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Santiago, Chile may not boast the same art legacy of many European cities, but if you give it a chance the city will reveal itself as an emerging South American art hub. As Santiago has become increasingly international, the city has more and more to offer culture-seeking crowds. In just 24 hours, take in Santiago’s mix of European and Latin American aesthetics at the best museums, galleries and coffee shops the city has to offer.
The Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts is an ideal way to start any tour of the city, located centrally in the Bellas Artes neighborhood. This gorgeous and free art museum, which was built back in the early 20th century, is among South America’s top fine arts museum, and features many celebrated works by Chilean and South American artists. The museum entrance is hard to miss, located along José Miguel de La Barra street which cuts through Parque Forestal.
Insider tip: On your way to or from the museum, don’t forget to check out the street art outside the Bellas Artes metro station by world-famous Chilean artist Inti.
Chile’s contemporary art museum, operated by the University of Chile’s Arts Faculty, has two different locations, each with their share of contemporary Chilean and international artwork. One museum location is conveniently behind the Bellas Artes Museum in Parque Forestal, with a statue in front by famous Colombian sculptor Fernando Botero. The second museum is in a French-style building within the Quinta Normal park. Both locations feature collections that include artwork by Chile’s most renowned artists, like Roberto Matta, Nemesio Antúnez and Matilde Pérez. Many works by celebrated international artists are also featured by the museum.
Insider tip: Both museum locations host interesting public cultural events like concerts and book launch parties. Check the museum’s calendar to see if any events pique your interest.
La Chascona is one of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s three houses that have been turned into museums about his life. La Chascona, located in the bohemian Barrio Bellavista neighborhood, was Neruda’s only Santiago home. Inside you can see a collection of Neruda’s art, furniture and other belongings, including a famous painting of the poet’s lover, Matilde Urrutia. Tours are facilitated through audio guides, which are available in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish.
Insider tip: Visits to the museum are first-come, first-served, so it’s a good idea to arrive earlier in the day. Tours begin at 10AM each day, except Mondays, when the museum is closed, like all museums in Chile.
La Chascona, Fernando Márquez de la Plata 0192, Santiago, Chile, +56 2 2777 8741
See an impressive array of art and artifacts from Pre-Columbian Latin America at the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino. Pieces from the museum span 10,000 years, exemplifying nearly 100 different cultural groups. From a Teotihuacan incense burner to Aguada urns, the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino offers genuine insight into Central and South America’s ancient civilizations.
Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Bandera 361, Santiago, Chile, +56 2 2928 1500
Offering a top-notch cup of joe, fresh and tasty lunches and an assortment of delicious baked goods, Colmado is the perfect afternoon respite to sit and enjoy the tasty inventions of Spanish chef Manolo Aznar. More than just offering wonderful food and a warm and friendly atmosphere, Colmado is also one of Santiago’s best places to find goodies that are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. Beyond its café, Colmado’s owners have opened up a new Asian-Chilean fusion restaurant called Híbrido upstairs, which features a top-notch dinner menu.
Insider tip: To avoid crowds at this often busy eatery, try to grab a table before 12:30PM.
Colmado, Merced 346 (inside patio), Santiago, Chile, +56 80 9491 8955
Enjoy the peace and chic style of Barrio Italia with a trip to Café de la Candelaria, one of the city’s top coffee shops. Like many businesses in the area, the coffee shop is located inside a renovated Barrio Italia home, which gives it a cozy and authentic feel. Baristas at Café de la Candelaria use imported beans from South and Central America, so coffee here is packed with flavor.
Insider tip: Café de la Candelaria also serves lunch, offering two different menu items each day.
Café de la Candelaria, Av. Italia 1449, L4, Santiago, Chile, +56 2 2880 4137
Meander into this delightfully eccentric bookstore and gallery on a rainy day and take your time stumbling upon unique local treasures. Looking at comics, illustrations, books and other novelties can keep you busy all afternoon. Located in the Bellas Artes neighborhood, the quirky Plop! Gallery was started by a group of Chilean journalists, illustrators and designers.
Insider tip: Check the gallery’s calendar to see if any workshops or events will be on during your stay.
Plop! Galería, Merced 349, #7, Santiago, Chile, +56 2 2633 2902
For over 20 years this unique art space and cultural center has been home to local artists that like to push the boundaries of art. This experimental art space regularly offers irreverent exhibitions and hosts a variety of cultural events, especially performance art.
See the best street art in bohemian neighborhood Barrio Yungay through a graffiti bicycle tour. Through Bicitur, an up-and-coming tour company, learn about the Yungay neighborhood’s artists, culture, history and the social and political messages behind Santiago’s best street art.
Bicitur Yungay, Brasil 341, Santiago, Chile, +56 9 6366 5300
Offering Peruvian fusion cuisine that’s described as “travesti“, Sarita Colonia makes a statement from the minute you walk into their hot pink door on Loreto street. This vibrant, colorful restaurant offers tasty pisco sours, a killer indoor ambiance, a lively terrace, and tasty gourmet dinners that fuse Peruvian and other Latin American food traditions.
Insider tip: Make sure to reserve your table ahead of time, Sarita Colonia tends to book up quickly.
Sarita Colonia, Loreto 40, Santiago, Chile, +56 2 2881 3937
Decorated with gorgeous antiques and furniture, next to the historic La Peluqueria Francesa, a trip to Boulevard Lavaud Restaurant will transport you back in time. Located inside a stunning renovated building in the historic Barrio Yungay, this stylish restaurant offers a unique ambiance in one of Santiago’s emerging neighborhoods. Partake in a chic evening dinner or wander in during the afternoon for a cheese plate, dessert, coffee or glass of wine. It’s advised to make reservations ahead of time.
Insider tip: Get your hair cut or at least take a peek inside La Peluqueria Francesa next door, a local barbershop that first opened its doors in 1868 and continues to offer limited services.
Boulevard Lavaud Restaurant, Compañia de Jesús 2789, Santiago, Chile, +56 2 2682 5243