Santiago de Chile – must sees & travel tips
I am after spending my first couple of days in Chile and am able to reflect on my wonderful time in Santiago de Chile. I arrived without any expectations, a lot of capital aren't that special after all, but boy this isn't the case in Santiago. Santiago is absolutely amazing hence why I decided to write this guide and to show you my favourite spots of the city. Ready? Vamos!
Two days in Santiago de Chile – what you shouldn't miss out on
Of course it is only possible to scratch the surface in two days and Santiago has so much more to offer but I feel like I have gotten a bit of an insight to the city. Santiago is also a great base for day trips. The Andes Mountains are close by and the city of Valparaiso can easily be visited by public transportation. Though this post is mainly about Santiago and its highlights:
Cerro San Cristobal – best view of the city
Cerro is Spanish and means hill – and this hill is situated just north of the city center. On a clear day you do not only have spectacular views of the city but the Andes Mountains (covered in snow) too.
Right after my arrival at the airport – and after a refreshing , hot shower in the hostel – I came here.
The easiest way to get here is taking the metro to Baquedano and then to walk to the funicular. You can either take the funicular to the top or walk. I would recommend the Sendero paths. The others are merely paved roads and not that nice. Here's a great map of the hiking paths and the hill itself. Half way up top is a small zoo. I didn't have time to visit though. There are plenty more attractions (like swimming pools in the summer!) at the Cerro. Have a look online.
Funicular – opening hours*
*Effective 2016 – current opening hours here
Winter timetable: Monday: 1pm to 6:45pm; Tuesday to Sunday: 10am to 6:45 pm
Summer timetable: Monday: 1pm to 7:45pm; Tuesday to Sunday: 10am to 7:45 pm
Funicular – ticket prices*
*Effective 2016 – current ticket prices here
Monday to Friday
- half way (ie to the zoo): 800 CLP (ca. 1€)
- single ride: 1500 CLP (ca. 2€)
- return ride: 2000 CLP (ca. 2,60€)
Weekends and bank holidays
- half way (ie to the zoo): 1000 CLP (ca. 1,30€)
- single ride: 1950 CLP (ca. 2,60€)
- return ride: 2600 CLP (ca. 3,40€)
The markets in Santiago are absolutely amazing, they offer a great insight into the city life. Both markets Mercado La Vega and Mercado Central offer fresh vegetables, fruits, meats and fish. Vendors also sell hot coffee and freshly squeezed juices.
I visited the markets together with the chilean blogger Gloria of The Nomadic Chica. Big shout out to her!
City tour with Tours 4 Tips
The staff at the hostel highly recommended this free city tour to me, you can leave a tip if you enjoyed the tour but are not obliged to do so if you didn't. There are two city tours a day: one at 10:00 am for off the beaten path spots and one at 3:00 pm for highlights of the city. Both tours start at the main entrance of Bellas Artes (the back of the building looks exactly like the front so be sure to wait in front of the door where the road goes by, I have marked the location on the map further below in this article). The guides wear red and white striped shirts and can't be missed. The city tours are offered in both Spanish and English.
I joined the afternoon tour to get a feel for the city. Our guide Carlos showed us not only the city but told us a lot about Chilean politics and the meantality of the people. I learnt alot in the three hours the tour lasted.
… is a place of remembrance and a museum for human rights. Please don't skip it! Even though the entrance hall isn't the most inviting, explore all of the other levels. You can learn a lot about Chilean history, particularly important is what happened on the 11. September 1973 in Santiago and all over Chile. On this day the military, under the leader Augusto Pinochet, staged a coup against president Salvador Allende. The president then took his own life in the presidential palace La Moneda. On this day human rights were severely violated and the museum offers a lot of information on this topic.
Definitely worth visiting – and a lot of food for thought.
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Entry is free of charge.
Graffiti is big in this neighbourhood – a lot of them are legit masterpieces but some are just daubs. The location is perfect to walk from the presidential palace to the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos.
Find a map of my must sees below. I also pinned the hostel I stayed at in Santiago.
Travel tips for Santiago de Chile
Here I have collected some interesting and important info about Santiago for you:
Safety and Santiago
Chile is the safest country in Latin America and therefore Santiago is very safe too. I walked around by myself both during the day and night. Without any issues. Although I wouldn't walk around with my camera strapped around my neck or my backpack open.
Watch your belongings on buses and the metro. Or else you may have a run in with very clever pick pockets.
Santiago has one airport – with a domestic and international terminal. You can take buses into the city center – they run every ten minutes and are safe and really cheap. A single ticket with the bus company centropuerto to the city center is 1700 CLP (ca. 2,25€), a return ticket is 3000 CLP (ca. 4€).
To get to the city center take the bus to Universidad de Santiago (there are a few bus stops with “universidad” in the name so be careful!) – just ask the driver to tell you when you have to get off – and then change to the metro.
Alternatively you can take a taxi to the center/airport. A single ride is approx. 15000 CLP (ca. 20€).
A lot of hotels/hostels also offer transfers for approx. 7000 CLP (ca. 9,20€).
The local currency is the Chilean Peso, short CLP. Prices are often made out with: $. Careful! Prices aren't in USD, but in Pesos (This is also applicable in Mexico.)
Don't be put off by high prices. 1€ are approx. 750$. (Effective August 2016)
Checkout this article on how to get a prepaid SIM card in Chile.
How expensive is Santiago?
I've written an article about this – how much are two days in the Chilean capital.
Weather in Santiago
Important to know is that Chile is in the southern hemisphere. Winter starts in August and summer in January. Don't forget to pack appropriately – the temperature was as low as 3°C when I visited in August! Brrrr!
…works just fine. Although it is good to know that the metro service doesn't run during the night. Hours of operation can be checked at each station. Alternativaly you can check them on this website. Normally services start running at 6:00 am until 11:00 pm (rain causes delays!)
Prices depend on the time of day in Santiago. Tickets are more expensive during rush hour.
Tickets are split into three different tarif structures:
- 6:00 – 6:29 am and 8:45 – 11:00 pm: 610 CLP (ca. 0,81€)
- 6:30 – 6:50 am, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, 8:00 pm -8:44 pm: 660 CLP (ca. 0,87€)
- 7:00am – 8:59 am and 6:00 pm – 7:59 pm: 740 CLP (ca. 0,98€)
Student fares are available only to those who study in Chile.
Tickets can be bought in ticket booths at every station. Top up chipcards are also available (Tarjeta BIP). The chipcards costs 1550 CLP (ca. 2€), tickets cost the same – so you only save on waiting times at the stations.
You do need to purchase a Tarjeta BIP, if you want to travel by bus. No cash is accepted on the bus.
So, this is the end of my insider travel guide to Santiago de Chile! Have you been to Santiago and think my guide is missing information? Leave a comment below!