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Santiago , also known as Santiago de Chile , is the capital and largest city of Chile. It is also the center of its largest conurbation. Santiago is located in the country's central valley, at an elevation of 520 m (1,706 ft) above mean sea level.
Founded in 1541, Santiago has been the capital city of Chile since colonial times. The city has a downtown core of 19th century neoclassical architecture and winding side-streets, dotted by art deco, neo-gothic, and other styles. Santiago's cityscape is shaped by several stand-alone hills and the fast-flowing Mapocho River, lined by parks such as Parque Forestal. The Andes Mountains can be seen from most points in the city. These mountains contribute to a considerable smog problem, particularly during winter. The city outskirts are surrounded by vineyards and Santiago is within a few hours of both the mountains and the Pacific Ocean.
Santiago is the cultural, political and financial center of Chile and is home to the regional headquarters of many multinational corporations. The Chilean executive and judicial powers are located in Santiago, but Congress meets mostly in nearby Valparaíso. Santiago is named after the biblical figure St. James.
|POPULATION :||• City 6,158,080|
• Urban 5.1 million
• Metro 7.2 million
|FOUNDED :||12 February 1541|
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone CLT (UTC−4)|
• Summer (DST) CLST (UTC−3)
|AREA :||641 km2 (247.6 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||521 m (1,706 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||33°27′S 70°40′W|
|SEX RATIO :|
|AREA CODE :||2|
|POSTAL CODE :||8320000|
|DIALING CODE :||+56 2|
|WEBSITE :||Official website|
Santiago is the capital and economic center of Chile. With its many museums, events, theaters, restaurants, bars and other entertainment and cultural opportunities, it is also the political and cultural center of the country. Its central location in the country makes it a great base for visiting other areas, and it is possible to ski in the nearby Andes and later be on the beach, all in the same day.
Santiago is a fast growing city located in the central valley of Chile between the Andes mountain range to the east and the Coastal Range to the west. The metropolitan area has about seven million inhabitants.
Founded in 1541 as Santiago de Nueva Extremadura by the Spaniard Pedro de Valdivia, it has been the heart of the country since colonial times and has evolved to the cosmopolitan city it is today. For visitors it's both the gateway to the country and a destination in its own right with architecture from different epochs, a vibrant culinary and cultural scene, surrounded by the mighty Andes welcoming skiers, trekkers and friends of wine.
- Sernatur (State Tourism Agency), Av Providencia 1550, . , The main visitor information office.
Founding of the city
According to certain archaeological investigations, it is believed that the first human groups of the X millennium settled in the Santiago basin. The groups were mainly nomadic hunter-gatherers, who traveled from the coast to the interior in search of guanacos during the time of the Andean snowmelt. About the year 800, the first sedentary inhabitants began to settle due to the formation of agricultural communities along the Mapocho River, mainly maize, potatoes and beans, and the domestication of camelids in the area.
The villages established in the areas belonging to picunches groups (name given by Chileans) or promaucaes (name given by Incas), were subject to the Inca Empire throughout the late fifteenth century and into the early sixteenth century. The Incas settled in the valley of mitimaes, the main installation settled in the center of the present city, with strengths as Huaca de Chena and the sanctuary of El Plomo hill. The area would have served as a basis for the failed Inca expeditions southward road junction as the Inca Trail.
Having been sent by Francisco Pizarro from Peru and having made the long journey from Cuzco,Extremadura conquistador Pedro de Valdivia reached the valley of the Mapocho on 13 December 1540. The hosts of Valdivia camped by the river in the slopes of the Tupahue hill and slowly began to interact with the picunches natives who inhabited the area. Valdivia later summoned the chiefs of the area to a parliament, where he explained his intention to found a city on behalf of the king Carlos I of Spain, which would be the capital of his governorship of Nueva Extremadura. The natives accepted and even recommended the foundation of the town on a small island between two branches of the river next to a small hill called Huelén.
On 12 February 1541, Valdivia officially founded the city of Santiago del Nuevo Extremo (Santiago of New Extremadura) in honor of St. James, patron saint of Spain, near the Huelén, renamed by the conqueror as "St. Lucia". (The name Santiago is the local Galician evolution of Vulgar LatinSanctu Iacobu, "Saint James".) Following colonial rule, Valdivia entrusted the layout of the new town to master builder Pedro de Gamboa, who would design the city grid layout. In the center of the city, Gamboa designed a Plaza Mayor, around which various plots for the Cathedral and the governor's house were selected. In total, eight blocks from north to south, and ten from east to west, were built. Each solar (quarter block) was given to the settlers, who built houses of mud and straw.
Valdivia left months later to the south with his troops, beginning the War of Arauco. Santiago was left unprotected. The indigenous hosts of Michimalonco used this to their advantage, and attacked the fledgling city. On 11 September 1541, the city was destroyed by the natives, but the 55 Spanish Garrison managed to defend the fort. The resistance was led by Inés de Suárez, a mistress to Valdivia. When she realized they were being overrun, she ordered the execution of all native prisoners, and proceeded to put their heads on pikes and also threw a few heads to the natives. In face of this barbaric act, the natives dispersed in terror. The city would be slowly rebuilt, giving prominence to the newly founded Concepción, where the Royal Audiencia of Chile was then founded in 1565. However, the constant danger faced by Concepción, due partly to its proximity to the War of Arauco and also to a succession of devastating earthquakes, would not allow the definitive establishment of the Royal Court in Santiago until 1607. This establishment reaffirmed the city's role as capital.
Capital of the Republic
18 September 1810 was proclaimed the First Government Junta in Santiago, beginning the process of establishing the independence of Chile. The city, which became the capital of the new nation, was threatened by various events, especially the nearby military actions.
Although some institutions, such as the National Institute and the National Library, were installed in the Patria Vieja, they were closed after the patriot defeat at the Battle of Rancagua in 1814. The royal government lasted until 1817, when the Army of the Andes secured victory inbattle of Chacabuco, reinstating the patriot government in Santiago. Independence, however, was not assured. The Spanish army gained new victories in 1818 and headed for Santiago, but their march was definitively halted on the plains of the Maipo River, during the Battle of Maipú on 5 April 1818.
With the end of the war, Bernardo O'Higgins was accepted as Supreme Directorand, like his father, began a number of important works for the city. During the call Patria Nueva, closed institutions reopened. The General Cemetery opened, work on the canal San Carlos was completed, and, in the south arm of the Mapocho River, known as La Cañada, the drying riverbed, used for sometime as a landfill, was turned into an avenue, now known as the Alameda de las Delicias.
Two new earthquakes hit the city, one on 19 November 1822, and another on 20 February 1835. These two events, however, did not prevent the city's rapid, continued growth. In 1820, the city reported 46,000 inhabitants, while in 1854, the population reached 69,018. In 1865, the census reported 115,337 inhabitants. This significant increase was the result of suburban growth to the south and west of the capital, and in part to La Chimba, a vibrant district growing from the division of old properties that existed in the area. This new peripheral development led to the end of the traditional checkerboard structure that previously governed the city center.
During the years of the Republican era, institutions such as the University of Chile (Universidad de Chile), the Normal School of Preceptors, the School of Arts and Crafts, and the Quinta Normal, which included the Museum of Fine Arts (now Museum of Science and Technology) and the National Museum of Natural History, were founded. Created primarily for educational use, they also became examples of public planning during that period. In 1851, the first telegraph system connecting the capital with the Port of Valparaíso was inaugurated.
A new momentum in the urban development of the capital took place during the so-called "Liberal Republic" and the administration of Mayor Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna. Among the main works during this period are the remodeling of theCerro Santa Lucía which, despite its central location, had been in a state of poor repair. In an effort to transform Santiago, Vicuña Mackenna began construction of the Camino de Cintura, a road surrounding the entire city. A new redevelopment of the Alameda Avenue turned it into the main road of the city.
Also during this time and with the work of European landscapers in 1873,O'Higgins Park came into existence. The park, open to the public, became a landmark in Santiago due to its large gardens, lakes, and carriage trails. Other important buildings were opened during this era, such as the Teatro Municipal opera house, and the Club Hípico de Santiago. At the same time, the 1875 International Exposition was held in the grounds of the Quinta Normal.
The city became the main hub of the national railway system. The first railroad reached the city on 14 September 1857, at the Santiago Estación Central railway station. Under construction at the time, the station would be opened permanently in 1884. During those years, railways connected the city to Valparaíso as well as regions in the north and south of Chile. The streets of Santiago were paved and by 1875 and there were 1,107 cars in the city, while 45,000 people used tram services on a daily basis.
The metropolis in the early twenty-first century
With the start of the transition in 1990, the city of Santiago and surpassed the four million inhabitants, preferably living in the south: La Florida was followed in population by Puente Alto and Maipú. The real estate development in these municipalities and others like Quilicura and Peñalolen largely due to the construction of housing projects for middle-class families. Meanwhile, high-income families moved into the foothills and called Barrio Alto, increasing the population of Las Condes and giving rise to new communes like Vitacura and Lo Barnechea. Moreover, although poverty began to drop significantly, there remained a strong dichotomy between the thriving global city and scattered city slums.
Providencia Avenue area was consolidated as an important commercial hub in the eastern sector and into the 1990s, this development was extended to the Barrio Alto which became an attractive location for the construction of high-rise buildings. Major companies and financial corporations were established in the area, giving rise to a thriving modern business center known as Sanhattan. The departure of these companies to Barrio Alto and the construction of shopping centers all around the city, creating a crisis in the city center, which had reinvented: its main shopping streets turned into pedestrian walkways, as the Paseo Ahumada, and instituted tax benefits for the construction of residential buildings, mainly attracting young adults.
In these years, the city began to face a series of problems generated by disorganized growth. Air pollution reached critical levels during the winter months and a layer of smog settled over the city, so the authorities adopted legislative measures to reduce industrial pollution and placed vehicle restrictions on cars. The Metro was expanded considerably, extending its lines and creating three new lines between 1997 and 2006 in the southeastern sector. A new extension to Maipú was inaugurated in 2011, leaving the metropolitan railway with a length of 105 km. In the case of buses, the system underwent a major reform in the early 1990s and then in 2007 with the establishment of a master plan known as Transantiago transport, which has faced a number of problems since its launch.
As we enter the twenty-first century, Santiago persists in its rapid development. The Civic District was renewed with the creation of the Plaza de la Ciudadanía and construction of the Ciudad Parque Bicentenario to commemorate the bicentenary of the Republic. The development of tall buildings continues in the eastern sector, which will culminate in the opening of skyscrapers Titanium La Portada and Gran Torre Santiago in real Costanera Center complex. However, socioeconomic inequality and geosocial fragmentation remain two of the most important problems, both city and country.
The 27 February 2010, a strong earthquake was felt in the capital, causing some damage to old buildings; however, some modern buildings are uninhabitable, generating much debate about the actual implementation of mandatory earthquake standards in the modern architecture of Santiago.
In the coming years the development of several new projects in many areas, especially in transport is expected. Reshaping the international airport by 2012 and expansion of rail services is expected, including several projects currently under evaluation as a network of trams in Las Condes, close to trains Lampa and Padre Hurtado (Melitrén) and a high-speed train that connects the capital to Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. Two new urban highways, Vespucci East and Central Costanera, are in the bidding process, while the Santiago Metro announced the construction of two new lines; 3 and 6 to this transformation would add parks on the banks of the Mapocho river, navigable become a flagship project of Sebastián Piñera who was President between 2010 and 2014.
Like most of the central part in the country, Santiago has a typical Mediterranean climate. The climate is chilly and rainy in the winter, and temperatures can fall to around 0°C at night. It very rarely snows in the city itself, and during the winter it will more likely be raining with snow falling to the east up in the Andes. It gets progressively hotter towards the summer. Summers are fairly dry although you may experience some humidity at times, and temperatures can surpass 35°C. Due to the relative lack of vegetation in the region, temperatures fluctuate wildly between day and night year-round. It is not uncommon to suffer from the heat in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt during the day but require a jacket at night.
Santiago is notorious for its poor air quality, which is due to the inversion effect in the basin and other factors. The air quality can be unhealthy in large part due to high concentrations of particulate matter (especially in the winter).
Climate data for Santiago
|Record high °C (°F)||36.6|
|Average high °C (°F)||29.4|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||20.7|
|Average low °C (°F)||11.8|
|Record low °C (°F)||2.7|
|Source #1: Dirección Meteorológica de Chile|
The city lies in the center of the Santiago Basin, a large bowl-shaped valley consisting of broad and fertile lands surrounded by mountains. The city has a varying elevation, with 400 m (1,312 ft) in the western areas and 540 m (1,772 ft) at the Plaza Baquedano. It is flanked by the main chain of the Andes to the east and the Chilean Coastal Range to the west. On the north, it is bounded by theCordón de Chacabuco, a mountain range of the Andes. The Andes mountains around Santiago are quite elevated; the tallest is the Tupungato mountain at 6,570 m (21,555 ft). Other mountains include Tupungatito, San José, and Maipo. Cerro El Plomo is the highest mountain visible from Santiago's urban area. The Mapocho River flows through the city. At the southern border lies the Angostura de Paine, an elongated spur of the Andes that almost reaches the coast. The Santiago Basin is part of the Intermediate Depression and is remarkably flat, interrupted only by a few hills; among them are Cerro Renca, Cerro Blanco, and Cerro Santa Lucía. This basin is approximately 80 kilometres (50 miles) in a north–south direction and 35 km (22 mi) from east to west.
To the east stands the massive Sierra de Ramón, a mountain chain formed at the foothills of the Precordillera due to the activity of the San Ramón Fault, reaching 3296 metres at the Cerro de Ramón. 20 km (12 mi) further east is the Cordillera of the Andes with its mountain ranges and volcanoes, many of which exceed 6,000 m (19,690 ft) and in which some glaciers are present.
During recent decades, urban growth has outgrown the boundaries of the city, expanding to the east closer to the Andean Precordillera. In areas such as La Dehesa, Lo Curro, and El Arrayan, urban development is present at over 1,000 metres of altitude.
Santiago is the industrial and financial center of Chile, and generates 45% of the country's GDP. Some international institutions, such as ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean), have their offices in Santiago. The strong economy and low government debt is attracting migrants from Europe and the United States.
Santiago's steady economic growth over the past few decades has transformed it into a modern metropolis. The city is now home to a growing theater and restaurant scene, extensive suburban development, dozens of shopping centers, and a rising skyline, including the tallest building in Latin America, the Gran Torre Santiago. It includes several major universities, and has developed a modern transportation infrastructure, including a free flow toll-based, partly underground urban freeway system and the Metro de Santiago, South America's most extensive subway system.
The traditional financial area of the city, full of colonial architecture andpaseos (streets turned pedestrian walkways).
A solidly middle class comuna home of many of the entertainment districts, including Suecia and the area surrounding Manuel Montt. It also comprises Parque Bustamente, a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood with many hostels and cafés.
Sanhattan and eastern Santiago
(Ñuñoa, Macul, La Florida, Penalolen, La Reina, Las Condes, Vitacura, Lo Barnechea)
The new financial district of the city, full of tall buildings, swanky bars, and high-end hotels. This part of the city stretches all the way to the Andean glaciers at the city borders.
Bellavista and northern Santiago
(Recoleta, Independencia, Conchali, Renca, Quilicura, Huechuraba)
The Bohemian quarter of the city full of bars and nightclubs.
Western and southern Santiago
(Barrio Brasil, Barrio República, Quinta Normal, Estación Central, Lo Prado, Cerro Navia, Pudahuel, Maipu, Cerrillos, Pedro Aguirre Cerda, Lo Espejo, San Miguel, San Joaquin, La Cisterna, San Ramón, La Granja, El Bosque, La Pintana)
Contains Barrio Brasil, a neighborhood of students, artists, cheap restaurants, and happy hour as well as the western and southern parts of the city, including both the city's airport and central railway station.
If you wish to mail a letter or postcard, the largest post office is the Correo Central located on the north side of Plaza de Armas, a Neoclassical building with French influences. There are several smaller post offices around the city, often close to the larger avenues.
However, Chilean mail has become infamous for not getting things delivered or mailmen opening the letters trying to find money or any valuable items (mostly on mail coming from abroad).
The largest and most trustworthy private mail company is Chilexpress, which has agencies on almost all mid-sized cities. Prices are a bit higher though.
Prices in Santiago
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.25|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$5.30|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$16.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$38.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$62.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$5.80|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$2.75|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$1.85|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$6.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$11.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.20|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$4.60|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$2.85|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$55.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$38.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$68.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$1.10|
47 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
154 $ per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Upon entry, all tourists are issued a tourist card good for 90 days. Take care not to lose the stamped tourist card as it is required to exit the country. If you happen to lose it you must get it reissued by the PDI (Policía de Investigaciones) before attempting to leave the country.
Aeropuerto Internacional Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez (IATA: SCL), also known as Pudahuel Airport after the municipality it's located in, is the main Chilean gateway for international flights. The travel time to the city center has been drastically reduced recently with the construction of a new tollway, the Costanera Norte.
Travelers from Albania, Australia, and Mexico, must pay a reciprocity fee upon entry to the country by air. This is in response to these same countries' visa fees for Chilean citizens. The one-time charge must be paid in cash (USD) or credit card before passing through immigration and is valid for the life of the passport. The fee for Albanians is US$30, US$95 for Australians, and US$23 for Mexicans. There is no fee to enter by land. If paying by cash be aware that the bills must be in near "perfect" condition, no ripped bills.
First and foremost, there is no public transportation from Santiago airport. There are however airport buses running on two slightly different routes to the city center: CentroPuerto (CLP$1600 one-way, CLP$2800 return) runs every 10 minutes, and TurBus (CCLP$1700 one-way, CLP$2800 return) every 30 minutes. Both buses can be caught by walking outside the terminal at exit 5 and tickets are purchased on the bus. Both buses stop at the Pajaritos Metro station en route. Due to the heavy traffic east of Pajaritos it is a good idea to get off here and take the Metro line 1 towards Los Dominicos to the city center (15-20 minutes). Transvip runs a shared-ride shuttle service and have a counter immediately after customs, before you exit into the main terminal. A ride to the city center (as of March 2016) runs CLP$7.000.
Private taxis will charge about CLP$21000 for a trip to downtown or Providencia. Please note that unofficial taxis may take advantage of unknowing foreigners and charge as much as CLP$200.000 (US$400) for a trip to downtown or Providencia. It is easy to identify unofficial taxis, most drivers will not have any type of identification and will insist on taking you to the ATMs around the airport where they will convince you to take out the highest allowed amount (CLP$200.000). Common sense and sticking to official taxis will get you to the city with no problem.
- From Europe, Air France operates to Paris (14 hours), Iberia to Madrid (13 hours), and LAN to Frankfurt with a stop in Madrid (18 hours). Air France uses Boeing 777-200ER aircraft , Iberia Airbus A340 aircraft, and LAN uses Boeing 787.
- From Latin America, LAN has the most extensive network to and from Santiago, with flights from Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Lima, Sao Paulo,Quito, Guayaquil, Bogotá, Caracas, La Paz, Santa Cruz, Mexico City, Havana,Punta Cana, among others. TAM has direct flights from Sao Paulo and Rio, and Copa Airlines operates three daily non-stop flights from Panama City. Also Aerolineas Argentinas, Gol, Varig, Aeroméxico and Pluna operate from Santiago.
- From North America, American Airlines and LAN operate flights from Miami,New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas. Some flights have layovers in Guayaquilor Lima, but all of them offer non-stop services. Delta Air Lines operates direct flights from Atlanta. Air Canada operates a flight from Toronto six days per week. Many of these flights are overnight, and most use widebody aircraft such as the Boeing 767.
- From Oceania, Qantas operates a direct flight from Sydney three times a week using a B747. LAN also operates one daily flight from Sydney to Santiago via Auckland. It's at least 12 hours each way. LAN also operates a Tahiti-Easter Island-Santiago route.
Travelers from Asia and Africa will need to transfer at least once. Santiago being antipodal to central China, you're in for an extremely long trip from most parts of Asia; depending on where you're starting the shortest route may be via the North American west coast, Oceania, Europe or a combination of the Middle East and Brazil. Some East Asian airlines fly to Sao Paulo, but these flights include a stop — often in the United States. From most of Africa, the shortest route would be flying to Sao Paulo and transfering there.
Being one of the longest countries in the world, flying is by far the fastest way for getting in from elsewhere in Chile. You'll in most cases have two airlines to pick from; LAN and the semi-low-cost Sky Airline with a slightly smaller network.
Trenes Metropolitanos provides multiple commuter and interregional trains from the Estación Central train station (Metro Estación Central, Line 1) to the vast wine and agriculture valley to the south. The central station, designed by Gustave Eiffel used to be the center of an extensive passenger railway network, which has been closed down just like in the rest of South America.
- Metrotren is a commuter rail that runs to San Fernando by way of Rancagua with five departures daily, prices up to CLP$1950.
- TerraSur runs to Chillán with three departures daily. It is recommended to book ahead during the high season (Austral summer) as seats fill up quickly. Prices are up to CLP$22.000 for first class and CLP$10.800 for second class.
- Expreso Maule runs an interregional express service to the sixth and seventh regions (O'Higgins and Maule) once daily, prices up to CLP$3850.
Buses are the main mode of transportation between cities, and most cities in Chile have a bus connection to the capital. For some close, large cities, like Valparaiso or Viña del Mar there may be a bus departing as frequently as every 15 minutes. Prices of bus tickets vary according to demand and type of seat (regular seat, semi-bed or bed). Buses are in general clean and comfortable, but this may not always be the case with the toilets on board. There are several bus terminals in the city, the biggest being Terminal Santiago.
The bus ride between Santiago and Mendoza in Argentina has beautiful views and takes about eight hours, depending on the time spent at the Cristo Redentor checkpoint. The border crossing is at about 2800 meters in the Andes. Note that fruit, vegetables or animal products are not allowed in either direction; all luggage will get checked at the border. One-way fares are listed at around CLP$21.000 (semicama) CLP$25.000 (cama) in high season, but are often cheaper if booked in advance and in the off season. There are also buses to and from San Juan (one way fares listed at around CLP$19.500) and Neuquen, Argentina. One-way fares to Lima are listed at around CLP$85.000.
- Terminal Santiago (Estación Central, ex Terminal Sur), Avda. Lib. Bernardo O'Higgins 3850 (Metro Universidad de Santiago), . Bus companies serving international and domestic destinations are located in the Terminal Santiago (Alameda 3848, Metro Universidad de Santiago [Line 1], Phone: +56 2 23761755). In the terminal there is a food court with local fast food restaurants and a McDonald's. May be extremely overcrowded prior to and on national holiday. Not dangerous, but be beware of pickpockets and people trying to sell you stolen goods (iPods and cell phones are a common target).
- Terminal Alameda, Avda. Lib. Bernardo O'Higgins 3750 (Metro Universidad de Santiago), . Additionally, Turbus and Pullman operate a private station next door at Terminal Alameda (Metro Estación Central [Line 1], Phone: +56 2 27762424) for domestic and international departures. There is a hotel and a few convenience shops in the terminal.
- Terrapuerto Los Héroes, Tucapel Jiménez 21 (Metro Los Héroes), . Located a few kilometers east of the main terminals is theTerminal Los Héroes (Tucapel Jiménez 21, Metro Los Héroes [Line 1], Phone: +56 2 24200099). Services to the north and to Mendoza. Of note here is the bus line Cruz del Sur, which is one of the few companies with regularly scheduled departures to towns in Argentine Patagonia and Punta Arenas.
- Terminal San Borja, San Borja 184 (Metro Estación Central), . Services to the north of the country, Litoral Central and the western part of the Santiago region.
- Terminal Pajaritos (Metro Pajaritos). Services to Viña del Mar, Valparaíso and the airport.
Entering Santiago by car, you'll probably find yourself on the Autopista Central (Ruta 5), the Chilean leg of the Pan-American Highway. To use this freeway you need a device called "TAG", or a day pass which you can buy from service stations. One day passes are CLP$4400. You can also buy it after accidentally passing through it without one.
Transportation - Get Around
Transantiago runs the metro and main bus lines in the city. Fares on public transport can be paid only with a bip! card. Bip! cards can be bought and recharged at any metro station (CLP$1500 for the card, minimum recharge CLP$1000) or at a Centro bip!. They are good for both the metro and bus and allows you unlimited transfers between the two within a two hour period — you still have to swipe your card when boarding the next metro train or bus, but there is in general no deduction. In the peak period, when traveling with a ticket activated on a metro and you're transfering to a bus (or the other way around) there will be a small deduction.
The fare depends on when you've started your journey; tickets cost CLP$740 for trips commenced during the peak periods (7AM to 9AM, 6:00 to 8PM), CLP$660 for shoulder periods (6:30AM to 7AM, 9AM to 6PM, 8PM to 8:45PM) and CLP$640 for low periods (before 6:30AM and after 8:45PM).
The metro system is the second largest in Latin America and has five lines and 108 stations, with many holding rotating art exhibitions. The lines 1,2 and 5 pass through the historical center and 4 and 4A mostly serve the east of the city. As it is a very popular mode for getting around, the metro can be crowded during rush hours.
Trains run between roughly 6AM and 11PM; each station posts the exact hours above the staircases leading down into the stations. Buses run parallel to subway lines after hours.
Transantiago buses are mostly modern and run around the clock on the main lines. If you know a little Spanish, you can find route information on the Transantiago website.
On Sundays between 10AM and 6PM, Transantiago operates a "cultural circuit", where a specially-marked bus runs between major tourist and cultural destinations for the normal fare.
Taxis are a relatively inexpensive and safe way to get around the city. Flag drop costs CLP$300 plus CLP$120 for every 100 meters. Official taxis are black and yellow and easily identifiable. Radiotaxis are also common and a good idea late at night. Suburban areas are sometimes served by taxis operating fixed routes and fixed rates.
- Bikesantiago. Bike sharing program with monthly and annual memberships. Must register to use the service.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
Santiago has a lot of shopping malls all around the city. In the malls you can find a variety of retail stores and Falabella, París and Ripley, the most famous department stores in Chile.
Downtown and Providencia
For shopping in central Santiago, head to Paseo Ahumada, a section full of different shops between the main street Alameda and Plaza de Armas.
If you prefer buying handcrafts, the ones in the Centro Artesanal Santa Lucia are good and relatively cheap compared with other handcrafts stores. Other handcrafts centres are in Bellavista (though a bit more expensive).
Providencia has a large selection of shops along Avenida Providencia.
The largest malls are Parque Arauco and Alto Las Condes, both have good restaurants and the former also has free music and shows. You can get to Parque Arauco from Metro Escuela Militar (Line 1) and to Alto Las Condes from Metro Los Domínicos (Line 1); ask locals for directions if you're unsure of how to take buses.
Alonso de Córdova Street and Nueva Costanera Avenue are very exclusive areas where you can find high fashion and luxury stores like Louis Vuitton, Hermés or local designers. In this area you find great restaurants and art galleries.
Steps from Metro Los Domínicos (Line 1) is Pueblito Los Domínicos. It is more expensive but has a wide variety of local handcrafts and antiques, as well as a small exhibition room and a bonsai exhibition behind it. It is very pretty with an artificial stream in a colonial-looking atmosphere. Half of the people there are usually tourists during the summer, so you won't be alone!
Plaza Nuñoa has some small shops in the plaza where you can buy books from Latin America (Neruda, Allende, Cortazar) and also handcrafts.
If you're already kind of familiar with Santiago, you can also go to Barrio Patronato which is located near to the downtown area and it's easy to reach by metro (Metro Patronato, Line 2). There you'll find cheap clothes, food and products of all kinds, as well as some foreign stores (mainly Chinese, Koreans, Peruvians and from the Middle East), thus allowing you to save quite a bit of money. It would be better to go alongside a local, though, since it's easy to get lost due to the very short and slim streets and the very high quotient of visitors. Beware of pickpocketers.
Similarly, those who want more surprises and know the basics about Santiago can go to the famous Persa Bio Bio located in the Franklin area, also not too far from downtown and near to Metro Franklin (Line 2). It can be described as a giant flea market that opens every weekend and offers antiques, tools, handmade furniture, many food stores, etc. Again, it's not a place for novices: a local's presence would be desired.
In downtown and the east of the city you can find both global and domestic fast food chains. Why not opt for the latter and have a completo, the Chilean version of the hot dog with tomato, mayonnaise, sauerkraut or a italiano hot dog with tomato, avocado and mayonnaise. In addition there are small sandwich places known as "picadas" serving different kinds of sandwiches (some of them with huge steaks) and pies. There are also street food carts where you can find local specialties like sopaipillas (buns) stuffed with fried pumpkin and mote con huesillo, a soft drink with peaches and wheat.
The traditional cuisine of central Chile is centered around barbecued meat (beef or pork) with tomatoes, potatoes or corn. Local specialties include cazuela (a soup), porotos con riendas(beans with pasta), porotos granados (a vegetarian bean stew), charquicán (stew of beef and potatoes, topped with an egg), pastel de choclo (corn pie) and as we're in southern South America — asado (barbecued meat). Seafood is not as common in Santiago as you might expect, though if you want some, the restaurants at central market is the place to go.
Sights & Landmarks
The Historical Center is the place to go for historical sights. For over five centuries this has been a governmental seat, and you can find buildings of great historical significance here. One of them is the modernist colonial Palacio de la Moneda, built for minting of coins. From the mid 19th century it has also been the residence of the president until the coup of 1973 when it was bombed. The damage was repaired and it's still the residence of the president today.
South of the palace is Alameda, the main drag of the city with the central university building(Casa Central de la Universidad de Chile), the San Francisco church and the Santa Lucia hill with great views of the old town. Plaza de Armas opposite the university building is the most lively area of the downtown and in addition to vendors you can often find artists, comedians and singers performing here. Nearby you can find the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Palace of the Royal Court (nowadays a museum) and the mayor's residence.
Going north from Plaza de Armas you'll come to the Mercado Central, with plenty of restaurants. East along the Mapocho river's southern bank you'll be at Parque Forestal and Museo de Bellas Artes as well as the vibrant neighborhood of Lastarria with plenty of cafés, restaurants and art galleries.
Bellavista north of the river is a nightlife hotspot and there you can also visit the mythical home of the poet Pablo Neruda. You can also take the funicular or walk up the Cerro San Cristóbal for some of the best views of Santiago and the Maipo Valley. Southeast there is Providencia where you can find trendy shops and further away Sanhattan's skyscrapers including Gran Torre Santiago, the tallest in Latin America and second tallest in the Southern Hemisphere. Westwards there's Quinta Normal, a huge park surrounded by museums.
Museums & Galleries
Museums and libraries
Santiago has a wealth of museums of different kinds, among which are three of 'National' class administered by the Directorate of Libraries, Archives and Museums (DIBAM): the National History Museum, National Museum of Fine Arts and the National Museum of Natural History.
Most of the museums are located in the historic city center, occupying the old buildings of colonial origin, such as with the National History Museum, which is located in the Palacio de la Real Audiencia. La Casa Colorada houses the Museum of Santiago, while the Colonial Museum is housed in a wing of the Church of San Francisco and the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art occupies part of the old Palacio de la Aduana. The Museum of Fine Arts, though it is located in the city center, was built in the early twentieth century, especially for housing the museum and in the back of the building was laid in 1947, the Museum of Contemporary Art, under the Faculty of Arts of the University of Chile.
The Quinta Normal Park also has several museums, among which are the already mentioned of Natural History, Artequin Museum, the Museum of Science and Technology and the Museo Ferroviario. In other parts of the city there are some museums such as the Aeronautical Museum in Cerrillos, Museum of Tajamares in Providence and the Museo Interactivo Mirador in La Granja. The latter opened in 2000 and designed mainly for children and youth has been visited by more than 2.8 million visitors, making it the busiest museum in the country.
As for public libraries, the most important is the National Library located in downtown Santiago. Its origins date back to 1813, when it was created by the nascent Republic and was moved to its current premises a century later, also home to the headquarters of the National Archives. In order to provide more closeness to the population, incorporating new technologies and complement the services provided by public libraries and the National Library was opened in 2005 the Library of Santiago at Barrio Matucana.
Things to do
Santiago is known as a cultural hotspot. Among other things, the city is home to an impressive jazz scene, with several intimate clubs scattered throughout the city, a famous one being Club Jazz in the Nuñoa district. In the Providencia district a jazz festival takes place each January with both local and foreign bands playing. For current theater, dance, and concert listings can be found in the El Mercurio newspaper. For a broad variety of art and culture, visit one of several cultural centers around the city, featuring exhibitions, performances and workshops. At some of these you can buy local art and handicraft too (refer to the Buy section for more shopping).
You can also take a pleasant walk in one of Santiago's many parks. Some of these, like Cerro Santa Lucia and Parque Metropolitano offer great views over the city. If you want something more than just hiking or taking the cable car up a little hill, take on the higher "hills" outside the city. Contact one of the local mountaineering clubs and go on a trek to some of the highest mountains in the world outside Asia, or if you like skiing, hit the slopes of El Colorado (Chile).
While you are outside downtown, Central Chile is also famous for its wines and wineries. Some noteworthy ones are Cousiño Macul that can be reached from the Quilin Metro station and Concha y Toro that can be reached by taking a taxi from the end of Line 4 (Las Mercedes and Puente Alto station). Casablanca Wine Valley is only about 1 hour to the west of Santiago and home to the best white wine in the country.
- Turistik Santiago Hop on – Hop off, . 9:30AM-6PM. A red double-decker bus that passes through the main tourist attractions of the city, including the Central Market, Plaza de Armas, Bellavista, and Parque Metropolitana, among others. Pass is good for the day with departures every half hour during operating hours. CLP$19.000.
Nightlife choices vary widely across the city and their location usually reflects their price and style.
- Barrio Bellavista and Barrio Brasil are popular spots close to downtown. The Bohemian Bellavista can be reached by Metro to Baquedano, or by bus to Plaza Italia. Cross the bridge will bring you to Pio Nono, which probably has highest density of bars, pubs, and clubs in Chile, including some LGBT places. Per law, everything closes down at 5 AM, though you may be able to join people for afterparties elsewhere.
- Barrio Lastarria has more sophisticated and relaxed bars, pubs, cafés, many of which have an interesting history. It's also a district for fine dining.
- The historic center likewise has many traditional places to have a drink, some of which have retained an ambience from the early 20th century. One of them is La Piojera, with its signature terremoto (earthquake) drink with wine, Fernet and pineapple ice cream.
- Plaza San Enrique is a park located in Lo Barnechea (at the far northeast of the city) which is surrounded by nightclubs. The most popular one is Sala Murano (it can get very crowded!). People who attend are mostly aged 18-25 and it is one of the safest places to party. Most people there are from upper-middle to high class, so it is more expensive than other neighbourhoods. Typically, females get in for free, while males pay around CLP$3000-5000. You can get there by buses, but though buses do pass later on, you might have to wait up to an hour for it.
- Plaza Ñuñoa is a district east of the central area and is another popular spot nightlife spot.
- Vitacura is located pretty far east (towards the Andes). It is composed of bars and some places where you can dance. The places are nice and although they certainly lack cohesiveness as nightlife (since bars only recently started opening there) it can be fun to go. It is more expensive that other areas of Santiago and frequented by people that live in the eastern (wealthier) side of the city. Although you can get there by bus, it will be hard to leave on anything but a taxi since buses don't run late.
Safety in Santiago
Santiago is infamous for its smog, which is worse during the winter (May–September). The locals welcome the rain which falls during winters as it cleans the air. Be sure to carry bottled water with you during the summer. Be prepared for sauna-heat on the metro during summer.
When getting around
By South American standards Santiago is a safe city, but visitors should be aware of pickpocketing and other petty crimes (Chileans derogatorily refer to the pickpockets as "lanzas", "spears" in English). Avoid parks at night and don't wear expensive looking jewelry or watches even during the day, unless you are in Las Condes or Vitacura. If you're alone, avoid large crowds of people, especially downtown.
If you happen to have bad luck and get robbed, do as you're told by the criminal and if you don't understand Spanish, give away the wallet. Not doing so can provoke an attack until you give away your wallet. Don't try to stand up to them and once again: do as you're told.
Don't flash your camera, take a photo and hide it while not using it. If you're getting robbed and the criminal has spotted the camera expect to give it away too if you want to stay out of trouble.
If someone approaches you on the streets and promises to get you better chances at changing your dollars/euros into Chilean pesos, never accept their deals. They're con-people who take advantage of foreigners not knowing the details about currency and confuse them with big words to take their cash away. Only change your money in legal currency exchange centers, which may take more time but are much more trustworthy. There's one in the airport, but they are also easy to find in the downtown and financial areas, or in the malls.
Overall, Santiago is very safe if you travel by car.
The metro is regarded as safer for travelling amongst the locals, even though security has increased in the buses after the introduction of TranSantiago. But some locals still prefer using the metro especially when it gets darker, since almost all the stations have guards. Don't expect the staff to speak much English. In peak hours the metro runs really full so try to keep your backpack on the front and belongings in front pockets.
There are some neighbourhoods/barrios that should be avoided. The few carabineros and locals that speak English will know which areas are to be avoided since some of them can actually be accessed by metro. Some people at local Starbucks are more likely to speak English.
If you see fewer tall buildings and more houses with locked windows and entrances, then turn back. The changes happen very slowly, unlike some other Latin American cities, so you'd have to travel quite a lot from a wealthy safe neighbourhood to a dangerous ghetto. Avoid especially La Legüa (not to be confused with La Ligua in the V Región) which is famed in Chile for its high crime rates. Single police cars won't even enter the area.
Try staying away from the following comunas: Lo Espejo, La Pintana, Puente Alto (especially the Plaza de Armas), La Cisterna, San Joaquín, El Bosque (not to be confused with the avenue and neighbourhood located around Metro El Golf, which is in Las Condes), San Ramón and LA Granja unless you know exactly where you're going. Though these places are not completely unsafe for the most part, they can have a few unsafe spots and don't have much touristic significance.
The safest comunas are Providencia, Vitacura and Las Condes. All of them have lots of local security guards, besides Carabineros, and locals are more likely to speak English, especially young people. They are not completely safe, though: petty theft still takes place, so keep your eyes open in the streets. Lo Barnechea can be tricky as it is the only comuna that has both extremely wealthy and extremely poor neighbourhoods ever since Pinochet's dictatorship; "La Dehesa" is wealthy and safe, "Cerro Dieciocho" is as dangerous as La Legua.
If you are going to see a football match, be careful with the "barras bravas" who are the most fanatic but also dangerous fans. They are often involved in troubles with the police both inside the stadium and outside. Avoid buying tickets in the sections where the bravas dominate which it often does behind the goals. The middle section is the safest but if you have a friend who wants to support Colo-Colo and another Universidad de Chile for example, avoid showing it. Even if the middle section is safe, showing different shirts can cause you trouble. Either go with the same shirts or dress neutral. Other football matches not being the "Superclásico" between Universidad de Chile against Colo-Colo should be pretty safe.
Walking to the stadium you will find people begging for some pesos so they can see the match. Avoid giving them if you want to stay out of trouble.
The barrio where the Estadio Nacional is located is a place which is normally peaceful, but you have to walk with precaution and keep your eyes on other people when it's crowded. It's better to take a taxi to the arena, or a rental car if you can find a place to park it.
Never join a protest, because it can end badly. If you are caught in one, don't hesitate to hide in a restaurant, shop or something similar.
Chilean Police (Carabineros) are in general trustworthy, at least in comparison to other Latin American countries. Although you can hardly find one who can speak English, they will try to answer your questions, solve your problems or give you orientations. Never attempt to bribe a police officer; Chile has the least corrupt police force of Latin America.
However remember that the Chilean police is a militarized police. Therefore the police special forces can be violent or unreasonable if they think you have or will do something illegal or inappropriate, be careful.