Santiago has become a destination of choice for international business travelers, developing a reputation as a calm and clean city with a good quality of life. According to The New York Times, Santiago de Chile is the number one destination for travelers in 2011.The best way to discover this constantly changing metropolis is to walk around the various districts and neighborhoods.
Most government activities take place in Santiago's downtown area (El Centro), which is home to La Moneda (the presidential palace), Plaza de Armas and the Judicial and Executive Branches. This area also boasts numerous museums and pedestrian malls.
Districts such as Providencia, Bellavista, Las Condes and Vitacura offer a dazzling array of businesses, shops and restaurants as well as a bustling nightlife.
Though all big cities are dominated by concrete to some degree, Santiago is home to several imposing green spaces. For example, Parque Metropolitano, also known as Cerro San Cristóbal, is visible from most of the city. You can get to the top on foot, by bike or by car or take a refurbished cable car.
Don't miss the opportunity to taste some of Chile's best wines and tour the vineyards that are now enveloped by the city. Other great daytrip options are Pirque, a neighboring village in the Andean foothills, and the Maipo Valley, where you can enjoy nature, sample local food, pick up some souvenirs and find a place to spend a few nights near the banks of the Maipo River.
If you happen to be in Santiago only for a few days, have a look at this article from The New York Times article called "36 Hours in Santiago, Chile" to find out some good ideas of what to do and where to go.
Flights from North and South American and European cities land daily at Arturo Merino Benítez Airport (SCL). For more information, see www.aeropuertosantiago.cl.
Buses arrive to Santiago from Argentina and northern and southern Chile at four separate terminals.
• Alameda Terminal: Av. Bernardo O'Higgins 3570, Universidad de Santiago Metro Station. This terminal provides access to bus service to most destinations. Buses to Viña/Valparaíso depart every 15 minutes. Phone: (56-2) 7762424
• Santiago Terminal (formerly Terminal Sur): Located at the intersection of Alameda and Nicasio Retamales, 150 meters east of Alameda Terminal, this station provides access to services to the coast, south and various international destinations. Phone: (56-2) 3761750
• Los Héroes: This terminal is located at the intersection of Tucapel Jiménez and Alameda close to the Los Héroes Metro Station. Various companies cover destinations in the north of the country. Phone: (56-2) 4200099
• San Borja (previously known as Terminal Norte): This station is located at San Borja and Alameda close to Estación Central. You can find bus service to points north of the city and throughout the Metropolitan Region. Phone: (2) 7760645
From Mendoza, Argentina over the Andes via the Libertadores border crossing (383 km).
Santiago is a peaceful city by South American standards, but you should exercise caution at night (as you would in any major city), especially in the downtown area and public places. It's best not to walk around with jewelry, watches, cameras or open bags. A general tip for your appearance would be the plainer, the better.
Bip! Cards can be used on the metro and public buses, and can be purchased and recharged in metro stations, at some banks and in authorized establishments. Drivers will not accept payment for fares, so be sure to recharge your card in advance in order to avoid hassles.
International bank cards can be used at hundreds of ATM machines in Santiago. In most cases, you will only be permitted to withdraw the equivalent of US$400 per day. If you need to exchange foreign currency, visit Calle Moneda downtown, the corner of Pedro de Valdivia and Providencia in the district of the same name, or inquire at a shopping center, as most malls house companies that provide such services.
Watch the sunset from the top of Cerro San Cristóbal (Parque Metropolitano), drink a potent Terromoto cocktail (made with cooked wine and pineapple ice cream) or the gentler, alcohol-free mote con huesillo (made with cooked peaches, sugar water and husked wheat), visit Pablo Neruda's museum-house La Chascona or enjoy the local cuisine.
Santiago has four very distinctive seasons. Its climate is Mediterranean, with temperatures ranging from 0 to 12°C in the winter and often exceeding 30°C during the summer months. One of the distinctive characteristics of Santiago's climate is the 15-20°C fluctuations that can take place during a single day. Pack clothing that is appropriate for the season during which you will be visiting Chile.
Southbound trains depart Estación Central and provide service to points south through Chillán. Information desk: Avda. Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins 3322, Estación Central Metro Station. Phone: (56-2) 3768500. www.efe.cl
Travelers and their experience in Santiago de Chile