Top Unusual Things to See and Do in Santiago, Chile

Salon 2
Salon 2 | courtesy of Peumayen Ancestral Food
Elizabeth Trovall

South America’s most unusual capital city has got to be Santiago. From bizarre street art, a surprising take on the hot dog and odd plaza performers, Santiago, Chile knows how to get its quirk on.

1. La Piojera, Santiago

Bar, Chilean

There’s no place quite like La Piojera, Santiago’s treasured dive bar. If you can stomach the stench of wine-drenched floors, you’ll find the rowdy clientele great for a laugh. Make sure to order the typical Chilean drink, the earth-shaking terremoto, or “earthquake,” which includes a white wine called pipeño, pineapple ice cream and either grenadine or fernet.

People-watching in Plaza de Armas

Thirty minutes sitting on one of the Plaza de Armas benches is all you need to catch a multitude of unusual sights, sounds and smells. From the hordes of pigeons, street evangelists, living statues and lively Chinchinero percussionists, don’t forget to bring your camera to this historic city center.

Chilean miner human statue, Plaza de Armas, Santiago, Chile

Chileans like to do hot dogs differently. Whether you order a regular completo (hot dog with sauerkraut, chopped tomatoes and gobs of mayonnaise) or a completo italiano (tomatoes, mushed avocado and mayonnaise, resembling the Italian flag), prepare yourself for a whole lot of toppings. Be sure to grab extra napkins when you order.

Go on a graffiti tour

Explore the unusual street art of the vibrant neighborhood Barrio Yungay. Through the bicycle tour company Bicitur, visitors can learn about the local street art as well as the various indigenous groups that have called Chile home.

See the vibrant street art of Barrio Yungay

2. Visit the Bahá’í House of Worship of South America

Proudly sitting on the foothills of the Andes mountains is the new Bahá’í House of Worship of South America. This curious temple offers stunning views and a sense of peace away from the hustle and bustle of Santiago.

Bahá’í House of Worship of South America, Diagonal Las Torres 2000, Peñalolén, Chile, +56 2 3220 9942

3. Londres 38

Step inside a former dictatorship detention center at Londres 38, the name and address of a historic complex in downtown Santiago. In the 1970s, Londres 38 was where many Chileans were tortured and killed at the start of the Pinochet dictatorship. Ominous and largely empty, this chilling space includes political propaganda on the walls and also offers information on the human rights violations that occurred during Pinochet’s 17-year rule.

Londres 38, Calle Londres 38, Santiago, Chile, +56 2 2638 8054

4. Spy on Chile's most famous poet

Featuring odd items and artwork the famous poet collected during his life, La Chascona is an ode to Pablo Neruda’s life and quirks. With an inside pass into the famous Chilean poet’s house, you can dream about what this soulful world traveler and eccentric lover was all about.

La Chascona, Fernando Márquez de La Plata 0192, Santiago, Chile, +56 2 2777 8741

La Chascona, home of Pablo Neruda, Santiago, Chile | © David Berkowitz

5. Taste gourmet indigenous cuisine at Peumayen Ancestral Food


Indigenous groups and gourmet cuisine merge at this unique restaurant in Santiago’s Bellavista neighborhood. At Peumayen Ancestral Foods, Argentine chef Juan Manuel Pena Passaro has created modern dishes based on flavors from the region’s Mapuche, Rapa Nui and Aymara people.

Peumayen Ancestral Food, Constitución 136, Santiago, Chile

Silverside fish | courtesy of Peumayen Ancestral Food | Courtesy of Peumayen Ancestral Food

6. Go to a controversial military restaurant

Restaurant, German

The sausage and sauerkraut is hard to beat at the Lili Marleen restaurant, where you can find the city’s best German fare. That’s if you can stomach the restaurant’s commemoration of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Thousands were exiled, tortured and killed during the military dictatorship, making the General one of Latin America’s most controversial figures, whose legacy defines contemporary Chilean democracy.
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