The Mercado Central is Santiago’s most famous market. Located in the city center, this wrought-iron building is considered a historical landmark where the city’s best seafood is sold, alongside wines, meat and much more. The shellfish and Chilean pisco sour are definitely worth trying since both are national favorites. This market is a mix of seafood restaurants in the center and smaller, less conspicuous stalls around the perimeter.
La Vega Central
Very close to the Mercado Central is La Vega selling fresh fruits and vegetables and other foods. Wondering round La Vega is an entertaining way of mixing with the locals and of seeing everyday life as well as discovering popular South American fruits or vegetables, such as chirimoya, lúcuma and huge artichokes. It is also a good place to stop for a quick and simple lunch, or perhaps a delicious freshly-squeezed fruit juice.
Pueblito Los Domínicos
At the foothills of the Andes sits a little artisan’s village, Los Domínicos, renowned for its traditional crafts. This is one of the best markets to visit when searching for souvenirs as it offers almost 200 stalls which sell a variety of folkloric goods, such as leather work, wood crafts, woolen items, jewelry and medicinal herbs as well as some traditional Chilean foods. Even without buying anything, it is a great experience to wander around and soak up the atmosphere.
Feria de Santa Lucía
The Feria de Santa Lucía is another traditional arts and crafts market, similar to but smaller than Pueblito Los Dominicos and located in central Santiago. At this market you will find good value souvenirs and handicrafts, many of which are locally hand-crafted. Typical items sold here are the famous alpaca wool, native instruments and all sorts of decorative figures. It is also interesting for those who do not have the chance to travel outside of Chile, as Peruvian and Bolivian goods are also sold at this market. Although nowadays this market is aimed at tourists, it still has strong ties to authentic tradition, so visiting is an excellent way to discover Chile’s folkloric culture.
When in need of clothes, Patronato is the place to go. With its labyrinths of little roads lined by street sellers and shops, Patronato is a popular shopping destination, which can become very crowded, especially on weekends, but the vibrant and busy atmosphere makes for a fun trip. It is also known for being one of the more cosmopolitan areas of Santiago, where Asian and Middle Eastern cultures thrive alongside the Chilean. The huge variety of items available, all of different styles, materials and colors set at bargain prices, make Patronato a must-visit market.
El Persa Bío-Bío
Although this flea market may be daunting to some, it is the best market to visit to experience authentic Chilean everyday life. This bustling and loud market offers everything that you could imagine: antiques, old books, record players, bicycles, dolls, clothes, tools and much more. Food is also sold at this flea market, so be prepared to try some authentic Chilean food while visiting. El Persa Bío Bío does have a reputation for having a darker side which only makes it all the more exciting, but keep any valuables out of site and if possible, visit with a Chilean local.
Close to many tourist attractions and in the artistic neighborhood Bellavista is the Patio Bellavista. Here you can find good quality jewelry and clothing, sold in little boutiques around a picturesque square. Across the road from Patio Bellavista, under an old unkempt shelter, is an old bohemian market, which offers similar items to those in the little boutiques as well as other handmade curiosities, such as jewelry made from old spoons and forks and other items crafted in a Mapuche style. When looking for something different, the Bellavista market is a good place to start.