One week in Santiago, Chile
August 25, 2015 5:26 PM   Subscribe

Advice and suggestions for activities in Santiago, Chile?

A quick search on AskMefi shows old questions about Santiago, Chile. I am flying in Friday and would love to receive suggestions on things to do, including meeting people in Chile for the week I am staying. I, unfortunately, do not speak Spanish. I am open to all activities though people will think I shake my fist at the partying kids on the lawn because of my conservative ways. I am willing to take day trips, if that is helpful.

Any other travel advice is also welcome.

AskMefi was spectacular with advice and even a guide for Vienna (the fabulous Mefite, Omnomnom) and I am hoping that AskMefi pulls through again.
posted by jadepearl to Travel & Transportation around Santiago, Chile (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
It's winter, there's skiing quite close.
posted by sammyo at 5:33 PM on August 25, 2015

what kind of thing do you like to do?

when a cousin of mine (+ new wife) came, the thing they liked most was a guided walking tour (in english). i'm not sure how they found that - probably a tourist office. it was free, apart from a tip.

the best two museums are the pre-colombian (near the central square) and the museum of memory / human rights (ie pinochet).

you can visit vineyards, although it's winter right now. if you're here for a week, and have the money, i think a guided tour with a meal or similar might be best (i have no idea, but i imagine they go out to casablanca valley from santiago), but you can also just hop on a bus (or metro + 30min walk) and go to cosineau macul.

you could also go on a day trip (by bus) to the seaside - to vina and valparaiso (two neighbouring towns on the coast - valparaiso is the port town, with steep streets, while vina is more middle class / holidays). neruda (the poet) has a house in valparaiso you can visit, and also one in santiago (i think the one in santiago is more interesting). in vina there's a very good, small, french restaurant whose name i can't remember.

there are various places to buy crafts to take home. los dominicos is best, but also the shop in the underground museum outside the presidential palace (which you can also visit). also, there's the two big markets in santiago centre that are good to walk around (and eat in, according to my parents).

errr. and that's all i can think of, really. it's not the best time to come in all honesty - a bit cold (well, i say that because our heating just failed, but in all honesty i was walking round today in a tshirt, shirt and thin wool jumper, so it's not exactly freezing).

most people don't speak english, but everyone is terribly friendly and my useless parents who are here regularly but never learn anything get by with smiling and pointing.

i'd be happy to meet up for a meal (likely w paulina my partner) - perhaps a sandwich (chacareros are very good!) or something fancier if you prefer. we live in a nice part of town w various restaurants nearby (providencia). where are you staying?

if you say what you're interested in, i can maybe think of more things (but i know nothing about skiing, except that it exists).
posted by andrewcooke at 5:52 PM on August 25, 2015

One of Pablo Neruda's three houses is in Santiago. They offer English speaking tours.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 5:52 PM on August 25, 2015

Pablo Neruda's homes are good to visit. La Chascona is in the Bellavista neighborhood of Santiago and La Sebastiana is in Valparaiso, a charming port city about an hour from the capital, which makes a nice day or overnight trip.
posted by vunder at 5:53 PM on August 25, 2015

So obviously andrewcooke is more knowledgable than I am about Santiago. I would like to second Los Dominicos as a neat place to visit. If you want some really good papas fritas, hit up Teclados. There's also a bar that serves a strange ice cream and wine mixture which you might be interested in trying although the name escapes me.

I also want to second going to Viña del Mar or Valparaiso. They are a fairly short bus ride away.

If you're into churches, I believe there's a neat one near La Moneda. Sorry I don't have better information but this is all based on my pisco addled memories from the five months I spent living at the Chilean military academy back in the fall of 2010. Perhaps andrewcooke can confirm or deny my information.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 6:08 PM on August 25, 2015

(actually you are right there are three neruda houses if that's what you're referring to. but the third is on an island and i've never been so i forgot about it).

there's a big church on the central square (plaza de armas) which is near la moneda (the presidential palace). there's a whole pile of churches, of course, but that's the biggest most famous one, i think (i have never been there, sorry).
posted by andrewcooke at 6:12 PM on August 25, 2015

Does the tram up that mountain run in the winter? Probably best on a clear day. If you get to Valparaiso find a couple ascensores to ride, quite different than anything I'd been on.
posted by sammyo at 7:19 PM on August 25, 2015

in santiago? i think you mean this and yes, it runs all year round. as for clear days - in winter we have smog, so it's best if it's just rained (unfortunately not that common).
posted by andrewcooke at 7:31 PM on August 25, 2015

I went to Santiago this time last year to visit a friend and while I agree that it's not the ideal time of year (it is indeed quite smoggy) I still had an enjoyable visit to Chile. Things I liked:

- Day trip to Valparaíso (yes, I realize this is is not in Santiago but highly recommended)

- Visiting La Vega and Mercado Central, which are outdoor produce/fish markets if you're into that kind of stuff, and there's also some great little fish restaurants around the markets as well

- Second the Pre-columbian museum and the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos

- Hiking up Cerro San Cristóbal and Pochoco. The former is an easy trek up a city hill; the latter is a day's hike in the foothills of the Andes. I found both very rewarding.

- I walked the length of Apoquindo from the end of the metro line back to the city center, which I found very interesting not for any intrinsic tourist attractions but because it's the ritzy new business district of the city and feels quite different from the older city center and neighborhoods.

It is of course winter in Chile. Based on your profile location you won't find the daytime weather at all cold for winter, but be warned that there's very little central heating and the temperature drops at night so indoors spaces can get quite chilly; when I stayed with my friend we would warm up the bedrooms with a space heater right before going to bed.

All that being said, I have to admit I would not rank Santiago that highly as a city destination (I went because I was visiting my friend who was living there for a year); it's perfectly safe and developed and blessedly free of tourist scams, but in my very personal opinion the city's just not very exciting. I think that where Chile really shines is in its natural beauty. If you're willing to take an overnight trip out of the city I think it's really worth it. We went north for two nights to Pan de Azúcar national park and it was definitely the highlight of my visit.
posted by andrewesque at 9:02 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

sorry to keep posting, but andrewsque's excellent post reminded me that there's now a walking / bike path along the mapocho (river that runs through the town) that is also good for seeing non-touristy things (although apoquindo probably makes more sense going east). now i am going to find out what pochoco and the pan de azucar park are!
posted by andrewcooke at 4:14 AM on August 26, 2015

Eat some seafood at a stand in the Central Market and talk to your table neighbors. Chileans are among the most friendly people I've ever met.
posted by sandmanwv at 6:31 AM on August 26, 2015

I spent three weeks in Santiago and loved every day. I don't speak Spanish and had no problem.
Here were some of my recommendations (in addition to much already mentioned):
-Sculpture Park (Parque de las Esculturas)
-Agreeing on Museum of Memory & Human Rights (Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos)
-GAM! for great, inexpensive music and dance performances
-Parks and Politics bike tour with La Bicicleta Verde.
-Museo Ralli private museum with excellent collection of contemporary and modern South American art
-walk around neighborhoods taking pictures of Santiago's amazing street art
-hang out in cafes/bars practicing your bad spanish while the very friendly Santiagoians practice their English
posted by Pineapplicious at 8:03 AM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Andrew, am completing taking you up on meeting for a meal! Yay!

I am staying in the Las Condes(?) area, if that helps folks to give further advice.
posted by jadepearl at 12:49 PM on August 26, 2015

I came in to say La Chascona and the Mercado Central, so will nth them instead.

Also, it was a while ago, but I had a good meal at the restaurant Liguria near Manuel Montt subway station, and the interior patio is pretty cool (unfortunately I discovered this too late, after eating at a pavement table, which was fun in its own way...)
posted by penguin pie at 2:45 PM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

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