Encircled by mountains and bursting at the seams with unique cultural attractions, Chile’s capital is an essential stop on the South American itinerary. Stay here for a week and you’ll barely scratch the surface of what’s on offer.
For a start, Santiago has some gripping museums. Museo de la Memoria y los DerechosHumanos is a carefully curated museum exposing the human rights violations and ‘disappearances’ that occurred under Chile’s brutal military government from 1973 to 1990. Meanwhile, Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino showcases cultural exhibits from pre-Columbian cultures. These include early Andean textiles, Mayan stone columns and vomit spatulas used by Amazonians to empty their stomachs before ingesting psychoactive substances. Another intriguing cultural offering is La Chascona, one of Pablo Neruda’s three houses – as he was fascinated by the ocean the dining room was built to resemble a ship’s cabin.
Santiago is an enjoyable city to explore. Barrio Bellavista is the city’s bohemian quarter. The walls of the buildings are splashed with colourful street art, and the pavements lined with café chairs and tables. There’s a different quirky boutique or art gallery around each corner. Meanwhile, Providencia and Las Condes are the city’s most upmarket neighbourhoods, offering plenty of luxury hotel options.