What to do in Santiago: discover the must-see places and attractions that you cannot miss on a trip to the Chilean capital

Santiago, capital of Chile, is one of the most fantastic places in the world and offers many attractions to enjoy. From the first impression, from the top of the plane window, it is already possible to be enchanted by its mountains and the immense Andes mountain range

In and around the city there is a plethora of places to visit and it is even difficult to concentrate everything in a single script. Which attractions can't I miss? Which places are really unmissable? These are recurring questions from those who visit the chilean capital for the first time. 

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So, if you still don't know what to do in Santiago, we've separated the 15 must-see attractions and tourist spots to include in your itinerary.  

Things to do in Santiago, Chile

La Moneda Palace

things to do in Santiago attractions

Photo: Miguel hernandez/ Wikimedia Commons

For those who don't know what to do in Santiago, the imposing Palace of La Moneda, which plays a very important role in Chile's history, is indispensable. 

Built in the 19th century, it was there, for example, that Pinochet carried out the 1973 coup, marking the beginning of the dictatorship in the country. Currently, the space is used as government headquarters, but it is possible to discover its interior through scheduled visits that take place four times a day.

It is also in front of this important building that the changing of the guards ceremony takes place, which takes place on different days at 10 am. Therefore, this is a highly anticipated moment for tourists.

National Museum of Fine Arts

Photo: Carlos Reusser Monsalvez/ Wikimedia Commons

In the heart of Parque Florestal, a well-wooded place full of outdoor activities to practice, the National Museum of Fine Arts has a collection of more than 5,000 pieces that rescue part of Chilean history at different times.

Thus, in addition to the permanent exhibition, the place has temporary exhibitions that will delight art and culture enthusiasts. The best thing is that access to the museum, which is one of the attractions for those who don't know what to do in Santiago, is free. 

Plaza de Armas and Cathedral

things to do in Santiago attractions

Photo: Apincheira/ Wikimedia Commons

Built in the year 1800, the Metropolitan Cathedral is located in the historic center of Santiago, in the heart of Plaza de Armas, a place known as the heart of the city and where there are several tourist attractions.

The church stands out for its size, in addition to the richness of details that beautify its interior, such as the various stained glass windows, ornaments, altars and images of religious art. Those who appreciate architecture will certainly be enchanted by this place, which is one of the must-see places for those looking for things to do in Santiago. 

Santiago Central Market

Photo: Pixabay

Do you like seafood? Then the Central Market of Santiago should be included in your itinerary. Very traditional, it was built in 1872 and offers fish, seafood and shellfish, in addition to concentrating restaurants and some local craft shops.

Thus, it is a good option to plan a lunch, especially to taste the “centolla”, a giant crab, in addition to other typical dishes of the region.  

Sky Costanera

Photo: Javo Alfaro/ Flickr

If you want to take advantage of your trip to shop, Shopping Costanera Center offers more than 300 stores, some of which are world-renowned brands. 

However, as much as you don't like shopping malls, this is one of the places you need to know in Santiago, since on its 61st floor is the Sky Costanera.

Therefore, considered an unmissable attraction for those who don't know what to do in Santiago, the place is a viewpoint and observatory with a view from 300 meters high.

From up there, it is possible to see the Andes and its icy mountains, as well as streets, buildings, among other spectacular and panoramic details of the city. Also, for those who like good photos, this is one of the best angles. 

Viña del Mar and Valparaiso

things to do in Santiago attractions

Photo: Pixabay

If you visit Santiago during the hot months, plan a visit to the nearby cities that reveal the beauties of the central Chilean coast, Viña del Mar and Valparaíso.

Thus, the two cities are located just 130 kilometers from Santiago and are neighbors, so it is worth visiting both at once. Despite being very close, each one of them has unique beauties.

In Viña del Mar you can visit museums and be enchanted by the many gardens that gain even more color during spring, as well as its beautiful beaches. In the port city of Valparaiso, there are several bars and restaurants that serve great cuisine, creating a relaxed bohemian atmosphere. Therefore, this is another attraction option for those who do not know what to do in Santiago. 

Wineries near Santiago

Photo: Michaël Lejeune/ Wikimedia Commons

Chile has a privileged location for growing grapes: to give you an idea, the country ranks fourth in the world in wine production. Therefore, one of the places you need to visit in Santiago, without a doubt, is one of the many wineries located close to the city.

It is worth booking tours in advance and getting to know places that present each process of wine production. Therefore, one of the most famous wineries close to Santiago to visit is Concha Y Toro, which in addition to beautiful landscapes and tours, offers some of the best labels in the country. 

Santa Lucia Hill

Photo: Rodrigo Pizarro/ Wikimedia Commons

In the midst of the movement of a big city like Santiago, there is Cerro Santa Lúcia, a green space and a true urban refuge. In addition to a green area with gardens, monuments and an atmosphere of great tranquility, the place also has a magnificent view of Santiago at its top.

Therefore, this is a good attraction option for those who do not know what to do in Santiago on sunny days. 

Patio Bellavista

things to do in Santiago attractions

Photo: Robert Cutts/ Wikipedia

Do you want to enjoy the nightlife of Santiago in a funky environment full of charming places? Patio Bellavista is a pleasant space that brings together several bars and restaurants in a kind of open-air point of the city.

Thus, the shopping center offers a wide gastronomic offer, with menus from all over the world, in addition to live music that make the atmosphere even more lively. 

Cerro San Cristobal

Photo: David Berkowitz/ Wikimedia Commons

Inside the Metropolitan Park, where the Santiago Zoo and the Botanical Garden are also located, there is also Cerro San Cristóbal, a place where you can get one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the city.

To climb to the top of the hill, it is possible to travel on foot, by funicular or by cable car. Reaching the top, 880 meters high, there is still a chapel of the Immaculate Conception, patron saint of the city. So here's an outdoor attraction for those who don't know what to do in Santiago.

Museum of La Memoria

Photo: Warko/ Wikimedia Commons

The two-story building is dedicated to the more than 30,000 victims of the Chilean military regime and has several installations with videos, photos, newspapers and personal items that describe the period in detail.

Right at the entrance there is a wall with photos referring to all the countries that faced dictatorship and a status of current investigations into dead, missing and responsible. 

Cajon del Maipo

things to do in Santiago attractions

Photo: Pixabay

About 60 kilometers from Santiago is another place of incredible beauty that you definitely need to know on a visit to the Chilean capital. The Cajón del Maipo is located between one of the canyons of the Andes, in the middle of the snowy mountains and close to the San José de Maipo River.

This privileged location in the midst of a true natural paradise means that, in addition to scenic landscapes, it is also possible to perform sports in nature such as trekking, mountaineering, sport fishing, warm up in natural hot springs, among other possibilities. 

La Chascona House Museum

Photo: Disclosure

What do you think about visiting a house that belonged to the famous poet Pablo Neruda? In the heart of Santiago, the ship-shaped building was built in 1953 for his third wife, Matilde Urrutia.

Currently, it has become a museum that presents objects and collections by the artist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971. Furniture from the time, decorative objects, poetry, art and history are part of the collection that can be visited during a visit. 

ski resorts

Photo: Pixabay

There is no way to talk about Santiago and not mention its activities in the snow. If you are in town, especially in winter, be sure to visit one of the ski resorts close to town.

With a great structure, these large ice complexes offer many activities to tourists, such as slopes for skiing and snowboarding at different levels of difficulty, as well as classes for beginners in ice sports.

For those who live in a tropical country like Brazil and don't know what to do in Santiago, this is one of the unique attractions. Among the most famous stations are Valle Nevado, El Colorado and La Parva. 

Museum of Pre-Columbian Art

things to do in Santiago attractions

Photo: Carlos Figueroa/ Wikimedia Commons

Finally, another place you need to know in Santiago is the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, which presents part of the history of the first peoples who inhabited Chile and America, with an incredible collection of artifacts built thousands of years ago.

In addition to the objects, you will be able to learn more about the art, culture, customs and traditions of these peoples. Dedicate at least an hour to visit this place, which in addition to being very interesting is one of the attractions for those who don't know what to do in Santiago. 

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