The hills are alive with music, art and culinary delights in CHILE'S CAPITAL CITY, whose undulating avenidas have stood the test of time — and tourists.
Chile’s capital city, Santiago, is a bustling metropolis as well as a natural spectacle. Encircled by mountain ranges — the Andes Mountains loom to the east of the city — and cut in two by the flowing Mapocho River, the city is accented by hills, or cerros. A stroll down Santiago’s sweeping avenues will reveal the neoclassical and art deco architecture of Santiago’s heyday, when it first was industrialized in the 1930s. For any stopover in Santiago, the following institutions should be at the top of any traveler’s to-do list.
IF YOU GO...
Pío Nono 200, Barrio Bellavista
+56 (22) 777-5869
Emporio la Rosa
+56 (22) 638-9257
Cerro San Cristóbal
Pío Nono 450, Barrio Bellavista
+56 (22) 730-1331
Cerro Santa Lucía
Corner of Santa Lucía and O’Higgins Avenue
Fernando Márquez de la Plata 0192, Barrio Bellavista
+56 (22) 777-8741
Feria Santa Lucía craft market
Corner of Carmen and Diagonal Paraguay
Constitución 30, Barrio Bellavista
+56 (22) 732-7571
Loreto 170, Barrio Bellavista
+56 (22) 777-1060
Located in the eclectic Barrio Bellavista, Venezia is rumored to have been a favorite haunt of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. The restaurant seves classic Chilean dishes and is a good spot to try Chile’s national cocktail, the Pisco Sour. Venezia’s unassuming facade invites guests in, while its relaxed atmosphere keeps them sitting for a pisco (or two).
For those with a sweet tooth, Emporio la Rosa has some of the best ice cream in Santiago. With flavors like dulce de leche and lúcuma (a maple- and sweet potato-flavored fruit native to the Andean region), it’s a good thing employees keep tasting spoons on hand. And with many locations around Santiago, a quick sugar fix is never too far away.
Santiago is circled by hills, and the second-highest point in the city, the Cerro San Cristóbal, has an excellent view from just outside the city center. A long hike or a ride on the funicular railway will get you to the peak of this 2,820-foot hill — the location of the city’s zoo and home to an iconic statue of the Virgin Mary keeping a watchful eye over the city. One of Santiago’s other famous hills, the Cerro Santa Lucía, rises over the city center and is famous for its wandering stairways and ornate facades.
Chilean poet Pablo Neruda had three houses in Chile, one of which is located in Santiago’s Barrio Bellavista. Neruda called the home “La Chascona” in honor of his third wife, Matilde Urrutia. Today, it serves as a museum of the poet’s life and work and reflects his eccentric style. The house is home to Diego Rivera’s painting of Urrutia, commissioned by Neruda and depicting Urrutia with her red hair flowing around two faces. (Neruda’s profile is rumored to be hidden in her locks.)
For native handiwork, check out the Feria Santa Lucía craft market. The bustling, open-air market is home to stalls filled with handmade glass jewelry, hand-tooled leather backpacks and charangos, a stringed South American instrument similar to a ukulele.
The Patio Bellavista is Santiago’s more upscale shopping experience. This outdoor shopping center is a good spot to find lapis lazuli, a rich, dark-blue semiprecious stone mined in the Andes Mountains north of Santiago.
The Loreto Hotel is located conveniently in the middle of everything in the Barrio Bellavista. Within walking distance are two museums: the Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts and the Santiago Museum of Contemporary Art, both important cultural highlights. With an airport shuttle, a restaurant, a bar and a mini-gym, the Loreto has amenities to keep travelers comfortable. The hotel also has an eco-friendly twist: It uses solar panels for its hot water and heating and recycles its wastewater.