Arrived Santiago at 2pm and the next leg of our flight will not leave until midnight, giving us a good 6 hours to tour the city.
Whenever I visit a new city, my must-do list includes checking out the local market, try a local dish, visit a museum and a jog in the park. This time I didn’t have enough time for a jog in the park but did visit a park, Parque Forestal, in the heart of Santiago City. Here’s my recommendations for Santiago if you ever find yourself with 6 hours of idle time.
Starts with Mercado Central de Santiago. It was opened in 1872 and its intricate cast-iron roof structure was fabricated in Scotland. Inside the market are mainly seafood stalls and food stalls and restaurants. The shops around the market sells cheese, fruits and vegetables. For a late lunch, Clarita Restaurant offers local dishes. Try their Cazuela, the ultimate Chilean comfort food. The version I had is a beef broth with potato, pumpkin, shell pasta, bell pepper and lots of cilantro.
After the market, head south to Plaza de Armas, the main square flanked by several museums. Then head east towards Barrio Lastarria, the hip and happening district.
Barrio Lastarria is the old historic part of Santiago filled with European style buildings, now a bustling place full of cafes and restaurants. There are street markets selling artisan crafts. Check out Restaurant Bocanariz which is supposed to be very good for wine pairing. Unfortunately didn’t get to try it as they were fully booked.
Parque Forestal is a long and narrow stretch of park land in the middle of the city. Find a bench for your tired feet to rest or even better lie down on the grass, like the locals do. Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes is at the edge of the Park, and entrance is free. The museum building itself is spectacular but the exhibition at this time didn’t impress me, except for a bronze sculpture at the entrance hall.
Restaurant Castillo Forestal, housed inside a castle (tiny one) also inside the park, serves French food. In the summer time, the sun doesn’t set until about 9pm so guests can dine surrounded outdoor surrounded by green foliage.
By this time, my 6 hours is up, time to head back to the airport for my red-eye flight at 1am!