Santiago is a modern, cosmopolitan city in a natural setting, overlooked by the snow-capped Andes on one side and a coastal mountain range on the other. The Chilean capital is bursting with cultural sights, from historic buildings and plazas to colourful street art. Discover its flavours by strolling through diverse neighbourhoods – think leafy and stately as well as alternative and buzzing. Visit the intoxicating Mercado Central market for fresh seafood and produce, and you’ll also soon see why the city’s dining scene is flourishing.
Among Santiago hostels, you can stay in a heritage-listed building overlooking the grand main square or in a restored mansion in the heart of the historic area. There's also a Santiago hostel with a huge terrace and sweeping views, while others are found in the capital’s coolest district, Bellavista. Some hostels in Santiago organise walking tours and pub crawls to help you discover the city. Free Wi-Fi and breakfast is the norm and female dorms are available, as well as communal kitchens. Check out the best hostels in Santiago here.
You can explore Santiago's past in the imposing Plaza de Armas, set in the old Centro Histórico district, and the surrounding Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral and National History Museum. Fashionable Lastarria is four blocks’ worth of local culture including book shops, antique dealers, museums and cultural centres. Bellavista is considered the city’s most bohemian barrio. This alternative area is decorated in vibrant street art and comes alive at night, with bars and restaurants on every corner.
For the best views in town, you can jump on the funicular leading up to Cerro San Cristóbal hill. Head to La Moneda Palace to catch the changing of the guard or spend an afternoon browsing the treasure-filled Persa Bio Bío flea market. The Museum of Memory and Human Rights provides a sobering reminder of a dark chapter from Chile’s past, detailing human rights violations during the country’s military dictatorship.
Relatively flat and with a bike-share programme, Santiago can be seen on two wheels. Its historic centre is also compact enough to walk around. Buses are affordable and plentiful, and the metro is reliable. Many buses to other parts of Chile, as well as Argentina and Peru, are available, with services leaving from four different city terminals. Santiago International Airport, 15km from central Santiago, can be reached by bus, shuttle or taxi. TurBus shuttles take 45 minutes to reach the city from here.