Santiago is massive. We walked fast, especially while caffeinated, and feel like we only saw a tiny portion of it. If you’re not into cities, this will be a little overwhelming. It’s worth a trip up Cerro San Cristobal on your first day to get a 360 view. We stayed on the “other side” of the river, where the societal castoffs lived back in the day. As with most downtrodden areas, it has transformed into a hip and creative hub with tons of clubs, restaurants, and surprisingly, karaoke bars. Our hostel was decked out in a mosaic of color.
We went on a walking tour, visited Mercado Central (shops and restaurants) and La Vega Central (produce), Cemeterio General (where we learned more about the persistent gap between the large lower and minority upper class), and saw some jazz at, aptly named, Club de Jazz. An unintentional cultural experience was wandering our way into the middle of a student protest (students requesting more affordable school). While headed for the market, a whole stream of kids poured in our direction, followed by a slow and merciless tank, moving toward us with a water canon!
Santiago was good to visit, but a bit overwhelming. Would recommend couch surfing or doing a homestay to get a more localized experience.
At a glance…
- Do hike, bike or funicular up to the top of Cerro san Cristobal. There’s a church at the top, mass would be interesting to attend.
- Eat fruit and veggies at the market. Wine is so cheap, even the cheapest wine is good, or splurge on a $6 bottle. Take a free walking tour with Tours 4 Tips, both tours we did in Valparaiso and Santiago were wonderful!
- Tips Be careful with your belongings here, the bus station is wild (there are three bus stations side by side). The subway was reliable and clean.