3 Day Guide to Santiago
Dates Visited: November 2018
There are so many things to do in Santiago. It's the capital city of Chile located in the valley of the Andean mountains. Unfortunately due to its high population and location, it has fairly poor air quality due to lack of natural ventilation. Nonetheless, it is a highly developed city and is the cultural, political, and economic hub of Chile.
Though we only spent a few days in the city, it was a refreshing taste of a more structured society after seeing a lack of organization in Peru. Traffic laws seemed to be almost non-existent in Peru with everybody driving and honking like madmen. Santiago provided a stark contrast to this with functioning traffic lights/patterns, cross walks, and a lack of people laying on the horn.
Chile is known for having the highest cost of living in South America. Starting our trip in the nation's capital was quite a wake up call after buying a bag full of empanadas for one dollar in the mountain town of Huaraz.
7 Things to do in Santiago
Here we will go over a three day guide to the city that includes 7 things to do in Santiago and some affordable places to stay. Located an hour to the west is the small seaside city of Valparíso which we highly recommend visiting if you have at least an extra day or two in the area. We put together a weekend guide of Valpo here full of low cost fun.
1. Explore Barrio Bellavista
One of the best things to do in Santiago is visit Barrio Bellavista. It's known as the trendy bohemian neighborhood in Santiago - full of restaurants, bars, boutiques, markets, and more. It was walking distance from our hostel and our walk there led us through a few nice parks. We even saw some street performers doing breakdancing in the cross walk during a red light!
2. Visit Valparaíso
Just an hour to the west of Santiago is the lovely port city of Valparaíso. It's known for being a hilly city with winding streets and alleyways full of street art. The artwork is constantly evolving too; you can always find links between what you see on the street and current social or political events. Learn more about this cool little hipster town with a free walking tour!
3. Take a walk in Parque Balmaceda
While walking to Barrio Bellavista, you will likely walk past Parque Balmaceda. If you're looking for cheap things to do in Santiago this is another one to put on the list. All the parks we visited in Santiago were free and open. There will be plenty of people having picnics, taking pictures, and enjoying the sunny weather.
4. Take a Yoga Class
If you're a big yogi (like Molly) then perhaps you will want to find a yoga class while in Santiago. There are plenty of studios, like Yoga Mandiram, that offer drop in classes starting around 8,000 CLP ($12 USD). Though not necessarily cheap, these are comparable prices to what you will see in the U.S.
5. Stroll along Plaza a la Aviación
Another great thing to do in Santiago is visit Plaza a la Aviación. Originally built in 1929  as part of the Japanese Park, it was later renamed as a monument to the Chilean Air Force. The fountain pictured here is lit up at night with a beautiful array of colors.
6. Eat your Greens:
Santiago's best Vegetarian Restaurants
Another one of the great things to do in Santiago is try some of the delicious cuisine, especially the vegetarian options. Santiago has countless vegan/vegetarian restaurants; our favorite is Katako Veg. Some other options that come highly recommended are: Abhay Charan, Sapiens, and Arte Vegetal. Check out HappyCow if you want some help finding more veggie restaurants in Santiago.
7. Hike to Cerro San Cristóbal
Similar to Cristo de Blanco in Cusco, Peru, Santiago also has its own version of a giant Christ statue. From here you get a great view of the Santiago skyline. Our hostel was about a 1.5 hour hike from the San Cristóbal, so about 3 hours round trip.
We admit that we weren't up to the half day excursion after all the traveling. However, our friend Jean at Ají Hostel said it was definitely something to keep in mind for next time.
Where to stay in Santiago
From our experience, we like to use Hostel World to check out potential hostels, then check other booking websites like Booking.com to make our reservations. Sometimes we also message hostels directly to get a better price. We also like to use Airbnb to book accommodations if its a better deal than hostels. Clicking on either of the icons will give you a deal with either of the sites, but are affiliate links so we earn a small commission.
Dorm: $11.90+ USD
Private: $29.00+ USD
Amenities: Free wifi, Free Breakfast & Dinner, Spanish/English, Excellent location, 24 hour Reception
We loved this place. Not only did it have free breakfast, but it also included free dinner everyday except on Fridays. Each Friday they have an all you can eat/drink buffet style dinner: 6,000 CLP ($9 USD) for the normal option and 4,000 CLP ($6 USD) for the veggie option. So worth it!
We also met a great new friend, Jean, who worked there. We will absolutely stay here again our next time in Santiago and can't recommend this place enough!
Dorms: $9.50+ USD
Private: $20.45+ USD
Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, Self Catering Services, Cafe, Luggage Storage, Coffee/Tea
Dorms: $11.96+ USD
Private: $26.68+ USD
Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, Self Catering Services, Outdoor Terrace, Luggage Storage
Dorms: $12.10+ USD
Private: $57.79+ USD
Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, Airport Transfers, Laundry Facilities, Self Catering Services