Getting Started Guide for Santiago: Tips and General Information
Getting Started Guide for Santiago: It is always valid to have an initial guide containing general information about the city you will be visiting. In this way, you are able to make more appropriate planning about your accommodation, the time of year to go and other factors that influence the success or perrengue of your trip. With this in mind, we made this post to help plan your trip to Santiago, the Chilean capital that has a special charm and that we had the opportunity to stay for 2 days.
Chile is located in the south of South America and its capital Santiago is located in the central region of the country, being the most populous city and home to the main government agencies in Chile. The city is located in a large valley that is surrounded by mountain ranges, including the Andes Mountains in the east. The city is divided into more than 30 communes where the city of Santiago encompasses the central commune of Santiago and several neighboring communes.
The Santiago commune has a large part of the attractions that are located within the city of Santiago: museums, historic sites, cathedrals, viewpoints, and buildings of the Chilean government. In turn, the Providencia commune is a newer part of the city and there are several bars and restaurants. There are also some attractions in more distant communes. For example, the Pirque commune is home to the Concha y Toro winery, one of the main wineries in Chile, and a major attraction in the Santiago region.
When to go to Santiago?
The city of Santiago has very different climates during winter and summer and the choice of when to go to Santiago depends on what you intend to do in the city.
Winter is a major attraction for Brazilians as it is one of the closest places in South America that we are guaranteed to find snow. If you want to have this experience, plan your trip for the months of July, August, and September. Although there is no snow in the city of Santiago, you will find several ski centers on the outskirts of the city, the Valle Nevado being the most famous of them. Temperatures in the city at this time are between 5 ° C and 12 ° and it is the rainiest season in the region.
During the months of December, January and February, the days are longer and the brightness returns to the city of Santiago. You find the weather more open and temperatures vary between 30 ° C during the day and 12 ° C at night, a high thermal amplitude due to the low humidity of the air. Summer is a great time to visit the coastal towns of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso and also to see the vineyards of the wineries around Santiago in more colors.
Currency exchange in Santiago
Chile’s currency is the Chilean Peso and in Santiago, there are several exchange offices to exchange your money. As in other places, the exchange at the airport is not very good and we recommend changing only a small amount of money needed to get to your hotel (taxi or public transport) and then look for exchange offices in the city. In the city, the best conditions are found on Paseo Ahumada or Rua Agustinas which are located in the city center.
Accommodation in Santiago
In Santiago, there are three main regions to stay: Santiago, Providencia, and Las Condes. They are very different from each other and the choice depends on your travel style.
The Santiago commune is located in the central region and has most of the attractions that are located within the city of Santiago: museums, historic sites, cathedrals, viewpoints, and buildings of the Chilean government. Our recommendation is to stay in the region of Lastarria ( metro Universidad Católica or Bellas Artes ) or in the region of Bellavista ( Metro Baquedano ). In these places, you will be very close to all the attractions of the city center and still have the opportunity to find good bars and restaurants at night in the Bellavista region. On the other hand, this is the busiest region and if you are looking for peace during your trip, you will not find it.
The Las Condes region is a very residential, modern region and is a great option if you are looking for total peace and quiet in the city. In contrast, you have fewer options for hotels, bars, and restaurants at night. You will also be a little further away from the attractions of the city center, however, they can still be easily accessed via the Santiago metro.
If you are looking for a region that is a mixture between Santiago and Las Condes, Providencia is the ideal location. You will find good accommodation options close to Manuel Montt, Pedro de Valdivia, and Los Leone’s meters. In this region, you are closer to the city center, but it is already a quieter region than the Santiago commune. There are also great options for restaurants and bars, making it more attractive in this regard than the municipality of Las Condes. In contrast, it is a slightly more expensive region and you need to look more carefully to find a good price.
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What to do in Santiago?
The city of Santiago is very interesting to visit some historic sites and see the government buildings of the Chilean government. There are also some public parks where you can spend an entire day doing outdoor activities. Perhaps one of the great advantages of Santiago over other cities in South America such as Buenos Aires and Bogotá is that there are several attractions in the surroundings such as winter ski centers, wineries, and also the coastal cities of Valpaíso and Viña del Mar. Below you can find the attractions we visited during our two days in the city (click on the links to our post with more details):
Historical Points in the City
– Walking Tour through the Center
– Museu la Chascona: Pablo Neruda’s Old House
Public Parks in the City
– Cerro Santa Lucia: A Viewpoint in the Center of Santiago
– Parque Metropolitano de Santiago: An Incredible Park in Santiago
Other City Regions
– Walking Tour through the Bellavista Neighborhood
– Concha y Toro: Visiting the most famous winery in the region
– Restaurante Ky: An Unusual Place in Santiago
Unfortunately, we were unable to visit the cities of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar and other smaller wineries. So, if you plan to visit these places, you need to book a few more days during your trip to Santiago.
Transport in Santiago
The most efficient transportation system in Santiago is the metro that passes through the main avenues of the city. Although it looks small, the Santiago metro is over 100 km long and has 108 stations that are divided between 5 lines. See here our full post on how to use the Santiago metro.
With the Santiago metro, you can visit most of the city’s attractions, regardless of whether you are staying in the commune of Santiago, Providencia, or Las Condes. We don’t use a taxi once in the city, but the prices are cheaper compared to the prices of the big Brazilian cities.
How Many Days to Stay in Santiago?
This is one of the most difficult questions to answer as it is very personal. If you focus only on the city of Santiago, we believe that two days will be enough to get to know the main attractions of the city or, if you really like outdoor activities, it is worth staying 3 days to dedicate yourself more to the Metropolitan Park of Santiago. However, as many attractions are also found in the surroundings of the city such as the ski centers, wineries, and the seaside towns of Viña del Mar and Valparaíso, it is worth staying around 5 days in the city to visit these places.