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Santiago is a treasure box of delights and contrasts. With its central location, it’s the perfect place to set up camp to explore either end of Chile. It is nestled between the peaks of the Andes and the shores of the Pacific, so it’s possible to ski in the morning and sunbathe on the beach in the afternoon. The city itself is a vibrant, ever changing patchwork of districts and sites of interest. From the museums, stately architecture and pedestrian malls of the Centro, to the world-class hotels and fabulous restaurants of Las Condes - Santiago is a thrilling, scenic, South American beauty.
Plaza de Armas — Just a few blocks from Mercado Central, the central market, this main city square boasts both the national cathedral and main city post office in its perimeter. The square is also a central meeting point for the city’s growing Peruvian population, and as such is a great place to sample their traditional crafts and cuisine.
Mercado Central — This wonderfully eclectic and vibrant marketplace has been buzzing with activity since 1872. As well as the huge array of crafts and delicacies to be bought from the market stalls themselves, a number of great restaurants now also line its periphery. The fresh seafood is a particular treat - don’t miss it.
Parque Metropolitano — If you want a break from the tumult of the city, then this park is an absolute must. As well as a botanical garden, zoo and two swimming pools, it’s also home to the imposing Cerro San Cristobal. You have a selection of options for scaling this awesome hill, including funicular, cable car or a bracing hike, so there can be no excuse not to take in the splendid view from the summit.
Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral — The perfect destination for fans of the creative arts. This dauntingly large cultural center stands on the ground where the military Junta's executive power once ran its administration. Now it’s a wonderful space that houses both an art library and a film library, a theatre, concert halls, a restaurant, a cafe, as well as plenty of airy spaces to simply hang out and enjoy the calm.
Head up the Sky Costanera, the tallest building in South America, to see all that is on offer. The observation deck here affords a spectacular 360° bird’s-eye view over the city. Splendid religious architecture and iconography can be found at the Catedral Metropolitana on the Plaza de Armas. Sited at the location of Santiago’s first chapel, this wonderful church is home to a beloved statue of Our Lady of the Carmel, countless altars, as well as the tombs and crypts of many bishops and archbishops.
With its ideal location between the sea and the mountains, the options are almost endless for action adventurers. Whether it’s trekking, climbing, skiing in the peaks, or swimming and surfing on the shoreline, Santiago has it all. And don’t forget the wonderful nightlife in this colourful city. If you’re in town to party, you won’t be disappointed.
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