Santiago, Chile – Great Food, Nightlife and Culture

GUEST ARTICLE: Ola Amigos!! We’ve just finished our Santiago, Chile leg and loved it!! We weren’t sure what to expect in South America, it has been given sort of a bad rap from past histories, but we can honestly say we fully enjoyed every minute of it – throw away any preconceived notions and get over there!

The Chileans are super friendly, the food excellent and wouldn’t ya know it, for the first time ever we weren’t ripped off once! Go figure?! Having the Italian lingo in our back pockets also helped us out quite a bit – unfortunately there aren’t many Chileans that can speak English.

Santiago Chile - skyline & Andes Mountain Range
Santiago, Chile – Skyline & Andes Mountain Range credit: fahrenheit75

The flight from Auckland, New Zealand to Chile took us about 12 hours and a few days to get over a major case of jet-lag. Our accommodation at the Hotel Orly was situated in the Provendencia district, just outside of the city’s centre. The feeling on the streets was very laid back, shops open up sometime after 10am and stay open only until … well honestly I couldn’t say? It seems like they close when they like, somewhere in the late afternoon?

Lunch is a frenzy at 2pm and dinner starts around 8-9pm, now that took some getting used to, lots of snacking involved! But when it comes to snacking have no fear there is no end to the multitudes of treats – all types of delicious cakes, empanadas, and mote con huesillos (a very refreshing drink made with peaches and peach juice with cooked barley on the bottom, I know it sounds strange but – yum!).

chilean food

The cost of things (in pesos of course) we found to be pretty well priced, we were able to go out for a pretty nice dinner and spend about $50AUD, that’s with two main meals and nice bottle of Chilean wine ~ perfecto!

A great place to go particularly on the weekends is an area called the Bellavista, Constiticion St. to be exact, and it is lined with a multitude of different restaurants. The next street over is strictly dedicated to night clubs and salsa bars – fun!!

So one night after having a wicked dinner at a little piazza in Constitucion we went over to check out the raging night life. The streets were teaming with people, music of all types blaring and a good time being had by all with giant cervezas in hand. The buskers were some of the coolest we’ve ever seen, one man salsa bands that spin faster than Michelle Kwan while still keeping their cool rhythmic beats ~ awesome!!

We didn’t stick around too long though, we were told by our hotel staff not to hang around the streets after a certain time and after seeing the amount of drinks being downed you could kinda see where that could end up ~ Olalay!

Santiago Chile - subway
Santiago Chile – Subway credit: la_cola_de_mi_perro

We never once felt like we were ever in any danger even when we were on the subway and a fight broke out between some soccer fans, about 10 cops dealt with that situation asap, batons on full blow and the trouble makers dealt with within minutes, they certainly don’t fool around there!

virgin mary - San Cristóbal
Virgin Mary – San Cristóbal , credit:Diegosaurius Rex

As for tourist attractions, there are many. One day we went up in a cable car to San Cristóbal which gave a 360° view of the 6 million people living in Santiago and the breathtaking Andes surrounding the city. At the top was an old beautiful church (Santuario Inmaculada Concepción) and massive statue of the virgin Mary overlooking the city.

On another excursion we went to check out the local handicrafts at a wicked little outside market called Artesanos Los Domenicos.

The ‘artesanos’ are fantastic in a number of things like, copper work, leather bags, wood carving, pottery and fine alpaca knits, just to name a few.

The home-made Chilean food is something else, especially if you like corn (Choclo). One of their favorite dishes is called Pastel de Choclo, which is like a shepherd’s pie with a puréed corn crust baked in a clay pot, can you say yummo!!

In downtown Santiago are some massive pedestrian only streets lined with shops of all kinds and some of the famous ‘Coffee with Legs’ cafes. I’m not really sure what the attraction is to these shops, the girls wear a typical suit with mid thigh skirts? Normal for us, but I guess a real treat for the eyes for the Chileans?

We also saw a few protests, lots of salsa ranting and confetti throwing, all really friendly but we noticed the policia were always on the ready. Seafood is also really big and they can whip up a pretty mean fish with potatoes or one of the best seafood soups I’ve ever had ~ amazing!!

So amigos, if you’re up for some great ‘ankle expressing’, beautiful sights to the senses and booty shaking Santiago is the place!! We are now on the road in our little tinbox rental and off to Pucón (Southern Chile)….until then Adios amigos!

This travel diary has been written by Rob Gower, a friend who enjoys taking the road less traveled!

20 thoughts on “Santiago, Chile – Great Food, Nightlife and Culture”

  1. Ok I will just come out and say it, I got here by accident and I’m glad I did!! From someone that never goes anyplace I do enjoy reading about the travels of others. You are ether more of a loon than me or are really brave to be traveling with all the world being as it is right now. I wish you good travels and a safe return.

  2. Definitely a great city to visit, I went there a couple of years and I still have it taste in my mouth! Just as you said the people is great, they are very friendly, Wine is terrific!, food is fine, the view from San Cristobal simply great!, you can also go to Viña del Mar or Valparaiso in one hour, by the way a great city also! I really recommend visiting Chile!

  3. I’ve always wanted to travel to Chile. I believe that not only would it be a great learning experience but also open my worldy vision of what else there is. The only times I have traveled extensively has been in Europe, which I loved every single minute of. I think South America or eastern Asia are the next on my list. Thanks for that little bit of motivation to make this into a reality.

  4. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law have been to Chile and swear by it. Hubby and I have vowed to go sometime in the not too distant future. We heard the prices were great, the food is great and the wine is amazing! ?

  5. Wow! great pictures! The Virgin Mary picture is absolutely breathtaking! What’s the name of the dish that’s displayed in one of your picture? May I know the dish’s name so I can try it out on this Chile inspired restaurant here in our country? Thanks…

  6. It’s great to hear you like the pics and info on the very beautiful and interesting city of Santiago! The soup dish displayed was one of the best I’ve ever had, it is called “Congrio a la Piccola.” If you’re ever over that way, it’s a must do!!

  7. Hi,

    I never visited this place Santiago,but after reading your article i too wanted to visit this place with my family and have fun!
    The food looks so good as it i wanted to taste now itself and the price is also affordable.
    You said that they are friendly,i wanted to see those friendly natured people!

    Thank you!

  8. I live in the US but I was born in Santiago, Chile. I visit Santiago and other cities in Chile yearly.
    The article is nice but full of typos. “Ola” is “wave” (as in a sea wave) and “Hola” (pronounced exactly the same) is “hello”. Regardless, I can tell you that “Hola Amigos” is not a common Chilean expression but more like a Walt Disney Tres Amigos thing … There are still those who think that all countries south of Mexico are “more of the same”. Sad
    More misspellings: Providencia (district) is the correct name. The street mentioned along Bella vista is Constitucion (I’m skipping the accents). Then, Artesanos los Dominicos is also misspelled. When looking for references, streets and such, it helps have the right words at hand, no?

  9. Been all around but yet to visit chile, food looks good, scenery looks good if I ever do go I hope the night life is like the lubs in san antonio

  10. it’s interesting how much you note the police presence. it kind of turns me off from going anywhere where police are “ready to go” at any time…

  11. The police are around but won’t pull you over for not looking “Chilean” (whatever that is). You can expect worse treatment in Arizona, if you don’t look like a “local” (whatever that is) … Oh, and don’t try to bribe a cop in Chile. You’ll be rather sorry before you finally learn you are not in Mexico. AMK

  12. This is for Anne-Marie: I think it is very rude the way you are correcting someone from another country that is making an effort on their Spanish. Chile is your native country and Spanish your native language, not everyone elses. If I were you I would first thank Rob for even posting this. Why not start your own blog and spell things correctly there?

    I am from Europe originally, but American now, been here for 28 years, and yes, I have been to Chile. I love to visit my friends and business associates there in Santiago and Rancagua. For those of you that have the Mexican cartel stuck in your heads, educate yourselves. Chile is the safest South American country you can go to. Both to visit and for business. So before you say something ignorant like some of you have, you might consider doing some reading.

  13. I really love your article!!!!!!! Im from chile from Santiago. Chile is a beautiful country, and we love when people from another countries come to visit Chile and call to us “amigos,” people from chile really don’t care how you say or spell in spanish, we love to see how much you try. Thank you for visited Chile, we are really friendly and we love to meet people from all over the world. The police in Chile are really friendly and they are there to help with any thing specially if you are visiting. sorry about anne marie’s comments she is very rude!!!!! and i think she is not right and the head.

  14. A very interesting write up about Santiago. Thanks. Looks like going to Chile now not as formidable as it did before!:)

  15. Wow!!!! Thank you for such a beautiful article,I was born in Chile but I have been living in Australia for 27 years,It is wonderful that u decided to write about y beautiful country ,people are so friendly there and once you meet them they will be your friends forever,I was lucky enough to go to the south of chile a few years ago and I can tell you I made friends forever,am originally from Valparaiso witch is also a beautiful city and u can find the best seafood you will ever have.
    Thank you once again it makes me very proud to be Chilean.

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