Planning Your Time
Santiago is a compact city, small enough to visit all the must-see sights in a few days. Consider the weather when planning your itinerary—on the first clear day your destination should be Parque Metropolitano, where you are treated to exquisite views from Cerro San Cristóbal. After a morning gazing at the Andes, head back down the hill and spend the afternoon wandering the bohemian streets of Bellavista, with a visit to Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda's Santiago residence, La Chascona. Check out one of the neighborhood's colorful eateries, or take a side trip down to Patronato for a falafel or some cheap clothes shopping.
The next day, head to Parque Forestal, a leafy park that runs along the Río Mapocho. Be sure to visit the lovely old train station, Estación Mapocho. After lunch at the Mercado Central, or across the river at Vega or Vega Chica, cover the city's colonial past in Santiago Centro. Requisite sights include the Plaza de Armas, where the cathedral and old post office are, and the nearby Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino. Stop for coffee or tea in Lastarria or Bellas Artes and do some wandering in Plaza Mulato Gil de Castro and the connected Lastarria or Bellas Artes neighborhoods, ending at the culture and arts center GAM. On your third day explore the sights along La Alameda, especially the presidential palace of La Moneda and the landmark church, Iglesia San Francisco. For a last look at the city, climb Cerro Santa Lucía. That night try dinner in trendy Las Condes or more upscale Vitacura.