Resting on an inland plain in the Great Central Valley, the Andes provide the backdrop for this cosmopolitan capital, which is home to more than 6 million inhabitants—nearly a third of all Chileans. The city’s rapid reinvention, including a growing economy and a renovated arts scene, is fast producing a delightful list of highlights and a captivating hub for culture; Santiago today being one of the most modern cities on the continent. It’s the mix of old world charm and modern infrastructure that defines the city today; a charming combination of traditional architecture—full of 19th century European influence, with an explosion of Avant-garde designs. Proving an excellent base from which to explore the country, not far outside its bounds you have the continent’s main ski resorts, wonderful beaches northwest, and just south, the world-class wine producing region of Maipo Valley, known for its exceptional Cabernets.
Inside the city, you will find an excellent selection of museums in the Centro district, including one of South America’s most important collections of pre-Columbian art, as well as monuments and architectural sights. At the heart of Centro is the Plaza de Armas, housing the city’s most important of buildings like the neoclassical Metropolitan Cathedral and Municipalidad de Santiago (Town Hall).
Santiago is teeming with restaurants, cafés, and hotels throughout, and great shopping options, particularly for lapiz lazuli which is only mined here in Chile and Afghanistan. Nightlife blooms in the Brasil, Lastarria, and the bohemian Bellavista barrios, featuring sidewalk eateries, beer halls and cafés, while the ritzier Providencia and Las Condes boast first-rate hotels and posh restaurants.
For stunning views of the city, ascend Cerro San Cristòbal by hike or cable car. There you will find Santiago’s largest urban public park, the Parque Metropolitano de Santiago, to which it has dedicated 40% of its green areas. Coverings some 1,784 acres, the Parque Metropolitano de Santiago is the largest urban park in the country and one of the largest urban parks in the world. Go for a stroll, mountain biking or even birdwatching. There are walking trails and picnic areas, a botanical garden and zoo, and 2 swimming pools to be enjoyed.