Best Attractions & Activities

With all of the things to do and see in a city, deciding how to spend your time can be quite an agonizing decision. 10best has narrowed all of the available attractions in Santiago to a list of the most appealing and reputable, to aide in your decision making. You can rest easy knowing that any choice you make from our list is sure to please.

10 Cerro San Cristobal
Named for Catholic Saint Christopher, this hill in the centrally located Parque Metropolitano offers a choice spot in the city for panoramic views on clear days when the smog that often blankets the region dissipates. Walk or ride to the summit where the views of Santiago below are a patchwork quilt meeting the breathtaking peaks of the Andes beyond. Travelers will want to be sure to visit the Virgen de la Imaculada statue at the peak and stop by the zoo and wine museum on the trip up. (56-2-777-6666, 56-2-735-2081)

9 Parque Forestal
Santiago's city planners built this expansive and welcoming preserve along the Mapocho River as a bastion from the neighboring concrete jungle for residents and visitors alike. A variety of flora and fauna is planted here and draws scores of people on weekends for relaxing walks and people-watching. The park is also home to the Estacion Mapocho train station and is just a short jaunt from nearby dining, shopping and sightseeing destinations. Take a couple of hours to sightsee here on nice days and escape the bustle of the city.

8 Plaza de La Constitución
This plaza's claim to fame is the Moneda Palace that borders it. Moneda is the seat of Santiago's government and is an architecturally appealing symbol of the history and development of Chile. After a walk around the Plaza, go on a short tour of Moneda and the surrounding grounds. Be sure to begin the visit here promptly before ten in the morning to ensure seeing the rousing changing of the guards.

7 Bellavista
This chic neighborhood on the south bank of the Mapocho River is a lovely locale to enjoy Santiago's culture and social life all mingling along colorful tree-lined streets. By day, visitors to the area can shop and barter for trendy items in the small shops and boutiques that populate the street, while at night, socialites can party into the wee hours of the morning at the clubs and bars that are quickly cropping up in the area. Bellavista is also awash in the creative scene from neighborhood theaters and art houses. This diverse neighborhood is also home to Parque Metropolitano (the largest green area in Santiago with 2 public pools), La Chascona (the house of Pablo Neruda), and the National Zoo.

6 Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Designed to mimic a Parisian palace, this art gallery and museum is one of the finer architectural displays in traditionally sedate Santiago. This oldest arts museum in South America displays pieces from a range of regional and international artists. The museum also houses extensive archives and reproductions of artworks from around the world. There are also regularly changing traveling exhibits that represent some of the best schools of world art as well as a high-quality study of South American artists' work. (56-2-499-1600)

5 La Chascona
One of Chile's most famous native sons was Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. This popular tourist attraction situated in the Bellavista neighborhood was one of the famed wordsmith's homes. Modern architecture distinguishes the residence, and tourists can experience the world of Neruda through its design. Neruda's home showcases art and craft pieces he brought back to Santiago from his international travels. Guided tours (offered in Spanish, English, French and German) give visitors the best opportunity to get the back-story on this fascinating landmark. (56-2-777-8741, 56-2-737-8712)

4 Estación Mapocho
This turn-of-the-20th century former railway station is a massive structure that today hosts a diversity of live concerts, cultural events and festivals. In addition to playing host to events throughout the year, the converted station houses a show space where local and regional artists often display their work. There are also an on-site café, bookstore and shop selling handcrafted items. The Mapocho Station is located across from Santiago University. (56-2-787-0000, 56-2-361-1761)

3 Iglesia San Francisco
The Church of St. Francis is among the oldest and most historically significant buildings in Santiago and is a centerpiece of the city and a definite must-see for visitors. The church dates from the earliest Spanish settlements in the late 1500s and is representative of Spanish Colonial architecture. The church's tower dates from the 19th century and is the most striking feature of the historic site. A museum showcases historic works of art and artifacts. The legendary statue Virgen del Socorro carried by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia when he arrived to colonize the region is prominently displayed. (56-2-638-3238, 56-2-639-8737)

2 Plaza de Armas
This city-center square is a must destination for travelers to Santiago, whether visiting for a weekend, a week or longer. The plaza was founded in the mid-16th century by conquering Spaniards and was designed to be the heart of the city. As Santiago grew, the Plaza continued to be the center of urban life. The square is surrounded by the Palacio de los Gobernadores, the Palacio de la Real Audiencia and the Municipalidad de Santiago. While here, take a bit of time to relax amid the trees and watch the mix of people who make this South American capital an ever-growing, well-traveled destination.

1 Museo de Arte Precolombino
Arguably the best cultural showplace in Santiago, the Pre-Colombian Art Museum is housed in a restored government building and showcases historic artifacts from the rich history of the area. The museum showcases artifacts from both Central and South America and includes textiles and ceramics, art and metalwork. There is also an on-site café and museum shop that sells reproductions of pieces displayed here. History buffs will thoroughly enjoy an afternoon here, especially on a Sunday when there is no entrance fee and most restaurants and shops are closed. (56-2-688-7348, 56-2-352-7522)

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Maps and Directions

Cerro San Cristobal 10Best List Arrow
Type: Attractions, Editor's Picks, Great Views, Outdoor Activities, Parks, Sightseeing
Neighborhood: Bellavista
Parque Forestal 10Best List Arrow
Type: Outdoor Activities, Parks
Plaza de La Constitución 10Best List Arrow
Type: Attractions, Cultural Venues, Outdoor Activities
Neighborhood: EL CENTRO
Bellavista 10Best List Arrow
Type: Sightseeing
Neighborhood: Bellavista
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes 10Best List Arrow
Type: Art Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: AIRPORT - SCL
La Chascona 10Best List Arrow
Type: Architecture, Attractions, Cultural Venues, Editor's Picks, Museums
Neighborhood: Bellavista
Estación Mapocho 10Best List Arrow
Type: Architecture, Art Museums, Attractions, Cultural Venues, Editor's Picks, Free Attractions, Museums, Performing Arts, Sightseeing
Iglesia San Francisco 10Best List Arrow
Type: Architecture, Art Museums, Editor's Picks, Historic Sites, Museums, Religious Sites
Neighborhood: PARIS-LONDRES
Plaza de Armas 10Best List Arrow
Type: Architecture, Attractions, Cultural Venues, Editor's Picks, Free Attractions, Historic Sites, Outdoor Activities, Sightseeing
Neighborhood: EL CENTRO
Museo de Arte Precolombino 10Best List Arrow
Type: Art Museums, Cultural Venues, Editor's Picks, Historic Sites, History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: EL CENTRO
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