Top things to see and do in Santiago

Thursday, 13 October 2011 5:37 PM

Cerro Santa Lucia: Great for history

Cerro Santa Lucia: Great for history

If you're in Chile and want to explore Santiago from cheap accommodation, you will find that there is a lot to see and do in the city.

There are many sights and attractions for you to discover from hostels in Santiago, such as those in the centro historico - or historic quarter.

For a true sense of the real Santiago, head to the Plaza de Armas, a square with some of the best examples of fine architecture to be found in the city.

You will be able to see a host of sculptures and fountains and, of course, the cathedral, which towers over the square itself. This building was originally commissioned in 1747, but its exterior was not completed until 1906.

From here, you should make your way down Calle Rosas, which is home to the Central Post Office - located on what was once the residence of the city governors - and the Cuartel do Bomberos, the headquarters of the oldest fire brigade in the metropolis.

If you want to get to know more about local history and see lots of artefacts, paintings and archaeological collections, head to the Museo Historico Nacional.

Keen to explore as much of the surrounding area as possible? You might want to make your way to the Barrio Lastarria, which is home to a number of boutique shops and bookstores.

The best time to visit might well be weekend afternoons, when the streets come alive with buskers, jugglers and painters.

You should also make time to climb one of the best landmarks in the city - the Cerro Santa Lucia, a tiny green hill that is home to the ruins of an old Spanish fortification and lots of charming terraced gardens.

The biggest of these terraces is the Terraza Caupolican, which still bears the symbol of the King of Spain's coat of arms.

If you're looking to pick up a few souvenirs of your trip, head to the bohemian quarter of Bellavista. If you make your way to the Montecarmelo, you will find some great shops - including several of the best retailers of semi-precious stones in the city, which are crafted into a wide range of figurines.