, there are options for all fitness levels; those that are physically able and willing to go for a long hike can lace up their running shoes and ascend a number of trails that lead from the base to the top of Cerro San Cristobal, while those that are less physically inclined can take a funicular to the top.
Either way, you will have a commanding view of most of the metropolitan area that composes Santiago, as you will be almost thousand feet above the valley floor. At the top, there is a chapel and sanctuary that includes a statue of the Virgin Mary, which will enhance the photos that you take here.