Where to go during a layover in Santiago
I was transiting in Santiago from San Pedro de Atacama back to the U.S. and I had about 6 hours to spare in the afternoon. There was not much time but I would like to go somewhere. However, the airline counter is not evened open yet for check-in so I am stuck with my luggage, or I have to pay about US$12 for the storage for a few hours. So, there were a bunch of drivers looking for businesses at the arrival entrance of the airport and I asked about going to the Costanera Center. After a few exchanges of messages on our phones with Google Translate, he agreed to take me to the Center, wait for me with my luggage in his truck, and return to the airport in about. So I said yes, and we took off.
I have been to Santiago and other places and still, I had to make the most of the 6-hour stopover. Luckily the traffic in Santiago is not as horrendous as many other Latin American cities, once we got out of the highway, we entered the Avenue Sta. Maria and we arrived at the Costanera Center in exactly 18 minutes.
The Costanera Center was completed in 2009. The entire site is a business and commercial complex that includes a six-floor shopping mall, the Gran Torre Santiago, and three other skyscrapers. Gran Torre, in particular, is 300 meters tall, making it the tallest building in Latin America and the second tallest in the Southern Hemisphere after Australia’s Q1 on the Gold Coast. Like any other skyscraper complex, the Costanera Tower has a modern and sleek design, connected to the trendy shopping mall and all sorts of dining and entertainment. However, it was the observation deck, the Sky Castanera, that I was after during this quick trip. The observation deck offers an unobstructed view of Santiago’s cityscape and the sunset is beyond magnificent. It was a beautiful day and I figured it was the best place to spend the time up there.
Santiago is a very “green” city that I could see an abundance of lush covering the streets and avenues with houses popping out from the trees, and the urban development is accentuated by the rugged Andes Mountains and it was just so much to take in. Thanks to the dry weather with fewer clouds, everything could be seen clearly even they are far away.
For me, the majestic Andes Mountains left me in awe. Starting in Venezuela until Tierra del Fuego, the average height of the mountain range is above 5000 meters. There are several eco-parks and nature reserves in the mountains which are rich in natural, cultural, and touristic resources. It acts as a climate screen, helping to generate Mediterranean weather along the Santiago basin, in favor of agriculture.
Other landmarks in Santiago include the National Stadium, O’Higgins Park, the Entel Tower, Santa Lucía Hill, Forestal Park, Plaza de Armas, La Moneda Palace, Plaza Ñuñoa, and more. When the night settled in, every visitor was sitting by the big window toward the west, getting ready for the magical moment. The silhouette of San Cristóbal Hill was just beautiful ~ and if you have only a few hours to spare during transit and would like to see as much Santiago as you can, consider the Sky Castanera experience. 🙂
For more of my pick of the world’s best observation decks, check out: The Best Observation Decks in the World That You Don’t Know
Some of the iconic places in Santiago to look out for:
Santa Lucia Hill: It is the place where Santiago was chosen to be founded as a city in 1541. The Hidalgo Castle was built in order to watch over the region in colonial times. Now, it’s a historic site in Santiago with pathways, lookout points, terraces, and artwork.
The Entel Tower: The telecommunication tower was the tallest building in the city for 22 years since its inauguration in 1974. The landmark is one of the most visited places on New Year’s Eve because of its pyrotechnical show.
Forestal Park: The park is a series of developments that include the Bellas Artes Museum and the National Library. It is now the main urban space for cultural and artistic expression.
Plaza de Armas: A Plaza de Armas represents the city’s colonial roots of Spanish culture. It is the main axis for the construction and the after growth of the city. Historic monuments such as the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Current Post Office, the National Historical Museum, and the Santiago City Hall are found nearby.
La Moneda Palace: The only 100% pure Neoclassical building remained in Latin America, and it is the presidential palace.
Bellavista Neighborhood: The city was divided into “Colonial Santiago” and “La Chimba” during the 16th century and Bellavista, on the north shore of the Mapocho River, was the place for socialization and cultural expression of natives and mestizos. Today, the neighborhood is a bohemian, gastronomic, artistic, and emblematic melting pot.
Los Dominicos Village: The village is a space that emerged around the ’80s to shelter artisans and artists to show and sell their artwork. The space located close to the San Vicente Ferrer Church, in Las Condes. This place belonged to the Dominican monks during the XVIII century.
Calan Hill: It is an island hill in Santiago, taking part in the Ramon Sierra. Home of the National Astronomical Observatory since 1960, it has become one of the inheritors of the astronomical tradition in the country.
Plaza Ñuñoa: A bohemian and cultural neighborhood and it’s known for its traditional restaurants, theatres, and live music.