Santiago is the capital of Chile framed by a circle of mountains – a coastal range to the west and the snow-capped peaks of the Andes to the east. The city’s spirit matches the grandeur of its landscape. There, thriving artistic and culinary enclaves wait to be explored, charming old districts beckon travelers longing for another time and an infectious energy permeates every street. Visitors are treated to a flourishing arts scene, fine museums, a booming cafe culture and a huge range of activities at the doorstep of the mountains, making Santiago one of the world’s most exhilarating cities.
Best Time to Visit
If you are planning a Travel to Chile then the best time to visit is November to early March (summertime in the southern hemisphere). Although you’ll compete with heavy crowds during this peak season.
Top Places to Visit in Santiago
1. Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende
The arts are celebrated and nourished throughout the city in museums and galleries. One of the best is the Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende. What began as a populist art initiative during the presidency of Allende blossomed into an incredible collection with over 2,000 works by artistic heavyweights like Matta, Picasso, Tapies and Miró. The permanent collection is truly a thing of beauty, sitting in contrast to the eerie gallery filled with Allende’s personal effects. The juxtaposition between the artwork and the torture instruments used by the dictatorship is both jarring and moving.
2. Museo de Artes Visuales
The simply stunning Museo de Artes Visuales is a work of art itself, designed by local architect Cristián Undurraga. The raw beauty of the stripped wood, glass and concrete exterior gives way to four winsome galleries displaying photography, engravings, sculptures and paintings. Tucked away on the top floor is the Museo Arqueológico de Santiago, where dark stone walls provide an atmospheric backdrop for carvings from Easter Island, ceramics from Molle and San Pedro and silver jewelry from Mapuche.
3. Museo Colonial de San Francisco
Other museums worth exploring include the Museo Colonial de San Francisco, the Museo de Ciencia y Tecnología, the outstanding Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino and the Museo del Huaso, which honors the country’s cowboys with an impressive collection of hats and ponchos.
4. Palacio Cousiño
Santiago has a gritty beauty, but there is one place in the city that absolutely dazzles. The lavish Palacio Cousiño was built by the Cousiño-Goyenechea family’s wine-making and silver-mining riches in the late 19th century. The palace is the most shockingly ornate building in Santiago, and it beckons visitors with marble columns, glistening crystal chandeliers, incredible carved cherrywood furniture and other visual delights.
5. Parque de las Esculturas
If you prefer natural beauty, visit the Parque de las Esculturas. The riverside green stretch is dotted with sculptures by local artists, and the captivating gardens are a favorite place for joggers and cuddling couples. The Cerro Santa Lucía park is also worth a visit. There, a labyrinth of interconnected plazas and walkways lead visitors to the crow’s nest, offering panoramic views of the city. Visit at sunset when the entire city is coated with soft light, and you will understand why Santiago has inspired so many artists and writers.