Santiago (Chile)

Travel Guide South America Chile Santiago





© Journeyman

Santiago (or Santiago de Chile) is the capital of Chile, with a population of approximately 5.5 million people. Alongside Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo, Santiago is one of the leading economic hubs of South America. But Santiago is also stunningly beautiful, its modern skyline set against the backdrop of the snow capped Andes mountains.




  • Central Santiago - The traditional financial area of the city, full of colonial architecture and paseos (streets turned pedestrian walkways).
  • Providencia - 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.



Sights and Activities

  • Cerro Santa Lucia - a hill in the centre. The site where Pedro de Valdivia founded the city.
  • Pablo Neruda Museum.
  • National Museum of Fine Arts (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes).
  • Parque Metropolitano is a 700+ hectare park and recreation area complete with swimming pools, a zoo, restaurants and a botanical garden. On a clear day, you can experience sweeping views of the city from Cerro San Cristóbal, the city's highest point.
  • Plaza De Armas - the city's main square.
  • Wander the streets of Bellavista and Bellas Artes.
  • La Moneda Palace - the presidential palace.
  • Mercado Central - the city's distinctive wrought-iron market.
  • If you want to see something different, you could go to either Mercado Bio Bio which is on the yellow metro line, metro station Franklin or Mercado La Vega which is on the same line between the metro stations Puente Cal y Canto and Patronato. These are poorer markets than Mercado Central so be careful.
  • Cerro Santa Lucia - Park Address: Cnr Alameda & Santa Lucia, Hours: 9:00am to 7:00pm
  • Plaza de Armas - Plaza, fountain celebrating liberator Simon Bolivar Address: Cnr Monjitos & 21 de Mayo



Events and Festivities

  • Santiago's Annual Love Parade - Santiago's Annual Love Parade is a celebration of love and freedom in the city attracting thousands dancers and party goers every year in January. Expect bedazzled floats, loud music, great food, drinks, and street parties that last through the night.
  • The Santiago Jazz Festival - The Santiago Jazz Festival features both local and international musicians that come to the city for a week of great outdoor live music. Many different styles of jazz are represented, and all of the concerts are free. Event takes place in late January or early February.
  • Vinos de Chile - Vinos de Chile is a wine festival brings over 30 of Chile’s vineyards to Santiago to show off their best wines. The week-long event is typically held at the Plaza San Francisco Hotel in March. Visitors can expect wine tastings, competitions, and other fun events.
  • Easter - Since Chile is a predominately Catholic nation, Easter week is regarded as one of the most important weeks of the year. Expect to see parades, events, and religious ceremonies all around town beginning on Good Friday.
  • Dieciocho (01 Sep 2013 - 20 Sep 2013) - Dieciocho, the 18th of September, marks the independence of the Chilean people from Spanish control, and it is one of the most celebrated events on the Chilean calander. Parties consume the month of September, springing up in nearly all the parks of the city, and the nightclubs get full to the brim with people dancing the Cueca (Chile's national dance) and drinking Chicha. Chicha is arguably the best bevarage to come out of this traditional country and is made from either grapes or apples to produce a beautifully sweet drink that is only sold during the festivities of this month, so catch it while you can.
  • The Santiago International Short Film Festival - The Santiago International Short Film Festival is one of the most important events in Latin American cinema. The festival features short films by both established and up-and-coming artists.




The warm days start from November and lasts well into March, with an average temperature from 25 °C to 35 °C during the day and around 15 °C to 22 °C From April to August the weather is relatively cold (still mild though) and unstable, mostly haze, cloudy, and sometimes rainy with temperatures from -2 °C on some nights to 15 °C or a little more on the warmer days. The sun starts to shine again in September and October, but be careful because some days looks like summer and the next day could be rainy.



Getting There

By Plane

Santiago International Airport, also called Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport or Pudahuel Airport, is the main airport in Chile and located in Pudahuel, west of the capital. It's the largest airport in the country with almost 10 million passengers a year.
LanChile is the national carrier of Chile, but many other major airlines fly into Chile as well, including Iberia, several South American airlines and airlines based in the USA.

Some travellers arriving by air are required to pay a "processing fee." This processing fee is in response to fee levied against Chileans travelling abroad, and will match the amount of the fee charged to the Chileans. Citizens from the USA pay $US 45, Citizens from Canada pay $US 55 and citizens of Australia pay $US 30. This fee can be paid in US dollars, Chilean Pesos or with travellers checks.

To/from the airport

  • Bus: TurBus and CentroPuerto provide regular buses from the airport to a number of stations in Santiago, including the main metro stations.
  • Minivan: Tur Transfer and Transvip provide shuttle services by van.
  • Taxi/Car: Taxis and rental cars are widely available.

By Train

  • Metrotren offers the service between Santiago and San Fernando.
  • TerraSur offers the service between Santiago, Chillán, and Concepción.
  • Buscarril offers local service between Talca and Constitución.
  • Biotren offers local service between Talcahuano and Hualqui.
  • Local Service between Talcahuano and Renaico.
  • Local Service between Temuco and Victoria.

More info at Empresa de Ferrocarriles del Estado (EFE).

By Car

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.

By Bus

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 2,800 metres 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.



Getting Around

Try to avoid the rush hours during the week. In the morning, rush hours are between 8:00am and 10:00am, while in the evening between 6:00pm and 8:00pm.

By Public Transport

Transantiago is the public transport system in Santiago. It operates buses and Metro systems across the different zones in the city. The minimum fare for a bus ride is 500 pesos. Use the journey planner (Spanish only) to find your way around the city.

Bip! is a pre-paid contactless smartcard used to pay for the bus and metro services in Santiago. You can get this card at all Metro stations and Bip! offices. The card is available for 1,200 pesos and can be topped up with more credit later.

There are two types of taxis:

  • Taxi (black and yellow), operated by individuals.
  • Radio Taxi (generally navy blue), operated by a company.

Tourists are recommended to use Radio Taxis.

By Foot

Central Santiago is navigable on foot, but you have to use public transport to combine it with more outlying places.

By Bike

Bikesantiago is a bike sharing program with monthly and annual memberships. You must register to use the service.




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.




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 centre 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.




All types of accommodation, from top class hotels to backpacker hostels are available. As a general rule, lodging gets more luxurious and expensive the further east you travel.

Classic, mid-range hotels can be found downtown, and in the nearby residential areas such as Barrio Brasil you'll find more affordable accommodation like youth hostels. Lastarria just east of downtown features small boutique hotels. In the eastern part of the city you can find hotels of international luxury chains and apartment hotels, catering to those who attend business meetings, conferences or trade shows. Still further east, outside the city and up the mountains there are the upscale ski resorts.


You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)




Teaching English

Santiago has a good stable economy that has been powering on despite the current crisis. If you want to live and work in a South American country, Chile could not be easier for English teachers. Due to the government's attempts to open up its economy to the world and their current policy of 'English opens doors' the demand in Santiago for English classes is huge. Unlike Europe, a TEFL certificate is not even necessary (although I would recomend it) and you can find many private institutes that are willing to take on new-comers and give them some training. VISAs can be acquired in the country once you've found the institute you want to work with so no prior paperwork is needed before you arrive, many people even work on tourist VISAs and just leave for Argentina every 3 months.

Your wages will be around 500,000 pesos per month for around 22 hours teaching time, which is ok but no brilliant. Chile can be quite expensive in some areas such as food produce. It is however, enough to live well, enjoy life and save a little for further travel around the country.




Keep Connected


There are cybercafes in every major and midsize city and at all tourist destinations. Some libraries are in a program called Biblioredes, with free computers and Internet. Wifi is getting more and more common. They're usually in metro stations, airports, malls, cafes, public buildings and several public spaces. Check for the ones that say gratis - for free. McDonald's and Starbucks are chains which almost always have free wifi.


See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Chile is: 56. To make an international call from Chile, the code is: 00. Emergency phone numbers include 131 (Ambulance), 132 (Fire) and 133 (Police).

Public phones located on streets are very likely to be tampered or vandalized, so it's better to use a phone located inside a commerce or a station. Prepaid cards for mobile phones and public phones are sold at most newspaper kiosks, supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies and phone dealers. Mobile GSM networks are ubiquitous in all major cities and most of the territory of central and southern Chile. A basic prepaid cellular phone usually costs about 15,000 pesos, most frequently charged with 10,000 pesos worth of prepaid minutes. No ID is required to buy a prepaid phone. GSM SIM cards from ENTEL, Movistar or Claro are usually available for 5,000 pesos, but without credit, so you'll need to buy some prepaid minutes to be able to call. Money can be charged into a cellphone from some pharmacies (Ahumada, Cruz Verde and Salco Brand) on the counter and in cash, or by using a credit card through an automated service operator, with directions in Spanish or English.


Correos de Chile is the national postal service, and although relatively slow it is reliable with post offices throughout the country. On the website you can find more information about prices to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. Post offices are generally open Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 6:00pm and Saturday until 2:00pm, although there are sometimes longer opening hours in the bigger central post offices and shorter ones in small places. Ask around. If you want to send packages internationally, you might consider companies like DHL, TNT or UPS, which are fast, reliable and usually competitively priced as well.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: -33.46912
  • Longitude: -70.641997

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