Santiago is divided into several well-known districts, within many there are smaller barrios, or neighborhoods, each with their own personality. The city's central business district - also referred to as Sanhattan - is located in Las Condes. Here, you'll find upmarket shopping, embassies, offices, restaurants, and bars promoting after-work drinks like they're the new black. Providencia is both a residential and shopping zone, home to boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and plazas. Reach the historical Center as you descend through Providencia, where many of the city's oldest architecture and guidebook sites - such as government building La Moneda, Central Market and main square Plaza de Armas - are located.
Here in the Center, you're also a short walk away from elegant barrios Bellas Artes, Lastarria, and Bellavista, or a quick Metro trip from the charmingly-gritty Yungay and Barrio Brasil. These neighborhoods are where much of Santiago's more colorful life plays out. Choc-full of galleries, stylish and less-stylish bars, European style coffee shops, vintage clothing stores, concert venues, international restaurants, and cultural centers, their - sometimes graffiti-lined - streets provide a spicier sort of seasoning to your Santiago explorations.
Walks, views, and greenery
Grab yourself a moment of calm in busybody Santiago in the Parque Forestal, a stretch of park and bike tracks running alongside the Mapocho river. Here you’ll find yourself in a world of picnicking families, slackline-cruising twenty-somethings, all-day joggers, and wandering office workers. As the park makes its way through Santiago’s busy center, time your stroll to hop off for coffee at Lastarria or Bellas Artes neighborhoods, explore the picturesque Central Market in time for lunch, or hit bustling street market neighborhood Patronato for afternoon shopping. If you find yourself a little further afield, Parque Bustamante is another pick for an afternoon stroll - and very close to trendy Barrio Italia where you can reward your efforts with evening jazz, a meal, or glass of Chilean red.
If you’d prefer to crown your walk with a view of the city, head to Santa Lucía hill in Lastarria where a short climb gives you a view of Santiago’s central neighborhoods. However, those who’d rather a more solid city hike choose San Cristóbal. From its 800m summit, you can gaze over the entire city and on to the Andes mountains’ peaks.
Eat, drink, and be merry!
City breaks are synonymous with leisurely coffees savored in café terraces and in Santiago there’s been a recent explosion in coffee culture. Grab a great coffee - and a sweet treat to accompany it - in European-vibe Lastarria, upmarket Providencia, stylish Barrio Italia or distressed-chic Yungay (an early 1900s neighborhood fast on the rise to being Santiago’s new hot spot).
Santiago has been named as a strong new player in the world foodie scene and a number of tours now allow travelers to buy fresh produce and cook it with professional chefs and sommeliers. If hunger strikes while sightseeing, head to La Vega market’s picadas for great Chilean fare. In these simple, casual eateries, serving up plates of steaming cazuela, pastel de choclo, tomaticán, fried fish, roast meat, and empanadas is the proprietors’ life’s work - and the prices are as tempting as the food!
Get outta town
One of the most wonderful things about Santiago is that it’s a great base camp for other adventures in the region. Indulge yourself skiing, go rafting in the dramatic Cajón del Maipo, horseback ride or loll in luscious Andes mountains hot springs, sample premium wines in the Central Valley, or venture as far as the portside poetry of Valparaíso.