One of the best ways to connect with nature in a large city like Santiago is setting out on a quiet jog in the early evening. When your heart is pounding, your feet are flying and you’re powering along beneath a setting sun, you know you’re alive.
The good news is that Chile’s capital has a number of excellent urban parks that set the perfect backdrop for a good run – or stroll, if that’s more to your liking. Conveniently located close to transport, downtown and quiet residential neighborhoods, these attractive green spaces are a great incentive for those who want to get, or stay, in shape.
So put on your training shoes, grab a bottle of water and get going. Here, This is Chile shares five of the best parks for runners in Santiago.
Tucked in between the trendy Barrio Lastarria and the Santiago’s historic center two blocks north of the Bellas Arto Metro stop (Line 5), this long, thin park runs alongside the city’s main river, the Río Mapocho.
With shady trees, well-kept gardens and attractive fountains, such as the grand Fuente Alemana, it is a peaceful place to go jogging – and to put your mind at ease, the unpaved paths are gentle on knees and ankles. While you’re trundling through Parque Forestal, make sure you pause to take in the architecture of the Fine Arts and Contemporary Art museums located in the middle of the park.
If it’s wide, open space you’re after, then Parque O’Higgins is your best bet. Located just to the south of the city center, this massive park is one of the biggest in Santiago. It’s also home to some of the city’s major entertainment centers, such as the Movistar Arena and the Fantaslandia amusement park.
Other reference points to look out for include the large man-made lake, the marching ground which hosts the country’s annual military parade every September 19 and the tasteful Japanese gardens. Best of all, Parque O’Higgins has its own Metro station (Line 2), so it’s easy to get to.
Situated in the upscale district of Vitacura, this green oasis is home to a huge variety of native and introduced plant species including palms, pine trees, cypresses and jacarandas. But the highlight of this park are the two wetland areas with exotic bird life, including swans, flamingos and herons, and aquatic plants.
Parque Bicentenario also boasts a comprehensive network of walking and cycling paths which are perfect for exploring. The 409 and 410 buses (known as micros) from downtown or the 425 from Las Condes regularly run past the park.
For those who are after a challenge, nothing beats the winding pathway that climbs up Cerro San Cristobal in the middle of Santiago’s metropolitan park. The hilly route is demanding, but upon reaching the top, you realize that the views are well worth the effort.
As you pass the native cactus plants on the way up, you get glimpses of the city’s north and northwest before the path turns and, from the other side of the hill, the breathtaking silhouette of the Andes begins to take shape. Once you’ve caught your breath at the top, quench your thirst with a glass of mote con huesillo sold at the stands near the top of the hill. To get there, head north along Pio Nono in the popular tourist district of Bella Vista and follow Manuel Mackenna when you get to the Funicular Station.
Américo Vespucio Norte
This major roadway through the leafy Las Condes and Vitacura districts is split in two by a surprisingly pleasant stretch of parkland. The green belt runs from Francisco de Aguirre in the north to Francisco de Bilbao in the south with well-maintained paths and park benches throughout. A good place to start is from Metro Escuela Militar (Line 1), where Américo Vespucio intersects with Apoquindo.