View from Cerro San Cristobal

I recently traveled to Chile to hike the W trek in Patagonia. Since it can take a while to travel down to Patagonia, my boyfriend and I decided to spend the weekend in Santiago. We planned a trip to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar for the day after we arrived, so our time in Santiago proper was a bit rushed. Nonetheless, we felt like we were able to see a lot on the first day we were there. Here’s our itinerary for 24 hours in Santiago.

You can use this map to see our route. We started at Cerro San Cristobal and ended at Mercado Central, walking the entire distance between the two. I recommend taking a cab or the metro to the last stop, Sky Costanera.

Stop 1: Cerro San Cristobal

Our flight arrived around 8:00am. After freshening up at the Grand Hyatt Santiago, we were ready for a full day of sightseeing. We took a cab from the hotel to our first stop, San Cristobal Hill. This hill is the second-highest point in the city and offers great views of the area. Valparaiso, a coastal city about an hour and a half away, has been experiencing a lot of forest fires. The wind carried the smoke over Santiago, so the sky was white and smokey the entire time we were there.

San Cristobal funicular
I’d never heard of a funicular before heading to Chile, but there seem to be a lot of them there!

Visibility wasn’t great when we were at the top of San Cristobal, but it’s worth the trip for sure. There’s a 22-meter statue of the Virgin Mary at the top and lots of space to walk around. We took the funicular up and down from the Pio Nono station in Bellavista. You can also walk up/down or take the recently reopened cable car.

I recommend getting there in the morning. We waited for about 20 minutes when we arrived around 10:30, but the line had doubled by the time we got down.

Stop 2: Pablo Neruda’s House

Pablo Neruda’s house, La Chascona, is located about a five-minute walk from the funicular. This was my favorite stop in Santiago. The ticket includes an audio tour through the multiple levels of Pablo Neruda’s home — one of three in Chile. We waited for about an hour to get inside, but I’d say it’s worth the wait.

La Chascona, Santiago, Chile
Outside of La Chascona aka Pablo Neruda’s house-turned-museum

Stop 3: Street Art in Bellavista

On your way out of La Chascona, wander the streets of Bellavista and admire some of the street art. There are lots of restaurants in this area so I also recommend coming back around dinner time. Pio Nono (same street as the funicular) is the main street in Bellavista, but it’s fun to wander along the side streets, too. We ate at KrossBar, a microbrewery with lots of outdoor seating.

Street art in Bellavista, Santiago, Chile
Just a small sampling of what you’ll see in Bellavista

Stop 4: Cerro Santa Lucia

While Santa Lucia Hill was on my list of things to do, we actually walked past it without stopping on our way downtown. Considering we left Boston at 2:00pm the day before, we were a bit tired and needed to conserve our energy! I can’t really give an opinion on this stop, but check it out if you’re feeling up for it.

Stop 5: Important Buildings Downtown

Our walk from Bellavista to our first stop downtown was about 2 miles. It’s definitely walkable and a great way to see some different neighborhoods in Santiago. Also, if you wear a Fitbit like I do, it’s a great way to get some steps! I got over 45,000 one day in Patagonia, but I digress… Anyway, we made the following stops downtown:

  • Santiago Stock Exchange: This building reminded me of Gringotts bank. I’d know because I saw it at Universal Studios!
Stock Exchange Santiago, Chile
Can you see the resemblance to Gringotts?
  • La Moneda: The Chilean president and some other important government officials have their offices here. You can take a free tour, but it’s not open on the weekends.
La Moneda, Santiago, Chile
This area of the city was pretty dead on the weekend, but still worth a stop
  • Plaza de Armas: This is the main square in Santiago. Check out the Metropolitan Cathedral while you’re there.
  • Mercado Central: There were lots of places to stop and eat here, but honestly I was picturing more of an indoor farmer’s market. There was an insane amount of stalls selling fish. You’ve been warned.

We took the metro back to our hotel to regroup before our last stop, Sky Costanera.

Stop 6: Sky Costanera

Sky Costanera is an observation deck at the top of the tallest building in South America. The entrance is conveniently located in the basement of a massive shopping mall! Okay, so this is another one on my list that I didn’t actually get to do. We went to buy tickets, but the cashier told us the views weren’t good because of the forest fires. It was really nice of them to let us know instead of letting us pay and be subsequently disappointed. My plan was to go right before sunset to get a view during the day, as the sun was setting, and at night.

Bonus stop: Concha y Toro

If you have another day in Santiago (well, if I had another day in Santiago), I’d recommend visiting Concha y Toro, the largest producer of wine in South America. My boyfriend and I are big wine drinkers so it would’ve been nice to stop for a tour here. Instead, we just ordered lots of Concha y Toro wine throughout our trip.

Final Thoughts

It may sound like a packed itinerary, but if you have limited time, you can get a good feel for Santiago in 24-36 hours. There were a few things I missed out on, but I definitely was able to see a lot. I felt like we were fine exploring on our own, but a tour guide for some of the government buildings would have been nice since I feel like I missed out a bit on the historical aspect of these buildings.

What would you choose as your first stop in Santiago?

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