Vitacura, Santiago de Chile


The suburb of Vitacura covers a sector north of Las Condes, following the path of the Mapocho River, below the volcano-shaped hill, or mountain, called Manquehue. Directly under the Manquehue hill, as well as covering its eastern side, are some of the most impressive-looking houses in Santiago, many in the style and size of those found in the Hollywood Hills of California.

This district is primarily comprised of residential houses as well as more recently, modern apartment blocks and modern office buildings, including the Sanhattan area.

Nueva Costanera Mall

In addition, Vitacura contains the exclusive shopping and restaurant street called Alonso de Cordoba, along with another street that intersects it called Nueva Costanera. Along Nueva Costanera is a very exclusive, small, mall called Mall Nueva Costanera and to the north of this mall, two blocks away is a fine park called Parque Bicentenaria, which is very nice to walk in. This is a great place to come and enjoy a coffee or tea in the middle of the open terrace or a meal too.

Adjacent to the southern border of the Mapocho River is a kind of “restaurant mall” called Borde Rio, where there are numerous restaurants offering varied food styles.

Las Condes

Las Condes and Neighbourhoods, Santiago de Chile


Metro Stops West to East:
Tobalaba – El Golf – Alcantara – Escuela Militar – Manquehue – Hernando de Magallanes – Los Dominicos

Las Condes is the district adjacent to the eastern “border” of Providencia. Known as a more affluent and “up-market” suburb than Providencia and Downtown Santiago, it contains, mainly, residential houses and apartments. However, all along its main avenue, which is also called Las Condes, there are numerous modern office buildings, the majority of which were constructed since 1995, as well as some fine restaurants along the street called Isidora Goyenechea.

Most of the interesting part from the point of view of the visitor is around the El Golf area.

Once the metro passes Alcantara and heads past the Escuela Militar (which is where the military officer-training school is also located) the avenue is, side to side, modern office buildings, until reaching Los Dominicos where it is into an affluent residential sector.

At the Manquehue metro, south side, is a modest-sized shopping mall.

The most exclusive area within Las Condes is a sub-district called “El Golf”.

Avda. Kennedy

The southern side of Avenida Kennedy is in the Las Condes district. It is a 3-lane highway (each side) with exotic palm trees lining the central reservation all the way along. The highway runs west to east from the Sanhattan area in Vitacura all the way to the eastern district of Lo Barnechea, and the road that leads up the Andes to the Ski Centres of Valle Nevado, La Parva and Farellones.

On the southern side of Kennedy are two large shopping malls. One, which is more east than the other (remember that going east means heading towards the Andes) is called Alto Las Condes. This is very modern, large, and on three floors with food court, supermarket, hardware market and cinemas.

The other mall is at the western end of Kennedy, closer to the ring road called America Vespucio Norte. This mall is called Parque Arauco and covers a huge area, also three floors, cinemas and food courts. However, this mall has a number of hotels close by, such as the Boulevard Suites, the Marriot, Marriot Courtyard, Mandarin Oriental and on the opposite side of Kennedy (therefore technically in Vitacura) is Double Tree by Hilton, Hotel Kenney and Renaissance Santiago

El Golf Neighbourhood

Metro El Golf (northern exit)
El Golf is located north-east of the Tobalaba metro stop and immediately north of the El Golf metro stop. Within this “barrio” is the Los Leones hill, upon which are some lovely, private houses that overlook the exclusive Los Leones Golf Club the other side.

Also in this sector are modern office buildings, and top-end restaurants along the street called Isidora Goyenechea with underground car parking under the same street.
This area emits the “wealthy” vibe and is, indeed, nice. Consequently, some of the best hotels in Santiago are also in this area or close by.


Providencia and Neighbourhoods, Santiago de Chile


Metro Stops West to East:
Baquedano – Salvador – Manuel Montt – Pedro de Valdivia - Los Leones – Tobalaba

Covering an area of 14km2, containing a population of around 120,000 people, Providencia is a mid-level, middle-class, mainly residential district. It starts at the eastern line marking Santiago Centro (so, effectively where the Metro station called Baquedano is located) and runs east for a few kms to Tobalaba whereupon the district of Las Condes begins.

Providencia is, logistically, a good location for visitors. It is considered reasonably safe and handy to get into downtown, should you wish to venture that way, but also handy to go uptown. There are also a number of shops, a small shopping mall (called Panoramico Vivo), plus a small “artistic mall” (called the “Drug Store”), as well as restaurants, cafes and offices. Mainly, these commercial options are located either side of the main drag also called Providencia, especially between metro stops Manuel Montt, then running east to Tobalaba.

In addition, Providencia does offer some particular places worthy of a visit (detailed further below) and these are:
The Costanera Observation Tower
The San Cristobal Hill
Barrio Italia

Places of Interest close to, or within Providencia are:

The San Cristobal Hill

Metro Baquedano (northern exit) or Pedro de Valdivia (northern Exit)
This is the quite large hill that is visible from many points in Providencia and where there is a white-coloured statue of the Virgin Mary at the western end at the top. The highest point is at 880mt above sea level. The Virgin Mary statue, seen from almost every point in the city, was sculptured by Frenchman Jaconetti out of metal and given to Chile by France in 1908. The entire hill (cerro) comprises the Parque Metropolitana, covering 712 hectares which makes it one of the largest parks in the world in terms of surface area.

Getting to the top will enable the visitor to enjoy a panoramic view over Santiago and incredible unspoilt views of the Andes on one side, and the Precordillera Mountains on the other. There are restaurants and cafes at the top as well as two swimming pools and a zoo.

Access is either by car, funicular railway or cable car.

Driving up from the western side at the end of Pio Nono street, which is in the area called Bellavista, or, also from this same entry point is the more fun option of riding up in the funicular railway. This is quite a steep, but short ride up the side of the hill, stopping halfway for people to get off and go to the zoo and then ending at the top just under where the Virgin Mary statue is.

Funicular Operating Times:
Mon 13:00hrs to 20:30hrs; Tue to Sun 10:30hrs to 20:00hrs

The other entry point is at the northern end of the street called Pedro de Valdivia, which runs north off the Providencia Street, close to the metro station of the same name (Pedro de Valdivia). At the end of Pedro de Valdivia (north) is a cable car service that also runs up to just below the Virgin Mary statue.

Cable Car Operating Times:
Mon to Fri 14:30hrs to 20:00hrs; Sat, Sun and Public Holidays 10:30hrs to 20:00hrs

Cyclists and hikers as well as those who like the funicular railway, or teleferic cable car, enjoy the park to its full. There are many grassy areas, some on a slope, to sit upon and admire the view, however picnics are not allowed.

One suggestion is to go up on the funicular railway and down on the teleferic cable car.

Barrio Bellavista Neighbourhood

Metro Line 1: Baquedano (northern exit)
Sandwiched between Downtown and Providencia, on the northern side of the Mapocho River, across from the Parque Forestal, at the base of the San Cristobal hill is a small area called Bellavista (which means “beautiful view”). This term comes from the “beautiful” view over the city from top of the San Cristobal hill, where the large, white statue of the Virgin Mary is located. Access to this hill is from the end of the main Pio Nono Street in Bellavista. Information on the San Cristobal hill is in our Providencia page.

Night Life
Bellavista comes to life at night. It is known for its bohemian vibe with lots of bars, restaurants and nightclubs frequented by Santiago’s younger population.
Indeed, it can be a good place to come for evening entertainment, especial a place called “El Patio” which occupies and area between the two streets of Pio Nono and Constitucion.


Museo Neruda La Chascona (located in Bellavista)

Nearest Metro: Baquedano (northern exit)
Closed on Mondays.

Culturally, Bellavista is the location for one of the three houses previously owned by Chilean Nobel-Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. He had this property built and then named it La Chascona after a red-haired lover he was associated with.

The entire house is now a museum where visitors can walk through the small rooms and view the various paintings, ornaments and sculptures as well as furniture that once belonged to Pablo Neruda. The visitor service also includes the option of an audio guide that explains what is in each room in your preferred language.

In addition to the interior exhibition there is a small art gallery and café with a terrace, book shop as well as reproductions for sale of some of the objects in the house.

The small property is in a short side street just off the street called Constitucion, which runs parallel to the Pio Nono street, but curves in at the end where the funicular is. It is just off this curve where the side street to the house can be found.

The Costanera Centre (Observation Deck)

Metro Tobalaba (northern exit)
This is a large multiplex of mall, cinema, supermarket and offices. Opened in 2015, it is the largest shopping mall in South America, occupying over 4 levels with an open atrium in the middle, on one side. It is full of all kinds of different shops as well as a large supermarket and equally large hardware store. Therefore, only come to the mall if you are a “shopper”.

However, what makes Costanera Centre a draw for visitors is the tower. At the northeast corner of the complex is the tallest, man-made building in South America. It is 300mt high and at the observation deck at the top there is a fine (on a clear day) 360 view over all of Santiago. As a visitor, a trip to the tower is well worth it in order to get an orientation of the city.

Barrio Italia Neighbourhood

Metro Salvador (southern exit)
Located about 11 blocks South from the Salvador Metro in Providencia (quite a hike if walking, therefore a taxi is suggested).

This is a much larger bubble than other places like Barrio Brasil in downtown. It is, effectively, within a residential neighbourhood, with tree-line streets containing some great restaurants, bars, shops, art galleries and cafes, as well as antique furniture shops all combining to create a “vibe” and atmosphere, especially for evening dining.

This district used to be known as the “hat makers” place, because this is where the hat makers were concentrated. And, today, in some areas the old warehouses that were occupied by production facilities have been reclaimed as bohemian bars and restaurants, emitting a kind of “loft” feel. The main action is located on the Avenida Italia near Avenida Condell and between the Francisco Bilbao and Sucre streets.

Among the boutique shops there is a modern gallery of shops located between Avenida Italia and Condell. And, on a corner called “Jazz Corner” there is a nearby jazz club.


Santiago Downtown and Neighbourhoods


Line 1 Metro Stops of Significance
West to East: Republic – Los Heroes – La Moneda – Universidad de Chile – Santa Lucia – Universidad Catolica

Santiago was founded in 1541 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, and the land of Chile claimed on behalf of the Spanish crown. The original location for the base of power was around the Plaza de Armas, whereupon today there are still some of the original buildings from that period.

The centre of Santiago (Santiago Centro), also known as the downtown area, is where the history of both Santiago, and Chile is found, together with cultural places of interest. Outside of the downtown area Santiago, towards the east, is a modern city, which was developed long after the original conquistadores had died.

For information on the history of Santiago and Chile please refer to our page on that or click here: Santiago History

Further below we offer brief descriptions of the places of interest within downtown Santiago, including the neighbourhoods of:
Barrio Yungay
Barrio Brasil
Barrio Paris-Londres
Barrio Lastarria

In addition, we talk about the museums, buildings and places of general interest.

However, before we do, the visitor should be aware that downtown Santiago is a very busy place. Streets are usually very active with many pedestrians, which enables this part of the city to maintain is “Latin flavour”, much more than in the more modern districts. Therefore, for the visitor, the downtown area will give you a glimpse of “the real Chile”, but, as an “outsider” please be alert and aware when walking around and do not “advertise” on your person any valuables.

Downtown Santiago

Principal Places of Interest for the Visitor
The information below has been grouped together in areas where ALL the relevant places of interest can be found within, or close to THAT area. Be it an historic building, museum, or general place of interest.

Below, the information is in a list form, starting with the area located most west in Downtown Santiago and then moving towards the east.

Barrio Yungay Neighbourhood

Nearest Metro Line 1: Republica (north exit)
Located 6 blocks west from Bario Brasil, and then 3 blocks north is the small Yungay Barrio, or 4 blocks north of the metro stop Republica. This was the first neighbourhood in Santiago that drew in the “intellectuals” of the day and where artists, academics and politicians lived and thus created yet another “bubble” of historic Santiago from the early 1990’s. Among the nostalgic experiences here are the pedestrian paths of Adriana Cousiño, Lucrecia Valdés and Rodríguez Hurtado, that have colourful buildings.

Within this area is the Museum of American Popular Art as well as the Novedades and Camino theatres. Indeed, the preserved architectural history in this sector is regarded as “not to be lost” and has been declared a National Monument. One of the suggestions is to take a leisurely walk around the Yungay Plaza and see the church of Los Capuchinos sculpture of Roto Chileno – a character derived from the Battle of Yungay in 1839.

Barrio Brasil Neighbourhood

Nearest Metro Line 1: Republica (northern exit)
Located 7 blocks west from the Moneda Palace and 6 blocks north of the Metro stop called Republica is Barrio Brasil. This is a very small “bubble” of historically pleasing buildings in the old European style where there are a few cool restaurants and bars.

The Moneda Palace Area

Palacio de la Moneda Presidential Palace (formally the Royal Mint)
Metro Line 1: La Moneda (northern exit)

Located between streets Morande and Teatinos in the centre of Downtown. 
Built between 1784 and 1805 (20 years) under the supervision of Italian architect Joaquin Toesca, the low-lying, Neoclassical, symmetrical building was the Royal Mint, which is where the name "moneda" came from because "moneda" means money.

However, after forty years it was used as the presidential palace for Chilean presidents starting with Manuel Bulnes in 1848 and ending with Carlos Ibañez in 1958 when it stopped being the residential address of the president, but continued to be the official seat of government from where the president works. The Palace interior courtyards are open to the public during the day.

The president usually enters each day from the northern side when the Carabinero guards stands to attention as he walks through. In front of the Moneda Palace, northern side is a grass covered plaza called

Particular areas of interest is the grass covered Plaza de la Constitution where there are also some trees, and diagonal walkways cut through from corner to corner. This is immediately in front of the Moneda Palace (which is the north side). Around this Plaza are sculptures of past presidents of Chile such as: Eduardo Frei Montalva, Diego Portales, Salvador Allende and Jorge Alessandri. And, lined on each side of the square, separated only by a road width from the plaza, are government institutions such as the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of the Exterior, the Central Bank as well as the council office for Santiago city.

On the other, south side, of the Palace, what some may say is the “real” front is another open space. As a way to mark the 200 hundred years of Chilean independence (in 2006) from the Spanish State, the government converted what used to be a car park into what is now known as “Citizenship Square”. Under this, quite large space is an underground, cultural centre known as the La Moneda Cultural Centre.

Moneda Cultural Centre

Palacio de la Moneda Presidential Palace (formally the Royal Mint)
This is a modern, sub terranean venue on three underground floors under Citizenship Square in front of the La Moneda Palace. It was designed by Chilean architect Cristian Undurraga and finished in 2006 as a project to mark the Chilean Bicentenary Independence year as well as put Santiago on the “cultural map”.

Here, there can be very interesting exhibits, as, for example there was when original paintings by British artist Turner were displayed here, accompanied by reception and a viewing of a documental film about the artist.

In addition, there are functions here for product launches and to show case exhibitions.

There are three exhibition halls, two cinemas, a design gallery and a visual arts documentation centre, plus a café and hand craft shop.

The mix of modern interior design together with good lighting and large spaces within an historic setting has been executed exceptionally well. When inside this building one could easily be forgiven for thinking that you are in New York or London such is the look and ambience.

Museo de Arte Precolombino

Bandera 361 corner with Compañia

Metro Stop: Universidad de Chile (northern exit).

One block right from Moneda Palace to Bandera Street and then 3 blocks up.
Considered to be one of the best museums in South America that chronicles over 4,000 years of Pre-Columbian civilization.
Closed Monday.
Open: Tue to Fri 10:00hrs to 18:00hrs. Sat, Sun and Holidays 10:00hrs to 14:00hrs. 

Palacio Cousiño (Colonial Home)
Dieciocho 438

Metro Line 1: Los Heroes (Southern exit)

Taxi needed or a good walk south, about 6 blocks, from Metro Line 1: Los Heroes. 
An elaborate 19th-century mansion dating back to 1871. Built by the Cousiño family from wealth accumulated from coal and silver mining. Well preserved images from an elite life.
Open: Tues - Sun: 09:30hrs - 12:30hrs. 14:30hrs -16:00hrs. Tel: 698 5063

Barrio Paris-Londres Sub District

Metro Line 1: Universidad de Chile (southern exit)

A small, historic area located behind, but close to the San Francisco church. Narrow streets and interesting, old European style architecture.

Located on the south side of the main Alameda Avenue, on the opposite side of the road to Moneda Palace some 5 blocks east, and in between metro stops Universidad de Chile and Santa Lucia.

Just behind the San Francisco Church is the historic, old 1920’s European-looking neighbourhood called Paris-Londres. In places there are still cobbled streets, small cafes, restaurants and little plazas. And, of course there is the San Francisco Church, beside which is the Colonial Museum containing archaeological artefacts from the time of the conquest.

One particular building in this neighbourhood at Londres 38 is a beautiful building, declared a Historical Monument and where victims under the last dictatorship are remembered.

Iglesia de San Francisco

Metro Stop: Universidad de Chile (southern exit)

Constructed between 1586 and 1628 (44 years), this is the OLDEST building in Santiago having survived three major earthquakes. The small, carved Virgin del Socorro on the main alter, was brought to Chile by Pedro de Valdivia, on his saddle, in 1541.

Museo Colonial de San Francisco 
Alameda 834

Metro Line 1: Universidad de Chile (southern exit)

Located along the side of the San Francisco church (dating back to 1618 having survived all the earthquakes, entrance is by the church). Colonial building displaying numerous artefacts and an attractive central garden.

Area Around the Plaza de Armas

La Plaza de Armas 
Metro Line 5: Plaza de Armas (northern exit)

The OFFICIAL centre of Santiago and CHILE. This where all the national road distances are measured from. The first public space laid out by Pedro de Valdivia in shortly after his arrival in 1541, when he constructed a fort on this spot, hence the name Plaza de Armas (Plaza of Arms). It is in this area where people used to congregate and come to market. A number of important buildings such as the Cathedral, Governor's Palace and the Law Courts were built close the plaza.
Museo Historico Nacional (National History Museum)

Located beside the Plaza de Armas and next to the "Correo Central" (Central Post Office, see below). The building now housing the history museum was built by the Spanish Crown between 1804 and 1807 to be a courthouse, however, after just three years the first military junta met here in 1810 to plan the overthrow of the then Spanish Governor. Eight years later it was used as the first Congress building and then became the seat of government, until 1846 when President Bulnes moved the government to La Moneda.


Located beside the "Plaza de Armas", on the corner close to the "Correo Central". The Cathedral was built in 1785, with Italian influence in its design from the Italian architect Joaquin Toesca, who also designed La Moneda Palace. It is the FIFTH church to be on this site as the previous buildings were demolished by native Indians or earthquakes (1552, 1647 and 1730).

Correo Central (Central Post Office)

Built in 1882 on the foundations of what was previously the Governor's residence, which explains its elegant interior, which later became the Presidential Palace, during the colonial period. This building is next to the now National History Museum.

Mercado Central (Central Food Market & Restaurants)

Metro Line 2: Cal y Canto (southern exit)

The building was constructed between 1868 and 1872 with sections prefabricated in England and designed by Fermin Vivaceta for the purpose of exhibiting works of art, but it quickly became used as a market. Today the market is still active, and it is an interesting place where to eat. A number of restaurants that specialize in fish dishes surround the principal hall where one can eat and admire the fish, meat and vegetables on display amid the flurry of market activity.

Barrio Lastarria Neighbourhood

Metro Line 1: Universidad Católica (northern exit)
This is a small corner of downtown located adjacent to the Providencia district, and bordering to the southern side of the Parque Forestal, as well as being only a few meters from the northern exit of the metro stop Universidad Catolica. Here, there are older, European-style buildings, boutique-style restaurants, and cafes as well as an arty cinema and two drama theatres. And, spread out along a pedestrian pathway between the streets Rosal and Merced, there is an antiques fair, with stalls offering books and interesting artefacts from the past. More recently another pedestrian access route has been created via the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center from the main Alameda Street.

It certainly has a “vibe” not found in other parts of the city, and is popular with visitors coming to Santiago.

The history of Lastarria goes back to the 16thC when two vineyards surrounded the immediate area. These two vineyards were then divided into smaller lots. Today, the dividing lines separating some of these lots is where the streets of Padre Luis de Valdivia and Victoria Subercaseux are positioned, as well as the other streets and passages that intersect into Lastarria from the Alameda and Merced as well as the Parque Forestal.

In the centre of Lastarria there is the Church of Veracruz, built between 1852 to 1857 in the neoclassical form.

Also, in and around Lastarria is the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Visual Arts and on its periphery, the Bellas Artes, the Museum of La Merced and the Museum of Santiago.

In recent years a new gastronomic sector has been created called “Plaza Lastarria Boulevard” and here there are numerous restaurants offering fine food and a nice atmosphere, some with outdoor “al fresco” eating areas.

Museo Arqueologico de Santiago 

Lastarria 321

Metro Line 1: Universidad Catolica (northern exit)

Set amid the historical, small Lastarria neighbourhood, with interesting cafes and art galleries, this museum offers a number of exhibits from the indigenous peoples of Chile.

Museo de Bellas Artes (Beautiful Arts Museum)

Metro Line 1: Santa Lucia (northern exit)

Founded in 1880, the Bellas Artes (Beautiful Arts) is located within the Parque Forestal, beside the Jose de Miguel de La Barra road which passes by the front entrance.

The Bellas Artes is Santiago's fine arts museum, displaying permanent collections of French, Italian, Dutch and Chilean paintings and often hosting very interesting visiting exhibits including, when they are on tour, some World-renowned exhibitions.

The Bellas Artes Building
The actual building was designed by Frenchman Emile Jéquier's, who based the façade and the entrance on the Petit-Palais in Paris. The look and history of the building was considered to be of high importance to Chile and therefore it was declared a National Monument in 1976, and at the same time the library was created containing material, primarily, on over 2,000 Chilean artists.

Once inside the Bellas Artes you will notice a dome above the central hall. This was constructed in Belgium and shipped to Chile in sections. The same company that built the dome also constructed the roof covering the Mapocho Central Train Station (now not in service). On the surface of the outer wall there are 22 acknowledgements of iconic artists such as Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Velásquez and Guiotto. There is also reference to the Chilean sculptor and painter Guillermo Córdova.

On Show
The Bellas Artes Museum has over 5,000 different artistic artefacts on display covering painting, photography, sculpture, video, architectural design and even performance art. In the main hall is the permanent exhibition, but in the breakout rooms, which are on various floors, there are temporary displays.

The Parque Forestal
This is a city park with many trees, hence the name “forestal”. It was established over 130 years ago and offers residents, as well as visitors, a chance to walk through a green space under the cover of tree shade. The Park runs adjacent to the south side of the Cardenal Jose Maria Caro main road which, in turn, is adjacent to the south side of the Mapocho River, and fills the space from close to Bellavista at the eastern end to the old Central train station, at the western end, making it a much longer space than wide.

Cerro Santa Lucia

Metro Line 1: Santa Lucia (northern exit)
History tells us that THIS is the spot where Pedro de Valdivia officially founded the new settlement of "Santiago de la Nueva Extremadura" (named after his birth town in Spain) on February 12, 1541. At that time the area around Santiago was populated by native Mapuche Indians, scattered around the valleys and hills of the Central Valley.

When Valdivia arrived, Santa Lucia hill was barren and rocky, yet to-day it is covered in lush vegetation and has beautiful gardens in which to walk. It was mostly ignored until 1872 when Vicuna Mackenna (the intendente, or mayor of the city) oversaw the construction of new streets and turned Santa Lucia into a terraced garden for "the people" with the muscle power of over 150 prisoners.

It is a nice place to walk within, with a lot of tree shade and the Hidalgo Castle, which is used these days mainly as an event centre.

Teatro Municipal

Agustinas corner, with San Antonio Street

Metro Line 1: Santa Lucia (northern side)

Opera and Ballet March to December.
This is another iconic building for Santiago. An elegant theatre that hosts mainly classical concerts, ballet and opera.

Santiago Clothes to Pack

Clothes to Pack and Wear when in Santiago de Chile


Most people will visit Santiago at some time during the summer months. This means December, January and February. During this period the climate and overall weather system is Mediterranean but moving more towards a semi-desert climate. This means long, hot, dry days and short, warm to cool nights.

Therefore, visitors need to pack summer clothes such as:

Light pants (trousers), short-sleeved shirts, shorts, light shoes, light shirts, light sweaters, light jacket as well as sunglasses and a hat. Ladies should consider light skirts and dresses, light pants, light shoes, light blouses and short-sleeved shirts, a hat and sunglasses.

However, always add in an outer jacket in case it rains and for cooler evenings.

If you visit in the winter, you will need heavier clothes in general plus a scarf, hat, overcoat / fleece, and raincoat in your wardrobe. The winter months are May, Jun, Jul and August.

Santiago Climate & Weather

Climate and Weather, Santiago de Chile


Santiago de Chile used to enjoy an envious Mediterranean climate. Winters were short, with little rain and summers were long, dry and hot with mostly cloudless sunny days and cool evenings. However, over the past decade this has changed in line with the overall World-Wide climate warming. Now there is clear evidence, both in registered figures as well as seeing actual reality, that the Central Valley of Santiago, where Santiago is located, is changing to a desert climate. There is considerably less rainfall during the winter months and hotter days during the summer months.

Summertime Dec – Mar

Santiago is at an altitude between 600 and 800mts enabling it to “escape” from any lower-level cloud as well having air which is drier than at a lower altitude. This enables for there to be high, daily temperatures, but with little moisture in the air he does not feel as hot as if, for example, you were in Miami with the same temperature.

The central part of Chile is not too far from the Tropic of Capricorn (in the north), therefore, summer temperatures are higher than those further south, and getting higher each year with Global warming taking place.

To the west is the cold, Pacific Ocean, generating in the summer, cool air that then hits the Chilean coast, continuing on over the coastal mountains until it hits the Andes. This fresh, cool air keeps most of the Central valley, which contains Santiago, clear and cooler than it would otherwise be.

To the east are the high-altitude Andes mountains, that act like a curtain, keeping hotter air in place longer than it otherwise would be.

The clothes that most people wear during these months tends to be shorts, short-sleeved shirts, light skirts for the ladies, light trousers (pants), summer shoes, sunglasses and always a hat.

Wintertime June – Aug

Due Santiago’s place on the line of longitude, the sun rises and sets more quickly than, say, Punta Arenas in the far south. Also, the seasons are less marked. The winter in Santiago is short, although, officially it is May to Sep, the actual winter is more like June, July and August. During this period some days and nights can be cold on occasion, but usually, days are cool to mild. Santiago is rarely at a below freezing temperature.

During 2021 the rainfall was almost non-existent, and this was on the back of very low rainfall during 2020. Therefore, there is a draught in the Central Valley, and this looks like continuing in the future with low rainfall becoming the norm.

Should you visit during the winter it is important to have heavier, winter clothes, an overcoat, scarf and maybe a hat for the colder times.

If it rains it is for a short period and obviously for such days, you need a raincoat and umbrella.

Santiago Accommodation

Santiago, Chile, Hotels and Accommodation


There are hotels and there are hotels. Some hotels offer modest rooms in non-descript buildings and other hotels offer comfy, cosy rooms in modern, fresh, and clean buildings. Also, some hotels are large and impersonal others are smaller and “boutique” in style. Some are up-market, others are mid-level and then there are the ones that are low level.

In addition, some hotel accommodation is in run-down, “not so safe” areas and other hotels are in safer neighbourhoods close to transport, shops and restaurants.
Therefore, navigating the vast myriad of accommodation options can be a daunting task. This process is not reflected in any of the online hotel reservation sites either.

Experience and Local Knowledge

Here at Experience Chile, we have not only been based in Santiago, Chile for over thirty years, we have local, personal knowledge about what is what when it comes to hotels in the various neighbourhoods of the city. Particularly, we have invested considerable time and energy visiting numerous hotels in order to really know what they are like.

Within this section of our site, we show case only those hotels that we consider worthy to be our partners. That is not to say that “the rest” are not worthy, but it means that we have selected only a few establishments to work with based upon numerous factors. For example, location, security (if the area is considered “safe” or not, overall feeling of the hotel, room comfort, cleanliness, professionalism of staff and value for money, among other things.

The Suburbs and Neighbourhoods of Santiago

It should be noted that there are only a few areas of Santiago that the visitor will be interested to know. These are:

Eastern Downtown

There are two neighbourhoods on the eastern edge of the older, downtown area of Santiago that are of some interest to the visitor. One is called Lastarria, and the other is called Bellavista. Lastarria comprises of a few visually pleasing historic buildings. On the other hand, Bellavista is considered to be the “artistic” neighbourhood full of bars and restaurants but thronging with younger people. It can be quite noisy at night as well as a place for unscrupulous people, therefore one needs to be vigilant here.

Further East of Downtown and into Providencia

This suburb is a mix of older, large houses together with 1960’s apartment blocks and 1970’s commercial malls. However, there are also some modern and rather pleasant “bubble areas” of good restaurants. The metro line 2 also runs right through Providencia. Logistically, staying in Providencia is handy to get into downtown, and be in a relatively “safer” area as well as be well positioned to get over to Las Condes. In Providencia the main metro stops are: Baquedano, Salvador, Manuel Montt, Pedro de Valdivia, Los Leones and Tobalaba.

East of Providencia and into Las Condes

Considered to be one of the wealthy suburbs of Santiago, Las Condes is home to modern apartments blocks built in the 1980’s and 1990’s, state of the art tall office buildings, high-end boutiques, and large shopping malls. Key metro stops on the metro line two that are in Las Condes are: Tobalaba, El Golf, Alcantara, Escuela Militar and Apumanque.

Notably, within Las Condes is the high-end neighbourhood of El Golf where there are great restaurants and the largest shopping mall in South America: the Costanera Centre.

As far as staying overnight in Santiago is concerned, Las Condes is one of the best places to be.

East of Las Condes and into Vitacura

Moving further east, and therefore away from downtown, and a step east from Las Condes is the suburb of Vitacura.
This is, perhaps, the wealthiest are of Santiago, full of houses with gardens and modern office towers. Yes, there are still apartment blocks, but not as many as in the other suburbs.

We view Vitacura as being an excellent place to stay overnight because it is “safer” than the other suburbs and also quieter. However, there are currently no Metro stops that are located in Vitacura. On the other hand, access to the main Americo Vespucio and Costanera tunnel roads that lead to Santiago airport, is more direct from Vitacura than from other neighbourhoods.

Santiago Places of Interest

Santiago de Chile Main Places of Interest

Note: ExperienceChile.Org can arrange airport transfers in and out, accommodation in Santiago, pre and post the rest of your trip, as well as build in local Santiago tours and excursions to vineyards, and / or destinations on the coast.


The first thing to point out is that on this page is a brief summary of the key places of interest in Santiago.
Many more places, along with more details, can be found by linking to this page:

Santiago de Chile, the capital, is a mix of the historic and the modern in terms of architecture and “interesting” areas.

In reality, a “place of interest” will vary from person to person. For example, some people may find two historic, streets worthwhile visiting, whereas others may feel “what’s the point”!

Therefore, here, we are going to highlight the main day time places of interest that most visitors to the capital usually find interesting to see when they are here.

However, perhaps the most impressive and obvious place of interest is the Andes Mountains, visible from many places in city, especially from a high vantage point, and this view is “a must” to see when in Santiago.


In addition, there are the vineyards that, although not in the city, are accessible for half day and day tours from the city, as is Valparaiso or Zapallar on the coast.

The Key Areas Containing Places of Interest in Santiago are:

Downtown, with sub district Lastarria
Providencia, with sub district Bellavista
Las Condes, with sub district El Golf
Vitacura, with sub district “Sanhattan”

What follows is a brief mention about the principal places of interest for the visitor within each of the above-mentioned suburbs of Santiago. More information can be found in the introduction page for Santiago here:

Downtown Santiago (the Centre of the City)

Known for a number of “historic pockets” of older buildings, and museums as well as the presidential La Moneda Palace.

Downtown Santiago is the part of the city that the Spanish conquistadores established when they arrived here in 1541. Consequently, it is the only place in Santiago where there is anything that resembles architectural history.


Line 1 Metro: Universidad Catolica
One if the most interesting of the small, historic neighbourhoods is Lastarria and this is worth an exploration as well as a place to stop for a coffee or lunch.
Almost adjacent to the suburb of Providencia border, as well as being next to the southern side of the Parque Forestal. Lastarria comprises, older, 19th Century European-style buildings, boutique-style restaurants, and cafes. It certainly has a “vibe” and is popular with visitors coming to Santiago.

La Moneda Palace

LINE 1 Metro: La Moneda
The building is only three floors in height and designed in a double square shape with two inner courtyards. Originally the “the Mint”, where Chile’s money was manufactured, it is now the seat of the President of Chile. At the side facing the main O’Higgins Avenue is a large exterior space under which is the Cultural centre – also a place of interest, and at the opposite side is a plaza.

The public are allowed to pass through the inner court yards on certain days.

Plaza de Armas

Practically all Chilean villages, towns and cities, have a central plaza. Santiago, despite its present-day size, also has its original central plaza called The Plaza de Armas, which used to be the central hub around which, in the day, Chile’s initial administration centres were situated.

Today there are still some of the old, original buildings that played a significant role in Chile’s history, as well as a plaza to wonder around and think back to how it once must have been.

Pre-Columbian Museum

As far as museums go, the Santiago Pre-Columbian Museum is considered to be “World Class”. It showcases many artefacts from the period prior to Christopher Columbus arriving to the “New World”.

Central Market (Mercado Central)

Metro Line 2: Cal y Canto (southern exit)
Santiago’s Central Market is the main market for fish, vegetables, meat and fruit. In addition, there are a number of local stores that sell natural, herbal remedies. In the same area, but on the other side of the Mapocho “River”, is the “Vega”, which is the main market in Santiago for fruit and vegetables and an interesting place to wonder through.

However, the Central Market is often interesting to look around and see the varieties of fish that are harvested from the Chilean Pacific as well as the cuts of red meat. In the atrium area there are numerous restaurants that offer fresh sea food. Consequently, this is a popular lunch-time stop off.

Bellas Artes (Fine Art Museum)

Metro Line 1: Santa Lucia (northern exit) or Universidad Católica (northern exit)
The building housing Santiago’s Fine Arts Museum, called “Bellas Artes”, dates back to the 1800’s. Located bsdie the tree-lined “Parque Forestal”, the museum often showcases travelling World Class art exhibits as well as permanent art and sculpture exhibits.

San Francisco Church

Metro Stop: Universidad de Chile (southern exit)
Considered to be the “oldest building” in Santiago, constructed between 1586 and 1628 (44 years), it has survived three major earthquakes. It is said that the small, wooden-carved Virgin del Socorro that sits on the main alter, was brought to Chile by Pedro de Valdivia, on his saddle, in 1541.

Behind the church is the Colonial Museum “Museo Colonial de San Francisco”
Here there are numerous artefacts and an attractive, inner garden.

Providencia (East of Downtown)

Places of interest include the San Cristobal hill with the Virgin Mary overlooking the city, a touristic cable car and Bellavista where one of Pablo Neruda’s houses is open to the public.

Sub District Bellavista

Line 1 Metro: Baquedano
A short walk north from the metro stop called Baquedano is the bohemian sub district of Providencia. At the end of the Pio Nono Street (in Bellavista) is the station for the funicular railway that leads up to the viewing platform at the base of the Virgin Mary almost on top of the San Cristobal hill, which is in the “Parque Metropolitana”. There is also a cable car that descends down and long a stretch of the “Parque Metropolitana” to ground level.

From here is an impressive view over most of Santiago and the hills beyond, not to mention the Andes mountains.

Pablo Neruda’s House (La Chascona)

Also, in Bellavista is one of the hoses of Chile’s Nobel-Prize winning poets, Pablo Neruda, called La Chascona. Today this is a small museum which is open to the public.

The Sky Tower at the Costanera Centre (Metro Tobalaba)

One of, if not, “the” latest tourist attraction and therefore place of interest in Santiago is the Sky Tower that forms part of the Costanera Centre shopping mall. This is easy to spot because the tower is the highest building in Chile and, thus far, South America.

From the top floors there is a spectacular viewing platform that opens up an excellent 360-degree view over all of Santiago. On a clear day this is an excellent option and one from where you can initially become oriented for your stay in Santiago.

Santiago History

The Brief History of Santiago de Chile


What follows is a very brief, chronological breakdown of the most important events that have led to the creation of Santiago, and also the Chile we know of today.

The 1500’s

Colonial Spain
1500’s The Spanish, who conquered practically all of the America’s, had its colonial power based for South America, in the region in Lima, Peru. At that time Chile was then a backwater – not considered particularly important and only a place “yet to be explored”.

1536 Diego de Almagro led an expedition, on horseback, from Peru into Chile but did not get anywhere near to the future site of Santiago because the journey was fraught with difficulty.

1541 Pedro de Valdivia. The man bestowed with the honour of being the original Spanish conquistador was Pedro de Valdivia. In 1540 he led an expedition from Peru to Chile arriving in 1541 to the site of where Santiago is today.

Valdivia “founded” Santiago officially on Saturday 12 February 1541 and named the settlement “Santiago del Nuevo Extremo”, after the name of his hometown in Spain. The actual place for this ceremony was at the foot of the hill called “Huelen” (by the indigenous natives), but renamed “Santa Lucia” by the Spanish.

He organised a local form of government and set about mining in the areas that were rumoured to have had gold during the Inca period, but he and his men endured constant attacks from native Indians who were trying to repel them.

It was clear that a more secure base was required, and they set about building an infrastructure which led to the development of a fort and aptly named it the “Plaza de Armas” (Armed Plaza). Shortly after completion of the new plaza many of the buildings were destroyed by the rebellious, native Mapuche Indians.

Naturally, the new settlers set about rebuilding and stuck to within the limits of the natural boundaries of the Mapocho River and Santa Lucia hill. Urban development continued to grow for the next decade and began to resemble a colonial settlement of importance. However, the “Conquistadores” were here in search of mineral wealth and therefore “followed their noses” to the south of Chile to the area of Arauco, deserting Santiago which then became more of a staging post.

Mapuche Indians
1553 A violent backlash from the southern Mapuche Indians forced the Spanish invaders to retreat back to Santiago, reigniting population growth in Santiago once again.

1586 Construction on the “Iglesia de San Francisco” (Church) began and continued over a 44-year period until 1630. The church holds an item, which is on display, that Pedro de Valdivia brought with him on horseback all the way from Peru. Chile was now governed from Lima under the Viceroy of Peru and forced to trade with Spain via Lima. Restrictions were put in place to forbid “Chile” (not yet a country in its own right) to trade directly with any other country, which resulted in uncontrolled smuggling.

The Spanish Crown, as “owners” of the land called Chile decides to divide up the agricultural land and large houses between the leading families in Chile who, as a result, became extremely powerful and rich. With large swathes of land being owned by so few people, including the Jesuit church, a new underclass was created and known as “inquilinos”. The “inquilinos” were only given permission to farm by the landowners if they worked for the landowner, thus creating a “serfdom” of workers who were at the mercy of the landowners they served.

Early economic demand focused on livestock and horses to generate leather and grease needed for the mines in Bolivia, as well as the continuing war against the Mapuche Indians in Chile.

In to the 1600’s
1626 There were around 500 houses and a population of 11,000 now in Santiago.

Earthquake & Land Prices
1687 A massive earthquake destroys the wheat crop in Peru, which then enabled the superior quality Chilean wheat to fill gap and supply the miners working there. This, in turn, led to a rise in the price of Chilean wheat, which determined the price of land in Chile throughout the 18th century.

Consequently, any person owning land had the opportunity to increase his wealth, whilst the workers only continued to be workers, receiving as little pay as the landowners could get away with.

On to the 1700’s

1740 Direct trade with Spain was now permitted.

1750 Chile is allowed to mint its own currency.

1760 It is accepted, or agreed, that tenants working the land should provide a son or daughter to the landlord for household duties i.e. a maid.

By the end of the 18th century, after 250 years of colonial rule, Santiago had virtually been destroyed, once by native Indians and twice by massive earthquakes. The population at this time was around 50,000 people.

1784 Construction on La Moneda Palace begins and takes 20 years to complete.

The 1800’s
Independence and Political Unrest
1808 The French, under Napoleon, successfully invaded Spain resulting in confusion among the Spanish colonies as to where their allegiance lay, this in turn, weakened Spanish colonial military control, which led to the beginning of the independence movement.

1810 A local military “junta” was formed. This “junta”, along with patriots loyal to the Chilean independence movement fought many battles against troops loyal to the Spanish crown. These battles continued through to 1818.

The First President & Independence

1818 “President” Bernardo O’Higgins.
The illegitimate son of a Peruvian Viceroy, Chile’s first elected leader following independence from Spain in 1818.

There were two key men who played a vital role in bringing independence to Chile. One was Bernardo O’Higgins, born in 1778 in Chillan (southern Chile) as the illegitimate son of an Irishman, Ambrose O’Higgins.

Ambrose O’Higgins rose through the Spanish colonial ranks to become Governor of Chile and then Viceroy of Peru. Ambrose sent Bernardo to London to be educated and during his time there he met with a number of exiles who were plotting to overthrow their own Spanish rulers.

In 1817, after his father died, Bernardo returned to Chile to inherit his father’s estate and take his surname: O’Higgins. Bernardo O’Higgins led his own army of men to take on the Spanish Royalists, but after one serious defeat he retreated over the Andes to nearby Mendoza, in Argentina, where he met up and joined forces with the other key player in the Chile independence movement: Jose San Martin de Los Andes.

San Martin de Los Andes had been planning to enter Chile from Argentina and overthrow the Spanish too. O’Higgins and San Martin de Los Andes joined forces and after winning a major battle in 1818 at Rancagua (just south of Santiago) O’Higgins was asked to be the “Supreme Director” of the newly independent Chile.
Independence was officially claimed in February 1818 with Bernardo O’Higgins as head of the first Chilean government. As you travel throughout Chile you will notice a street named after him in almost every Chilean city, town or village.

Independence Day is, however, celebrated on the 18 September each year and known as the “dieciocho”, which means 18.

After independence from Spain, which was 277 years after Pedro de Valdivia, first arrived at the Santa Lucia hill, Santiago began its journey to become a serious urban base.

Economic Boom
1822 Valparaiso was declared a free port by the independent administration, which enabled it to develop into an important financial centre and principal through-fare for business connected to the booming nitrate mining in the north and successful cattle ranching in southern Patagonia. Also, at this time, over 30 canals were constructed in the fertile, central valley, to provide much needed irrigation to the crop and fruit farming in this area.

1848 La Moneda Palace becomes the residence and working place for the president of Chile (like the White House in the USA).
1851 The first vineyards begin to appear.

1857 17 Sep 1857 the principal theatre (at the time) of the country was inaugurated with the opera Errani performed by an Italian company.
1872 Benjamin Vicuña Mackenna initiated the change of the Santa Lucia hill by using 150 prisoners to dig, move rocks, shift earth and plant trees.

Northern Land Grab
1879 Arturo Pratt and “The War of the Pacific”
Chilean naval hero who led the winning naval battle against Peru. On 21 May 1879 Pratt, on board the Chilean ship Esmeralda, beat the Peruvians in a maritime battle in the Pacific Ocean opposite the northern city of Iquique. This led to Chile gaining all the land north between Iquique and up to Arica, and in the process, also cutting off Bolivia from the sea.

On to the 1900’s
1900 The first significant fruit harvest is reaped. Santiago is booming from mining and agriculture. New constructions go up and areas are gentrified (Santa Lucia Park), but the vast majority of the population live as servants to the rich landowners.


With a growing economy people came to Chile to make money and live well. Large houses and mansions were built. The State commissioned the construction of a new Congress building and Municipal Theatre. It was the newly arriving Europeans who drove the pace as they set about recreating the kind of European environment they were used to but leaving the poorer natives and mix-raced peoples to fill in where they could, many flocking to Santiago in search of a better life, but often living in simple shacks and treated as second-rate citizens.

As Santiago entered the 20th century it expanded eastwards, towards the magnificent Andes mountains, creating new “barrio altos” (literally meaning “higher settlements” both in terms of new wealth and also higher altitude). Many large farming properties (haciendas), a result of land being handed down the family line from the days of the Spanish conquerors, get broken down into smaller holdings thus forcing agricultural workers to leave the land they worked, to look for more affluent work in the nitrate mines in the north as well as in Santiago. The Santiago population is now around 600,000 people.

Telephone lines go up. The Panamerican highway is constructed north and south from the capital. Hydroelectricity provides energy. Demand from the USA and Europe to fuel World War II provides a boost to the economy.

Economic Depression

1920 The nitrate mining industry collapses, which leads into the 1920 great depression, which leads to social tension and unrest.

1925 The National Library is created and inaugurated.
1952 The population in Santiago reaches over 1 million people.

Social Injustice

1970 Pressure is on to reform the land ownership problem (too few landowners with vast swathes of land but too many poor people with nothing to speak of).

Military Coup

1973 President Salvador Allende (democratically elected in 1970 as the first ever communist president of Chile) is ousted in a bloody military coup led by Augusto Pinochet, head of the army and lead figure in the military junta.

Modernity Again
1975 The first metro line opens on May 15 operating from San Pablo to Central Station

The New Millenium 2000’s
1990 – Democracy returns to Chile with the election of President Aylwin when he assumes the presidency in March of 1990.
1992 – With the return of democracy to Chile the country is no longer considered a “pariah state” and international airlines begin flight routes to Santiago, foreign investment begins to flow in and the economy starts to post impressive growth figures.
1995 – More and more construction projects begin to take shape, new roads are built, old roads are resurfaced.
1999 – Various areas of Santiago, especially the sectors of Providencia and Las Condes see major infrastructure redevelopment with modern offices and apartments blocks being completed and new developments planned still.
2000 – Santiago airport has been redeveloped; many regional airports have been replaced by modern, new airport terminals.
2010 – A major earthquake hits the central part of Chile, but damages very little considering its ferocity. Although there was some damage to a few highways and some buildings and a tsunami claimed some lives further south, near Concepcion, it was impressive how the structures of the country resisted the major forces of energy.
2015 The Sky Costanera centre and tower are opened. Since the return of democracy, the country has undergone a radical redevelopment and Santiago, in its eastern suburbs, as well as other parts of the city, look like a fully developed, modern city. The figures that register poverty are down and there is an overall “good feel” about where Chile is heading.
2019 – Civil unrest suddenly erupts after the cost of metro ticket increases for use during the peak period and a Chilean government minister suggests that to avoid the increase people should get up earlier. The unrest spreads throughout the country with metro stations, churches, shops, and properties being torched and destroyed.
2020 – The Covid-19 virus hits Chile and the country invokes lock down controls and curfews to control the contagion.
2021 - Chile elects the youngest president in its history, 36 year old Gabriel Boric, a socialist politician. He takes office in early 2022.
2022 – Lock down ends and Chile begins to open its borders.
2023 - Present day Santiago and Chile as you see it.

Santiago Arrivals & Transfers

Arrival to Santiago via the Airport


Herewith below we will describe, firstly, what the transport options are around the airport, followed by an historical account of the airport development. For information about immigration and customs please refer to the separate page on that or follow the link here: Santiago Airport Immigration and Customs.

For direct information about the airport please use these links:

Transport at Santiago Airport

Private Transfer Pre-Arranged
This is what we do. We can have a driver and private transfer waiting to meet you at in the arrival hall ready to take you away to your hotel. No fuss, no hassle.

The best way to get a taxi is to get your ticket BEFORE entering the airport arrival hall.

There will be some “official” taxi companies selling tickets. You pay there and then when coming into the arrival hall a representative will escort you to the taxi. This is by far the least stressful and more secure way to get a taxi.

However, there are several people constantly crowding around the arrival sector (where friends and family wait) touting for business. They often do not respect personal space and can be very irritating and, potentially, out to scam you, or worse, rob you, so be very careful if you opt for these guys.

Next to the taxi service BEFORE exiting into the arrival hall, so this is the space just after customs, there are also minibus transfer companies in the same area as the official taxi companies, selling tickets.

The minibus companies offer either a shared transfer with other passengers or a private transfer. The shared transfer means you need to be patient whilst the bus drops off other passengers before they drop you off, unless you are, of course, the first to be dropped off. They will visit many hotels or private homes, for example, dropping people off at each location. The private option means you pay a premium for the entire bus, but you get door-to-door service.

Regular Bus
For those on a budget, there is large regular bus that shuttles regularly from the airport to the bus terminal in downtown Santiago. Tickets on sale at any of the regular bus counters in the terminal.

Rent a Car
If we have arranged a rent a car for you, you will need to go to the respective car rental desk in the arrival hall and sign the paperwork. You will likely have to walk a fair distance, unless you take the shuttle bus, to where the rent a car is waiting for you. Once you have familiarised yourself with the car and set off on the drive be careful of Santiago traffic. There will be a road toll to pay, but this is automatically charged to a device in the car called a Tag. See below.

The airport is located about 30km from the centre and other suburbs of Santiago and the drive time takes about 30min via modern automatic-pay toll roads but can take a lot longer when there is lots of traffic on the roads.

All rental cars will have on the interior of the car windscreen a small device called a TAG that is automatically charged when passing under infrared beams at set intervals on the highway. You will hear a “beep” each time it is charged. To cover this cost the car rental company will add an extra charge for the Tag, unless we have included that for you.

About Santiago Airport

The international airport serving Santiago de Chile is called Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez (who founded the Chilean air force), however, it is often also called Pudahuel. For all intents and purposes, it is better known to the arriving visitor as Santiago Airport, so we will stick with that.

Santiago airport has seen exponential growth since 1992, both in terms of passenger numbers passing through, and physical expansion of infrastructure. It has undergone two radical infrastructure changes since its original inauguration in 1967. The original terminal being a very modest one building room about the size of three tennis courts.

First Expansion 1994
Since the original, rather simplistic terminal was opened in 1967 there was a fresh impetus after Chile returned to democracy, to make Santiago Airport more in line with other world, international airports in order to cope with the large planes now descending on Santiago and increasing passenger numbers.

Therefore, in 1994 began the construction of a new, large, single building terminal under one, wide-span roof. This offered 90,000sqm of space and was positioned at a perpendicular angle to the original terminal. The new terminal was clean, spacious with shops and cafes “air side” – in other words after passing through immigration to leave the country, but also with some cafes and restaurants in the check-in side too. After the opening of the new terminal, suddenly Santiago airport “looked” like a “real” international airport.

Accompanying this new terminal came new car parking, and overall modernity as well as a new airport hotel in front of the building. The now old terminal continued to be used, initially, for domestic passengers only and the new one for international arrivals and departures. However, in 2001 all passenger traffic passed through the new terminal, and it was not long before everyone realised that the building and facilities were not going to be big enough to cope with the ever-increasing increase in passenger numbers.

This terminal, mentioned above, is now the domestic passenger terminal and has four floors and on each floor are these services:

Level 1 (Ground Floor)
Arrivals and Transport.

Level 2

Level 3
Departures, Check-in, Boarding Gates and Immigration.

Level 4

Useful Numbers
Airport General: +56 2 2690 1796

Lost and Found: +56 2 690 1707

Continued Passenger Growth

Due to incredible growth in air traffic and visitors coming to Chile the new terminal reached its projected capacity of 9.5million passengers earlier than forecast (2008) and it was very clear that further expansion was required. However, this time those in control felt that an overall strategic plan was required for the entire airport and not just build another terminal, or only expand the existing one.

This strategic, master plan was to consider growth of passenger demand to 14 million annually before 2034 (almost 5 million more than in 2008) and up to 50 million by 2045 – a massive increase.

At the end of 2019, pre Covid-19, the passenger numbers passing through Santiago airport had reached 24,654,705.

Second Expansion 2015

With a consortium in place the next phase of expansion started in October 2015, with continuous development to take 20 years. Included in this plan was a new terminal covering 175,000m2, allowing for passenger number capacity to increase to 30 million annually, but with enough flexibility to handle 45 million passengers.

The objective was for the new terminal to be able to process all international flights by the end of 2021, whereupon the older terminal will be used for domestic passengers only.

The Terminal Buildings
As previously mentioned, one, large terminal developed in the first expansion is still operational and perfectly good, but now for domestic use since 2021.

The new terminal is joined to the “phase one new terminal” at right angles and has been in use since 2018. It is very large and almost the twin, in style, to the international airport terminals at Madrid, Spain.

This new terminal is incredibly spacious with a high, arching, one span roof supported by cement-angled bases upon which are bolted painted steel pillars; modern seating, shops and cafes at key locations and generally pleasing.

In line with the main terminal there are also “break off” terminal “arms” that lead to the gates for embarkation or disembarkation.

With the expansion of the Santiago Airport passenger terminals, car parking and general facilities arriving or departing can now be an arduous process, therefore we advise allowing extra time to navigate the journey through immigration and on to your gate waiting area.

Also, during the high season holiday months of January and February, for both Chileans and foreign tourists, immigration and customs control can, on occasion, be under severe stress because the authorities find it difficult to cope with the flow of passengers. Therefore, depending on the situation when you arrive, or depart, you may need some patience!