A great reference for any traveler is someone that has been there before and knows a few little secret spots to check out. Everybody is going to be around the major tourist locales, but if you listen to the other travelers you will find the places that aren’t as commonly known, but add the most local flavour. A few places in the burgeoning cosmopolitan city of Santiago, Chile that are worth checking out include:
La Vega is a section of Santiago that feels utterly South American. The main market of Santiago is set next to the Mapocho River and is totally chaotic and indelible Latin American. Find fruit and vegetables, fresh for the day, piled high with sellers actively trying to persuade people walking past to buy from them. Literally, street theatre is unfolding here in the market as a never ending cascade of interactions between the stalls owners and their customer’s colours each day. Foreigners are always thrown off a little by the pig heads strewn out in the butcher stalls. Perhaps this place is a bit grimy, by some standards, but it offers a real chance to connect to the true heart of the city.
Barrio Lastarria is a great little hub of culture. What it doesn`t have in size it makes up for in style as it houses a decent art-house cinema, a theatre, several boutiques and even weekend book and antique markets. This place brings out San Tiago`s culturally astute and fashionable types and is worthwhile for any visitor to see to get a different, more refined, feel for the city.
The General Cemetery
A trip to Santiago’s main cemetery will show travelers a different connection to the dead that the Chileans have as they often picnic near the graves of loved ones. Families come together in the lovely flower filled cemetery not so much mourning as celebrating the lives of loved ones. This cemetery also offers a good chance to learn more about the history of Santiago.
Bellavista is a lively artistic area of town that has plenty of cafes, galleries, street art, and bars… Day time is great here for searching out the varied graffiti, but as night rolls around this barrio becomes as chaotic as Soho in London. Shoulder to shoulder to clubs are food stalls, bars, and drunken Chileans revelling in the night. If all this drunkenness becomes to much just head a few streets over to Constitucion where expensive, civilised dining is taking place.