Walking tours are a favorite for many to see a new city. They offer a more personable and immersed view of a city or space. This puts you in touch with the locals, the sights, sounds and smells that make each destination unique. Here in Chile, Santiago’s central historic district is the perfect place to spend a day or more walking, and is particularly good for food walking tours due to the proximity to the markets.
For starters, everything is relatively close by. Santiago Centro is just that, the central point of the city. Or at least the neighborhoods that would be most interesting for a visitor. From the Plaza de Armas, Santiago’s historic central square, you have ample options in any direction that won’t take more than 15-20 minutes on foot.
Head south towards the Alameda, the main avenue which traverses not just the city, but the country when considering its extensions of Camino Farellones and Highway 78 to Valparaiso. Between the Plaza and this avenue though are plenty of interesting spots to visit, including the Presidential Palace, La Moneda, one of the few buildings left from Chile’s pre-colonial era, and ripe with plenty of recent history as well. It even has a cultural center below it in a large underground space. Currently, there is selection of over 220 Andy Warhol pieces to view, and it has seen a long list of other international and domestic shows pass through its halls.
To the east is Barrio Bellas Artes, which gets its name from the Bellas Artes Fine Artes Museum. This is Santiago’s main public museum, which sits right in the middle of the sprawling Parque Forestal, one of the green gems of Chile’s capital. This lively barrio is also home to many restaurants, cafes and shops. Just next to Bellas Artes is a similar neighborhood, Barrio Lastarria, which lays claim to the title of Santiago’s tourism and cultural hub. Now is it home to both high end properties but also hostels and three start hotels. Not to mention great dining and drinking options. The fact that the impressive GAM cultural center, one of the largest in Chile, and Cerro Santa Lucia, where the city was founded, just add to Lastarria’s name. (These neighborhoods are included in our afternoon food walking tour).
To the north one of our favorite neighborhoods: La Vega. This is Santiago’s colorful and bustling market which supplies much of the city –restaurants and private homes alike- with food. This is not a converted tourist market like the fish market Mercado Central (which is still worth a visit mind you), this is a true distribution point for the city’s food. One of the two major market spaces in the capital. These markets are the highlight of our Go to Market tour, the first food walking tour we started offering.
These neighborhoods are easy enough to walk, but the options for stops or food can be overwhelming. If you prefer a bit more depth of information and local picks on where and what to eat, check out our Go to Market and Afternoon Food and Culture walk, two distinct options to have a memorable walking food tour while in Santiago.