Santiago is an incredible South American city to visit! It’s one of those places that has just so much history and some of the best things to do in Santiago that are dotted all across the city. Honestly, it has a little something for everyone, even just on the outskirts of the city, too.
From glittering glass skyscrapers, historic buildings to snowcapped mountains, Santiago is a pretty shiny city in South America that’s perfect for a city break. This is especially true when on a wider tour of Chile; usually, because it will be your port of entry (or exit) for most of us.
Nestled within the Andes Mountains, there are so many of the best things to do that will suit almost every type of person. It’s the kind of city you can visit and make it whatever you want it to be. You’ll be spoilt for choice.
You see, Santiago’s incredible mix of ancient tradition, European influence and beautiful wonders of the natural world will have your time in the city filled. Honestly, this is the kind of city that a weekend alone isn’t enough, especially if you want to experience a real flavour of city life.
With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the best things to do in Santiago when you head on over. It’s an epic city; have the best time!
1.) Enjoy the views at Valle Nevado
If you love skiing and snowboarding you’ll be thrilled to know that there’s an incredible spot just 90 minutes outside Santiago.
It’s said that Valle Nevado offers some of the best skiing in the Andes and is easily one of the best things to do in Santiago if you want to escape the city itself.
Whether you’ve got crazy skills in the snow, or if you’re just starting out, Valle Nevado as something appropriate for every level (thank goodness for them blue slopes). This makes it totally easy to visit as the slopes are all sorted for different abilities.
Oh yeah, and in the summer months, don’t forget the summer options to go hiking, biking, and horseback riding through the mountains. It’s a stunner of a spot to visit.
2.) See the impressive views from Sky Costanera
Rising high above the rest of the city is the glittering glass at Sky Costanera, a pretty epic skyscraper. It’s easily one of the best things to do in Santiago, especially at sunset.
For one of the best, and certainly the highest, views in Latin America, go to the Sky viewpoint. Nearly 1,000 feet (304 m) tall, the Sky centre offers 360-degree views of the city below, as well as the surrounding Andes.
Just remember that it’s not for those with vertigo but the views are immense.
Afterwards, head on over to Barrio Bellavista, a more bohemian neighbourhood in Santiago that has lots of restaurants, quirky shops and plenty of coffee spots. It’s totally cool and a fun area to visit.
3.) Enjoy palace life at La Moneda Palace
The seat of the President of the Republic of Chile is housed at Palacio de La Moneda and is one of the many beautiful buildings you have to see.
Built way back in the 1700s, the neoclassical palace was created by an Italian architect named Joaquin Toesca. Now, I can’t say I knew too much about him as an architect but the building is totally gorgeous.
Visitors are allowed to freely wander through the inner courtyards, as well as reserve a free tour through the palace. It really is one of the best things to do in Santiago.
Tours are offered multiple times per day and can be reserved by either emailing the palace yourself or asking your hotel (or your amazing Airbnb) for some assistance.
4.) See the incredible natural beauty of Cajon del Maipo
About 15 miles (25 km) south-east of Santiago, you will find a massive gorge on the Rio Maipo. It is here that many residents of Santiago come to for their outdoor adventures and a perfect place to enjoy a local’s favourite.
You’ll be able to enjoy camping, hiking rafting, skiing, and cycling at Cajon, as well as visit the delicious winery nearby. Keep in mind, Chile is in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning their seasons are opposite those of the Northern Hemisphere. Especially if you’re planning on skiing during your Christmas holidays.
5.) Enjoy the city’s beautiful Cerro Santa Lucia
Cerro Santa Lucia is a small, intimate hill-park in the centre of Santiago. Don’t let the word ‘small’ fool you; this park offers some pretty big views, as well as a lot of beauty.
As you stroll up the hill, make sure to stop and see Fuente Neptuno and Castillo Hidalgo, two impressive structures located within the park.
The park was formerly a rocky, unkempt hill until the 19th-century mayor Mackenna turned it into a perfectly manicured piece of beauty.
It’s a beautiful spot to visit and easily one of the best things to do in Santiago on a sunny day.
6.) Head to the museums
The best place for finding artworks and artefacts from pre-Columbian Central and South America is at Santiago’s Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino.
Artistic sculptures, textiles jewellery, and other amazing artefacts can be found within the museum that is open daily. It’s one of the best things to do in Santiago when the weather gets a bit wet.
Also, pop over to the Museo Interactivo Mirador and the Casa Museo La Chascona, too. They’re both great museums to explore when in the city.
That being said, if you hate museums and history, you’ll probably wanna give this one a miss.
7.) Ride the funicular at Metropolitan Park
Those looking for the best views of Santiago should head to Metropolitan Park, where cable cars will take visitors to the top of the San Cristobal Hill.
Also featured in the park is a funicular, which dates back to 1925, a zoo, botanical gardens, a religious sanctuary, and a children’s park. Also, if you’re after some views, head on the Teleferico Santiago, too. You’ll get to see Santiago from above and it’s gorgeous.
8.) See Cementerio General de Santiago
Established in 1821, Santiago’s main cemetery is one of the largest in Latin America. Now, stick with me here, it might sound macabre but it’s pretty well-known in the city as a place to explore.
In the space of 210 acres (85 hectares) located in the northern section of Santiago, approximately 2 million bodies are buried, and with room for more still. join in on a night tour of the cemetery.
A two-hour-long tour takes you through the entire cemetery, and for only the price equivalent of around $10 USD. Night tours are offered on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays to people 18 years old and older.
Honestly, this isn’t for everyone so be sure you know what you’re going to see before you visit!
9.) Stroll through Plaza de Armas
Right in the centre of the Chilean capital, among its old colonial streets, sits the heart of the city: the Plaza de Armas.
Established in 1541 as the city’s main area for religious events and political news, today it is mainly used as a gathering spot and a great place for people-watching.
It’s a great place to start your wanderings around this incredible city. Strolling here is easily one of the best things to do in Santiago when in the centre of the city.
Afterwards, head on over to the Sacramentinos church that is totally iconic in Santiago. It’s beautiful.