Santiago is one of those metropolitan joys where the more you look, the more you find. Funky cafes and dance clubs dot Bellavista, Forest Park art collections range from pre-Columbian to contemporary, and architecture runs the gamut from the 16th-century San Francisco Church to mirrored office towers. Shop with the locals at Mall Panora¡mico and give your palate meals to remember with hearty Chilean fare. Here is where food is a culture. Without culture, you cannot have your soul.
Places to visit:
Cerro San Cristobal:
Cerro San Cristobal is a hill in northern Santiago that rises over the city, providing some pretty great views. At the top you’ll find an observatory and a statue of the Virgin Mary. Cerro San Cristobal also is home to Santiago’s biggest park, Santiago Metropolitan Park; the Chilean national zoo; a Japanese garden and two swimming pools.
Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral:
Where earlier cathedrals in Santiago have been destroyed by earthquakes, the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral has stood on the Plaza de Armas for more than 260 years. The stone neoclassical cathedral is considered one of the best examples of religious architecture in South America. One of the towers holds the remains of Chile’s first cardinal. Inside you’ll find a richly decorated altar and the Museum of Sacred Art.
This Santiago neighborhood is the city’s bohemian quarter, a place where artists and intellectuals live, work and play. It’s most famous resident was, and still is, Pablo Neruda whose house, La Chascona, is one of the top attractions in Santiago. It’s the hippest place in town, with restaurants, funky boutiques and avant-garde galleries. You can dance the night away after dark in one of its many discos. Colorful old houses abound on the barrio’s tree-lined streets. Weekend evenings feature a crafts market, with art made from the semi-precious lapis lazuli a popular buy.
Taste of Santiago:
Pastel de Choclo at Galindo:
A contender for Chile’s national dish, this South American cousin of shepherd’s pie is peasant food at its best. Baked in an earthenware pot, pastel de choclo is seasoned and browned beef and onions, layered with chicken, a sliced hard-boiled egg, olives and raisins, and topped with a puree of corn (choclo). It’s savory and sweet and wholly filling — and can now be found in upscale restaurants that have embraced Chilean soul food.
Bistec à la Pobre at Eladio:
Translating loosely as “poor man’s steak,” bistic à la Pobre is a hearty dish of grilled beef, fried potatoes and onions, topped with a fried egg. Steak and eggs is not only the breakfast of champions, but the lunch of winners, including a couple million working-class Chilenos everyday. After you double up on protein and fill up on carbs, you’ll be ready to take on the city. Or possibly a siesta.
How to reach?
By Air: Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez Internation Airport is Santiago’s National Airport. Air Canada, Air France, Qantas American Airlines, Copa Airlines and many more operates flight from various places.