We’ve really enjoyed our time in Chile, so it seemed only natural Santiago would be another highlight of our trip. We very quickly feel in love with this beautiful city.
We rented a fantastic 2 bedroom airbnb apartment for the week with Craig and Erin (apartment details below). We were in the centre of town, had amazing rooftop views and were within walking distance to all the major sites.
We quickly crossed off a lot of the main touristy things to do in the centre of town.
Presidential Palace La Moneda, these days shows no signs of the palaces troubled past (more on this in our next post), as tourists and locals happily wandered about the square, and the Carabineros (Chilean police) standing guard were more than happy to pose for photos. We even saw a number of glamorous female police, looking stunning with their hair tied back, tight uniforms and seemingly mandatory red lipstick, letting children sit on their motorbikes for the family album.
We also visited Plaza de Armas, known as the heart and soul of Santiago due to it being the centrepiece of the city grid, but sadly it’s currently being renovated so we weren’t able to see much.
We stopped into Mercado Central (famous for it’s seafood) for lunch. Passing the more touristy restaurants at the front of the market, we stopped at one of the quieter cafes at the back. Sadly, the food was pretty disappointing. And to top it off, we thought this would be a good place to try our first proper pisco sour. Only once we’d ordered, did we spy the same bottle of pre-mixed pisco we had already tried from the supermarket. Not the place to go if you’re looking for an authentic food experience.
On route to the market, we did find Empanada Zunino, a small place we’d seen mentioned as having the best empanadas in town – and you could tell it was going to be good as soon as we arrived. The place was packed with locals enjoying their empanadas. Ordering is an easy choice with just two things on the menu, the classic Chilean pino empanada (filled with beef, onions, raisins, olives and a hard boiled egg) or a simple queso (cheese) empanada. One of each please! This was much more of a success, as they were delicious. Perhaps not healthy, but tasty.
We also visited Cerro Santa Lucia, a place recommended for its views out across the city. It was a cute place to visit on a hot afternoon with it’s many fountains and stairways, although as was common throughout our time in Santiago, it was fairly smoggy. But it was good exercise.
To be honest, we were happy to get most of the above off the to do list on the first day. You feel obligated to visit the main tourist attractions and monuments when you visit a new city, but often they aren’t what leave a lasting impression. We were glad we’d seen them, but Santiago had so much more to offer over the coming days.
And with 7 days in town, we had enough time to see everything on our list, plus a few days in between to relax. Our quieter days revolved around preparing and cooking ourselves meals while we chatted, played cards, watched movies and drunk more delicious Chilean wine. It was so nice to chill out for a while in a more home-like environment than a hostel. We had some great times and amazing meals in that apartment.
It’s not just the city that was beautiful, but also it’s people. Special mention also has to go to the coffee shops in Santiago. Some we saw called themselves ‘business cafes’ but the unofficial term I believe is ‘coffee with legs’. The female waitresses and baristas of the coffee shops around town all have the same uniform – super short mini-skirts and tight tops, or tight fitting lycra jumpsuits, both outfits leaving nothing to the imagination. We had one of these coffee shops next to our apartment, and despite often talking about going in for coffee and asking for a photo with the staff, we were all a bit too intimidated.
Did I also mention the sunsets in Santiago? Made even better with the views from our apartment.
When we visited: 7 nights early April 2014
How we got here: 3 hour bus from Talca
Food & Drink recommendations: Santiago is a big city and I’m sure has some fantastic places to eat out, but we self-catered pretty much our entire time in and loved it. And the money we saved went on trying more of Chiles amazing wines.
Where to stay in Santiago: We loved the airbnb flat we found in Santiago. Our landlady Doris was AMAZING. As was the location of the flat, fantastic for being central in Santiago. And those views across Santiago from the rooftop – amazing!
Airbnb discount for first time users: If you use the code ‘kellen1′ when you book through airbnb for the first time, you’ll receive $25 off your booking (and we also receive the same).