Santiago is one of the most vibrant capital of South America. In many, many cases it is used as starting point of a visit to other parts of the country, from the Northern deserts to the Patagonian glaciers. Despite being used as a stopover, this city has a lot of sightseeing spot. And it’s also possible to spend one day in Santiago, Chile on a budget!
Picadas have surely the best value for budget travelers. However, expect to pay not less than the equivalent of 5$ for a lunch with a soup, a main and a drink.
If you don’t like markets, but you’re more a museum type, no worries! All public museums are free of charge, and there are many interesting ones. Surely, one of the most interesting is the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, which will bring you back in the ’70s when the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet was ruling the country. There are documentaries, pictures of victims, and testaments of people who lived first-hand the cruelty of the regime. It really is worth a visit, which lasts at least one hour and a half – a concentrated lecture of Chilean history.
Just in front of the museum of Memory and Human Rights, the Quinta Normal park has much more to offer. It can be interesting to visit the Museum of Natural History of Chile (also free admission).
In the afternoon, I suggest taking one of the free tours of Santiago. One day in Santiago, Chile on a budget is definitely possible taking that! There are two companies, Free Tour Santiago and Tour 4 Tips. As the name of the latter already tells, both are based on tips. You are free to give how much you think the tour was worth.
Usually, the guides are well-prepared and funny as well, making the tour pretty good despite being walking under the sun (I didn’t choose the right period to stay fresh, unfortunately). The meeting point is for both companies at 3 pm. You get to know all the main spots in the city, including Plaza de Armas and Palacio La Moneda, where the President of Chile lives.
The tour, depending on which one you take, lasts from 3 to 4 hours. So after that, you’ll still be on time to climb up the Cerro San Cristobal and enjoy a beautiful sunset. If you are tired, but this would not be budget, there’s a funicular going up.
As of today, Santiago is experiencing (and it usually experiences in summer) a wave of fires which worsens a lot the panorama from the top. Being Santiago located in between two mountain crests, sometimes all the shit accumulates here. And you can hardly see a clear sky. If the sky’s foggy, just avoid it: you would go up to see nothing. In clear days Santiago and its different cerros offer a great view of the Andes.
End your day in Bellavista, enjoying a beer in its colorful locals or in Providencia, plenty of discos and pubs.
Have you ever been to Santiago? What are your favorite spots around the capital? Let me know in the comment. Ah, don’t forget to have a look on my packing list for Chile!
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