30 Best Things to Do in Santiago, Chile

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A city skyline full of tall and short buildings, trees and snow-capped mountains
Santiago has an array of attractions to visit, from museums to beautiful parks

Santiago is the beautiful capital city of Chile. Surrounded by the famous Andes Mountains range, it's home to numerous other landmarks and attractions, from museums and parks to markets and much more.

If you're planning a trip to the capital soon, this list of the best things to do in Santiago, Chile, will give you an idea of all the activities you can enjoy when here. Keep reading to discover 35 of the top activities in and around Santiago!

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30 Santiago, Chile, Things to Do

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Top Things to Do in Santiago, Chile

View of Santiago from the top of Cerro Santa Lucía
La Moneda Palace is the seat of the President of the Republic of Chile

Visit La Moneda Palace

La Moneda Palace has been an important landmark in Santiago since 1805 and is on Chile's UNESCO World Heritage Site Tentative List. It's currently the seat of the President of the Republic of Chile, and parts of the building are also open for tours. Best of all, entry is free!

If you want to see some more landmarks along with La Moneda, you could sign up for a Santiago half-day tour, with other stops including Catedral Metropolitana and Plaza de La Constitucion.

There are protests here from time to time (there was one when we were there), and it is best not to get involved, to keep your distance and look from afar if you're just walking in the area when a demonstration is occurring. Chile has an interesting historical and political background that is worth getting to know!

🏨 Nearest accommodations to La Moneda Palace

View artworks at Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Art lovers can't miss visiting the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art. As the name suggests, the museum focuses on pre-Colombian artworks and also houses artifacts from across Central and South America.

Art mediums to see range from pottery to textiles and masks and mor. To make admission easy, you can purchase Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino tickets in advance.

🏨 Places to stay near Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

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A market stall with lots of colourful fruit, and red, blue and white flags above
You can discover a range of fresh produce and other goods at Santiago Central Market

Shop at Mercado Central de Santiago

Opened in 1872, Santiago Central Market remains a popular place to shop for local produce and other goods. The market is open daily, and visitors will be able to enjoy the bustling atmosphere while checking out a variety of vendors.

Things for sale range from colourful fruit and vegetables to fresh seafood. Tourists that want to see some more local markets can join a Santiago markets biking tour, which takes you to Mercado Tirso de Molina as well as other attractions. Keep an eye on your belongings when in this area.

🏨 Stay near Central Market

Dine at Boragó

If you're looking for the best restaurants in Santiago, Chile, Boragó is a must-visit. Named one of Latin America's top 50 restaurants in 2022, the eatery is known for its creative dishes that use local ingredients. Even the water to drink here is unique as it is sourced from the rain of Patagonia.

🏨 Places to stay close to Boragó

A stone building with a statue in front of it, on a path next to grass and palm trees
The Chilean National Museum of Natural History was created in 1930

Learn new things at Museo Nacional de Historia Natural

The Chilean National Museum of Natural History is another of many top Santiago, Chile, tourist attractions to visit. Founded in 1830, the museum is one of the oldest museums of its kind in South America.

Exhibits cover various topics, from cultural anthropology to ecosystems in Chile and paleontology. You can even see a 17-metre sei whale skeleton in the Central Hall!

🏨 Accommodations nearby National Museum of Natural History

☂️ Explore National Museum of Natural History with a tour

An exhibit at The Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago

Go to Museo de la Memoria y Los Derechos Humanos

The Museum of Memory and Human Rights opened in 2010 and is a highly recommended attraction to visit. This museum is dedicated to the victims of human rights violations in Chile under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet from 1973 to 1990.

Audio guides are available in English and Spanish, with both offering more information on all of the exhibits you see. There is quite a lot to view here, so put aside at least a few hours for your visit. The museum is free to visit, with donations welcome.

🏨 Place to stay close to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights

Admire artworks at Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

Art lovers won't want to miss visiting the vast Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts. Established in 1880, the gallery now holds an extensive collection featuring many works by Chilean and other Latin American artists.

You'll also want to admire the museum building itself during a visit. Constructed in 1910, the stunning structure called the Palace of the Fine Arts was designed by Emile Jéquier, a Chilean architect.

🏨 Accommodations close to the National Museum of Fine Arts

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A stone cathedral with two towers, next to a square and palm trees on a nice day
Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago has sat in Plaza de Armas since 1775

Marvel at Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago in Plaza de Armas

Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral is a breathtaking site to see. The Neoclassical-style building sits in Plaza de Armas and opened in 1775. Renovations and updates have also been done since, including making the building more earthquake-proof.

During a visit to the cathedral, you can admire the external architecture and wander through the main part of the interior. Inside, you can see fantastic design elements like beautiful ceiling frescoes.

Nearby the square, you'll also see another impressive piece of architecture, Palacio de Los Tribunales de Justicia de Santiago. If you want to book accommodation around these landmarks to have easy access, Santiago Centro is the best place to stay in Santiago.

🏨 Stay in close proximity to Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago de Chile

Tour La Chascona

La Chascona was previously owned by the famous Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda and is now a popular tourist destination. When visiting the home of Pablo Neruda, you'll notice its unique and quirky architectural style and design, with elements intended to reflect the poet's love of the sea. You can also learn more about Neruda's life and work during a tour.

🏨 Places to stay near La Chascona

☂️ Join a tour to see La Chascona

Grass in an urban park next to modern city buildings under a blue sky
At Parque Araucano, you can walk along trails and escape the city for a while

Explore Parque Araucano

If you're looking for a place to escape the bustle of the city, Araucano Park is a great spot to check out. The beautiful public park has a rose garden, scenic trails, and lots of opportunities to see wildlife, including colourful wild parrots. This park is also an excellent place to go to watch the sunset.

🏨 Accommodations nearby Araucano Park

Head to the Church of San Francisco to see an altar dedicated to dogs who have passed

Look around Iglesia de San Francisco

Another unique religious building to visit is the Church of San Francisco. This Franciscan church is one of the oldest colonial structures in Chile.

Interestingly, it has withstood 15 earthquakes! While it survived the quakes, the church did receive some damage that needed fixing. Renovating the church throughout the years means it now features multiple architectural styles.

After admiring the exterior, you can go inside to discover quirky features, like an altar to people's dogs that have passed. Chileans love their dogs a lot, so this feature, complete with dog photos in quaint picture frames, isn't surprising!

🏨 Places to stay close to the Church of San Francisco

☂️ Visit the Church of San Francisco with an excursion

A street lamp in Barrio Paris-Londres, Santiago

Walk through Barrio Paris-Londres and take photos

While exploring the city, be sure to stop by Barrio Paris-Londres, a unique pedestrian area that resembles the Latin Quarter in Paris. This neighbourhood dates to the 1920s and was created due to the elites in Chile being somewhat obsessed with replicating anything European.

Today, you can wander cobblestone streets, admire the architecture, and check out a few small shops and restaurants. Don't forget to take some photos as well!

🏨 Places to stay near Barrio Paris-Londres

Wander through Parque Bicentenário

Bicentenario Park is another great outdoor space to check out. Visitors can stroll along various trails, including those that take you around the tranquil Laguna de Peces.

You can also wander to Laguna de las Aves, which is home to flamingos, and there are many picnic areas throughout the park. Before or after exploring the park, you can go to Mall Costanera Center, which is a massive modern shopping mall south of Parque Bicentenário.

🏨 Stay near Bicentenario Park

A Neoclassical stone building with arches, next to a statue and a street
The Municipal Theater of Santiago is one of the landmarks to see on a walking tour

Join a free walking tour

Going on a free walking tour is one of the best activities in Santiago, Chile, to do. It is the perfect way to see several of the city's top landmarks. One of the best companies to do this with is Guru Walk.

Carlos, a local Santiago guide, will take you to various landmarks and attractions while teaching you more about the city's history and culture. A few of the places he visits include the Municipal Theater of Santiago and Plaza de Armas.

This tour takes about two and a half hours, and while there is no upfront fee, tipping is recommended as this is what he does for full-time work.

🏨 Accommodations close to Agustinas 792

Enjoy specialty coffee and a light breakfast at Café Triciclo in Santiago

Grab coffee at Café Triciclo

Café Triciclo is one of the best places to get coffee in Santiago, Chile. The shop has specialty coffee that you can enjoy in various drinks, from a cappuccino or espresso to unique drinks like a ginger beer and cold brew mix.

Plant milk, like oat milk, is also available, and you can choose delicious baked goods, such as brownies, or toast with different spreads, like hummus or avocado, to accompany your beverages.

One of the best things to do in Santiago, Chile, is visiting Parque Quinta Normal
Going to Parque Quinta Normal is one of the best things to do in Santiago, Chile

Paddle boat at Parque Quinta Normal

Quinta Normal Park is another of the pretty parks to visit in Santiago. One of the most popular features here is the scenic lake, where you can go paddle boating.

The 88-acre space is also home to the Railway Museum of Santiago and the National Museum of Natural History. Additionally, it has many areas to sit and chat and tree-lined trails to walk along.

Go to Parquemet Parque Metropolitano de Santiago

Santiago Metropolitan Park is one of the city's most well-known tourist attractions and the largest urban park in Chile at 1,780 acres. The park is not only a relaxing outdoor space but is also home to many attractions.

A few points of interest in the park include a Japanese garden, Cerro San Cristóbal, and Santuario de la Inmaculada Concepción. Along with visiting these attractions, you can follow trails and hang out on the grass with a picnic while taking in the views.

🏨 Nearest accommodations to the Metropolitan Park of Santiago

Red cable cars above greenery with city buildings and mountains behind
You can take the Funicular de Santiago all the way up Cerro San Cristóbal

Take in the view from Cerro San Cristóbal

San Cristóbal Hill is located within Parquemet Parque Metropolitano de Santiago and offers stunning views over the city. The hill's peak is the third highest in Santiago and can be reached via a hiking trail.

Alternatively, you can take the Funicular de Santiago up the hill, which allows you to enjoy incredible panoramic vistas all the way up. Interestingly, the Andes Mountains are the parent range of San Cristóbal Hill.

🏨 Stay near San Cristóbal Hill

Unwind at the Jardín Japonés

Located in Parquemet Parque Metropolitano de Santiago, the Jardín Japonés is one of the most beautiful things to see in Santiago, Chile. As you wander around the tranquil outdoor space, you'll see traditional Japanese structures, lily ponds, and lots of pretty plants and flowers.

A tall mirrored skyscraper next to other smaller buildings, with mountains behind
Costanera Center's Gran Torre Santiago is one of Latin America's tallest structures

Check out the shops at the Costanera Center

If you want to unwind a little with some retail therapy, plan a trip to the Costanera Center. Covering six floors, the mall includes an array of shops for all tastes. There are also two high-end hotels within the complex, which have stylish bars to stop at for a drink, like Luna Bar at The Marriott.

Notably, the mall is the biggest shopping mall in South America. Additionally, the Gran Torre Santiago within the complex is one of the tallest buildings in Latin America.

🏨 Places to stay close to Costanera Center

The incredible view of Santiago from Sky Costanera

Appreciate the views at Sky Costanera

Also located within the Costanera Center is the Sky Costanera observation deck. Situated approximately 300 metres above street level, the deck is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows that allow you to appreciate panoramic views of Santiago. On a clear day, you can even see the Andes Mountains.

While there is an entry fee to get to the observation deck, it's definitely worth it, with many saying Sky Costanera offers the best views of the city. It's also a good idea to go as early in the morning as possible to avoid the high levels of smog that affect the vistas later in the day.

🏨 Stay near Sky Costanera

A Neoclassical building and fountain with steps leading to it, next to palm trees
There are many landmarks to see at Cerro Santa Lucía, like Fuente Neptuno

Hike to the top of Cerro Santa Lucía

Santa Lucía Hill is another excellent place to go to admire views of the city. The hike up the 230-foot hill is relatively gentle and suitable for most activity levels.

Along with admiring the views over the city, you can see some landmarks like Terraza Caupolican and Fuente Neptuno, a Neoclassical fountain with a sculpture of Neptune.

☂️ Discover Santa Lucía Hill on a tour

Have coffee or a meal in Barrio Italia

You will find many unique neighbourhoods to explore in Santiago, with Barrio Italia being one of the most popular. The area features colourful architecture and top restaurants and cafes.

It's the ideal place to go for a walk before stopping for a coffee or a meal. You can also see lots of impressive street art in this neighbourhood.

Grabbing fries with a variety of toppings from Papachecos is a fun thing to do

Grab fries with a variety of toppings from Papachecos

When you need to stop for a snack, getting fries topped with various items at Papachecos is an excellent idea! Located in Barrio Italia, it's a popular place for school kids to get something to eat, but adults can also enjoy it. Toppings include meat, veggies like mushrooms, and condiments, such as a range of flavoured mayonnaises.

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A yellow rectangular building with a tall tower along a street on a nice daypapachec
The National History Museum of Chile can be found inside the Royal Court Palace

Find out about Chilean history at Museo Histórico Nacional

Located in the Royal Court Palace, the National History Museum of Chile is a top place to go to learn more about the country's history.

This landmark opened in 1911 and today features exhibits covering history from pre-Colombian eras through the 1970s. As you look around, you'll also see many artifacts, including artworks, military items, and archeological finds.

☂️ Visit National History Museum of Chile with an excursion

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A bench on a sandy walking path surrounded by greenery and palm trees
If you want to go for a relaxing walk, plan a trip to Parque Forestal

Take a brisk walk in Parque Forestal

Going to Parque Forestal is another of the places to visit in Santiago, Chile, that allows you to enjoy the fresh air. As with other urban parks in the city, you'll find a few trails to walk along, which offer pretty views of trees and other plants.

Notably, you can see several ​​Old World sycamore trees here. Some renowned attractions are also located here, like Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.

Treat yourself to ice cream at Heladería Emporio La Rosa

Heladería Emporio La Rosa is a very popular ice cream shop in the city and well worth a visit if you have a sweet tooth. At the ice creamery, you can get ice cream by the scoop or in a cone or opt for an ice cream bar.

Flavours for all tastes are on offer as well, from fruity flavours like pineapple to more decadent options, such as dulce de leche.

Best Things to Do Near Santiago, Chile

A view over a green vineyard with hills in the background, under a blue sky
Casablanca Valley is a beautiful destination near Santiago known for its vineyards

Plan a trip to Casablanca Valley

There are many fun things to do in Santiago, Chile; however, you can also find day tours to enjoy that take you to excellent nearby destinations. If you can't decide where to visit, going to Casablanca Valley is a fun day trip to do.

The area is known as one of Chile's wine-growing regions and features beautiful scenery and many attractions, including wineries that offer tours and tastings. You can travel to the area in around an hour when driving.

You can also join a Casablanca Valley tour that includes transport to and from Santiago.

Experience the beauty of the Andes and the Inca Lagoon

If you're looking for another fantastic day trip, book a tour from Santiago to the Inca Lagoon. The stunning Laguna del Inca is located in Portillo within the Andes Mountains range and, interestingly, changes colour throughout the seasons from emerald green to turquoise and deep blues.

During this full-day excursion, you can also have lunch in the ski town of Portillo and visit some other places, including San Esteban Vineyard, and see Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas.

Spend a day exploring Valparaíso and Viña del Mar

Another fun activity near Santiago is booking a day tour of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. This 10-hour tour will take you to a range of attractions around the coastal cities.

Places to visit include Palacio Baburizza, which houses an art gallery, and Cerro Concepcion. On the way back to Santiago, you can also stop in Casablanca Valley to visit a winery.

🏨 Stay near Viña del Mar

In Conclusion

If you've been wondering what to do in Santiago, Chile, this list of activities in and around the city should have given you many ideas. Whether you enjoy visiting unique museums, going to scenic parks, or exploring local markets, you'll find many things to do in Chile's capital city!

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Written by Loredana Elena

loredanaelena STAFF Loredana has travelled to dozens of countries and has been living overseas for almost a decade. She previously taught English in South Korea and Singapore, and completed a Master of Science in Global Mental Health while living in London, UK. She is also passionate about fitness and photography.

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