I lived in Santiago for a month learning Spanish. Some things I loved about this city and others not so much. One thing's for sure there is plenty to do. These are my 13 must-do's of Santiago:
1. Spanish school
Santiago is a relatively inexpensive place with a fantastic Spanish school. Tandem Santiago, located in a better part of town - Providencia - was a wonderful experience. We had the best instructor that spoke clearly and instructed a laid back yet serious class. The school has different class options as far as number of hours you want to take daily and how many weeks. Loved it and learned a ton.
2. Hike San Cristobal Hill
Only about 45mi-1hr, this hike gives a stunning view of Santiago's skyline. If you are there in the summertime be sure to go early in the morning before it gets too hot. Then you can take the cute funicular back down to the bottom of the hill.
3. Explore the Andes
There are hundreds of organized treks and hikes you can do through the Andes just outside of Santiago. One of the most beautiful and sought after landscapes on Earth.
4. Day trip to Valparaiso
One of my favorite places to date - the vibrant Valparaiso will overload your senses and make your heart beat fast. I couldn't stop navigating my way through the narrow streets in excitement of what street art I would see next!
5. Day trip to Vina Del Mar
Want to get away from the dry Santiago heat? Take a quick 2 hour bus to Vina Del Mar for some sun bathing by the water.
6. Catch a movie in Spanish
If you are trying to learn Spanish this is a great plan! It is fun to see other cultural films in attempt to learn the language and follow along.
7. Lounge the day away in Vitacura's Parque Bicentenario
This beautiful park is the perfect place to set up camp and read the day away.
8. Stop for a drink in Bellavista
The lively part of town is packed with culture, music, restaurants, and shopping. Go late night for a drink.
9. Indulge in vegan and organic ice cream from Zenzero
I died and went to heaven here. The "zero" options are dairy free, organic, and sweetened with unrefined evaporated cane juice. Of course, keep it in moderation (something I failed to do here in the dry heat!).
10. Go to La Chakra organic grocery store and cafe
This staple in Santiago has the best produce and food around town. Everything you need in one stop.
11. Have dinner in Barrio Lastarria
The charming barrio is my favorite part of Santiago. Cute restaurants and bars are concentrated in this cobble-stone lined neighborhood. Check out the restaurant Quitral for a fantastic dining experience from service, to ambiance, to food.
12. Tour Pablo Neruda's house in Bellavista
One of the beloved artist's 3 homes is nestled in the heart of Bellavista. The home, which he designed personally, is open for tours all day.
13. Have coffee in Barrio Lastarria
Oddly enough good coffee was hard to come by in Santiago. Barria Lastarria, a cute neighborhood in Santiago Centro, has great spots. "Wonderful Cafe" is good for ambiance and strong coffee where several other restaurants in the area sell Marley Coffee - an organic fair trade coffee that I couldn't get enough of.