In a quest to find the best destinations in South America, users of Tripadvisor — the world’s largest online travel community — have voted on everything the vast continent has to offer, finally settling on 25 must-see places. High up on these travel fanatics’ list was the Chilean capital which placed number 6 beating out classic destinations such as Iguazu Falls and “the gem of the Caribbean,” Colombia’s Cartagena.
With one more feather in its cap Santiago continues to build acclaim among all kinds of travelers. To check you’re not missing anything, This is Chile runs through its highlights — after all, as Tripadvisor say: “Santiago is one of those metropolitan joys where the more you look, the more you find.”
In a country known for nobel prize-winning poets — Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda — and acclaimed musicians such as Victor Jara, it’s no surprise that the capital boasts a raft of distinctive and vibrant bohemian neighbourhoods, perfect for taking in a little culture.
Perhaps best known is Bellavista, featuring on Tripadvisor’s rundown of the capital on account of its “funky cafes and dance clubs.”
New kid on the block, Barrio Italia is also drawing high praise. Earlier this year the leafy neighbourhood was voted one of the world’s best shopping districts off the back of its thriving independent clothes and design scene, not to mention the quirky cafes and restaurants that have sprung up to cater to visitors.
Succulent seafood and fresh fruit
Among Santiago locals, Mercado Central is probably the worst kept dining secret in the city. Ask anyone and they will recommend the pretty downtown market for seafood specialities cooked to perfection.
Only a five minute walk away, La Vega is also building a reputation: earlier this year it was voted the 4th best market in the world by the Daily Meal. Pop down at lunchtime and submerge yourself in the sea of aromas in this vast, colorful maze of fresh produce.
Great views and idyllic parks
Nestled between soaring, snow-capped mountains, Santiago has always enjoyed great vistas. To get a good view quickly, try climbing of the city’s mountain-parks.
Right next to the city’s main thoroughfare, Cerro Santa Lucia offers views of downtown’s mirrored office buildings from the serene setting of a beautifully landscaped park. For views of the entire metropolis and the surrounding peaks try Cerro San Cristobal, accessible by a short hike for the adventurous at heart or a funicular for those who want to take it easy.
Although it can’t compete with the others for views, Santiago’s Quinta Normal also merits a special mention. One of the oldest parks in the continent, this peaceful gem made the headlines recently when Travel and Leisure named it one of the best in the world.