Local Host Picks
Los Dominicos Market
Crafts markets can be found around Santiago, as either permanent installations or weekly events; however, Los Dominicos is highly recommended above all other markets for selection and quality. Popularly known as Los Dominicos after its nearby San Vicente Ferrer de Los Dominicos Church built in the 18th century, Los Graneros del Alba is a colonial village of more than 200 shops where you can find everything from fine leather to semiprecious stones, copperware, huaso horse gear, furniture, sculpture, and alpaca woolens as well as a wonderful display of cockatoos and other live birds. Besides it has good food for a variety of budgets and often features folkloric music and dancing on weekends. It is located in Las Condes district nestled in the foothills of the Andes.
Occupying an entire block bounded by San Pablo Street, Puente Street, 21 de Mayo Street and Balmaceda Avenue next to the Rio Mapocho, Santiago's Central Market is a distinctive wrought-iron building dating from 1872. Here you will find a matchless selection of creatures from the sea. Depending on the season you might see the delicate beaks of “picorocos,” the world's only edible barnacles, the orange stars of “erizos,” the prickly shelled sea urchins, as well as an appealing selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. There are a number of restaurants ranging from modest to the finest. Open all year around.
Parque de las Esculturas
Providencia is mainly a business district, but it has one of the city's most captivating and least publicized public parks. From Pedro de Valdivia Metro stop, walk a block north to the Rio Mapocho and cross the bridge. Here you will find Parque de las Esculturas where the gardens are filled with a score of sculptures by Chile's top artists. Because of its pastoral atmosphere, the park is quite popular with joggers. In the center is a wooden pavilion that hosts very good rotating sculpture exhibitions. International Jazz Music festival takes place here during summer season.
One of the more interesting neighborhoods in the city, its streets are lined with trees and colorful antique homes, many of which have been converted into restaurants, theaters and studios for artists and musicians. It's a pleasant place for an afternoon stroll and in the evening, Bellavista pulses to the beat of music pouring from its many discos and bars. Located at the foothill of San Cristobal, you can also visit La Chascona, one of the three homes once owned by Chile's most famous literary artist, the Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda.
Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda
Palacio de La Moneda Cultural Center is a cultural facility in the heart of the civic quarter under the Citizenry Square in the southern facade of the Palacio de La Moneda. It is intended to place the Chilean capital in the international cultural circuit allowing participative and formative access for all citizens to the cultural and audiovisual richness of the nation. It was opened in 2006 as a part of the Bicentennial project in preparation for the 200th anniversary of Chile 's republican life. This center houses two main exhibition halls and other minor rooms as the Centro de Documentación de las Artes 'Arts Documentation Center' with information and resources concerning modern and contemporary art and its Cineteca Nacional (National Film Archive), a digital laboratory for film restoring and digitalization. There is also a handicraft shop, a cafeteria, and two excellent restaurants.
Cajón del Maipo
Cajon del Maipo is part “huaso” (a Chilean cowboy from the Central Valley), part artist's colony, and part small-town charm tucked into a valley in the foothills of the Andes. From Santiago, it's less than one hour to the heart of the Cajón. If you have a day and would like to get a feel for the Andes and its rugged beauty, a visit here is highly recommended. The well-paved road through this valley follows the path of the Maipo River. Along the way you'll pass dozens of stalls set up by locals who sell fresh bread, honey, kuchen (a dense cake), empanadas and chocolate to passersby. Then you'll pass the tiny hamlets of Las Vertientes and San José de Maipo, the principal city of the area founded in 1792 when silver was discovered in the foothills. Plan to come on a weekday if you can.