If you're looking for colouful culture, fresh seafood and amazing views, Santiago in Chile could be your next ideal holiday destination.
Soak up the local colour in the Plaza de Armas square, where you’ll find street performers, musicians and stalls alongside some of the area’s most beautiful buildings.
Foodies will be in heaven on a trip to the Mercado Central (central market) – a beautiful building that’s packed to the rafters with stalls and restaurants. It’s renowned for its fresh seafood, but you’ll also find meats, spices, alcohol, dried fruits and more. Take a big shopping bag – and an even bigger appetite!
Have a wander in Santiago’s free Sculpture Park (Parque de las Esculturas), pictured right, which features work from Chilean and international artists. It’s an excellent way to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, and a lovely spot for taking photos. Find it by the Pedro de Valdivia metro station.
With a partner
It’s not an easy experience, but your eyes will certainly be opened by a visit to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights. Here you’ll learn about the horrendous human rights violations committed by the Chilean state between 1973-1990 during the Pinochet regime, in stories told through objects, documents and archives. Learning about the 40,000 victims is a chilling experience, but it’s an important way to find out more of the country’s (shockingly recent) history and will leave you feeling humbled. There are changing exhibitions as well as permanent galleries and a auditorium that’s used for film festivals and as a theatre.
- Pick up an audioguide from $2,000. Open Tues-Sun, 10am-6pm.
Art fans will love a trip to La Chascona Casa Museo – a museum dedicated to the world-famous poet Pablo Neruda. He originally had the house built in 1953 for his secret mistress Matilde Urrutia to live in, and later joined her after leaving his wife. Now it houses an art gallery of Chilean and foreign art, an African carved wood collection and numerous items belonging to the poet.
- Admission $5,000, open Tues-Sun. For more information call 227 7787 41
With the grandchildren
Little ones will love riding the funicular that carries you between different sections of the Parque Metropolitano (also known as Cerro San Cristóbal) – the city’s largest green space. It’s almost 2,000 acres and packs in all sorts of attractions, including two huge swimming pools, playgrounds, a botanical garden and the National Zoo. That’s without mentioning the incredibleviews from the Parque’s numerous peaks and viewpoints.
- A round-trip on the furnicular costs $2000. Open Tues-Sun, 10am-7pm, and Monday, 2pm-7pm.
Enjoy a little slice of Cuba at Havana Salsa Restaurant, where you’ll experience live cabaret including salsa dancing and music with your dinner. You’ll be treated to an all-you-can-eat buffet before a 40-minute show and dancing. Dance lessons are also available.
- $11,900 for dinner and a show, $6,000 for the show and dancing. Call 227 3717 37
Feeling energetic? Take to the slopes! Just an hour or so outside the city are various skiing resorts suitable for all abilities. One of the best for beginners is the intimate Centro de Ski Lagunillas, which offers skiing, snowboarding, trekking, mountain biking and camping across almost 500 acres. The skiing season runs from mid-June to mid-September, so sporty-types should plan to visit then.
For a spot of shopping, take a day trip to the small town of Pomaire, which is about 37 miles south of Santiago. It’s famous for its pottery shops and is the perfect place to pick up pretty ornaments – we’re especially taken with their round clay pigs! But there are also more traditional items from nativity scenes to bowls or candleholders. Avoid visiting on a Monday as many of the shops are closed. Find a bus to Pomaire from Estación Central.
We’ve included local phone numbers to use once in Chile, but if you want to call from the UK just add 0056 to the start of each number. International call rates will be higher.