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Santiago, considered to be one of the most picturesque places in the world. With a gutsy attitude that is both cultured and ambitious, Santiago offers a thriving culinary culture, a flourishing bohemian art scene, and some fantastic outdoor adventures in the surrounding mountain landscapes.

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Why visit Santiago

  • Explore the mountainous surroundings of Santiago, with breathe taking views and hiking trails which you will see many of the locals doing, this is very much an outdoor lover’s paradise.
  • Embark on an historic journey through Santiago, from the 19th century royal palace- Museo Histórico Nacional to the Chilean National History Museum which portray Chilean history.
  • Enjoy the day sliding down the icy slopes of Vale Nevado, or Portillo which are the best resorts in Chile for an unforgettable experience.
Chilean Peso.
Time Zone:
Standard time, UTC -4 (Santiago is six hours behind South Africa); Summer, UTC -3 (daylight savings time, five hours behind South Africa).
Dialing Code:
00 + 56 + Local Number
Drives on the right
Type I (frequency-50Hz: voltage-230V)
Type C/L (Voltage-220V: Frequency-50Hz)

The best time to visit Santiago would be during late-September till November. During these months the weather becomes pleasant enough for sightseeing. Although Santiago experiences a moderate climate with mild temperatures year-round, spring and fall are especially alluring with plenty of sunshine, thinner crowds and affordable prices for accommodation and flights.

The most spoken language in Santiago is Spanish.

  • Santiago was founded and named Santiago de Nueva Estremadura in 1541, by Pedro de Valdivia.
  • Santiago is the capital and the largest city of Chile.
  • This city was named after the biblical figure St. James.

Many of Santiago’s historic buildings, from its Spanish colonial past, have been lost to the earthquakes that affect the whole of Chile. The survivors are worth a visit, and include the Cathedral, Central Post Office and the Palacio de la Real Audiencia de Santiago, all of which border on the Plaza de Armas. The cast-iron-roofed Central Market is another architectural gem, and lies just a few blocks away from the square.

The exotic gardens and parks that dot Santiago are a great escape from the bustling metropolis, but if you really want to experience the outdoors, you’ll need to take a trip into the surrounding mountains. You can hike, climb, and ski here, or simply visit one of the outlying wineries for some viticultural relaxation.

Chilean wines are making a name for themselves all over the world as both affordable and flavourful alternatives to the traditional, old-world wines. Santiago’s wine regions are most famous for their Cabernets, so pack a bottle or two in your suitcase before you head home.

If you’d prefer a less consumable souvenir, head to one of Santiago’s handicrafts stores. The Centro Artesanal Santa Lucia is one the most affordable, but the centres in Bellavista have equally good, if pricier, stock. The Los Dominicos Handicraft Village also comes highly recommended, and you’ll find plenty of traditional basketry, woodwork and ceramics there.

Santiago has a good bus and metro system, but many travellers still prefer to hire a car here. If you do decide to use public transport, it’s best to buy a rechargeable card, especially if you’ll be there for more than a few days. The busses only accept these cards for payment, and they work on the trains as well. You’ll get free transfers between the two, which is an added convenience.

The national cuisine in Chile is heavily based on seafood, Santiago is a place where you can find the freshest seafood. When you visit this city, there are dishes that are worth trying like pastel de choclo, which is similar to a shepherd’s pie, meat and vegetables topped with a crispy cornmeal topping. There is such diversity with regards to the cuisine found in Santiago but there is always something that would appeal to you.

Below are a few of the best restaurants in Santiago that should be on your list of places to visit:

  • Fuente Alemana
  • Le Bistrot
  • El Huerto
  • Liguria
  • Aqui Esta El Coco

Many of the locals in Santiago affiliate themselves with the Roman Catholic faith. Santiago is the capital of Chile with a cosmopolitan culture. The locals are extremely friendly and welcoming, and are also generally accepting of other religions.

Santiago is a fairly safe place to visit, but like any place there are good and bad sides. Visitors should remain vigilant at all times as during peak season there are the odd occurrences of pickpocketing and petty crimes. The air quality in the city can decline during winter months (May-September), and be prepared during summer months for scorching heat. Visitors should try and avoid buying food and water from street vendors.

South African Passport holders do not need a Visa to visit Santiago, Chile, for up to 90 days. Just make sure your passport is valid for 6 months after your return date, and that you have 3 blank pages available for entry stamps.

Address:Torre San Ramon, Piso 17, Avenida 11 de Septiembre 2353, Providencia, Santiago.

Telephone: + 56 2 2820 0300.


Item Cape Town Johannesburg Santiago
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant R 90.00 R 100.00 R 107.077
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) R 22.00 R 20.00 R 28.37
Cappuccino (regular) R 19.00 R 20.00 R 36.83
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff) R 10.00 R 12.00 R 13.92
Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro) R 35.00 R 35.00 R 64.24

Santiago (Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez) International Airport – SCL

Food and beverages:The restaurants that are located in this airport include Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks.

Currency Exchange:Afex Currency Exchange has outlets in the International Terminal, after security, as well as in the International Arrivals Area.

Lost luggage:Lost hold luggage should be handled by your individual airline’s help desk. Report items lost or found in the airport itself to the SCL Help Desk, or call +56 2 690 1707.

Airport hotels:Holiday Inn Express is located directly opposite the front entrance to the Santiago International Airport.

Car Hire: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Econorent, Europcar, Hertz, and Rosselot.

Airport Hub: Santiago International Airport (code SCL) is a hub for LAN Airlines, Sky Airline, and PAL Airlines.

The information on this page is correct as of August 2016. While every effort is made to keep information as fresh as possible, takes no responsibility for any of the information being out of date or incorrectly noted.

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