Skyline of Santiago, Chile

Is Santiago Worth Visiting? 10 Great Reasons To Visit in 2024

Is Santiago worth visiting? Sat among the breathtaking Andes Mountains, Santiago is a must-visit destination that caters to all travellers. Whether you're an avid adventurer, a history buff, or a food enthusiast, Santiago has something special for everyone. Here are 10 great reasons why Santiago is worth a visit.

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Is Santiago Worth Visiting?

Yes, Santiago is definitely worth visiting for a couple of days.

 

You can easily spend time here exploring the city, learning about the country’s history and visiting one of the many viewpoints such as the Sky Costerna to get incredible views of the Andes.

 

As the main travel hub of the country, all internal flights will land here regardless. However, I wouldn’t spend longer than a couple of days in Santiago as there’s so much more to see in Chile!

 

When I visited Chile, I used Santiago as my travel hub whilst moving between places like Pucon, Atacama and Patagonia. 

Skyline of Santiago, Chile

10 Great Reasons To Visit Santiago

The best way to get acquainted with Santiago’s charm is by strolling through its streets on a guided tour. 

 

I used Strawberry Tours. They offer two free walking tours that take you through the heart of the city so you can learn more about its history and culture.

 

The ‘Essential Free Tour’ is with a knowledgeable local guide who will share fascinating stories about landmarks such as Plaza de Armas and La Moneda Palace, providing a deeper understanding of Santiago’s evolution.

 

The other tour takes you to the Yungay district, famous for its historical street art and variety of restaurants.

2. Climb Santa Lucia Hill For Great Views

For great views of Santiago, climb Santa Lucia Hill.

 

This urban park is like a hidden osasis filled with greenery, fountains, and sculptures providing a calm escape from the city.

 

At the top, views of the skyline of Santiago and the backdrop of the Andes creates the perfect scene for a photo.

Santiago, Chile

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3. Eat at The Central Market

A foodie’s paradise awaits you at the Central Market of Santiago.

 

Visiting the central market in cities across South America is one of my favourite things to do as there’s always so much going on.

 

This bustling market is no exception and you’ll be treated to a sensory delight, filled with the aromas of fresh seafood, spices, and local delicacies.

 

Arrive hungry and sampling from as many places as you can. I recommend sampling dishes like ceviche, empanadas, and the iconic Chilean sea bass.

4. Cable Car to San Cristobal

For another unique viewpoint of Santiago, take a cable car to the summit of San Cristobal Hill.

 

At the top you can enjoy panoramic views of the city, explore the park, and see the iconic Virgin Mary statue.

 

You can buy your tickets online here or at the station at the bottom of San Cristobal Hill. 

 

Another good option to see the city and San Cristobal hill is the combined hop-on-hop-off bus and cable car ticket.

5. Climb The Highest Building In South America

For those seeking the highest view point in Latin America, the Sky Costanera is a must-visit.

 

Perched atop the Costanera Center, this observation deck provides 360-degree views of Santiago.

 

I recommend visiting at sunset for the best photo opportunities. Seeing the Andes glowing in hues of orange and pink never fails to amaze me!

Santiago, Chile - Sky Costerna

6. Try a Chilean Cooking Class

Learn more about Chilean cuisine by taking a Santiago Cooking Class.

 

Learn the art of preparing traditional dishes like empanadas, pastel de choclo, and seafood ceviche.

 

Local chefs guide you through the process, sharing their cooking secrets with you so you can go home and show off to your friends!

 

In my opinion, cooking classes and food tours are some of the best ways to learn more about a countries culture.

7. Explore Cajón Del Maipo (Maipo Canyon)

Escape the urban hustle of Santiago and venture into the breathtaking Maipo Canyon.

 

This natural wonder, located just outside the city, offers a variety of outdoor activities from hiking to hot springs.

 

You can travel there yourself but a Maipo Canyon guided tour is admin free and a great way to explore these breathtaking landscapes including the San Jose Volcano and the El Yeso Dam.

How To Visit Cajón Del Maipo From Santiago

You have three options to get to Cajón Del Maipo:

 

  • Guided Tours – A guided tour includes transport. The canyon is 2 hours away so this is a hassle free option. This is one of the cheapest and highly rated tour options and also includes a picnic in the canyon.  This tour includes a barbeque and a visit to the hot springs. Or this guided hike is perfect for those of you looking for a more active trip. 

 

  • Rent a car – You can rent a car from a rental agency in Santiago. Take Route G-25 towards the southeast from Santiago and follow the signs for Cajón del Maipo. The drive takes around 1-2 hours.

 

  • Public transport – Go to the nearest metro station in Santiago and take Line 4 (blue line) to the station called “Plaza de Puente Alto”. Once you’re at Plaza de Puente Alto, look for a bus that goes to San José de Maipo or Embalse El Yeso.

8. Day Trip to Viña del Mar / Valparaíso

If you don’t have long in Santiago but want to see more of this region then take a day trip out to the coast to see Viña del Mar and Valparaíso.

 

Viña del Mar, known as the “Garden City,” boasts beautiful beaches and lush parks perfect for a day of exploring. 

 

In contrast, Valparaíso is a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its colourful houses and vibrant street art.

 

The journey between the two cities also offers a scenic coastal drive that’s as memorable as the destinations themselves.

 

I would personally recommend visiting these two cities yourself and giving them a couple of days each to fully experience them, but if you are short on time then this tour will take you to both.

Cajon Del Maipo, Santiago (Chile)

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9. Visit San Francisco Glacier

Nature enthusiasts will want to escape the city to visit San Francisco Glacier.

 

This natural monument, located in the El Morado region, is a great way to get into the Andes from Santiago.

 

Again, you’ll need to book a tour if going from Santiago. I recommend this  San Francisco Glacier Tour which takes you on a trek through alpine landscapes, ending at the glacier.

  • Cost: $27,000-37,000CLP
  • Duration: 1-2 hours

No visit to Chile is complete without indulging in some wine tasting.

 

It’s often overlook due to its neighbour Argentina producing some of the best in the world, but Chile is still a powerhouse when it comes to wine.

 

Why not take a tour of the Cousiño Macul Winery, one of the oldest in Santiago to learn more about pairing and wine. 

 

On the premium tour ($37,000CLP) you will learn about their vineyard and its sustainable practices and the winery where premium and iconic wines are made.

 

You’ll taste 3 wines from the Varietal, Reserve and Gran Reserva lines. Then there is a tasting of 3 other Gran Reserva and Premium line wines with pairing to learn how to taste and pair a wine.

View of the Andes, behind Santiago (Chile)

Why Should I Skip Santiago?

The main reason you might want to skip over Santiago is that it’s a big city with not much to offer for adventurous travellers.

 

If you like culture and food, then stay for the museums, historical landmarks, and foodie scene. However, if you are looking for something more exciting, spend your time somewhere else.

 

Trips to Maipo Canyon and San Francisco Glacier require too much admin and will cost more due to tours.

 

Instead, head north to Atacama or south to Patagonia where you’ll have instant access to adventure activities such as trekking without the cost of tours.

How Many Days Do You Need In Santiago?

I would recommend two days in Santiago. This gives you one day to explore the city on a free walking tour and head to one of the viewpoints such as San Cristobal Hill or Sky Costerna.

 

On your second day, explore some museums and take a tour of Cousino Macul Winery.

 

I wouldn’t recommend any longer in Santiago as your time is best spent enjoying the rest of Chile. 

Best Backpack For South America (Osprey Farpoint)
Best Backpack For South America (Osprey Farpoint)

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How To Get To Santiago

Getting to Santiago depends on where you are travelling from. If you are flying internationally then all flights will land at Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL).

 

Uber is available in Chile and you can take one from the airport into the city center. It should take around 30 minutes and cost around 20,000 CLP (~$25)

How To Get To Santiago From Mendoza

If you’re in Mendoza (Argentina) then you can take a bus across the border to Santiago.

 

The bus takes between 6-8 hours which includes the border crossing and customs.

 

This is the easiest way to reach Santiago from here. To fly, you would have to return to Buenos Aires and take an international flight.

How To Get To Santiago From Atacama

If you are on an extended trip through South America, you might have crossed the border in the north from Bolivia into Chile.

 

This is usually done via a Salt Flats tour which starts in Uyuni and then drops you in Atacama.

 

You can take a 1-hour flight from Atacama (Calama airport) to Santiago which saves you taking a long overnight bus!

When Is The Best Time To Visit Santiago?

Chile is blessed with sunny days and ideal temperatures most of the year, especially from November-March, so this is a great time to visit Santiago.

 

However, the shoulder seasons in Autumn and Spring (September and April) are also great to avoid the big crowds summer crowds. 

Downloadable PDF timetable demonstrating the best time to visit south America

To download this chart in a handy infographic, head to the link below:

 

 

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