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  • Writer's pictureBianca

The Best Things to Do Solo in Santiago, Chile

Updated: May 13

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So you're thinking of visiting Santiago de Chile as a solo traveler. It's a popular destination and I highly recommend it, though I wouldn't advise a long stay - anywhere from 1-3 days is enough time for your solo trip to Chile's capital. In addition to must visit sites, I'll also delve into personal safety in this post, which is super important for solo travelers, and solo female travelers in particular, to take into consideration. I recently decided to take a journey around South America with my dog and spent most of the first month in Santiago, Chile so I got pretty well acquainted with the best places to visit in the large city. To help you figure out the best things to do, I've put together this comprehensive guide for Santiago, Chile solo travel.


Is Santiago, Chile Safe?

Chile is one of the safest countries, if not the safest country in Latin America. While petty crime has been slightly on the rise recently, as long as you are exhibiting common sense, you'll be safe for the most part. As a solo female traveler, I personally never felt uneasy walking through the streets of Santiago. General rule of thumb is to keep your belongings close to you and wear your backpack on your front as a precaution (this is typically the recommendation for most big cities).

Does Santiago, Chile Have Public Transportation?

Santiago has a pretty extensive public transportation system! Public transit is actually a great way to get around the city. To use either the bus or metro, you will need a Bip! card, which you can get at any metro station. The Bip! card is super important - you can't pay with coins or credit card on the bus unfortunately, only this card. The local buses are abundant, however I will say that they can take a while to show up in the less busy areas.

a city landscape seen through sunglasses lenses
The view of Santiago from Cerro San Cristobal

Solo Exploration: Where to Go in Santiago?

Whether you're into art, natural beauty, or food, there are a lot of fun spots to visit as a solo traveler in Santiago! Check out a few, or all (depending on how much time you've got to spend in the capital of Chile) of these sites.

Bellavista

The Bella vista neighborhood is covered in some of the best graffiti art. You can spend so much time walking and admiring the gorgeous colors and scenes! In addition to the street art, you'll find that this neighborhood is the spot for nightlife. Pop into a bar and odds are you'll find other solo adventurers willing to join you on a bar crawl for the evening. This is a great place for you to meet new people if you don't plan on being on your own for the entire time you're in Santiago.

Chipe Libre

Both Chile and Peru claim the pisco sour as their national drink and you'll hear locals from both places tell you their country has the better pisco. However, at Chipe Libre, you get to decide for yourself which claim is true. The restaurant/lounge is actually named for both countries Chi(le)Pe(ru) and celebrates pisco from various regions in the two countries. You can try a pisco flight or have a couple of the many EXTREMELY tasty pisco cocktails. The menu also gives you a brief history of pisco in the two countries. If pisco isn't your thing, they also have pretty great food as well!

Buildings overlooking a plaza
Plaza de Armas on a sunny day

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas is a must-see right in the heart of Santiago. The buildings are incredibly historic and mostly remnants from Santiago's colonial era. where you can soak in the sights and sounds of the city. Wander through the historic streets lined with colonial-era historic buildings. The buildings are beautiful to look at, but Plaza de Armas is also a great place to go for a stroll and find some good food.

Cerro San Cristóbal

Saint Cristobal Hill is the best spot in Santiago to get a bird's eye view of the entire city with the Andes Mountains in the background. You can choose to hike your way up which takes around 2-3 hours, but I'm lazy and took the funicular up which I think is more fun anyway. There are also cable cars once you get up that can take you to different areas as well as back down to the exit.

Cerro Santa Lucia

Also known as Santa Lucia Hill, this hill is much smaller in comparison to Cerro San Cristobal. The park is gorgeous and you can expect to spend about an hour or two here. It's difficult to put into words just how picturesque this area is, so you'll just have to see it for yourself. While I wouldn't exactly recommend this as a must-see, you should definitely go if you have more than a little time in Santiago!

people walking past shops in an industrial-looking building
The inside of one of the many markets in Barrio Italia

Barrio Italia

If shopping is your thing, then you'll definitely want to hit up Barrio Italia. The streets in this neighborhood are littered with unique shops and markets featuring everything from clothes to crafts and much more. It's a much better alternative to gift shops as you'll probably find much cooler items here. It's also a good place to go if you're looking for more upscale restaurants (surprisingly not a ton of Italian food here though).

Day Trips from Santiago

If you have a lengthier stay in Santiago and want to venture outside of the city, there are plenty of short trips you can make for a day or two that will be completely worthwhile.


colorful staircase surrounded by vibrant buildings
Stairs to a funicular in Valparaiso

Valparaiso & Viña del Mar

Valparaiso and Viña del Mar are colorful coastal towns about an hour and a half drive from Chile. I didn't get the chance to visit the latter, but can vouch 100000% for Valparaiso as an epic day trip from Chile's capital. The street art is gorgeous and vintage funiculars are a fun way to get around the mountainous town.


I took a day trip to Valparaiso from Santiago, but drove myself. If you don't have this option and can't be bothered with figuring out getting a bus there on your own, I definitely don't blame you. GetYourGuide offers this awesome day trip to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar that will pick you up in the early morning and drop you off at your hotel after an entire day exploring the coastal towns.


Cajon del Maipo & El Yeso Dam

Chile is home to many diverse landscapes and Cajon del Maipo is one of them! Nestled within the captivating Andes Mountains of Chile, Cajón del Maipo is a breathtaking natural wonder, enticing adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. This awe-inspiring canyon, located just southeast of Santiago offers a serene escape from the urban hustle and bustle. 

One of the most iconic landmarks within Cajón del Maipo is the imposing El Yeso Dam, which stands majestically against the backdrop of the Andean peaks. The dam not only serves as a vital water reservoir for Santiago and its surrounding areas but also adds to the scenic charm of the canyon.


GetYourGuide also has a small group tour to Cajon del Maipo (including a picnic!) so you don't have to arrange the details of this day trip by yourself. Plus the fact that it is a group tour gives you the opportunity to meet some great people which is always a good idea for solo travelers who like being sociable and want to meet new people.


Additional Solo Safety Tips

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

Always look around to see what local people are doing to clue you in on what you should be doing. For example, in certain neighborhoods I noticed that anyone who had a backpack would wear it on their front and no one had their phones out. Whereas in other neighborhoods, I'd see people walking freely with their phones in hand.


As a solo female traveler, one of the most important things is to watch how women move. The area of my airbnb wasn't the best and I noticed almost immediately that women never walked alone - they were either in a group, with their significant other, or with a dog. So I followed suit and only walked outside with Zeus, and never after sunset.


Get Travel Insurance

After loads of research, SafetyWing is the best I've found in terms of both travel insurance and travel health insurance. Getting sick while traveling alone is one of the most isolating feelings, but at least knowing that you're covered reduces the stress.


SafetyWing isn't just for long term travel - you can select plans for varying lengths of time and depending on your location as well!

Black Woman smiling in front of a blurred yellow building covered in graffiti
Sun shining in Valparaiso!

You're Never Solo...Even if You Are

You'll find that locals are very friendly and will ask a lot of questions about you and your travels! Most are well- meaning, but never let your guard down. It's ok to lie in these situations - especially for solo female travelers. Never say that you are traveling alone, always say you have friends in town or a significant other, or father/uncle.


Pay Attention to the Dates

A taxi driver warned me to be especially wary on the 1st, 15th, and last day of the month in Santiago. I was told that these are common paydays and thieves/pickpockets like to say they are "going to work" on these days, so to speak.

 

Even though Santiago, Chile isn't your typical bucket list destination, you'll still have the best time here as a solo traveler. There are so many fun sites to see and the street art that covers the neighborhoods is so vibrant, you can't help but be in a good mood while exploring!

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