Note to readers: This post was originally written in 2011 and has been imported from our previous website.
Santiago, Chile was ranked number one on New York Times top places to travel in 2011. Praised for the quick recovery from 2010’s earthquake, along with the exploding culinary, music and arts scene, and the access to the top Chile ski resorts, the capital city of over 5 million inhabitants has changed tremendously since my first visit in 1997.
Constantly over shadowed by Argentina’s Buenos Aires and Brazil’s Sao Paulo, Santiago is truly worth a visit. When I travel through Chile, I like spending 2-3 days wandering the city, taking pictures, absorbing the culture and sampling the scores of new cafes, restaurants and nearby vineyards. 5-6 years ago it was next to impossible to find good coffee and discovering a quality restaurant was a bit of a mission. Today, there are hundreds of outstanding delis and high scale bistros scattered from downtown Santiago, and trendy neighborhoods of Bellavista, Providencia, Nunoa and upscale Las Condes.
Santiago is not for everyone. It’s a large and noisy city and the smog can be brutal, especially in the winter months June to September. But if you are lucky enough to be in Santiago after a rain storm, which cleans the air providing epic views of the towering Andes, it’s hard to beat. The views from Santa Lucia, where the city was founded in 1541 are amazing. Few cities in the world access the quality skiing Chile has to offer, just over 30 miles from Santiago’s airport.
For me, Santiago is a great destination after riding the nearby Santiago ski resorts of Portillo, Valle Nevado, La Parva and El Colorado. Here are some of my favorite places in or just outside of downtown Santiago to grab a drink, something to eat and watch the city vibe.
The coffee shops on José Victorino Lastarría and Rosal behind Cerro Santa Lucia: Watch the sunset from one of the bridges on the Mapocho River then wander these streets. Good coffee, teas, boutique shops, music and art.
Mercado Central: At lunch this building is as much as a cultural experience as it is an amazing place to sample Chile’s seafood, in the heart of downtown, freshly caught from the cold Pacific, just 70 miles away. Don’t miss the nearby Plaza de Armas for more culture and a great spot to take pictures.
Liguria Bar: 3 hip locations serving Chilean-Italian dishes and a great place to grab a drink with Chile’s bohemian scene. I recommend ordering the osso bucco and a bottle of Carminere. This place is popular with the locals so expect a wait and a lot of noise.
Etniko: Sushi and Asian cuisine. Located in Bella Vista neighborhood. While the door is always closed, ring the bell to get in. Tell Marcelo that Phil and I sent you from PowderQuest Tours and they’ll treat you right.