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Barrio Santiago Centro is the historical part of the city and is full of tourist attractions, including Cerro Santa Lucia, National Library, Plaza de la Constitución, La Moneda, Plaza de Armas, Museo Precolombino, Palacio de la Real Audiencia, Catedral Metropolitana and Museo Histórico Nacional. The area is easy to navigate and it’s possible to explore it in one day. Tourists are well catered to, and it’s easy to find hotels and restaurants. Foodies will love the Mercado Central (fish market) and La Vega (fruit and vegetable market).

If you have a bit more time to spend in the city center, you’ll notice that despite the historical buildings and impressive plazas, this is the home of the working class. You can find some department stores and there’s Mall de Centro on Puente 689, but with numerous discount stores and market stalls, Santiago Centro is more of a bargain hunters’ shopping paradise than Rodeo Drive.

Adventurous explorers might be tempted to try a coffee in one of the infamous Cafés con piernas (coffee shops with waitresses in miniskirts). Some are touristy and fairly wholesome, something like Hooter’s. Others, identifiable only by their blackened windows and low thumping music, are little more than strip clubs that serve coffee.

Santiago Centro is a good base if you want to make a whistle-stop tour of the city. However, it can be a bit scary after dark and tourists should be careful with their belongings. If you plan to stay in Santiago for a few days, it’s probably better to stay in Bella Vista or Providencia where the nightlife is better.

Other neighborhoods in Santiago: Las Condes, Cajón del Maipo, Providencia, Around Santiago, Barrio Ñuñoa, Bellavista, Barrio Lastarria and Barrio Brazil.

By Noleen Turner
I'm originally from Northern Ireland but have lived in Santiago de Chile for over two years. I work in marketing communications and as a writer and...
21 Aug 2009

Things to do in Center

Museo Chileno de Arte Precolumbino

This museum, specializing in pre-Columbian Chile, is one of the country’s best. Located in an elegant white building in the center of Santiago, the museum is a journey through time. It displays a ...
Center, Santiago, Chile

Plaza de Armas

The Plaza de Armas dates back to 1541 when Pedro de Valdivia founded Santiago. The square was used as an army training ground, with a protected area in the middle that was used to store arms. The ...
City Plaza
Center, Santiago, Chile

National Aeronautic Museum

122432At this indoor/outdoor museum, plane buffs can discover the history of Chilean aviation. The museum holdings range from Chile’s very first plane, right through to an example of the jets used in ...
Center, Santiago, Chile

Museo ArqueolĂłgico (MAS)

The Museo ArqueolĂłgico (MAS) is located next to the Museo de Artes Visuales (MAVI) in Barrio Lastarria. The museum has a collection of textiles, ceramics, jewelry, indigenous carvings and everyday ...
Center, Santiago, Chile


Founded in 1904, the Hipódromo is the other horse racing track in Santiago. Live racing takes place on Saturdays and Thursdays. Located in Independencia, it isn’t as romantic a location as Club ...
Center, Santiago, Chile

Club HĂ­pico

Opened in 1870, Club Hípico was Santiago’s first horseback riding club. The original building, inspired by the Long Champs Riding Club in France, was destroyed in a fire in 1892. It was ...
Center, Santiago, Chile

Parque O'Higgins

Parque O’Higgins, named after Chile’s liberator, covers an area of 77 hectares and is Santiago’s second largest park. It used to be the playground for the rich, but is now popular with the ...
City Park
Center, Santiago, Chile

Templo Votivo de MaipĂş

Templo Votivo de Maipú, built between 1944 and 1974, is a huge Catholic temple erected on a historical site that dates back to the early 1800s. Bernardo O’Higgins commissioned a church dedicated ...
Historical Building
Center, Santiago, Chile

Museo Interactivo Mirador

The Museo Interactivo Mirador (MIM), or The Children’s Interactive Museum of Science, opened in 2000 and quickly became Chile’s busiest museum. The exhibition rooms include Earth, Mind and Brain, ...
Center, Santiago, Chile

Palacio Cousiño

Palacio Cousiño was built between 1870 and 1878 by French architect Paul Lathoud. It was originally the family home of Santiago’s richest family, the Cousiño-Goyenecheas, who made their fortune ...
Historical Building
Center, Santiago, Chile

Cementerio General

Cementerio General, Santiago’s most famous cemetery, was established in 1820 by Bernardo O’Higgins. All of Chile’s Presidents are buried in here, except for Gabriel González Videla and Augusto ...
Other Activity
Center, Santiago, Chile
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