As an American expat who lives in Santiago, I have had the unique opportunity to see why Santiago is such an ideal city to live in for someone like me. I find it very similar to New York - it’s a big, cosmopolitan city with a thriving nightlife and a vast array of activities for the restless explorer.
Many travelers to South America bypass Santiago before making their way to Atacama or Patagonia. But I think that’s a mistake, so I put together a list of reasons why Santiago is worth exploring.
10 REASONS SANTIAGO IS THE BEST CITY TO LIVE IN SOUTH AMERICA
View of the mountains: Wherever you look, you’ll see a gorgeous view of the Andes mountains (cordillera de los Andes!). In winter, the snowcapped peaks are the highlight of my walks outside. It makes the city extremely special and unique in its beauty.
Always sunny: For anyone that loves being outside, Santiago is your city. It almost never rains here, so much so that I’ve heard people scream the few times it has. The sun almost forces you to leave your home and be active, exploring new places every evening and weekend.
Parks system: Santiguinos really value their outdoor spaces, especially the parks that make up the vein of the city. Parque Forestal is one of my favorites, but Parque Bicintenario also deserves a special visit.
Hiking options: If you like hiking, you’ll love Santiago. It has endless options for hiking, including the famous Cerro San Cristobal that you’ll see on every “must do” Santiago list, as well as lesser known destinations such as Manquehue and Saltos de Apoquindo.
International restaurants: While I am not a fan of Chilean food, the city hosts a flurry of international food from the likes of Peruvian, Indian, Thai and many more. One of my most memorable dining experiences was at Borago in 2018, but there are tons of others that deserve your time (and wallet).
READ MORE: EATING AT A WORLD’S BEST RESTAURANT
Pretty safe: What still surprises me is how safe Santiago can be, especially in the tourist neighborhoods of Lastarria or the quieter neighborhoods of Las Condes or Vitacura. Yes, you have to have your wits about you (don’t leave your bags unattended, etc), but in general, a solo female can walk around during the day just fine.
La Vega - I don’t know what I’d do without this giant farmer’s market in the Recoleta neighborhood of Santiago. It’s sheer size can be intimidating for a visitor, but it’s well worth your time. The vendors are almost always willing to let you try the exotic fruits that adorn the stands, and there are scores of food and drink vendors for you to try. My favorite is Cafe Altura!
Public transportation - as a New York native, nothing gets better than my city’s public transportation system. But Santiago certainly gives it a run for its money, led by its amazing metro system that runs every 30 seconds, and rarely lags mid-station like the NYC subway. Santiago’s bus system is also great, with large bus terminals that will take you as close as Valparaiso (90 minutes) or overnight to the Atacama Desert (24+ hours).
Diversity - Due to the economic and social crises of their South American neighbors, Chile has welcomed numerous Haitian and Venezuelan immigrants in the past few years. And because it’s the epicenter of South American businesses, you’ll find numerous foreigners and expats scattered throughout the city.,
Cheap wine: Possibly one of the satisfying aspects of living in Chile is its wine. It’s cheap*, good quality and ubiquitous. And you haven’t lived until you’ve seen geriatric Chileans down a couple of bottles of wine over lunch.
Do you agree with this list, or have anything to add? Tell me in the comments below!