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    A Complete Guide to Santiago Chile for Travelers and Nomads

    For nomads and travelers wandering South America, it’s part of the goal of travel to explore and experience all of the highlights and significant locations on the continent. As you research where to go and what to do in South America, it’s impossible to miss the potential stop of Chile’s capital of Santiago de Chile.

    Santiago Chile Guide for Slow Travelers and Nomads

    Compared to its sister city capitals in Latin America, Santiago de Chile is a modern, developed city with great infrastructure, an equally rich restaurant scene which leans towards diverse international cuisine over local cuisine, and seemingly malls and shopping centers, which make it a great place for living every day life. Within a couple hours’ ride, rich outdoor experiences await. Out of the windows of many Santiago homes you can see the ridgeline of the towering Andes, and the tallest mountains outside of Asia. With that kind of beautiful terrain come opportunities to hike, bike, whitewater raft, and explore the outdoors by summer, and ski or snowboard epic lines through snow by winter – from Mountain Aconcagua (the tallest mountain outside of Asia), to the Andean mountain range, to the Casablanca Valley wine country, to epic Patagonia.

    However, you won’t find strong “indigenous culture” in Santiago beyond the museums and the whole of the cities architecture, views, and vibe feel more European than Latin American, and it can be hard to find anything that is more “authentic” over “modern” the quality of life in Santiago is very high. The cost of living is admittedly high compared to other Latin America cities (nearly double). Last, though there are countless restaurants, you’ll struggle to find any that you won’t find better (and cheaper) in Peru and Colombia.

    So, why go to Santiago? To rest between, enjoy modern comforts, and proceed to one of a kind outdoor experiences.

    Ultimately Santiago is a comfortably modern capital that can be pricey and seemingly over commercial for what one typically expects from South America, but exists as an efficient gateway to some of the world’s most beautiful places and a place to rest between experiences.

    Nomads will enjoy easy access to tech and major brands, strong internet, and good infrastructure.

    Travelers may enjoy the chance to have some posh cocktails in cool cafes and good food (fast food and international food) before stocking up on outdoor gear and proceeding to the lake districts in Patagonia

    Over the past four months, I’ve wandered Argentina and Chile as a traveler and nomad hunting out the best places to see, experience, work, and relax. With the excitement of beautiful Argentina, specifically Buenos Aires and Mendoza, in the rear view mirror, I wanted to explore and map out new potential destinations for nomads to live and work between adventures – and the modern and shiny Santiago de Chile is a great potential place to stop, work, and recover.

    Over the past month I’ve wandered Santiago’s many streets, neighborhoods, parks, markets, malls, and museums to scout out first hand everything you need to know to quickly settle into the city, and where to plan to go next to maximize your time in Chile.

    Read on to learn how to make the most of your time to enjoy, work, and explore in Santiago de Chile.


    Why Santiago, Chile: Outdoor adventures for travelers, and great, modern infrastructure for Nomads and Remote Workers

    As a result of earthquakes, military dictatorships, a campaign for free markets, capitalism, and modernity, and a strategic cleansing of arts and culture**, Santiago feels less “Latin American” than any capital south of the United States. Combined with the high cost of living, Santiago doesn’t deliver the charm and experience to warrant more than 3 days in Santiago as a traveler, in tradeoff for less time anywhere else in South America.

    However, Santiago is a gateway to some beautiful cities (like Valpariaso) and outdoor experiences (like Torres del Paine) that aren’t to be missed. Travelers considering Chile for the outdoor adventures may consider traveling south on the Argentine side to Bariloche, to save money on equally beautiful scenery.

    Nomads and Remote workers on extended trips in South America may consider Santiago for focused work in a place with strong internet and good, modern infrastructure.

    Highlight notes on why Chile (and why not Chile)

    • Santiago is a big, modern city. Thanks to earthquakes, older, historical buildings have been destroyed and replaced with modern (earthquake resistant) buildings and architecture, so architecture feels more like downtown Los Angeles than Latin America. This makes Santiago one of the less interesting Latin America capitals from a travel and exploration standpoint. You can visit most of Santiago’s highlights in just two days.
    • With the Santiago’s modernity comes very good Infrastructure, such as fast internet, well maintained roads and public streets, and large, flashy shopping centers. This modernity, that many places in South America lack, makes Santiago a solid option for focused remote work.
    • Chile’s position, sandwiched between 4000 miles of coast line and the Andean mountain range, and ending in Patagonia make the country a paradise for adventure sports – hiking, trekking, mountain biking, and more. What Santiago lacks in uniqueness, it makes up for in outdoor adventures.
    • Though coworking spaces exist, work-in café culture is much rare in Chile than Argentina and Colombia. You will find cafes less amenable to such, so plan backup options for where/how to work.
    • Due to Chile’s location, tourists rarely pass through Chile on the way to anywhere else, besides Patagonia and the outdoors. As a result, foreigners are a general rarity (other than economic migrants from neighboring countries) so white, Asian, or black people may get curious (yet benign) looks outside of Santiago’s capital
    • Santiago airport is one of the cheapest South America hubs to fly into, even if you are flying into Buenos Aires or Rio, and especially if you are trying to access remote locations (learn more about flight hacking through Santiago here)

    Santiago de Chile Nomad Scene: Not as strong as in other places in Latin America

    Despite the amazing infrastructure in Santiago, and the very interesting program of Startup Chile, the foreign digital nomad scene in Santiago is emerging at best at the moment. Compared to hubs such as Buenos Aires and Medellin**, there is barely a sign of a digital nomad scene in Santiago and Chile as a whole at the moment. As such, don’t expect much nomad friendly infrastructure (co-working, co-living, work friendly cafes) beyond what you would find in a normal big city.

    The most robust place to connect with other nomads and remote workers is the Chile Digital Nomads & Remote Workers Facebook group. Though it is a helpful group, the community’s small size reflects the size and activeness of the nomad community in Chile.

    For co-working near home, be sure to stay in Central Santiago as most of the coworking space options are in Bellas Artes or near Barrio Italia.

    Cowork Options

    Co-Work Latam Monjitas

    Co-Work Latam Bellet

    LAUNCH Coworking Holley

    Hub Providencia

    Neighborhoods: Where to stay, where to eat, where to shop, and where to work

    Santiago as a whole is generally very safe and modern, but understanding the different neighborhoods of the city will help you better pick where to stay and explore.

    Central Santiago

    Central Santiago is the busiest district of Santiago and contains a few of our choice neighborhoods. Central Santiago is bordered by the Autopista Central, Rio Mapoche, and Almeda. Generally in this area, you will find lots of fast food restaurants (shawarmas, arepas, and standard food chains), government offices, and the banking district.

    This area is home to the Mercado Central (great for seafood), National History Museum, Pre-Colombian Chilean Art Museum, Centro Cultural La Moneda, the active on weekends Plaza de Armas and a fun pedestrian street, and the Chilean National Library.

    Bellavista, Patronato, and Recoletta

    Bellavista and Patronato hug the hikable San Cristobal, are home to Pablo Naruda’s once home and now museum La Chascona**, and some of the best nightlife in Santiago. If you want to stay up until the early AM, come here. Also, if you craving Korean or Arabian cuisine visit El Patronato neighborhood within Recolleta.

    Bellas Artes and Lastarria

    In the eastern portion of Central Santiago, Bellas Artes and Lastarria are sandwiched between the very cool Cerro Santa Lucia park, and Parque Forestal as well as the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Within a few blocks you will also find the Museum of Visual Arts and Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center (theater).

    Barrio Italia: The coolest neighborhood in Santiago

    Barrio Italia is a cool strip of streets in Santiago’s coolest neighborhood. Restored buildings and warehouses are now home to chic art shops, markets, breweries, and upscale cafes. On Sundays, you’ll find all of Santiago here. Weekdays, when everyone is at work, this neighborhood will your best place to find a coffee shop.

    Barrio Italia is very much similar to the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires

    Keep in mind you’ll find some of the best cafes and upscale casual eating in Santiago here, but you will also find the priciest meals as well

    Barrio Brasil + Barrio Yungay: Historic buildings and an authentic feel

    Though you shouldn’t necessarily stay here, you should absolutely visit, to soak up some less modern and more authentic culture. While most of Santiago has undergone a modern facelift, these two barrios will give a very authentic feel. Just don’t hang around after dark.

    Providencia and Las Condes

    The Beverly Hills of Santiago. This area, filled with all glass and extremely modern housing and well manicured green spaces is the most upscale part of Santiago. Here you’ll find the best (and most expensive) restaurants in Santiago as well as several shopping malls, such as Parque Arauco and Alto Las Condes.

    Other Barrios to know in Santiago

    • Barrio Recoleta **
    • Independecia **

    Wine Regions near Santiago available for tours

    • Casablanca Valley **
    • Maipo Valley **
    • Colchagua Valley **
    • Aconcagua Valley **

    Essential Sights to See in Santiago

    General: Most sights in Chile are plazas, buildings, museums, and neighborhoods

    • Mercado Central: Santiago’s fish market and your best bet for good, cheap ceviche
    • Mercado Tirso de Molina: Across the autopista from fish heavy mercado central, this market delivers a veggie market downstairs, and authentic food stalls from all over Latin America upstairs
    • La Vega Central de Santiago: Next to Mercado Tirso de Molina, this is Santiago’s main (and massive) vegetable market
    • Londres 38: A historical building and current museum formerly used as detention and torture center for opponents of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship
    • Museum of Memory and Human Rights
    • Plaza de Armas (on a weekend): Large, beautiful, historic plaza adjacent to the National History Museum and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago
    • Barrio Italia: The walkable streets of Avenida Italia, Girardi, and Condell are lined with cool cafes, chic shops, breweries, and restaurant, with some really cool restored architecture vibes
    • Bella Vista neighborhood at night for nightlife: Home to hikeable Cerro San Cristobal, La Chascona Museum (poet Pablo Naruda’s preserved home)
      • La Chascona: The preserved home and now museum of poet and activist-writer Pablo Naruda
    • Cerro San Cristobal: The seemingly towering hill overlooking Central Santiago, accessible by hiking trail and cable car
    • Cerro Sant Lucia and Hidalgo Castle: A pleasant park built on a hill adjacent to Lastarria, with a centerpiece of a castle built as a defense point for the city during the Chilean war for independence

    Other Significant Sights and Museums in Santiago

    • Biblioteca Nacional de Chile
    • Catedral Metropolitana: Towering, decadent, and adjacent to Plaza de Armas
    • Centro Cultural Palacio La Moneda: A world class arts exhibition center
    • Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombiano
    • Museo de Arte Contemporareono
    • Museo de Artes Visuales
    • Museo de Historico Nacional
    • Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
    • Museo Violeta Parra

    Where to Stay

    Lastarria neighborhood will offer the cheapest AirBnB options that are accessible to everywhere in the city, while maintaining a decent budget. The neighborhood has a very “downtown, municipal” vibe with high rises, large apartment complexes, and plenty of AirBnB options

    Barrio Italia is a great, walkable option with a more bohemian, residential feel, without the high rises and large apartment complexes. A handful of AirBnBs nearby may work, but a nice hostel is your best (and coziest) bet.

    Providencia and Las Condes offer great upscale hotels and nice apartments on AirBnB, with the shopping and amenities that come from being in the Beverly Hills of Santiago.

    Where to Eat

    Santiago suffers from an interesting problem in that, while Santiago is home to some amazing restaurants, not much of the food is actually Chilean. Go in with that in mind, and you will find some tasty eats.

    Additionally, because most of the food in Santiago you’ll find is foreign – Shawarma, Chinese, Indian, Colombian, Venezuelan, etc. – don’t expect the foodie experience that you may get in Lima, Peru or with beef in Argentina. Just understand the food will be objectively good, not necessarily Chilean, and (likely) expensive for Latin America.

    Great Restaurants around Santiago


    Santiago Cost of Living: Much higher than most of Latin America

    Be warned that the cost of living in Chile is much higher than in the rest of South America, and even higher in Chile. However, if you are mindful of your budget and how you spend, you can avoid breaking the bank.

    My research on cost of living by city puts the monthly cost of living in Santiago for an ex-pat at $1, 947 per month, and estimates monthly cost of living for nomads and slow travelers passing through at $2,433 to $2,920 per month.

    My budget and spending experience in Santiago, Chile

    As an anecdote, I nearly paid $11 for a simple plat of French fries in Barrio Italia over the weekend. On the other hand, an Uber across town (25 minutes away) was ~$6.50 and a basic movie ticket was $7. A coffee at Starbucks is $4.50 and a coffee at a normal coffee shop is $3 to $4.

    Here are more costs from my trip.

    • Cheap, fast food (shawarmas, arepas, burgers) cost between $6.50 and $10.
    • Ceviche costs between $11 and $18 (in Barrio Italia).
    • A beer or pisco sour at a bar will cost $4 to $7.
    • My studio AirBnB in Lastarria is $1090 for the month
    • A day long wine tour to the Casablanca Vally will cost $190
    • A wine train and tasting to a nearby city will cost $60 round trip

    Getting Around: Metro, Uber, and Cabify

    Metro: Quick, cheap, reliable

    Santiago’s well developed and maintained metro make the underground rail the best, most convenient, and most economical way to get around the city. Compared to rideshare via Uber and Cabify, including wait times, traveling by metro is almost just as fast, especially during rush hour.

    To ride, simply head to the information kiosk (within the metro) and purchase a “BIP” card for 1,500 CLP. Rides will cost ~300 CLP per ride.

    Use the directions with public transportation function** in Google Maps to get accurate routes and times around

    Rideshare: Uber, Cabify

    Rideshare is the best, quick way to get around the capital. For rides in Chile, I waited on average ~5 minutes for a ride to book, and paid between ~2,500 CLP and 7,000 CLP for rides

    Where Next in Chile after Santiago

    Where you should travel after Santiago depends largely on where you came from before Santiago, and what your interests are.

    • Valparaiso, Chile **
    • Patagonia: Puerto Montt 🡪 Bariloche **
    • Mendoza, Argentina **

    Valparaiso, Chile

    The port city and former financial center of Valparaiso 2 hours north of Santiago is the arguably more charming and enjoyable little sister to Santiago. This port city, known for its now artistic and Bohemian vibes, has a character more uniquely Chilean with lots to explore.

    If your follow on travels don’t include Patagonia or Argentina, make your next stop Valparaiso**

    To get to Valparaiso from Santiago**, there are several private buses available from the main bus terminals for the 2 hour ride. Recorrido.Cl** is the best place to check those schedules. Additionally, you can check Rome2Rio for other options

    Exploring Patagonia from the Chilean side: Puerto Montt 🡪 Bariloche

    Patagonia is one of the most beautiful experiences in South America. If you plan to explore Volcanoes, fjords, the Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire), and Torres del Paine National park, you will need to head south. From Santiago, either make your first stop Puerto Montt (or prettier Puerto Varas 20 minutes away).

    For the 12 hour ride from Santiago to Puerto Montt, the best option is to travel by uber comfy “Salon Cama” seats by bus that lie flat. You can check buses and book through Recorrdio.Cl.

    Mendoza, Argentina

    For travelers that plan to explore Argentina next, consider hopping straight of the border, and the Andes, to the wine country of Mendoza, Argentina. Not only is Mendoza an excellent wine experience, the city is also on the Argentine path into Patagonia, with direct buses to Bariloche, and south to El Chalten, El Calafate, and Ushuaiia.

    Read our full article sharing why “Mendoza is a great underrated stop for your itinerary”.

    Cheap flights to South America through Santiago airport: A hidden perk to traveling Chile

    One hidden perk of Santiago being so developed with fairly low import taxes are the cheap flights.

    Santiago is an amazingly cheap airport in South America, given its remoteness and what is accessible around. When flying into Argentina, I often find it cheaper to fly into Santiago then to Buenos Aires, and the same for any of the surrounding cities. Much the same as Lima, Bogota, and Rio.

    So, if you do need to book a cheap flight into South America, consider flying into Santiago, Chile, and hopping onward from there.

    Click here to learn more about how to fly cheaply throughout South America using Santiago airport

    Other Recommendations Instead of Chile

    Whether the explanations here have deterred you, or you arrived and feel like Santiago de Chile just isn’t what you’re looking for, consider hopping to either of these cities instead.

    However, if you haven’t arrived in Santiago yet, consider adding more time into your itinerary for one of these cities instead.

    Great alternatives to Santiago de Chile:

    • Valparaiso, Chile: Charming, artful, and surrounded by some beautiful beaches, enroute to more beautiful places in Chile **
    • Cusco: Arguably one of the most authentic big cities in South America that bleeds culture and has an amazing local food scene as well as many beautiful sites and archeological digs nearby. A perfect place for rest and recovery **
    • Buenos Aires: Big, safe city to soak up a unique combination of Latin American and Italian/Spanish vibes against a wonderfully social backdrop**
    • Medellin: Just as refined as Santiago, magnitudes more vibrant and uniquely “Paisa,” plus, a short bus ride from Cartagena, Bogota, Santa Marta, Minca, and some other amazing places **
    • Quito: Equally quiet and conservative, but with an understated charm, while delivering just as much nature – volcanoes, mountains, hot springs, rain forests, etc. – easily accessible from Quito **

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      About A Brother Abroad


      Carlos is a nomad, slow traveler, and writer dedicated to helping others live abroad and travel better by using his 7+ years of experience living abroad and background as a management consultant and financial advisor to help other nomad and expats plot better paths for an international lifestyle. Click here to learn more about Carlos's story.