Founded in 1541, Santiago is the capital and largest city in Chile with forty percent of the country's population living in the sprawling metropolis. The city is a perfect blend of contemporary and historic with museums patched in between modern neighborhoods and skyscrapers. After a long day of sightseeing, head over to the Bellavista neighborhood to indulge in some pisco sours and pastel de choclos. Consider also doing a day trip to Valparaíso, a vibrant, bohemian beach town about an hour west of Santiago. Pro tip: Combine this Santiago and Valparaíso itinerary with the Torres del Paine (Patagonia) itinerary.

3 DAY ITINERARY

DAY 1 - SANTIAGO

Morning: Acquaint yourself with the city through a free walking tour. We booked our tour with Tours 4 Tips which had us stop by many of Santiago’s main attractions including Plaza de Armas, La Moneda (Presidential Palace), Parque Forestal, and Museo de la Bellas Artes.

Afternoon: A good, local option for lunch is Mercado Central, a 1800s market lined with several fresh seafood vendors and cafés serving fish specialties. You can also visit the nearby fruit and vegetable market called Mercado La Vega. If you are a fan of museums and would like to learn more about Chilean (and international artists), spend some time checking out the galleries in the Museo de la Bellas Artes. In the late afternoon, make your way to the vibrant Barrio Bellavista neighborhood. Enjoy pisco sours at the Patio Bellavista before heading to La Chascona, a former home of Pablo Neruda that is now a museum.

Evening: Have dinner at Peumayén Ancestral Food (I highly recommend trying one of their tasting menus) before checking out the nightlife in the Barrio Bellavista area. The streets are lined with bars and clubs — you are sure to find something that suits your mood.

DAY 2 - SANTIAGO

Morning: Hike ~45 minutes to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal for sweeping views of the city. You can alternatively take the funicular to the top if you are not keen on hiking. Once you reach the top, you can visit the church, grab coffee, and enjoy the views from the Terraza Bellavista.

Afternoon: Spend the afternoon in the Barrio Italia. The bohemian neighborhood is lined with several shops and boutiques where you can pick up souvenirs. Casaluz Restaurant is a great spot for lunch — try to get a table in their garden. Afterwards, you can visit more traditional arts and handicrafts markets such as Los Domínicos and Santa Lucía. If your visit to Santiago coincides with a soccer match, try to see if you can catch a game at the Estadio Nacional de Chile.

Evening: Have an early dinner at Boragó — known as one of the world’s 50 best restaurants. One of the most unique dinner experiences I have had took place at Boragó. After dinner, catch a show at the Teatro Municipal (Municipal Theater). Built in 1857, this beautiful theater hosts several opera, choir, and ballet performances. Visit the theater’s website or stop by the box office for showtimes and ticket prices (they can be as low as $3!).

DAY 3 - VALPARAÍSO

Morning: Take a day trip out to Valparaíso, with stops at Viña del Mar and Casablanca Wine Valley. You can go with a tour group or on your own via public transportation (bus). First, stop by Viña del Mar — a resort town known for its upscale shops and restaurants. Walk around the waterfront, check out the famous flower clock, and grab lunch at one of the cafés offering panoramic views of the ocean.

Afternoon: After lunch, head to the hilly port city, Valparaíso. This UNESCO World Heritage Site city is known for its colorful neighborhoods, winding stairways, and vibrant murals. Take a walking tour and visit the city’s famous landmarks including the Plaza de la Victoria, Plaza Sotomayor, Naval Academy, Baburizza Palace, Pablo Neruda’s home, and funicular rides for a beautiful views of the bay. Spend time getting lost in the Museo a Cielo Abierto — a neighborhood filled with a labyrinth of outdoor murals.

Evening: On your way back to Santiago, stop by a winery in the Casablanca Wine Valley for a tour and tasting. Some good options include Viña Casas del Bosque, Kingston Family Vineyards, and Casa Valle Viñamar. We visited Casa Valley Viñamar and would recommend for a quick stop. I believe they also served food, so you can even grab dinner there. Once you are back in Santiago, check out the nightlife in the Las Condes/Vitacura neighborhood.

LOGISTICS

VISA REQUIREMENTS

US, EU, and Canadian passport holders can visit Chile without a visa for up to 90 days. Citizens of India holding a valid US Visa, with current validity of six months, do not require a Chilean tourist visa (either Simple Tourism or Multiple Tourism or Multiple-Business). Please check your country’s official resources to confirm your visa requirements.

LANGUAGE & CURRENCY

Chile's official and administrative language is Spanish. You can get away with English in more tourist-heavy areas, but it may be helpful to know some basic words and phrases. Chile's currency is the Chilean Peso (CLP). As of August 2020, $1 USD is equal to 797.60 CLP.

GETTING AROUND

Within Santiago, we found that taking the subway when convenient or Ubers was the easiest way to get around the city. We opted to take a tour (booked on Viator) for the Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, and Casablanca day trip. I know people who took public transportation (local bus) to Valparaiso — this is a cheap and reliable way to get to Valparaíso, especially if you do not plan on visiting the other two places.

HIGHLIGHTS

BORAGÓ

Boragó is considered to be one of the World's 50 Best Restaurants. It's menu showcases the diversity of Chilean cuisine. There is not necessarily a set or seasonal menu as it is formed each day depending on what ingredients are available. Working directly with over 200 foraging communities to source ingredients. the restaurant sources fresh ingredients from all over Chile — from the Atacama desert in the north to Patagonia in the south. The dishes are earthy in nature, representing places such as the Chilean coastline or the Andes mountain range. I wouldn't say it was my favorite meal of all time, but it was a really fun and unique experience. Compared to other fine-dining restaurants, it was reasonably priced.

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