Santiago travel guide
Santiago is most likely the first place in Chile many travelers will experience – more specifically, its airport. Most who pass through the largest city in Chile won't stay more than a day or so, but those who do so are missing out on Latin America's most modern metropolitan area, full of handsome high-rise architecture backed by a striking, snow-capped Andean background, a vibrant cosmopolitan night-life, and thousands of fine-dining and high-class establishments. Santiago isn't just for those who want to live the high-life, however; due to its location snuggled next to some of the highest mountains in South America (Aconcagua, the highest, is a short distance away), Santiago is often used as a home-base for skiers and snowboarders from around the world and his a large tourism industry.
Any fans of cycling will appreciate the city's extensive bicycle trails, the most picturesque along the Mapuche River (consult your travel guide for maps). Cycle around the beautiful and historic Plaza de Armas (site of the Metropolitan Cathedral and a mere blocks away from El Palacio de La Moneda, the Chilean equalivant of the White House) and enjoy the pleasing mix of colonial and modern arquitecture of downtown Santiago.
Music lovers will appreciate Santiago's numerous symphonic orchestras, which play in the municipal theatre near the Plaza Italia. In the theatre can also be seen opera, brass bands, and practically every other style of music imaginable. The arts are also close by with both a fine and contemporary arts museum located in Santiago.
Most of Santiago is connected by the extremely efficient and modern Santiago Metro, an underground guided-bus subway system which services all of downtown Santiago and most of the surrounding areas. Ride it from one stop to the next, or use it as the easiest (and cheapest) mode to explore the capital city of your host country.
To get a bird's eye view of Santiago, visit the nearby Cajón de Maipo, a quaint, high-altitude town about a half an hour's drive from the downtown area. From here one is rewarded with a striking valley of the Central Valley, and can also, if he feels extremely adventurous, ride on horseback across the Andes to Argentina.
While Santiago is extremely modern, every visitor is nonetheless advised to have caution in some parts of the city – Santiago is well-known for its high numbers of muggings, purse-snatchings, and car break-ins (known locally as "robos express"). Despite this, Santiago de Chile is still a fabulous destination in central region of this out of the way country in South America.