I am finding this 48 hours series more and more difficult to write. Probably because we have slowed down quite a bit as travelers recently (traveling with two kids under the age of 5 will do that to you!). And because we have slowed down our travel style, it means we have found more and more things that we love in each destination we have visited.
We spent 10 days in Santiago, and to be honest, even with another 10 I would still be left with things to do. Santiago was by far my favourite city in South America (so far). A lot of the things that we did while in Santiago were kid related, but I won’t talk about that here. If you are looking for some ideas on what to do with kids in Santiago, then check out my previous post.
48 Hours in Santiago
Plaza de Armas
As with every other South American city, life revolves around the main square. And, like with every other South American city, the main square is called Plaza de Armas. Everything around Plaza de Armas is chaotic. The streets are full of people and you will find shops of every description along the streets radiating off the plaza. Take some time to explore the square and surrounding area before visiting my favourite museum in Santiago – the Pre Colombian Art Museum of Chile.
Pre Colombian Art Museum of Chile
I find indigenous history and cultures fascinating, and if you do too, then you will love this museum. The museum is made up of two main permanent exhibition spaces and a temporary exhibition space. The lower permanent gallery was my favourite. This gallery focused on the early inhabitants of Chile. In this small gallery you will find a huge array of extremely well presented textiles, pottery, statues, art, and even mummies. The upper and much larger gallery features art and pottery from indigenous cultures from all across South America.
Make sure to check out what is showing in the temporary space as well. During our visit there was an exhibition about rock art in the Atacama desert which was extremely informative and got us really excited for our upcoming visit to San Pedro de Atacama.
By now you have probably worked up a bit of an appetite, so head to nearby Mercado Central. The central market is not so much a market as you would typically think of it, but more of a collection of restaurants and food stalls famous for their sea food.
Next its only a short walk to Barrio Lastarria. This hip little neighbourhood is home to some great cafes, bars and restaurants as well as trendy shops. It’s hipster heaven. Its a great place to shop for quirky souvenirs, or enjoy a coffee or a drink.
Cerro Santa Lucia
Finish the day with a little hike and some rewarding views of the city. Located in Barrio Lastarria is the hill Cerro Santa Lucia. Walking paths wind their way up the hill, past churches and beautifully manicured gardens. It’s a lovely way to end the day. Also, there is an elevator if you are feeling lazy, although it was out of order at the time of our visit.
Bellas Artes and Contemporary Art Museum
Houses in an impressive building from 1910, these two connected art museums are a must visit. Although I must admit, the exhibitions during the time of our visit were not really to my taste. However the building itself is impressive enough to warrant a visit. Plus the museums are free, so you won’t feel too hard done by if you don’t enjoy the art.
After you are sufficiently cultured up, head across the river to Barrio Bellavista. This neighbourhood is known as the Bohemian quarter, and as you would expect, it is home to some great shops, restaurants, and street art. Bellavista is a popular place to purchase craftwork made from lapis lazuli, a semiprecious stone found principally in Chile and Afghanistan.
Cerro San Cristobal
Finish the day with a walk (or funicular) up Cerro San Cristobal, Santiagos largest green space. Of course, one of the main reasons to visit are the sweeping views of Santiago, but there are also many other attractions on this hill side park as well. There is a botanical garden, a large childrens play ground, a couple public swimming pools, and even a zoo.
Once you are done with the hill, descend back to Barrio Bellavista and soak up some nightlife before ending your 48 hour Santiago tour.