is a surprising city. Chile
’s capital is something of a boom town, growing ever eastward in a rush of rising steel and blue glass. It can be a busy and frenetic place but Santiago does also enjoy a surprising number of green spaces, little pockets of calm amid the action. So if you’re on vacation in Santiago, wrap up some warm empanada pastries, order up a cup of freshly squeezed local fruit juice and head out for a picnic in one of Santiago’s many parks. Here’s our guide to where to go!
Santiago Metropolitan Park
: The park extends across the hills of San Cristobal, Chacarillas and Los Gemelos. The easiest way in is via the newly refurbished funicular up San Cristobal hill which sets off from the Bellavista neighbourhood.
What: A total of 722 hectares of parkland, divided up into various different zones. The park features two different open-air pools that are open during the warm summer months of November to March. The National Zoo and the Botanical Garden are both located within the park, which also features a sanctuary commemorating the Virgin Mary at the summit.
Why: It’s the largest city park in Chile and one of the biggest in the world. It’s also a great place to enjoy panoramic views of the rest of the city on a clear day.
: The park runs from Pedro de Valdivia Bridge to Padre Letelier Bridge in the Providencia neighbourhood. Head to the Pedro de Valdivia Metro station for easy access.
What: A permanent outdoor museum featuring 30 sculptures and exhibits from various Chilean and international artists.
Why: The sculpture park is a tranquil haven away from the crowds and bustle of the city. As well as being an officially recognised museum, there are also free open-air jazz concerts in summer.
: Located in Santiago’s upmarket Vitacura neighbourhood between the Mapocho River and Bicentenario Avenue.
What: One of Santiago’s newer parks, Bicentenario winds alongside the riverside. The park is home to over 4,000 trees, of which more than 1,300 are species native to Chile. This long narrow park also contains an exhibition space for festivals and events.
Why: Sleek ponds with a resident flock of flamingos, free deck chairs and umbrellas for lounging in the lazy afternoon sunshine, well manicured lawns and designated bike paths... The real question is why not visit Parque Bicentenario!
Santa Lucia Hill
: In the bustling heart of downtown Santiago, steps away from the bohemian-chic Lastarria Street.
What: A small, verdant hill park right in the middle of the city. The hill is crowned by the remains of an old fort and a picturesque fountain. Climb to the top of the fort’s tower for an unbeatable view of Santiago against the backdrop of the snowy Andes mountains.
: Its central location makes Santa Lucia Hill the perfect easy escape from the city if all of that sightseeing on your Santiago city tour
gets a bit too much.
: Found within Santiago’s Metropolitan Park on San Cristobal Hill, not far from the Tupahue outdoor swimming pool.
What: Four hectares of land set aside for conserving and displaying over 80 species of native Chilean plants and trees. You’ll also find a small stream with a waterfall, a duck pond and a small garden for medicinal plants.
Why: See native Chilean species of trees and plants including the rare Chilean Wine Palm and enjoy great views over the city.
Parque Quinta Normal
: In the Quinta Normal area of downtown Santiago. Take Metro line 5 to the Quinta Normal stop, which will drop you right on the edge of the park.
What: One of Santiago’s hidden gems, Parque Quinta Normal is where the local families go with their weekend picnic. The park houses child-friendly museums like the Museum of Science and Technology and the Santiago Railway Museum. There’s even a small lake with paddle boats for rent.
Why: A good place to take little ones to blow off steam if you’re travelling with kids in tow.
: This park runs through Santiago’s historical quarter from Mapocho Station to Plaza Baquedano.
What: The park forms a long, slender strip of green that borders the Mapocho River, punctuated by sculptures and fountains. Its central location makes this park a natural magnet for smalls markets and fairs as well as street entertainers like jugglers and musicians.
Why: Parque Forestal makes a great pedestrian highway through the busy city. If you’re trying to get uptown on foot, make your way through the park for a more scenic journey.
Aguas de Ramón Nature Park
: At the very edge of the communes of La Reina and Las Condes in eastern Santiago. You can reach the park entrance by bus and on foot or by taking a short taxi ride.
What: This is not your manicured city park with dainty fountains and pathways. The Aguas de Ramón Nature Park lies on the very outskirts of the city and an hour of concerted hiking takes you into a different world altogether. The park’s well-maintained hiking trails wind through a river canyon lined with picture-book cacti. If you’ve got the legs for it you can hike all the way to the end of the trail for a picnic at the foot of a slim but lofty waterfall.
Why: There aren’t many capital cities in the world where you can take a taxi to the entrance of a nature park and be out of sight of civilisation within an hour’s hike. This is one of them!
Visit Santiago’s green spaces now on your Chile tour