Do's and don'ts when traveling to Santiago de Chile
January 1, 1970
by Francisca Q. G.
Chileans love foreigners, tourists usually think that we’re nice and gentle, I know it because I’m a tour guide since 2016, they’ve told me. But we’re not always so nice, especially in our capital. Santiago is a beautiful city, full of nature, activities, and life, but it’s also full of people, some of them great, some of them not so great. In Santiago, you’ll also be able to visit amazing places, but you have to pay attention to some do’s and don’ts before packing your bags and coming here.
Things you must know before coming
Don’t take a cab from the Airport, pick a bus instead.
Everything at the airport should be easy. But at the outside it’s a different story, I wouldn’t recommend you to take a cab (they’ll constantly charge you with more money because you’re a tourist) thus…don’t. Instead, once you’re out of the airport, take one of the buses that take you to downtown, there are two lines of buses that can take you there, both lines cost almost the same, something around…3000CLP a round trip, very cheap, and a great option because you’ll certainly need to come back to the airport once your trip has ended, and both buses leave you next to subway stations. Most Hostels and Hotels are within a walking distance to subway stations.
Buy a bip! card
When you’re in Downtown you’ll have to get transportation, buses and subway have different costs, but you’ll need a bip! Card for both. You can buy a card and charge it at the subway and then you’ll be able to use it during your whole journey, it costs 1500CLP and a round trip in Santiago costs 1500CLP too, public transportation isn’t cheap in Santiago, but it’s still the cheapest option, and it’s very easy to use, plus everyone will try to help you if you’re lost, it doesn’t matter if they understand your language or not.
Don’t leave your camera or phone unattended
You’re probably not going to be robbed in Santiago, Chile isn’t dangerous, but, if you leave your camera alone on a bench at the park don’t expect to find it there after turning to see the birds…
Activities and places to visit: Do’s
Santiago is a loud, crowded, eclectic, and syncretic city. In terms of food we’re living one of the best moments possible, we can have a full mix of Peruvian, Colombian and Chilean dishes at the same place. But as you’re coming to Santiago to hopefully learn more about us and our traditions, you’ll have to go to Chilean places. These are the must go, must eat and must do’s here:
Empanadas are my favorite food, and I’m considered a foodie by many, I love food and trying new things, so this may be a good thing: that I say empanadas are the best.
The traditional empanada is a baked dough filled with “pino” (meat, onions, cumin, hard-boiled egg, and olives). But there are also many different options for vegetarians and for people that want greasy food, fried empanadas are great, filled with cheese…getting fat is something you should live with.
I have the perfect place to recommend if you want to eat an empanada and have a wide range of alternatives, the place is called “Empanadas La Pepa”, and it’s for sure my favorite empanadas’ place in the city. It’s known among foodies and even when it’s a little more expensive than other empanadas’ places, 100-200CLP more, it worths it. An empanada there costs 1400CLP approximately, so it’s still a pretty cheap lunch if you don’t have much money to eat but still want to try Chilean food.
Try sopaipillas and pebre
You’ll find sopaipillas at the street, they’re round, made of an amazing pumpkin dough, that’s fried , and costs 150CLP (very cheap), one or two of those are the perfect breakfast, especially if the place where you buy it has “pebre” (tomato, chili, and coriander base), if you come to Chile ask for pebre and try it everywhere, it’s different in every place.
Here, not everything is about food. There are beautiful green oasis all over the city, if you like walking, you can stop at a park after traveling around, there’s a park in almost every corner. There are also places like Valle Nevado, an incredible ski center that’s in the middle of “Los Andes”. And, on the way to Valle Nevado, there’s a beautiful natural reservoir as well, called “El Yeso”, a must see if you love outdoors.
Visit a Winery
Go to a winery, I recommend “Concha y Toro”, there you can taste Chilean wines and learn about its processes and history. It is a beautiful vineyard, you’ll see its old cellars and be able to buy and taste many exclusive wines. Though I recommend buying wine at the supermarket, they have great variety and prices.
Learn about us
And Finally, if you’re looking for culture I encourage you to visit two neighborhoods:
At downtown, there you’ll be next to museums, and galleries that promote art, and design, like PLOP!, or MAVI, there’s also a street fair where you can find art, design, and antiques. You’ll be next to the Forestal Park, and close to the best ice cream shop ever: “Emporio La Rosa”, where you’ll be able to taste unconventional flavors. This is maybe the most beautiful neighborhood of the city.
But if you like history you have to go to BARRIO YUNGAY, there, you’ll be able to get an idea of the old and new city, you’ll be next to the “Museo de la Memoria” (cool museum if you’re interested in knowing about Chilean dictatorship), close to a beautiful park called “Quinta Normal”, and close to one of the best restaurants: Boulevard Lavaud, that happens to be French, but that has many Chilean dishes to try at the end of your journey.
I hope my advice is helpful, have a nice time!