48 hours in Santiago, Chile

By Sarah Gordon

Photography by Jose Luis Stephens/Getty Images

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February 2017

By night the streets are thronging with partygoers, and by day the sights, vineyards, coastline and mountains are all within easy reach of Chile’s vibrant capital city. Take advantage of British Airways’ new direct flight from London and experience Santiago for yourself. Local writer, Sarah Gordon, shares her tips for 48 hours in the city.

Day One

Settle in

British Airways’ new flight route to Santiago touches down at Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport at 09:00 (Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Mondays), giving you a whole day to make the most of the capital’s sunny weather.

Head to your hotel first, drop off your bags and freshen up. If you want to be in the heart of the action, try The Singular, a luxurious property tucked among the many eateries of the Lastarria district. Alternatively, the glitzy skyscrapers of trendy Las Condes are where you will find the InterContinental and W Hotel, while the Grand Hyatt is a little further out but within walking distance of one of Alonso de Cordoba, the city’s most stylish shopping streets.

The Lastarria district sits right next to Santa Lucia Hill, a beautiful hilltop park where bougainvillea tumbles down the walls of an old 19th-century fort

12:30 – Relax and refuel

The grand early 20th century buildings and winding lanes of the Lastarria district were long forgotten until a foodie scene took hold about five years ago. Grab a pavement table at Sur Patagónico and watch the world go by as you eat lamb, beef or venison cooked on the parrilla (grill) washed down with an artisan beer.

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  • Relax in the shade at Santa Lucia Hill Park © John W Banagan/Getty Images

    Made to measure

    Just across the road from the park, you’ll find Santa Lucia market, where local traders sell their handcrafted goods, from shoes to lanterns – perfect for souvenirs.

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  • Try the local tipple, the pisco sour © Jorge Morales Avendano/Getty Images

    Did you know…?

    Pisco is a yellow-coloured grape brandy made by distilling wine and was first produced by conquistadors in the 16th century.

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  • The Grand Torre Santiago towers over the city’s skyline © Jose Luis Stephens/Getty Images

    Twin town

    The Las Condes district houses many top-end hotels, restaurants, shops and bars affording it the nickname ‘Sanhattan’ by locals, who liken it to New York’s Manhattan.

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14:00 – The high life

The Lastarria district sits right next to Santa Lucia Hill, a beautiful hilltop park where bougainvillea tumbles down the walls of an old 19th-century fort and winding paths lead you through pretty gardens to lookout points for mountain views and picture snapping opportunities.

15:00 – Sightsee in style

Save exploring on foot for another day and take a hop on-hop off bus tour for an overview of the city, from the grand La Moneda Palace, where President Salvador Allende died during the 1973 coup d’etat, to the palm tree-filled Plaza de Armas square, which has been the heart of the city ever since it was founded in 1541.

19:00 – Happy hour

Toast the start of your Chile adventure with the national drink – the pisco sour. This potent, lemony cocktail is ubiquitous in the city, but if you want a barman who knows his stuff, try the rather aptly-named Chipe Libre – República Independiente del Pisco in Lastarria for a drink and nibbles.

20:30 – Fine dining

Head north across the Mapocho River to the party-hard district of Bellavista. Dine at Restaurante 040, which offers up sensational 12-course tasting menus celebrating the best Chilean ingredients, served in unusual ways – think hake churros with a parmesan dipping sauce.

23:00 – Party politics

The night is just getting started for Chileans. Join them at Bar The Clinic in Bellavista, owned by the left-leaning satirical magazine of the same name, it’s where young idealists and media types like to sink a few choice Patagonian microbrews.

Day Two

09:00 – A hair-raising breakfast

For coffee and pastries with a twist, head to Boulevard Lavaud, a café housed in an elegant 19th-century building known as the Peluquería Francesa (the French hairdresser). First opened in 1868, one part of the building still operates as a hairdresser, while the separate café-restaurant is a quirky exposed-brick, antique-filled delight.

10:00 – Walk this way

Stroll through the Barrio Brasil neighbourhood – home to historic houses decorated with street art and student posters calling for communist revolution – to little Barrio Concha y Toro, where the streets are lined with beautiful beaux artes mansions.

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  • Visit La Moneda Palace, the seat of the Chilean Government © Artie Ng/Getty Images

    Up close

    You can visit the inner courtyards of the palace most days between 10:00 and 18:00 – and don’t miss the changing of the guard ceremony every other day between 10:00 and 10:30.

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13:00 – To market

With 6,435km of coastline, Chile boasts excellent seafood. Try fish stew and sweet king crab at the elegant wrought iron Central Market, where the catch of the day is served up at restaurants and food stalls just hours after it was brought in from the Pacific.

15.00 – An artist’s retreat

La Chascona means ‘the messy haired one’ and was named for Pablo Neruda’s mistress. The Nobel Prize-winning poet’s blue house, tucked down a quiet Bellavista street, is a testament to his love of the sea and is designed as a cross between a ship and a lighthouse.

19:00 – Vine times

You’ve tried pisco and artisan beer, now it’s time to sample Chile’s most famous export – its wine. At Bocanáriz a huge blackboard takes up the entirety of one wall, showing all 400 national wines on sale. Chilean fish and meat dishes have been created to complement the many vintages as well as helping you to soak up the good stuff.

21:00 – All that jazz

Santiago’s Barrio Italia (Italian quarter) is full of artsy boutiques, hole-in-the-wall coffee shops and stylish, low-lit bars, but is often overlooked by tourists. Join the locals at The Jazz Corner for an evening of live music and inventively-named cocktails – try the No Diga Nada (don’t say anything) with lemon, basil, cucumber, Peruvian gin and tonic water.

Day Three

10:00 – Brunch bunch

After a heavy night, indulge in bacon, cinnamon waffles and eggs cooked to order at Coquinaria. There are three scattered around the city, but Santiago’s in-crowd head to the original one at the W Hotel.