The 3 Best Barrios to Explore in Santiago
I arrived into Santiago not knowing what to expect the first thing that totally surprised me was the sheer city of the city. Nestled between snow capped mountains, the city sprawls as far as the eye can see from the peak of Cerro San Cristobal mountain in the centre of the city. At first glance the city itself is nothing special to look at, in fact the locals call the CBD “Sanhattan” because it’s a stark concrete jungle without a lot of warmth or appeal. Similarly, Downtown Santiago has some picturesque parks and plenty of bustle, but it’s full of fast food joints reflecting Chilieans' apparent love affair with really bad hot dogs. But if you do a little further and off the beaten track you will find some amazing, quaint, quirky and not-so-quiet barrios to explore, you just have to step off the tourist trail. Here is a list of the best: 1.Barrio Italia
This part of town is without a doubt my favourite part of the city. Like the name suggests the area feels very European with low set, incredibly colourful buildings and tree lined streets. The unassuming doors on the footpath lead to narrow arcades full of cosy cafes, bite sized bars and active artisans working away on leather good, textiles and fashion wear. I could have easily blown all my cash and luggage space on furniture, I definitely don’t need, from from the stores such as Yagan and Area Design. Once you have worked up a hunger from all the window shopping, stop by Casa Luz (casaluzrestaurant.cl) for some home style Italian cooking. Its fit out is jaw droppingly cool, balancing kitschy-vintage and stark industrial-seamlessly.
2. Bella Vista
Warning bells went off screaming “TOURIST TRAP” when I first entered the main square of Bella Vista - the abundance of english menus and photos of food were a dead giveaway. Despite there being a lot of tourists (including myself of course), there are plenty of locals too, especially the students of the nearby university who flock to Bella Vista for its nightlife. It is also worth exploring during the day if you’re a street art appreciator or stopping for a coffee after a visit up Cerro San Christóbal (the mountain with amazing views over the city).
3. Barrio Lastarria
This Barrio has been dubbed the hipster neighbourhood thanks to its arty scene, cosy cafes, record stores and peculiarly dressed residents. Barrio Lastarria is home to one of the best spots in the city, Cerro Santa Lucia, which is park that sits above the hectic city below and it boasts some very photo-worthy views of the city back dropped by the snow capped mountains. Paris and Londres Streets are a quaint little subsection of the area which, as you probably guess, look a lot like London and Paris with cobblestone streets and historic architecture. Casa Lastarria is the perfect roof top bar to enjoy a sunset while enjoying Chile’s signature cocktail, the Pisco Sour.
I would love to know your favourite experiences and places in Santiago, I am sure I will be back again soon.