48 HOURS IN SANTIAGO, CHILE
Visit this cosmopolitan city for innovative dining and plenty of adventure.
Most visitors to Chile do so in the name of grand adventure, seeking thrills on the extra-terrestrial terrain of the Atacama Desert, the many snow-capped mountains, and the monolithic glaciers of Patagonia. Yet every trip to this South American nation begins with entry into its capital, Santiago de Chile, which is far from simply a gateway to the rest of the country. Once home to legendary poets like Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, it boasts a quiet romance that counterbalances the pulse and pace characteristic of capital cities. Divided into neighborhoods known as barrios, each with their own distinct vibe, Santiago provides a bounty of experiences for visitors.
WHERE TO STAY
Barrio Lastarria, the cultural epicenter of the city, is the place to stay. The historical neighborhood in the center of town is the site of Santiago’s most iconic boutique hotels.
The Singular Santiago balances neoclassical accents with bright, spacious rooms. Escape to the spa for pampering, grab a coffee and juice at their café, or take in the mountainous views from the rooftop bar.
Just around the corner is the Hotel Cumbres Lastarria. In addition to the 70 rooms, which combine modern amenities with old-school luxury, there are two restaurants and a quaint rooftop pool.
Begin your day with breakfast at Holm, in the neighboring barrio of Providencia. Try one of their fresh juices, like the “Skin Toner”, with lemon, apple, green tea, and spinach or a smoothie of avocado, pumpkin, apple, and spinach. Get a hit of caffeine with a double espresso or a cortado.
Choose Your Afternoon Adventure
OPTION 1: CULTURE
Santiago offers a wealth of museums. Near both hotels is the Museo de Artes Visuales (MAVI), which houses modern photography, painting, and sculpture. For even more cultural exposure, head to barrio Bellavista and visit La Chascona, a colorful home that belonged to famed Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate, Pablo Neruda.
OPTION 2: FITNESS
For a more active afternoon, hike Cerro San Cristóbal, Santiago’s second highest peak. The 300-meter climb takes about 45 minutes, and will reward you with panoramic views. Afterwards, walk to the traditionally-landscaped Japanese garden or the nearby sculpture park, with more than 30 pieces by Chilean artists.
Venture to El Huerto, a popular gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan-friendly spot, for lunch. The menu is a compendium of international influences with dishes like a Mediterranean mezze plate and quinoa with garbanzos, yuca, and a mint-ginger dressing. The restaurant also hosts regular yoga classes, so check the schedule and fit in a practice before you eat.
Book dinner at Ambrosia Bistro. The intimate restaurant brings French bistro culture to Santiago, and pays special attention to using local ingredients in new and innovative ways. Watch chef Carolina Bazan cook in her open kitchen while sampling experimental, seasonal dishes like king crab with ajo blanco and fish and eggplant tartare.
Cap the night off back in Lastarria at Bocanáriz, a wine bar with close to 400 selections, and sample a local varietal like cabernet sauvignon or merlot.
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Stroll to Original Green Roasters for breakfast, like an omelette, fruit salad, or muesli accompanied by a coffee from their extensive menu of offerings.
Choose your Afternoon Adventure
OPTION 1: CULTURE
The Maipo Valley is home to Casa Real, a sprawling mansion and stunning garden adjacent to the Santa Rita winery and cellars. Take a guided tour of the winery and then visit the onsite Andean Museum, which displays businessman Ricardo Claro’s collection of over 1,800 pieces of Pre-Columbian art. For lunch, enjoy a picnic of healthy treats in the garden or grab a table at the Doña Paula restaurant on the premises.
OPTION 2: FITNESS
Explore the city by bike, with La Bicicleta Verde. Take in their three-hour “Parks and Politics” tour, which covers the sprawling city parks and local history downtown, or pedal in the Andean foothills and wine country with their “Bike and Wine” option. For lunch, visit the Santiago Central Market and eat at one of the many seafood restaurants inside.
Head to Boragó for dinner. According to chef Rodolfo Guzmán, the restaurant “deals in territory rather than technique.” Guzmán and his team seek out native ingredients used by the indigenous Mapuche people of Chile, and grow the vegetables on their menu just thirty minutes away.