We 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 out from Santiago to vineyards and or destinations on the coast.
Surrounded by the Andes mountains to the east and the coastal mountains to the west, Santiago sits in a natural bowl at an altitude of 543mt in the downtown area rising up to 800mt in the eastern up-market suburbs. One of the positive aspects to Santiago is the favourable Mediterranean climate it enjoys (average summer day time temperature is 30°C), with long, hot and usually cloudless summers running from November to March. The summer is also a period of little smog. Rain, when it comes, is usually in June, July and August, meaning snow in the mountains and therefore skiing. One of the negative aspects to life in Santiago in the winter is its serious smog problem, especially bad in the months of June, July and August.
Santiago is the fifth-largest city in South America, home to over 7 million people and the central base for 50% of the county’s manufacturing industry. Most of the business activity and areas of interest for visitors is concentrated into a linear zone that runs east, along the Mapocho river, from the downtown Santiago suburb (comuna) into the suburbs of Providencia, Las Condes, Vitacura, Lo Barnechea and La Dehesa. The further east and higher you go from downtown Santiago the more affluent the area. In fact the city can be divided into its older sector and its modern sector. The older sector covers the downtown (central) part and then running west, whereas the very modern sector is the part running east from the outskirts of downtown. Downtown offers a glimpse of the “old days”, a little chaotic, older buildings, “South American-style” cafes – but not too much. One of the most interesting areas in downtown is called Lastarria. This offers older, European-style buildings, boutique-style restaurants and cafes.
The very modern sectors of Santiago, namely the district nick-named “Sanhatton” because of its tall office buildings; the El Golf area, and the sector adjacent to the Alonso de Cordoba street, look like the newly-developed, dynamic “state-of-the-art” cities of Asia and the Middle East, making a surprising impression on visitors to the Capital that surprises newly-arriving visitors who are expecting to find a “typical run-down Latin America city”.
Santiago Public Transport
Public transport throughout Chile is generally very good. Santiago boasts an exceptionally clean and modern underground metro system (but best avoided during the morning and evening rush hour), a modern fleet of eco-buses, thousands of taxis and colectivo taxis that follow a set route, and inter-city buses offer an extremely comfortable and inexpensive way to travel between the cities. As far as aeronautical services are concerned, LATAM and SKY Airlines offer modern fleets of aircraft linking all main cities the length of the country.
In Santiago, the metro is excellent, clean, reliable and cheap. You need to by a “Bip” prepaid card prior to travelling on the metro and this will be automatically swiped each time you pass through the platform entrance barrier. The principal line, Line 1, runs through the middle of the Downtown area and all the way east passing through Providencia and terminating in Las Condes. For the visitor, the metro Line 1 should be all you need in order to get around. During the peak rush-hour periods (am 07:30hrs – 09:30hrs and pm 16:30hrs – 19:00hrs) avoid the metro as it is packed to over capacity with Chileans going to and coming back from their offices.
Public Bus Network
In 2007 the public bus transport system underwent a complete overhaul and the older, noisy, polluting buses were taken off the streets to be replaced by modern, eco-friendly, quieter buses and operated by a new company called Transantiago. The system is reasonably good, but still congested. There are designated bus stops from where passengers can board buses, but like the metro passengers MUST have a PREPAID card called a “BIP” card. These “Bip” cards are only available for purchase at specified sales points, including in the Metro stations.
The Metro and Transantiago operate a combined ticketing system whereby the prepaid cards operate via a swipe system as you board the bus or go through the metro platform entrance gate.
Inter-City Public Buses
Inter-city public transport is usually very good. For long journeys the busses offer executive class comfort and on-board services.
All arrivals and departures go through Santiago International airport, officially called Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez (who founded the Chilean air force) airport. Currently (2018) the airport is undergoing a large expansion and therefore arrivals in peak summer months to the existing terminal can be chaotic at times.
Santiago Places of Interest for the Visitor
The city offers the visitor many entertainment options and some interesting historical sites. It can be divided into five principal areas for the visitor:
Downtown: Offering a chance to see historical buildings and museums; Bellavista: A bohemian district between downtown and main Providencia that comes alive at night and is full of interesting bars and restaurants; Providencia: A redeveloped suburb that is full of bars and nightclubs; the recently re-developed areas within Las Condes and Vitacura that boast numerous modern, tall office and apartment blocks, good restaurants, modern supermarkets, well surfaced roads and state of the art underground car parking.
Museo de Arte Precolombino
Metro Stop: Universidad de Chile (northern exit).
Bandera 361 corner with Compania, Downtown.
Closed Monday. Tue to Fri 10:00hrs to 18:00hrs. Sat, Sun and Holidays 10:00hrs to 14:00hrs.
Considered to be one of the best museums in South America that chronicles over 4,000 years of Pre-Columbian civilization.
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, Downtown.
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.
Bario Paris-Londres (Historic Area)
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 architecture.
Palacio de la Moneda Presidential Palace (formally the Royal Mint)
Metro Line 1: La Moneda.
Located between streets Morande and Teatinos in the centre of Downtown.
Built between 1784 and 1805 (21 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” mean 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 Ibanez 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. Recently renovated, the Palace interior courtyards are open to the public during the day.
La Plaza de Armas
Metro Line 5: Plaza de Armas
The OFFICIAL centre of Santiago and CHILE. This where the national road distances are measured from. The first public space laid out by Pedro de Valdivia in 1541 when he constructed a fort, 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.
Correo Central (Central Post Office)
One of the historic buildings built beside the Plaza de Armas. Built in 1882 on the foundations of what was previously the Governor’s residence which later became the Presidential Palace, during the colonial period.
Museo Historico Nacional (National History Museum)
Also beside the Plaza de Armas and next to the “Correo Central”, built by the Spanish Crown between 1804 and 1807 as a court house, however, after just three years the first military junta met here in 1810 to plan the
overthrow of the 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 it to La Moneda.
Located beside the “Plaza de Armas”, on the corner close to the “Correo Central”. 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).
Mercado Central (Central Food Market & Restaurants)
I. Valdes Vergara 900, Downtown.
Metro Line 2: Cal y Canto
The building was constructed between 1868 and 1872 with sections pre-fabricated 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 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.
Museo de Bellas Artes (Beautiful Arts Museum)
Parque Forestal, Downtown.
Metro Line 1: Santa Lucia, northern exit.
Santiago’s fine arts museum, displaying permanent collections of French, Italian, Dutch and Chilean paintings and often hosting very interesting visiting exhibits.
Museo Arqueologico de Santiago
Lastarria 321, Downtown.
Metro Line 1: Universidad Catolica.
Set amid an historical small neighbourhood, with interesting cafes and art galleries, this museum offers a number of exhibits from the indigenous peoples of Chile.
Cerro Santa Lucia
Metro Line 1: Santa Lucia.
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, some 463 years ago! At that time the region 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) oversaw the construction of new streets and turned Santa Lucia into a terraced garden for “the people” with the help of over 150 prisoners.
Agustinas corner with San Antonio, Downtown.
Metro Line 1: Santa Lucia.
Opera and Ballet March to December. Tel: 633 2549
Palacio Cousino (Colonial Home)
Dieciocho 438, Downtown.
Taxi needed or a good walk from Metro Line 1: Los Heroes.
An elaborate 19th-century mansion dating back to 1871. Built by the Cousino 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
Museo Neruda La Chascona
Nearest Metro: Baquedano
One of the houses where Chilean Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda once lived. Located in a short street just off the main Pio Nono road. Tel: 737 8712 for tours (closed on Monday).
Cerro San Cristobal
The hill on top of which is a statue of the Virgin Mary. Access is from metro stop Baquedano, on foot to the end of the street Pio-Nono which runs through Barrio Bellavista and then up to the funicular railway (Mon 13:00hrs to 20:30hrs; Tue to Sun 10:30hrs to 20:00hrs) or to the northern end of the street Pedro de Valdivia and onto the teleferic cable car (Mon to Fri 14:30hrs to 20:00hrs;Sat, Sun and Public Holidays 10:30hrs to 20:00hrs).
The highest point is at 880 m. 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 or cerro comprises the Parque Metropolitana, covering 712 hectares which makes it one of the largest parks in the world. 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. Cyclists and hikers as well as those who like the funicular railway or teleferic cable car enjoy the park to its full. One suggestion is to go up on the funicular railway and down on the teleferic cable car.
The Costanera shopping mall and sky tower is a great way to get a 360° view over Santiago on a clear day.
Two modern shopping malls dominate Las Condes and these are Parque Arauco and Alto Las Condes. Both are spacious, clean and new, offering the visitor plenty of choice and well known brand products. Both are located along Avda. Kennedy and are known by all taxi drivers. However, the biggest in South America is the new Costanera Centre in Vitacura with Providencia.
There are few good places to buy typical Chilean handy craft products, but a couple are: Los Dominicos, and “Los Cobres”. Los Dominicos is located behind a church of the same name and offers the visitor a chance to wander around a colonial setting whilst looking at what to buy.
Souvenirs (Typical items)
- Lapis Lazuli: A blue stone very popular in jewelry.
- Alpaca Knitwear
- Soft Woolen Sweaters
- Mapuche Ceramics
Nearest Metro: Baquedano
Located on the other side of the Mapocho river a short walk from Baquedano metro station and at the foot of the San Cristobal hill. Known primarily as the Bohemian district, Bellavista (Beautiful View) comes to life at night and offers the visitor numerous restaurants and bars to dine and drink at.
Barrio El Golf
Metro: Tobalaba or El Golf north exits
Up-market business and commercial zone, host to numerous good restaurants and bars along the El Bosque Norte and Isidora Goyenechea streets.
Avenida Vitacura runs near to the Mapocho river and is home to many new restaurants. Another good spot is Borde Rio, located on Monsenor Escriva de Balaguer 6,400, beside the Mapocho river. Great place for evening drinks and meals during the summer.
If summer time (December, January, February) bring summer clothes and always something for cool evenings. Also bring a hat, sun glasses and sun-screen cream.
If winter bring clothes to keep you warm as well as a rain coat.
Our selection of hotels includes many of the most popular accomodations in South America. You’ll find the perfect hotel in your budget.
Santiago is the Capital of Chile (Santiago de Chile). It is a modern, bustling and dynamic city surrounded by the huge, glaciated, snow-covered Andes mountains to the east and coastal mountains to the west, creating a stunning spectacle on a clear day.