Your Chilean Adventure Awaits: 3 Days of Storied Experiences in Santiago, ChileBy Camila Cornejo
Byline: Camila Cornejo
Santiago, Chile, where history melds with an energetic urban vibe, lies in a valley surrounded by the towering, snow-covered Andes Mountains.
At its core, this cosmopolitan city is home to chic art galleries, museums galore, glass skyscrapers alongside neoclassical cathedrals and a foodie culture that’s lighting up with Michelin stars. Chile also has the largest population of Palestinians outside of the Middle East (dubbed “Chilestinians”), so expect to find plenty of food stalls serving up Middle Eastern staples across the city — but especially in the northern neighborhoods.
Prepare for a weekend journey filled with Chile’s history, its ever-evolving urban culture and its breathtaking artistry — with a healthy dose of excellent food, delightful music, lush scenery and shopping.
As always, check for travel guidelines and closures before planning your trip.
Friday: Santiago’s Cultural Wonders and Traditional Cuisine
Start the day with a light, easy breakfast of coffee and a bagel at Maldito Buen Café (don’t worry, you’ve got a big lunch coming your way). It’s both delicious and close to your first stop: La Moneda Palace, Santiago’s presidential palace and one of the city’s architectural icons. Snap a picture in front of the sprawling neoclassical building.
Then make your way to Centro Cultural La Moneda, a cultural center underneath the palace. Here you can check out a constantly rotating exhibition of paintings, photographs, handicrafts and historical artifacts. Past displays have spanned archaeological treasures, illustrations for kids from Danish literature, pieces that address environmental issues and graphic posters from print shops in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.
When it’s time for lunch, head to the nearby Confitería Torres, one of Chile’s oldest restaurants, established in the late 19th century by a quite popular butler named Torres. Indulge in Chile’s famous locos mayo — a traditional dish made with abalone, pisco, onions, bell peppers and mayonnaise — or revel in a rack of slow-roasted lamb ribs.
Once you’re settled up, walk 20 minutes to the hilltop of Cerro Santa Lucía, an urban park with one of the best views of the city from above (at its peak, you’ll be 226 feet above street level). Stroll through the green space while enjoying a mote con huesillo — a traditional drink made with peach and wheat husk — from one of the numerous stalls inside the park.
As afternoon rolls into evening, visit Barrio Lastarria, where you can listen to street musicians, shop at numerous independent markets and try the incomparable rose ice cream from Emporio la Rosa (because who doesn’t love a little dessert before the main course?).
For dinner, explore José Victorino Lastarria, a lively street with tons of restaurants like Chipe Libre, where you’ll find cocktails made with local pisco (a popular local brandy-like spirit made from fermented grapes), or Quitral, known for its fine-dining takes on classic Chilean dishes.
Saturday: A Castle, an Unforgettable View and Pablo Neruda’s Home
On your second day, take in Santiago’s popular sights and tackle some of its lesser-known destinations. But first, breakfast like a royal. Castillo Forestal — a castle turned brasserie near the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes — serves up French-inspired fare in a chic, light-filled setting with Parisian accents and flair.
Once you’re fueled up, hop in a cab for a short ride to San Cristóbal Hill, which is most famously known for the soaring, 46-foot-tall Virgin Mary statue perched at its top. Hop on a gondola to the peak and be rewarded with one of the best panoramic views of the city and a chance to visit the famous Japanese Gardens and the Mapulemu Garden. Both of these are in a unique park filled with 70 species native to Chile, many of which are medicinal plants used by Chile’s Indigenous peoples. Halfway down the hill, there’s also a zoo and a wine museum, if you’re looking to linger.
After your hilly adventure, walk to the nearby La Chascona museum, a home partially built by the famous Chilean Nobel Prize–winning poet Pablo Neruda in 1953 for his secret lover at the time, Matilde. After separating from his wife in 1955, Neruda moved into the house, as well. You can take an audio-guided tour of the home and its collections, which include Neruda’s personal belongings and other one-off curations, such as furniture and objects from the Italian designer Piero Fornasetti.
As the sun starts to dip, it’s time to make your way to the exuberant neighborhood of Bellavista. Have a tipple on the terrace of Jardín Mallinkrodt, a space filled with gourmet food trucks and cocktail stalls. Then meander through Bellavista’s art galleries and artisan shops selling everything from sculptures to handmade jewelry.
Afterward, treat yourself to one of Santiago’s most popular culinary experiences at Peumayén restaurant, known for its tasting menu inspired by Indigenous cuisine.
Sunday: Brunch, Luxe Shopping and Chile’s Largest Open-Air Bar
After two days of exploring Santiago’s central neighborhoods, pamper yourself with a day of leisurely strolling through the city’s parks and commercial districts. Get a brunch you won’t soon forget at Rita Roux café — and be sure to try the incomparable avocado toasts (go with the shrimp).
After brunch, explore some of the many paths that wind through Parque Bicentenario, which also has an agility course for dogs that is a sight to behold. Then wander over to Alonso de Córdova (30 minutes on foot or 9 minutes by car), a shopping district packed with luxury brands and designer clothes by South American talent like Colcci and Purificacion Garcia.
For the evening’s festivities, walk seven minutes to CV Galería, a hub of art galleries, restaurants and shops. You’ll also often find events and exhibits occupying the nooks and crannies of the window-lined building, a nod to its mission to serve as a thriving social space for locals and visitors alike.
While there are multiple restaurant options, you can’t go wrong with the popular Lolita Jones, home to the largest open-air bar in Chile. There, you can enjoy live music, Mexican and Latin American tapas, an impressive tequila list and a pond topped with lily pads. It’s the perfect close to a fulfilling weekend in Santiago, a city that always manages to delight.