Where to stay in Santiago de Chile: Best areas and neighborhoods

Where to stay in Santiago de Chile
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Are you wondering where to stay in Santiago de Chile? Let us help you to figure out which neighborhood is best for you! Some of the best areas to stay in Santiago de Chile are Centro, Las Condes, Lastarria, Recoleta and Bellavista.

South America is so crowded with great cities to visit that many fantastic vacation destinations get overlooked. While the nonstop party reputation of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and the thriving metropolis of Buenos Aires in Argentina get prominent billing in travel guides, Chile often plays second fiddle to some of its neighbors.

But this slender strip of a country isn’t to be overlooked, and the capital of Santiago in particular is worthy of getting more attention from travelers. It’s often a self-fulfilling cycle too. That lack of exposure means that it can often be hard for visitors to even identify the best places to stay in Santiago de Chile.

That’s a shame, because it’s a metropolis packed with diversity and filled with plenty to do. The Andes Mountains are barely over an hour a way, and they offer some of the best skiing on the continent. And for those who’d prefer to kick back and relax, it’s one of the major hubs of wine production in the Americas.

Santiago is something of a cross section of Chile’s fascinating but fractured history. It’s a city where La Moneda Palace – a living embodiment of Pinochet’s bloody coup in 1973 – coexists with the home of famed Nobel Prize winning activist and poet Pablo Neruda.

Museums and landmarks honoring the pre-Colombian civilizations sit alongside historical buildings that serve as a reminder of the Spanish invasion.

But even as political circumstances changed the shape of this bustling city, life continued as it always did and continues to continue on today. There’s high-class restaurants and food stalls that draw their tradition from generations of culinary history.

Pisco and wine vie for the spot as the city’s official drink of choice, and bicycles and cars crowd the streets. Life must go on, and regardless of your decision about where to stay in Santiago de Chile, getting around doesn’t need to be as intimidating as it may look at first blush.

Where to stay in Santiago de Chile: Best areas to stay in Santiago de Chile

The moderate climate makes it an ideal city for navigating by bike, and the roads are surprisingly friendly to cyclists despite the apparent chaos of traffic. Santiago is home to a very accessible bike share program and one of the cheaper and more convenient bus services in the continent.

The Transantiago bus service provides more convenient options for getting around the city’s center, while the metro bus system is always expanding.

The result is a city that’s remarkably friendly to travelers. Even if there’s a language barrier, you don’t need to be intimidated about getting around town, and the city is a great access point for the other attractions that Chile has to offer.

That means you’re largely free to choose where to stay in Santiago de Chile without having to worry about getting boxed in. Below, we highlight the best areas to stay in Santiago de Chile.

1. Centro

Where to stay in Santiago de Chile: Centro
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The Centro District so prominent in Central and South American cities often have two characteristics: their historical landmarks and architecture and their reputation for crime. Fortunately, Centro Santiago only possesses the first.

If you’re looking for some history lessons, this is one of the best places to stay in Santiago de Chile. The city’s downtown district is home to some of the most notable landmarks, including the Teatro Municipal, the Cathedral of Santiago, the National Historical Museum, La Moneda Presidential Palace, and the Plaza de Armas.

The Plaza has been the centerpiece for public activity since the earliest days of the city, and it’s still a place of social and commercial activities for many residents. It’s also a great place to sit back and relax after a long day of sightseeing.

The centralized location means that the Centro District is one of the best areas to stay in Santiago de Chile if you’re looking to be in the city for an extended period of time.

Whether you’re looking to rent a car, ride a bike, or take the metro, you’ll be right in the heart of it all, and there’s no other neighborhood in Santiago better positioned. And for day to day activities, you’ll have access to a ton of restaurants and retail outlets.

The close proximity to the bohemian neighborhood of Bellas Artes makes it an especially promising prospect for visitors looking to dive head first into the local culture and arts scene.

If you’re looking to stay in the Centro District, you’ll want to consider finding a spot south of Alameda Avenue. This is where all the best residences are.

The Centro District probably isn’t the best place to stay for backpackers or those on an especially tight budget. While you’ll find some hostels, the majority of options that are going to be available in this district are boutique hotels and furnished apartments that are available for rent.

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2. Recoleta y Bellavista

Best areas to stay in Santiago de Chile: Bellavista
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The commune of Recoleta is one of the most sprawling districts in Santiago is hard to categorize singularly. We’ve already covered the downtown district that falls within its purview, but those looking for a hipper and less tourist-heavy districts will find Bellavista to be one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Santiago de Chile.

There’s a liveliness to this barrio that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else (with the closest competitor being Bella Artes). Known for its bohemian reputation, the buildings of Bellavista are covered with colorful and expressive murals that paint a dramatic picture of the city’s past and present, and it’s accompanied by some of the liveliest bars and nightclubs in the entire city.

But Bellavista isn’t simply a party spot. The only real landmark of note is the house of former poet and national icon Pablo Neruda, but the real attraction of Bellavista during the day is the people watching.

This is one of the most prominent art districts in the city, and you’ll find galleries, boutiques, and cafes in generous supply. Then there’s the market on Pio Nono which specializes in handmade goods and particularly the famous lapis lazuli that’s mined in Chile’s mines to the north.

But not all of the beauty around here is man made either. Local Parque Metropolitano is the city’s largest park, but it’s not the only space to commune with nature in this neighborhood.

Chile National Zoo is also located in Bellavista, It’s situated between the lazy, scenic Mapocho River and Cerro San Cristobal. This hill offers one of the most scenic views of the city, and it’s high up enough that it can even offer a vision of the Andes Mountains on clear days.

Bellavista is one of the best areas to stay in Santiago de Chile regardless of your budget. It offers an extensive selection of hotels suitable for any price range.

Whether you’re looking to stay at a boutique hotel with luxury amenities, a cozy midrange bed and breakfast, or a slimmed down hostel, you can find something to suit your needs in Bellavista or the surrounding communities in Recoleta.

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3. Lastarria

Where to stay in Santiago de Chile: Lastarria
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Lastarria is like the twin sister to the artsier and more free-wheeling neighborhood of Bella Artes, but the two districts blend together so much in terms of both geography and culture that they’re sometimes hard to tell apart.

Located near the Centro District, Lastarria is a higher class neighborhood, and it can largely be distinguished by its distinct cobblestone streets. That flavor of authenticity has made Barrio Lastarria one of the more popular tourist hubs within the city, but it’s also a favorite cultural hub for the locals.

If you’re looking to treat yourself to some upscale dining on a regular basis, this is probably where you want to stay in Santiago de Chile. Boutique shopping and small cafes combine with regal architecture to create a mood that’s very European. It’s certainly a sharp counterpoint to the modern glass and steel towers that constitute much of Santiago.

The pedestrian friendly Plaza Mulato Gil de Castro is home to a used book and antiques market every Thursday through Sunday, while Centro Gabriela Mistral, which recently underwent a serious rebuilding effort after being severely damaged in a fire, is a hotspot for art, live theater, and music.

Lastarria has been a designated historic district since 1997, but despite its charmingly Old World style, it’s still rich with modern amenities. That brought with it a surge in restoration efforts. The buildings here are classical without being worn down or unsafe.

As the tourism scene has grown here, mid-range and luxury boutique hotels have taken up roots in some of the older buildings. And while they retain their stately and classical charm, many are equipped with contemporary features like rooftop pools.

You can expect to spend a little more in Lastarria than you would in other districts, but you’ll also get to enjoy the cultural renaissance that the neighborhood’s been recently experiencing.

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4. Providencia

Best places to stay in Santiago de Chile: Providencia
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As the capital of Chile, Santiago is undoubtedly a lively city. Travelers looking for where to stay in Santiago de Chile that’s a little more relaxing may want to consider Providencia. It’s a quiet and largely uneventful residential area catering to middle class residents and eminently family friendly.

While you won’t find much here in the way of museums, galleries, or historical landmarks, that comes with a bonus as well. You don’t have to worry about throngs of tourists pouring in. And despite the majority of Providencia being dominated by houses, apartments, and greenery, there’s still a sense of community here.

Providencia Avenue is a popular commercial hub busting at the seams with restaurants and shopping, and it leads to one of the largest malls in the country in the form of Costanera Center. Journey right off this main street and you’ll find countless tributary streets that offer more off the wall and authentic shopping and dining choices.

There’s a lot to do in Providencia during the day or night, but head off a few blocks in any direction and you’ll almost always find a more placid and serene stretch of residential areas. In that respect, it really does offer the best of both worlds.

And despite Providencia’s more sedate atmosphere, there are a few things definitely worth checking out in this neighborhood. Sky Costanera observatory is the tallest building in the city, and it offers one of the most breathtaking views of Santiago anywhere.

But the real sightseeing highlight is the architecture itself. The classical architecture is nicely paced with plenty of greenery, and the neighborhood is generous with its parks and plazas.

The residential nature of Providencia means that there’s a bit less in the way of traditional hotels, but there are a few larger luxury options and some hostels with great pricing if you know where to look. If you’re having trouble tracking down proper lodgings, you can get more creative with apps like Airbnb.

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5. Las Condes

Where to stay in Santiago de Chile: Las Condes
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Las Condes has earned the nickname of “Sanhattan”, a reference to the famous New York burough of Manhattan. The last few decades have seen a significant boost in the economy of Santiago, and it’s present in this financial district more than anywhere else in the city.

The skyline is dominated by magnificent glass and steel high rises, and the quaint colonial architecture that dominates much of the city is largely absent in these heavily trafficked streets. That makes it an obvious and practical choice for business travelers, but others will likely find the value of staying here highly situational.

That said, Las Condes isn’t just a place to do business. As the heart of commerce, it draws the attention of residents who like to work hard and play hard.

This is a neighborhood that looks to the future, and that means that it’s bursting at the seams with some of the most innovative and trendsetting restaurants in South America and some first class and high class shopping opportunities.

If you’re looking to pull out all the stops and enjoy the most exclusive experiences Chile’s capital has to offer, Las Condes is easily one of the best places to stay in Santiago de Chile. The high streets of Alonso de Córdova and Nueva Costanera are littered with premium shopping opportunities.

You’ll also want to keep in mind that if you don’t have a rental car, you’ll have to rely more on the metro buses and taxis. Las Condes is less hospitable to bicycles than many of the other districts in the city.

The reputation of Las Condes is one centered on wealth, and that means that you won’t find any hostels or much in the way of budget or mid-range hotels here. But the luxury hotels in this district are some of the most modern and amenity rich around.

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6. Bellas Artes

Best neighborhoods to stay in Santiago de Chile: Bellas Artes
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Bellas Artes is largely seen as the twin sibling to Lastarria, but it’s undoubtedly not an identical twin. This neighborhood once had something or an unsavory reputation, but in recent years it’s become one of the most prominent bastions of culture and the arts in Santiago.

In that respect, it bears some similarities to Bellavista, but it also has a style all its own. The namesake of the neighborhood is the Palacio de Bellas Artes, or the Palace of the Fine Arts, and you’d be doing yourself a grave disservice if you didn’t at least spend an afternoon within its walls.

The museum is over a century old, and despite suffering some serious damage during the 2010 earthquake, the architecture itself is still a think of astounding beauty.

If Lastarria is a little more upper middle class, Bellas Artes is significantly more bohemian. For many, it’s the cultural heart of the city. Parque Forestal has long been the spot to be seen for Chile’s artists and intellectuals, and night time is brimming with gallery shows, poetry readings, and live music.

There’s always something to do on any given night, but if you’re looking for a more relaxing day to spend your afternoons, be sure to make a hike up nearby Santa Lucia Hill.

The fact that it’s stitched at the hip to Lastarria means that you can stay in Bellas Artes and still have easy access to everything that neighborhood has to offer. That’s an especially nice bonus because Bellas Artes is generally cheaper.

You’ll find a decent variety of cute mid-priced lodgings and eminently affordable hostels. And the fact that one of the most accessible metro lines comes in right at the museum means that essentially the whole city is open to you as well.

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7. Barrio Brasil

Best places to stay in Santiago de Chile
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Barrio Brasil has earned its name due to the fact that all of its streets are named after places in Brazil. But this neighborhood is as Chilean as they come. There’s a level of authenticity to this neighborhood: lower class, a little more dilapidated, but surprisingly safe.

If you want to brush shoulders with real working class Chileans in their day to day lives, Barrio Brasil is the place to set up camp. With the street cred that Barrio Brasil offers comes some of the hippest bars in the entire city, and it’s got a respectably broad number of parks as well.

A highlight is Plaza Brazil which has a reputation for attracting musicians and street performers. Its location right alongside the barrio’s biggest cathedral means it’s hard to miss.

If you’re looking to add a little more culture to your life, you’ll want to be sure to check out Parque Quinta Normal. This massive park is home to no less than five different museums.

They include a botanical garden (Jardín Botánico), a contemporary art museum (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo), and a natural history museum (Historia Natural) as well as a museum spotlighting the history of the railroad (Museo Ferroviario) and a cultural center that features multiple interactive attractions (Artequin).

Barrio Brasil is also one of the cheaper places to stay in Santiago de Chile. Your dollar can get you a long way at the budget hotels and hostels available in this area, and furnished apartments are typically not that hard to find.

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8. Vitacura

Neighborhoods in Santiago de Chile: Vitacura
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Another part of the section of Santiago known as “Sanhattan” is Vitacura. If Las Condes is where the rich and affluent of Santiago work and play, Vitacura is where they live. As a result, it tends to offer a pretty high concentration of American businesspeople and travelers.

The architecture here is all towering monuments to modernity, and the relatively close proximity of the Andes means it’s a great place to get a great view of the mountains.

If you have the money to spare, you’ll find a variety of luxury hotel chain and high-end boutique options here. If not, well, you should at least stop by one of the bars for a nice glass of white wine or some top shelf pisco while you’re in the city.

And the neighborhood itself isn’t all high rises either. Venture out from the center and you’ll find quiet and perfectly cultivated residential streets with magnificent trees and imposing houses.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a hotel or hostel in these more quiet and affluent areas, but house and apartment rentals can be found if you have the time and patience to plan ahead of time.

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See also: Where to stay in Lima, where to stay in Panama City, where to stay in Bogota

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