Chile's capital is a dynamic, modern city where colonial mansions sit among soaring skyscrapers, folk art becomes fashion and Latin and European cultures intertwine. The city is reinventing itself, with arts, nightlife, and restaurant scenes that have never been better, making this thriving and sophisticated metropolis into the civic, cultural, and historical nucleus of the country. Enjoy it all while gazing up at the peaks of snow-dusted Andes range surrounding the city's extremities.
Things to Do
A turbulent political past makes for impassioned art. Explore the mind of Chile's best-loved poet at La Chascona, a museum located in Pablo Neruda's former home in Bellavista. Then head to the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino near the Plaza des Armas for a vivid glimpse of indigenous life and culture before the Spanish arrived. In a city that never seems to stop for long, park yourself on a bench on the Plaza and watch the world go by.
Buy alpaca knits, copperware and other handicrafts from the local artisans at Los Graneros del Alba, east of Las Condes. Chilean wine is gaining a lot of kudos, so stock up on varietals such as a smooth, easy-drinking Carmenère at The Wine House in Las Condes. Last, head to the Patio Bellavista, a permanent craft market of arts, wool goods, jewelry and woodwork, centered around a cobblestone patio in Bellavista.
Nightlife and Entertainment
At night, head to Providencia for lively bars, Ñuñoa for cheap beers, or bohemian Bellavista's cafe-bars and live music venues. The neoclassical Municipal Theatre, Santiago's main venue for classical music, opera and ballet, oozes charm with its sumptuous marble, red velvet and crystal interior. If you are curious or speak Spanish, try the city's well-regarded, vibrant theater scene. Wherever you go, you'll never be far from the signature drink, pisco sour -- a Chilean pisco brandy and sour mix.
Restaurants and Dining
For a quick snack or lunch, grab a bowl of ceviche while taking in the cacophony of the Mercado Central, Santiago's colorful food market. The finest dining and most innovative chefs are found in affluent suburbs of Las Condes and Vitacura. Downtown, dine late at night like the locals on traditional Chilean meals with a modern flair, such as beef marinated in cilantro or conger eel with barnacle sauce at Confitería Torres, the oldest restaurant in Santiago.