This blog post was updated on September 28, 2018.
When you are the largest city and the capital of a country, keeping costs down isn’t always on the table. Chile’s capital and largest city, Santiago, foots the bill for travelers with its rich offering of free attractions every budget can appreciate. With its mix of Latin and European influences and colonial architecture clashing with modern skyscrapers, Santiago presents a fine stop on any itinerary. Especially since the city’s bicentennial, Santiago has been hard at work, adding more museums, parks and cultural centers. At the same time, if you don’t want to spend a peso visiting Santiago, the city offers a number of free things to enjoy, including these three:
Take A Hike: The best view in town comes at no cost, that is if you are willing to work for it. Visitors to Santiago can hike up Cerro San Cristóbal, 860 meters above the chaos and smog of the city. Part of a 722-hectare park called Parque Metropolitano, the Andean peak adorns with a lookout point topped with a 22-meter high state of the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepción. In order to reach the incomparable views of Santiago at Cerro San Cristóbal, you can go by foot, bike, drive or take the cable car. The cable car option does however cost the price of a ticket.
Take A Bite: In order to truly take a bite out of Santiago without spending an arm and a leg, travelers can head to the city’s colorful and tasty markets. La Vega Central is the city’s main market. Piled to the rafters with fruits and vegetables from Chile’s Central Valley, the market presents a fine spot to get to know Chilean food. In addition to every fruit under the Chilean sun, you can expect to see freshly butchered meat and a number of local eateries within the market. Santiago is also famous for its Mercado Central. Set up in an art nouveau building from 1872, Mercado Central remains one of the top food markets in the world, known especially for its fish selection.
Take A Seat: If you have been on your feet a little too long in Santiago but you still want to soak up the sounds and sights of the city, take a seat in Plaza de Armas. The heart of Santiago boasts a long history as the city’s main plaza when it was first laid out in 1541. Today, it remains the center of Santiago’s administrative, social and commercial life. A number of notable neoclassical buildings call the plaza home including the Cathedral and the Muncipalidad. You can easily take a seat under one of the over a hundred Chilean palm trees in the square and watch Santiago’s world walk right on by.
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