As the capital of Chile, Santiago is a must-do, when visiting this country. It not only has a unique location on the slopes of the snow-capped mountains of the Andes, but it also has so many exceptional neighborhoods to discover. I’ve been living here for a couple months to study a semester and therefore had enough time, to explore this city.
Surely not all neighborhoods are nice to visit as a tourist due to poverty or dangers. That’s why I created this list of my favorite neighborhoods for you:
Santiago Centro + Barrio Brasil
The center of Santiago is probably the most well-known district of the city. Plaza de Armas is the main square of Santiago and surrounded by beautiful historical buildings, palm trees and statues. You can even find chess tables and old men playing chess there all day.
Close to Plaza de Armas, there are different museums such as the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolumbino or the Museo Histórico Nacional. If you go further, crossing Barrio Brasil, you’ll find yourself at my favorite park of Santiago – Parque Quinta Normal. It was really quiet and a nice place to calm down. Furthermore, next to the park, you can find even more museums – the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos just being one of them.
The center of Santiago is also the place, where many political and important buildings are located, such as Congreso Nacional or La Moneda.
On the other side of Plaza de Armas, you’ll find a small neighborhood called Lastarria. It is full of small restaurants, bars, theaters, and museums. If you’re interested in art, you’ll be happy to go here. The museums I’ve visited were all for free and included Museo Nacional Bellas Artes – already impressive from the outside, Museo de Artes Visuales with a nice café next to it and GAM (Centro Gabriela Mistral).
If you’re more interested in souvenir shopping, you’ll find different ferias and a street market that is held there basically every time I went there. After that you can go to Parque Forestal, to take a little break and relax on the grass.
Another nice spot to visit is the Cerro Lucía, a little hill with a yellow castle on it. By reaching the top, you’ll get a nice view of Santiago.
And what was probably my favorite activity – cheap outdoor dance classes that are held close to the GAM museum. One class (1h) costs 1000 CLP and is held every Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm (Bachata) and 8pm (Salsa). You can enter their WhatsApp group (the link is on their Instagram sbs_chile) to find a dance partner, in case you don’t have one.
Bellavista is a neighborhood where you probably shouldn’t go alone at night. Nonetheless it’s a neighborhood worth visiting. During day, you can just walk there from Lastarria, since there is no metro station and admire its beautiful street art.
After wandering the streets, why not hiking up the Cerro Cristobal, a hill from where you’ll get the best view of Santiago – especially during sunset. You can also take the bus up and then walk back to Bellavista to go partying in one of the many clubs and bars at night.
Hipster Barrio Italia was my favorite neighborhood of Santiago, yet my opinion is probably influenced by having lived there. It’s a calm colorful neighborhood filled with fancy (Italian) restaurants and cafés – Café Raíz being my favorite. It’s offering a bright variety of vegan food, nice coffee drinks and breakfasts/snacks.
Even though Chilean food is not very vegan/vegetarian-friendly, in Barrio Italia you’ll find what you are looking for. There is even a small vegan supermarket.
If you love cats, there is a nice cat café, where you can enjoy a smoothie or a cat paw shaped cake while cuddling or watching the cats.
Apart from food, Barrio Italia a nice place to go shopping in one of its many boutiques and little markets with fashion, interior design or arts and crafts. Almost at the end, you’ll also find a flea market with secondhand clothes, next to an antique street with retro books, magazines, and vintage furniture.
This district is a really calm area as well. It’s perfect for living there due to its security and chill vibe. You’ll find many restaurants and nice little parks to take a walk.
If you’re interested in cheap salsa classes, you can find them at Metro Irarrázaval several nights per week, where you can dance into sunset outside.
Las Condes is the richest, most expensive and safest area of Santiago. You’ll find many skyscrapers with offices and not that many historical buildings compared to the center. For shopping you can go to the big shopping mall Arauco where you’ll find many different brands and restaurants.
For free time activities enter the next-door Parque Araucano, which usually offers different events every weekend such as a yoga festival or concerts.
Click here to view my Chilean photo gallery.