Only got 2 days in Santiago, the lovely capital of Chile? This guide highlights the best things to add to your itinerary.
Long considered a city convenient only as a jumping-off point for exploring Patagonia in the south or Atacama in the north, Santiago is coming into its own, offering visitors a cosmopolitan experience.
If you’re planning 2 days in Santiago I’m here to help guide you toward some of the best things to do in Santiago, the capital city of Chile.
While living in Buenos Aires, my husband and I regularly took advantage of the proximity to Chile, hopping over to enjoy a weekend in Santiago. I found the city of almost 7 million people filled with things to do (and LOTS of great food to eat), so here are my tips to help you plan your visit to Santiago.
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Best things to do in Santiago
1. La Chascona
Pablo Neruda’s house is fascinating for its quirky creativity. Originally built in the 50s for the poet’s secret mistress, Matilde Urrutia, La Chascona (his nickname for Matilde) is now open to the public on a self-guided audio tour.
On the tour, you’ll learn about Neruda and Urrutia’s relationship, and how the house was designed and built. La Chascona contains a number of remarkable artworks, photos and knick-knacks, and we loved wandering through, wondering what would be around the next corner or hidden in each nook.
Tours are done by audio guide, which means you can take your time wandering through the house and finding secret spots or the meanings behind certain artworks or architectural designs.
Address: Fernando Márquez de la Plata 0192
Cost: CLP$8,000 per person
Opening hours: March to December: Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm; January and February: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 7pm; closed Mondays
2. Wander through the Bellavista barrio
You can’t visit Santiago without checking out one of the city’s hippest neighbourhoods, Bellavista.
Most famous for its nightlife, we actually wandered through here during the day, exploring the many cool shops, restaurants and bars.
The neighbourhood is well known for its fantastic street art. We also thought it was a great place to sit and people watch.
La Chascona is located in this barrio, so you can combine these two.
3. Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos
This sombre museum should be on any Santiago itinerary, even if you only have one day in Santiago.
This carefully put together museum recognises the thousands of people who were killed or disappeared during the brutal rule of General Augusto Pinochet. It’s located in a contemporary building in Barrio Brasil.
It’s a heart-wrenching place but crucial for anyone trying to understand a devastating period of Chile’s history.
Address: Avenida Matucana 501 (Quinta Normal is the closest metro station)
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm
4. Centro Cultural La Moneda
This underground cultural centre hosts a variety of exhibitions and art displays which change regularly. The space itself is also really interesting.
While we were there, we saw an Ancient Egypt exhibition, but check the website to see what’s on during your 2 days in Santiago Chile.
Time your visit to coincide with the changing of the guard at La Moneda. It occurs in Constitución Square every day at 10am on even days in February, March, May, June, July, September and October, and on odd days in January, April, August, November and December. The whole ceremony takes around 30 minutes – and has been done since 1851!
Address: Avenida Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins (closest metro station is La Moneda)
Cost: Entry to the cultural centre is free, but it costs CLP$3,000 to visit the exhibitions. Tip: entry is free on Tuesdays and Sundays
Opening hours: Exhibitions open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 6.30pm
5. Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Visiting the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (the National Museum of Fine Arts) wasn’t on my original plan, but on our way to somewhere else we walked past it and couldn’t help but go inside to see more of the beautiful building. The building itself was completed in 1910.
Inside, you’ll find permanent collections of Chilean art, as well as temporary exhibitions (check the website to see what’s on when you visit Santiago). I’d highly recommend adding it to your list of things to do in Santiago Chile. We saw some beautiful exhibitions, as well as a very cool performance out the front of the museum.
Address: José Miguel de la Barra 650 (closest metro station is Metro Estación Bellas Artes)
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 6.30pm
6. Plaza de Armas
Like most cities in South America, Santiago has a main square. In Santiago, it’s the Plaza de Armas. The plaza is a great spot to relax, take photos and people watch when you visit Santiago.
You can also visit many of the buildings that surround the plaza, including the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago, Central Post Office Building and the Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago.
Address: Plaza de Armas
Cost: Free, but some of the buildings around the plaza have an entrance fee
Opening hours: Open daily
7. Mercado Central and La Vega Central markets
If there’s a way to see the inner workings of a city, it must be in its markets.
Santiago has two great markets to explore: Mercado Central and La Vega. They’re close to each other, so you can visit both on the same day.
Mercado Central is famous for its seafood. La Vega Central covers four square blocks with lots of fruit and veggie vendors – many of these producers sell direct to Santiago restaurants.
Wander through the stalls and don’t forget to stop for a bite to eat – avoid the touristy restaurants and find one frequented by locals. Both are great markets, but we liked Mercado Central best.
Address: San Pablo 967
Cost: Free entry
Opening hours: Open daily: Sunday to Thursday, 7.30am to 5pm; Friday, 7.30am to 8pm; Saturday, 7.30am to 7pm
La Vega Central
Address: Dávila Baeza 700
Cost: Free entry
Opening hours: Open daily, 7am to 5pm
8. Pisco sour and wine tasting
There’s plenty of debate between Peru and Chile about which country invented the Pisco Sour.
I’m certainly not going to insert myself into that discussion, but I am going to drink the cocktail, which became a firm favourite of mine after living in South America. You should try one, too, when you visit Santiago.
A great place to try a pisco sour is at Chipe Libre – República Independente del Pisco, but do be prepared to be overwhelmed by the choices on offer. Talk to the bartender about your preferred tastes and they’ll point you in the right direction.
Chile is also well known for its wine, and one of the best places to try wine in Santiago is Bocanáriz. All the servers are trained sommeliers and can guide you in a tasting.
9. Chilean cooking class
If you like food, then learning how to cook the food of whichever country you’re in is always an interesting way to understand the culture and people.
While Chile doesn’t have the same reputation as a culinary destination as Peru or Argentina, we ate a lot of great food over our 2 days in Santiago.
We also learned how to prepare a few classics ourselves. With the wonderful team from Savoring Chile, we whipped up empanadas, sopapillas con pebre, ceviche (which we actually made with mushrooms instead of seafood, a great vegetarian alternative), leche asada (flan) and, of course, pisco sours.
Sadly, Savoring Chile was a casualty of the pandemic, so here are some other Santiago cooking classes that I’d pick:
- In this cooking class with owners and chefs Patricio and Jennifer you’ll learn to make a few typical Chilean dishes – accompanied by cocktails. Check availability online here
- Learn to cook in a home in Santiago during this cooking experience – after you’ve shopped for ingredients at a local market. The meal is served with Chilean wines. Check availability online here
10. Cerro Santa Lucía
Escape the hustle and bustle of big city life in Cerro Santa Lucía surrounded by lovely gardens. This hill is the remnants of a 15-million-year-old volcano! The area also houses a fortress from the 19th century.
Santiago sits in a valley below the Andes, so from the top of the hill there’s a great view over the city and across to the peaks of the Andes in the distance (when the smog isn’t obscuring the view).
Address: Cerro Santa Lucía is located along Libertador Bernado O’Higgins. To get there, take the metro to the stop of the same name
Opening hours: Daily, 8am to 7pm
11. Cerro San Cristóbal
If you’re looking for a higher hill, head to Cerro San Cristóbal, the biggest hill in Santiago, which rises around 300 metres above the city.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to walk up here – there’s a funicular that takes visitors up and down the hill (CLP$3,650 return trip; price goes up on weekends and public holidays).
This is one of the most popular things to do in Santiago. Cerro San Cristóbal (the official name is actually Parque Metropolitano de Santiago, so don’t be confused if you see both names) is home to a 14-metre-high statue of the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepción (Virgin Mary), the national zoo, a botanical garden, an adventure park, swimming pools and a Japanese garden, so you could easily spend a whole day exploring the park.
Address: Pío Nono 450
Cost: Free to enter the park, but some attractions (for example, the zoo) have an entrance fee
Opening hours: 6am to 8.30pm; opening hours for attractions vary
Map of the best things to do with 2 days in Santiago
Here’s everything I’ve shared in this article, laid out in a map so you can decide how to plan your two days in Santiago.
If you have more than 2 days in Santiago:
If you’ve got 3 days in Santiago or longer tack on a few day trips around the area. Some recommended tour options and other places to visit in Chile include:
- Take a day trip to the Maipo Valley, one of Chile’s wine regions. If you don’t have a car – or want to be a responsible person and not drink and drive! – this full-day tour will pick you up from your hotel in Santiago and transport you to the valley to taste the best drops. Check prices and availability online.
- Catch a bus to Valparaíso to explore this oceanside city known for its street art and steep streets. While you can visit Valparaíso from Santiago in a day, it’s better to plan for two days to really enjoy your visit. If you like La Chascona in Santiago, make sure to visit Pablo Neruda’s house, La Sebastiana, while you’re there.
- Spend a day in Viña del Mar, a classic beach town with beautiful manicured gardens.
- If you’d like to combine Viña del Mar and Valparaíso in a day, this tour is a great option for a day trip, removing the hassle of figuring out your own transport on local buses. Check availability and prices online.
Where to eat in Santiago
Santiago has some great food options – including one restaurant on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and six more on Latin America’s 100 Best Restaurants.
If you’d like to try one of those restaurants during your 2 days in Santiago, they are:
- Boragó, Avenida Costanera Sur 5970
- La Calma by Fredes, Avenida Nueva Costanera 3832
- Olam, Carmencita 45
- Pulpería Santa Elvira, Santa Elvira 475
- Demencia, Avenida Vitacura 3520
- Yum Cha, La Herradura 2722
- Ambrosía, Pamplona 78
Other restaurants in Santiago that we loved and I recommend adding to your Santiago itinerary are:
- Bocanáriz, Jose Victorino Lastarria 276
- El Hoyo Restaurant, San Vicente 375
- Bar Liguria, Avenida Providencia 1353
- Restaurante Peumayén, Constitución 136
- Chipe Libre (at República Independiente del Pisco), José Victorino Lastarria 282
- Ana María Restaurante, Club Hípico 476
- Confitería Torres, Avenida Alameda Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 1570
- Il Maestrale, Constitución 50
Where to stay in Santiago
As a growing city with a big international tourism market, there’s no shortage of hotels in Santiago.
- We stayed at The Singular Santiago, a luxury hotel that blends into the surrounding historical buildings. We loved our room with its huge, comfy king-size bed. The staff went above and beyond to make our stay wonderful. It’s perfectly located to check off many of the things to do in Santiago outlined here in this blog post. Check the latest rates and book online on Expedia or Booking.com
- Another recommended affordable hotel is Hotel Casa Noble, a boutique hotel with a delicious breakfast included. It’s a great base for exploring the main parts of Santiago, either on foot or by metro, with a metro station close by. Book a room online today on Booking.com or Expedia
How to get to Santiago
There are direct connections to Santiago’s Aeropuerto Internacional Arturo Merino Benítez airport from Australia, the U.K., Europe, New Zealand and North America, as well as many South American countries.
How to get around Santiago
The easiest way to get around to see the best things to do in Santiago is on foot! Santiago is a very walkable city, and that’s how we did most of our exploring.
Santiago has an easy-to-use metro system, with seven colour-coded lines. You’ll need to buy a Bip! card to use the metro, which can be purchased at any station. The Bip! card also works on the bus system.
Taxis are also everywhere, and Uber, of course. Make sure the taxi driver turns on the meter when you get in to avoid an expensive surprise at the end of your trip!
Santiago itinerary: FAQs
Do I need a visa to visit Chile?
Citizens of countries including the USA, Japan, Canada, the UK, European Union and South American countries don’t need a visa to enter Chile. Australians need an e-visa to visit. All other countries need a tourist visa. Check with your local embassy or a service like iVisa for up-to-date information and requirements.
When is the best time to visit Santiago, Chile?
The best time to visit Santiago is Spring (September to November). This is a beautiful time to visit, as the city is blooming with flowers and the temperatures are mild, making it ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
What to expect at other times of the year:
- Summer (December to February): The weather is warm and sunny, perfect for enjoying the city’s parks and outdoor cafes. However, it can get quite hot, and many locals head to the coast, so some shops and restaurants may be closed.
- Autumn (March to May): The fall brings cooler temperatures and fewer tourists. The changing colours of the leaves in the city’s parks are a sight to behold.
- Winter (June to August): Winters are mild compared to northern hemisphere standards. It’s a great time for skiing in the nearby Andes Mountains, though it can be rainy in the city.
Each season offers its own unique experiences, so the best time to visit depends on what you want to do during your stay.
Is 2 days in Santiago Chile enough?
Two days in Santiago is a relatively short time, but it can be enough to see the highlights and get a feel for the city. With a well-planned itinerary, you can cover key attractions like the historic Plaza de Armas, the Bellavista neighborhood and Cerro San Cristóbal for panoramic city views. However, you’ll need more than two days if you want to explore the city in more depth or take day trips from Santiago to nearby areas like Valparaiso or the Maipo Valley.
Is Santiago, Chile safe to visit?
Santiago is generally considered safe for tourists, especially in comparison to other large cities in Latin America. Like any major city, it has areas that are safer and others that are best avoided, especially at night. Take the usual standard safety precautions:
- Stay aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas.
- Keep your belongings secure.
- Use taxis or Ubers at night, rather than public transport.
- Stay in well-lit, populated areas at night.
- Be cautious when withdrawing money from ATMs.
Pickpocketing and petty theft can happen, particularly in busy tourist areas, but most visitors have a safe experience in Santiago.
Did you find this article helpful? Consider buying me a coffee as a way to say thanks!
Are you planning 2 days in Santiago, Chile? Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions before you visit Santiago.
Before you go… you might like these South America travel blogs:
- How to Spend 3 Days in Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Argentina Itinerary Ideas: Options for 1-4 Weeks in Argentina
- Rio de Janeiro Itinerary: 3 Days in The Marvellous City
BOOKING A TRIP SOON? HERE ARE SOME HELPFUL LINKS
- Book your flight online with Skyscanner – it’s where I always start my flight research.
- Find a great hotel on Booking.com.
- Need a rental car? Compare prices and vehicles on DiscoverCars.
- Omio is a great site for booking buses, trains and ferries across Europe.
- Check out the huge range of day tours throughout major cities and countries on GetYourGuide, Klook or Viator. There’s something for everyone.
- One thing I always purchase is travel insurance. Travel Insurance Master allows you to compare across multiple policy providers, while SafetyWing is great for long-term travellers and digital nomads.
- Stuff I always pack? A reusable water bottle, packing cubes and a handy electronics organiser.
WHAT TO DO IN SANTIAGO, CHILE: PIN IT FOR LATER
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