Galleries and museums
Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino- (Pre-Columbian Art Museum), is considered the most important museum in Chile. The building itself is a neoclassical-style masterpiece, it is one of Santiago’s most distinguished colonial buildings. Inside, the permanent collection focuses on pre-colonial historical pieces from the Americas including Mesoamérica (present day Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, el Salvador, Nicaragua and the Caribbean), the central and southern Andes, and the Amazon area.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes- This is the gallery for fine art seekers. The building was inspired by the Petit Palais in Paris and you can definitely see the resemblance between the two with the true Beaux-arts style. There will be something to please all as the permanent collection boasts both historical (from around 1887) and contemporary paintings and sculptures. Chilean paintings have sadly reduced in number and is confined to just six small rooms, the rest of the museum is dedicated to temporary exhibitions.Its location in the Parque Forestal (one of Santiago’s most glorious parks) means that you can take in some of nature’s green views and if you want to continue along the contemporary art trail, the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo is just behind the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.
Teatro Municipal de Santiago- Over 150 years old and constructed in French Neoclassical style, this is Chile’s temple of culture located in the heart of the city. It has undergone substantial refurbishment work so may appear a bit more modern than expected. Here, you can see theatre performances, if you feel your Spanish is up to scratch or go to music concerts, operas, tangos or ballets (the theatre is home to the Ballet de Santiago). Event listings can be viewed here.
Theatre is booming in Chile at the moment and it’s not just for the upper-classes. There are around twenty theatre companies dotted around Chile that are not limited to Santiago. Theatres offer a range of prices and plays to suit all. There is even an English speaking theatre group,
Other than the National Parks spread out around Chile, there are a couple in Santiago that can be done in a spare hour.
Parque Forestal- This park is set in the downtown area of Santiago and is an urban park perfectly suited for a picnic. If you continue east you will find the Balmaceda Park and a near unbroken stretch of green land by the side of the Mapocho River.
Parque de las Esculturas- If you’re by the Mapocho river, you should also visit the Parque de las Esculturas where, as the name suggests, you can enjoy the greenery while passing the sculptures which capture the feeling of natural and urban space.
Something a bit different
If you feel like doing something a bit different besides the galleries and theatres outside of Santiago then give these activities a go.
Neruda's houses- Chile’s poetic genius and Nobel Prize winner, Pablo Neruda, is well worth an investigation. You can visit his houses turned into museums in La Sebastiana, La Chascona and on Isla Negra. Neruda wanted to keep the child alive within him and you can expect a playful treat as he once said; ‘I have also built my house like a toy house and I play in it from morning till night.’
Robinson Crusoe Island- This is the actual name given to the island located 700m off the coast of Chile, and a Scottish castaway by the name of Alexander Selkirk’s true story was the inspiration behind Daniel Defoe’s novel. Although Crusoe was based near the Caribbean, the young Scotsman’s adventure was far from a tropical paradise as the island is frequently surrounded by mist, far from the palm trees and white sandy beaches in the famous novel.
The island is now inhabited by around 800 residents who survive on lobster fishing and tourism. As a tourist you can wander round the stunning cliffs and mountains and wonder at the beauty of the island. You can even sample Alexander Selkirk stout ale in celebration of your voyage. There is a ferry from Santiago or flights lasting 3 hours.
Casablanca Valley- You couldn't go to Chile without sampling the wine or discovering the grape vines. Located 75 km northwest of Santiago, Casablanca Valley is where Chile made wine world history by producing its famous crisp, fresh wines. There are a variety of tours available that will guide you through the vineyards. Do research each tour company as they will offer different vineyard tours.