Santiago, a captivating city

Santiago is much more than the entry point to Chile for visitors on their way to the icons of Chilean tourism, such as the Torres del Paine, the Atacama Desert or Easter Island.

The Chilean capital is a cosmopolitan city that captivates. The old and the modern harmoniously converge in it. It is a vibrant city that encourages the use of its public spaces and green areas, inviting residents and visitors to explore it.

With the Andes Mountain Range as a backdrop, it is a city with large parks, such as the Bicentennial Park, where you can appreciate one of the best views of modern Santiago; Quinta Normal, with its artificial lagoon, pedal boats and two great museums, the Natural History Museum and the Railway Museum. There is also the Park O’Higgins and Cerro San Cristóbal, which can be accessed on foot, by car, bicycle, cable car or funicular; and Parque Padre Hurtado, to name but a few of the largest and most frequently visited by tourists; not to mention Cerro Santa Lucía – in fact an inactive volcano – situated in the city centre.

We cyclists have been pleased to note that bicycle lanes in the metropolitan region have increased by 74% in the last five years, with 200 kilometres of new lanes. In total, there are 346 kilometres of bicycle lanes in Santiago, linking 33 the city’s 34 communes. The popularity of the bicycle, as a means of transportation that promotes physical activity and helps decontaminate the environment, is increasing every day, not only in Santiago, but throughout the country.

Santiago de Chile is a city that was founded and grew at the foot of the longest and second highest mountain range on the planet, the Andes, and is located just over an hour’s drive from the best sport winter centres in South America. The beautiful coastline, with its excellent beaches and natural scenery, is also within an hour’s drive along modern motorways.

Santiago has changed considerably in recent years, readying itself to receive an ever-increasing number of foreign visitors. This growing popularity as a tourist destination is supported by some of the most important publications in the world. Today, Santiago is the third most popular tourist destination in South America, behind Rio de Janeiro and Machu Picchu, according to Imagen de Chile, a government agency that promotes the country’s positioning abroad.

Chile’s capital is also a modern international business hub with a wide and varied first-class hotel network – with more than 8,000 rooms in 70 four- or five-star hotels -, restaurants, and convention centres, with access to multiple visitor services.

The National Geographic Traveler magazine chose it as one of the 21 recommended destinations to visit in 2018 – placing it in 12th place in the rankings -, which were chosen under strict criteria that prioritize heritage preservation, cultural commitment, environmental conservation and the possibility of offering visitors exciting itineraries.

Meanwhile, the well-known reference guide for independent travelers, Lonely Planet, placed Santiago as the number one destination in its Best in Travel category for 2018.

Santiago de Chile is the smartest city in Latin America, according to an analysis conducted by IESE Business School’s Globalisation and Strategy Department. In the study, Santiago ranks 66th worldwide among the smartest cities. The study’s positions are assigned based on 96 indicators, distributed into nine main areas, among which the following stand out: human capital, social cohesion, economy, governance, environment, mobility and transportation, public management, international outreach and technology. In the sixth version of this ranking, the city catalogued as the most intelligent in Latin America is Santiago de Chile (66), followed by Buenos Aires (77), and completing Montevideo completing the podium (92).

In the field of the arts, Santiago’s offering is usually of international quality in museums, theatres and concert halls. Additionally, anyone who has walked the streets of Santiago has witnessed the street art performances that break the routine, to the delight of inhabitants and visitors.

The typical gastronomy is well represented in municipal markets, among which La Vega Central stands out. The gastronomy site The Daily Meal listed the 45 best markets in the world where La Vega Central ranked fourth behind La Boquería (Barcelona), Borough Market (London) and Noryangiin Fish Market (Seoul).

In sum, Santiago offers a great international gastronomic diversity that combined with the well-known Chilean wines result in unforgettable experiences for the palate. Wine, which is a chapter we will cover separately, has been present in Chile’s history since colonial times, and has earned a prominent place in the nation’s cultural and heritage environment. About fifty vineyards near Santiago or within the city are open to tourism. Some are very large and century-old, and their products are found in many parts of the world. Others are small boutique vineyards that produce very high quality wines.

Santiago is a captivating city indeed.

By Cycly staff