Markets, graveyards and stunning views in Santiago

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
3
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
6
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
4
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
5
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
5
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
4
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
50 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
South America
country
Chile
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 70
Time of year visited
February
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
266th/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Bottom 20% SUMMARY RATING: Ok if passing through

Summary

Santiago is, for sure, worth spending a day in if you are passing through.  In particular, I would highly recommend walking through the trees and swimming pools up on top of the Parque Metropolitano right in the centre of the city for unbeatable views and avoiding some of the tourist scrums elsewhere; the General Cemetery (Cementerio General) which is its own vast town within Santiago’s centre of the city; and there are some great restaurants to experience.  But, and maybe a bit controversial, I don’t see Santiago as a highlight of Chile and wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to see it

highlights

#1 Seeing the 360° view of Santiago and the surrounding mountains while walking from one Mirador to the next in the Parque Metropolitano. Has that great combo of allowing you to feel in the centre of the city, whilst also away from the crowds

#2 Checking out the super unusual graveyard of the Cementerio General. Very much felt like a separate town within the city

#3 Trying out some of the great restaurants around Barrio Bellavista or the Barrio Italia

#4 Taking the tram up to the Cerro San Cristobal (but take the cable car / taxi if want to avoid the crowds)

Rough itinerary

We ended up taking 2 days in Santiago because we fancied a completely chilled out day, but you could easily do the following in 1 day:

  • Morning tour – start the day with the morning tour / Santiago Offbeat tour through Tours 4 tips.  Will take you through:
    • The Esmeralda neighbourhood right in the centre of Santiago
    • The Mercado Central
    • Wander through further markets to the must see General Cemetery
  • Lunch – Grab lunch wherever you’ve found that takes your fancy.  We enjoyed the Mercado Central
  • (Now most tourists take the cable car up to Cerro San Cristobal to look at the surrounding views – I’d say don’t bother as its super busy and not as good views as further up through the Parque Metropolitano.  Instead, try something a bit different…)
  • Afternoon views – get a taxi up to the Piscina Antilen that sits within the broader Parque Metropolitano high above, but right in the centre of, Santiago.  Chill out by the pool if you’re keen for a bit of pool time with views.  Walk over to the Mirador Pablo Neruda, via the Mirador Gabriela Mistral, for the best views of Santiago and far less crowded than the scrums around Cerro San Cristobal.  Make your way slowly back through the trees and paths, downhill to the Oasis cable car station where you can easily get a taxi back to wherever you’re staying to freshen up before dinner
  • Evening – head out for dinner around either Barrio Bellavista (Peumayen was nice) or Barrio Italia

Travel tips Including books

  • Tours 4 Tips are a great way to check the place out with, from what we could see, enthusiastic, passionate guides with a wealth of information.  You give tips at the end (typically asked for between USD10-20 per person) and, if on the morning tour, you get to check out the Esmeralda Neighbourhood, the Mercado Central market and the must see General Cemetery
  • My highlight of Santiago came as a bit of a surprise.  We had an extra day to completely chill out, so we headed up to the central part of the Parque Metropolitano – basically a very large park that sits bang in the centre of Santiago on a raised plateau full of wooden areas, swimming pools, viewing spots and, towards the South West corner, the Cerro San Cristobal.  The pools themselves are certainly worth checking out (and would recommend Piscina Antilen), but it was when I went for a walk towards Mirador Pablo Neruda that I found the various lookouts and had a real “wow” moment.  You can see 360° views of the entire city and to the mountains that surround.  Very few people were there and the walk between the viewpoints were cool.  Do it
  • Getting away from Parque Metropolitano – you can get away from there in a cab, one of the cable cars to other parts of the park, or simply a nice walk along the paths through the trees to the nearby Oasis Station of the cablecars where you can easily get a taxi
  • Cerro San Cristobal is the famous spot to look over Santiago and the views are certainly nice.  Its just that the queues to get the tram up (around one and a half hours) and being surrounded by so many people throughout kind of sapped the energy out of me.  Way better to head up to Mirador Pablo Neruda which is quicker, cheaper, better views and with less people
  • You must check out the General Cemetery (Cementerio General).  Its like its own town within this big city, with its own grid system of roads, whole neighbourhoods of certain types of graves or nationalities and some truly grand graves, not least for former presidents
  • The Central Market next to the banks of the river is worth checking out for the hustle and bustle with all the fresh food, and also for trying out one of the restaurants in the market, some sitting within very cool courtyards
  • Ubers were more convenient, but technically illegal.  So don’t sit only in the back!
  • We ate one night at the Peumayen Ancestral Food restaurant in Barrio Bellavista, which serves a variety of tasting menus inspired by the ancestral inhabitants of Chile.  Well worth a visit
  • We stayed at the Hostal Rio Amazonas which was nice and would recommend
  • For reading, I found Viva South America by Oliver Balch a good whistle-stop tour of the continent that focused on many of the existing problems being felt by people living there today and with two chapters focused on Chile

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone