The Historic Center is the traditional financial downtown district in Santiago de Chile. It comprises the historical center, including Cerro Santa Lucia (the place where the city was founded), historic and public buildings. Mostly commercial, there are also some traditional residential barrios here.
Downtown is mostly centered along the city's main street Avenida Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins — or as the locals call it — Alameda. North of it is the river Mapocho, Cerro Santa Lucia with great views of Santiago and the lively square Plaza de Armas. As one may expect from the central district, you will also find plenty of restaurants and hotels and good connections to and from all of the rest of the city.
The Historic Center is served by Metro Line 1 (Santa Lucía, Universidad de Chile, La Moneda, and Los Héroes), Line 2 (Los Héroes, Santa Ana, and Puente Cal y Canto), and Line 5 (Plaza de Armas and Santa Ana).
The metro is probably the best way for getting both in and around, it's clean and safe. If you arrive to the city from other parts of the country or arriving from the airport with the airport bus, there will be a metro station near every bus station. Lines 1, 2 and 5 go to Centro. Most trunk bus services also cross through downtown. Try to avoid travelling on public transportation during rush hours; 07:00-09:00 in the morning and 18:00-20:00 in the evening, because it's very crowded at those times.
Taxis also exist but it might be hard to find a vacant one. Driving in downtown should rather be avoided due to heavy traffic, a lack of parking spaces and a lot of one way streets.
Walking can be a feasible option once in the downtown, as attractions are quite close to each other.
- 1 Plaza De Armas. The capital's main plaza, also the site of the national cathedral and main post office. It's few blocks from the traditional Central Market and has its own Metro Station. During the last years, Plaza de Armas has been used as a meeting and recreation place for the community of Peruvian immigrants. This has lead to a lots of cheap international calling centers, traditional Peruvian restaurants and Peruvian spice and food stores, being an interesting place to walk during day hours.
- 2 La Moneda Presidential Palace (Metro La Moneda (Line 1)). Next to the Alameda there is the governmental palace, an Italian neoclassical palace surrounded by more modern buildings with ministries. The squares around them are lined by statues and under one of the squares is an interesting cultural center. Guided one-hour tours are free, but require a reservation of at least seven days in advance (Spanish only).
- 3 Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino), Bandera 361, at junction with Compañía (Metro Plaza de Armas), ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-18:00. The well put-together Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art houses various artefacts from Mesoamerica and South America, featuring cultures such as the Olmec, Maya, and Inca civilizations. Descriptions of the artefacts and the ancients' way of life are well-written in both English and Spanish. Highlights include a Mayan stone stele and Andean mummies, which precede their Egyptian counterparts. CLP$4500; CLP$2000 for ISIC holders.
- 4 Teatro Municipal, Agustinas 794, ☏ . Historical performance venue, including international dance and opera, worth a visit even if just from its outside.
- 5 San Francisco Church and Museum, Av. Lib. Bernardo O'Higgins 834, ☏ . Museum: M-F 09:30-13:30 15:00-18:00, Su 10:00-14:00. The oldest church in the city. In the plaza, in front of the church, there is a Moaï from Easter Island. Museum: CLP$1000. No pictures inside.
- 6 Palacio Cousiño, 438 Calle Dieciocho. M-F 09:30-13:30 14:30-17:00, Sa-Su 09:30-13:30. 19th century palace owned by a wealthy Spanish-Portuguese family. The architecture is a mix of Spanish and French styles with inspiration taken from the Versailles palace. CLP$2100. Guided tour only. No pictures inside.
- 7 Parque Forestal. A long park that runs parallel to the Mapocho River, also site of the National Museum of Fine Arts (Museo de Bellas Artes) and Modern Art Museum. Also known as the green lung of downtown, it's a popular place for cultural and recreational events and activities and the border between the historic center and Barrio Lastarria.
- 8 Cerro Santa Lucia, Junction of Santa Lucia and Bernando O'Higgins (Santa Lucia metro station). A park with fountains and stairs leading up to a fort and viewpoint the top. The summit has a great view of all but the skyscraper-obscured city center. Charles Darwin visited this peak at one point in his travels; his words are immortalized in a plaque at the summit. Free; registration at entrance required.
- 9 Biblioteca Nacional de Chile, Avenida Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins 651. The national library was built in the early 20th century near Cerro Santa Lucía. Here you can find archives of all Chilean newspapers and some foreign ones, map and photo archives and an exhibition hall.
- 10 Casa Colorada. This colonial building functioned as the seat of the first Chilean leader after independence. It used to hold a museum of Santiago's history but it has been closed.
- 11 Correo Central (Museo Postal y Telegráfico). The central post building has a museum of old stamps, letters and mailboxes and even a small replica of the first central post office.
- 12 Iglesia San Agustín, Obispo Villaroel 170. The city's second oldest church features beautiful colonial religious artwork, including Cristo de Mayo, a statue of Jesus. The thorn crown fell off during an earthquake and legend has that if someone tries to put the thorn crown back on Christ's head, a new earthquake will strike.
- 13 Museo Histórico Nacional de Chile, Plaza de Armas 951. The national museum showcases both the history and prehistory of today's Chile. There are several temporary themed exhibitions.
- 14 Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana). One of the city's major landmarks, next to Plaza de Armas.
- 15 Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Parque Forestal. Built to celebrate Chile's 100 year anniversary, this museum boasts 3000 art works from Chile and the rest of Latin America.
- Barrio Lastarria - Residential barrio with many architectonical jewels and interesting museums such as Plaza Mulato Gil de Castro, Museo de Artes Visuales, the Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral and the Museo Arqueológico de Santiago, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and park Parque Forestal.
- Barrio Lira is the most densely inhabited barrio in Santiago de Chile. It is accessible via a quick walk from Metros Santa Isabel (Line 5), Universidad Católica (Line 1), and Santa Lucía (Line 1). For those willing to brave Transantiago buses there are many routes that come down Avenida Santa Rosa from the Alameda or along 10 de Julio/Avenida Matta from Metro Irarrázaval (Line 5).
- 1 La Moneda Cultural Center (Metro La Moneda (Line 1)). 9AM-7:30PM. Museum located underneath the Presidential Palace, the Cultural Center has rotating art and cultural exhibitions all year. Local crafts and souvenirs are available at middle-high prices in the local gift shop. A café is also within the facilities. Note that most exhibitions are not free of charge, however, prices are very affordable. Free until noon.
- 2 Estación Mapocho Cultural Center, Plaza de la Cultura s/n, ☏ . Cultural center with theater, dance, music, and other various cultural activities and conferences year-round. Hosts the International Book Fair (Feria Internacional del Libro) every spring.
- 3 Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM), Av. Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 227 (Metro Universidad Católica (Line 1)), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. An impressive cultural center built on the former military Diego Portales building which was destroyed in a fire. The center has an art and film focused library with free WiFi, a theater, concert halls, a restaurant, a café, and public spaces for resting.
- 1 Central Market, Ismael Valdés Vergara 900, ☏ . As with La Vega, fruit and vegetables are sold, but the attraction here is the fish and seafood brought in fresh daily from the Pacific to be sold under an elaborate wrought-iron roof.
- 2 Paseo Ahumada. Paseo Ahumada comprises four blocks between Alameda and Plaza de Armas and is the commercial hub of the city. It features commercial buildings with restaurants, cafés and small and large places to shop.
- Dominó. Mo-Fr 8-21h, Sa 10-17h. A traditional "soda fountain" that has become a large chain. Known for its rapid service and classic sandwiches and completos. CLP$3000.
- 1 Agustinas 1016.
- Donde Guido, ☏ . Peruvian sandwich place with a large variety of stuffings and sauces to choose from, also many different kinds of fruit smoothies. CLP$3500.
- 4 Rosas 1290.
- 5 Merced 501.
- 6 El Rápido, Bandera 347, ☏ . Famous for its fast service and fried empanadas of different flavors. CLP$2500.
- 7 El Naturista, Paseo Huerfanos 1046, ☏ . M-F 09:00-21:00, Sa 09:00-16:00. Vegetarian restaurant with a large variety of products. CLP$6000.
- 8 Fuente Alemana, Alameda 58, ☏ . M-Sa 10:00-22:00. One of the most famous sandwich places in the city, the sandwiches are prepared in the front of the customer. Try the churrasco italiano. CLP$5000.
- 9 Nuria, Portal Fernández Concha 918. Founded in 1928 with several restaurants around downtown. They have classic Chilean dishes as well as large sandwiches. CLP$5000.
- 10 Bar Nacional (Matias Cousiño 54), Paseo Huérfanos 1151, ☏ . Offers hearty Chilean meals and a range of local and imported drinks.
- 11 Milano's Pizza, Santa Isabel 546 (Metro Santa Lucía (Line 1) or Metro Santa Isabel (Line 5)), ☏ . Italian-style pizza that start at CLP$2890 for a personal size and CLP$6450 for a medium. Delivers for CLP$600.
- 12 La Joya del Pacífico, San Pablo 967, local 166-167 (Mercado Central), ☏ . Like other eateries in the Mercado central, this restaurant specializes in seafood. CLP$8000.
- 13 Donde Augusto, San Pablo 967 (Mercado Central), ☏ . One of Mercado Central's largest restaurants, it's famous for traditional Chilean seafood dishes. CLP$12000.
- 14 La Casona del Centro (ex Las Carnes de Morandé), Morandé 538, ☏ . M-Th 12:00-23:00, F-Sa 12:00-00:00. Barbecued meat and seafood, and home-made pasta. CLP$10000.
- 1 Bar Catedral, Merced 395. Nice bar downtown between between lounge bar and more folklorica. Good rock bands often come to play.
- 1 Hotel Angamos, Angamos 367, ☏ . Small hotel with clean and tidy rooms, double beds and hot water on demand. If there is none, you simply ask the owners to turn it on. Family run business and you can turn up to at any time of day/night. Close to the centre and safe. There is no hotel sign, just ring the bell. CLP$10,000 per double room, includes breakfast.
- 2 casAltura Hostel, San Antonio 811 (near Parque Forestal, Santiago Centro), ☏ . Spacious hostel in a beautiful old building with a roof terrace. The interior is modern, comfortable, and always clean. It opened just a few months ago so it can be a little quiet at times, but if you're not looking for a party hostel you're sure to enjoy the laid back atmosphere. Very friendly and helpful staff. Free internet and Wi-Fi. Dorms from CLP$10, 800.
- 3 Plaza de Armas Hostel, Compañía 960, #607 (Metro Plaza de Armas (Line 2)), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. On the central square with a great view out over the plaza near the subway and museums. Small (located on an upper floor of a building) but lively place with good staff. Free internet with three computers, Wi-Fi throughout the establishment, common room equipped with a two TVs and a DVD player. US$12-16 dormitory, US$34-38 double with shared bathroom, US$48-50 double with private bathroom.
- 4 Residencia Tabita, Príncipe de Gales 81 (Located on a small street off of Moneda between San Martin and Amunategui), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Cosy, friendly and quiet, but right in the middle of town. CLP$2,000 for unlimited internet access during your stay using Tabita's computer or Wi-Fi. Singles from CLP$8,000, CLP$15,000 for doubles.
- 5 [dead link] Casa Moro, Corte Suprema 177 (Santiago Centro 3 blocks from La Moneda metro station), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-out: 10:00. A small bed and breakfast with 4 guest rooms; all with private bathrooms, internet access, maid service daily and a great breakfast every morning of your stay. The house is three levels with two patios and many common spaces. Dinner is offered for those who want that option. CLP$45.000-CLP$65.000 a night.
- 6 Hotel Fundador, Paseo Serrano 34, ☏ . Renovated hotel that is conveniently located for sightseeing in the historic center of the city. It also has a good quality restaurant. Rooms US$145-185 and suites US$205-260 (Apr, Oct - Nov); US$30-50 cheaper at other times.
- 7 EcoHostel, General Jofre 349B (from the Metro Universidad Católica, walk to Av. Portugal and then south (three and a half blocks) until you hit General Jofre. Turn right and walk half a block), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: 11:00. Nice clean hostel with recycling bins and ecological spirit (though some might find it doutbful, what with the use of a fuel heater, a permanently-on computer, and constant music blaring), away from the hustle and bustle of the city center while still being close enough to walk there. Wi-Fi, hot water, nice kitchen, breakfast included; close to laundry and supermarkets. The noise from the communal area, though not crazy, can still reach the rooms around it at night, so if you are looking for quiet choose rooms in the back or upstairs. The hostel name is not written outside; look for the facade painting depicting a traveller and a travel guide. Dorm/double with shared bathroom CLP$8,000/21,000.
- 8 [dead link] Andes Hostel & Apartments, Monjitas 506 (In front of the Bellas Artes metro station), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Mixed and women-only four- to six-bed dorms , private rooms and apartments. Price includes breakfast, Wi-Fi, and daily housekeeping service. Great staff and fun weekly events.
- 9 Hostal Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia 168. A view of Cerro Santa Lucia located just blocks away from the center. Great personal staff and good breakfast with fresh fruit.
- 10 Hostal de la Barra, José Miguel de la Barra 451 (Near Museo de Bellas Artes and Parque Forestal), ☏ . This hostel is run directly in an old building in the middle of Neighborhood Bellas Artes, it has high quality infrastructure and also has a very nice coffee shop next door where the breakfast is served: The drawback is the six lane road outside which is rarely quiet and the early morning revellers returning home. Sleep is at a premium here. Good points are the staff, the location and the park areas nearby
- 11 Caesar Business Santiago Centro, Av. Bernardo O'Higgins 632 (Metro Santa Lucía). Part of an international chain. ****.
- 12 Crowne Plaza Hotel Santiago, Av. Bernardo O'Higgins 136. Large hotel near Plaza Italia. ****.
- 13 Hotel Panamericano, Teatinos 320. Located downtown. ***.
- 14 Lastarria Boutique Hotel, Coronel Santiago Bueras 188, ☏ . Small luxurious hotel in Barrio Lastarria
- 15 Nippon Hotel, Barón Pierre de Coubertin 62. Near Plaza Italia.