- Parque Quinta Normal (in and around):
It is said to be one of the oldest and most beautiful parks in Santiago. Very close to its entrance there is a small lagoon where pedal-boating while feeding the ducks is possible. In summer, kids can enjoy the ‘water-games’ (between the entrance and the lagoon).
Inside the park you can also find the National Museum of Natural History, part of the Medicine Faculty of Universidad de Chile, where I work (best university ever), and Museo Ferroviario, with a beautiful collection of old trains.
Around La Quinta Normal (how we Chileans call the park) there are several other museums. Artequin, the kids’ museum; Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, which is steps from Quinta Normal Metro Station; Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos, a place to remember and honour all those who suffered human right violations during the military dictatorship from 1973 to 1988; Biblioteca de Santiago, and, Centro Cultural Matucana 100.
Important information: 151 Matucana Av. outside Quinta Normal metro station| Open from Tuesday to Sunday| Free access to the Museums inside the park, and the park itself|
2. Parque Forestal (in and around).
This long, narrow, manicured park has plenty of statues, fountains, and playground areas for kids to have fun. If you are planning on walking the whole park, it can take you from one hour to 30 minutes, depending on how many times you stop on your way.
Check the Monument to Rubén Darío and ‘A la Gloria’ sculpture given by the German to commemorate our first 100th independence anniversary.
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo are in the middle of the park. Castillo Forestal (a fine restaurant) is right across from Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. Lastarria neighbourhood is also around, as well as Palacio Bruna, which is opposite the park on Merced Street.
Important information: Urbarn park| free access from Monday to Sunday| Both, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo are open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday| both free|
3. Parque Fluvial Padre Renato Poblete:
This parks is composed by an artificial lagoon created with a part of the Mapocho River (pedal-boats available) and three water games opened during the summer (check the schedule before visiting the park). It also has a minimalist amphitheatre, great toilet facilities, and a free parking lot.
If you are visiting the park in summer, don’t forget to wear lots of sunscreen and a hat. There is not enough shade to hide from the sun, which is something I think they should improve. I got a terrible suntan last time, and so did my daughter. However, the views of the park are marvellous.
Important information: Take the J10 bus from Cumming metro station (FA 323 bus stop) – it takes no more than ten minutes| Grab a taxi from Quinta Normal metro station to the park- it should cost no more than 3 lucas (Chilean currency).
4. Parque Bustamante:
This park is said to be one of the most important green areas in Providencia. It has a skate park, playground areas for kids, plenty of green, and a really nice reading spot called Café Literario, right in the middle of the park (one of my favourite places in the city).
If you love reading, you’ll love Café Literario Bustamante. It is a cosy, two-story building where you can have a coffee (there is a coffee shop downstairs) while reading a book or a magazine (they have plenty) or just chill out a bit while enjoying free wifi.
If you are visiting Bustamante Park as a tourist, check the monument to Manuel Rodriguez, the most fearless independence leader Chile ever had; a great guerrilla warrior and passionate revolutionary.
There ara also some cafeterias and restaurants around to enjoy a snack.
5. Parque Bicentenario:
A 27-hectare green spot in Vitacura, created to celebrate the Chilean bicentennial. I think the greatest attraction of the park is the lagoon where black-necked swans, flamingos, taguas and herons live, though it is not my favourite part.
What I found interesting from my last visit to it was the “dogs’ park”. What my kids and I found great and attractive were the brilliantly designed playground areas.
There is a bicycle path. However, I never learnt how to ride a bike so I wouldn’t be able to tell you if it is a good one or not.
Despite the amount of people visiting the park during the weekend, you can actually bring a book and read it peacefully. You can also have a picnic, but barbecues are forbidden.
You’ll also find a nice a viewpoint, toilet facilities, a fancy restaurant and trees wearing knitted garments.
Important information: You can easily get to the park from Tobalaba Metro station by getting a taxi, a bus (a micro) or just by walking. It is located on Del Bicentenario Avenue, in Vitacura.
6. Parque de los Reyes:
This beautiful green spot has what it is said to be the best skate park in Santiago, you will also find here a sport and a cultural centre, playground areas for kids, rock climbing facilities for kids and adults, viewpoints from where you can see our great roads, and a flea market on Saturdays (but not all Saturdays, jeje).
I truly recommend visiting the best antique and old-fashioned furniture and adornments market, called El Persa de los Muebles.
Importnt information: It is located on Balmaceda street, between Estación Mapocho and Quinta Normal| nearest metro stations: Cumming (línea 5) or Cal y Canto Metro Station (línea 2)| Free entrance.
7. Parque de las esculturas:
This park is an open-air museum, with plenty of sculptures you can enjoy, plus a magnificent view of the Andes (if there is no smog) as well as the Mapocho riverbank. Apart from the more than 20 sculptures you can see in the park, there is an art gallery where young national artists display their art.
There are three ways of accessing the park: From Pedro de Valdivia street, from Santa María street and from Nueva Lyon street. Each of them has a map at the entrance, so people can find locate things easily.
Important information: opened from Monday to Sunday, from 10 am to 19:30 pm| free access.
8. San Cristobal hill: easily accessible, downtown-located hill which offers the visitor terrific panoramic views of Santiago as well as a bunch of other panoramas to enjoy a day out.
You can climb it to the top to get a bit of exercise, enjoy the endemic species, the different views of the city, visit Mapulemu Garden (botanic garden) and the Japanese Garden.
If walking is not your cup of tea, take the cable cart or the funicular to reach its viewpoints and enjoy Santiago from the summit while having empanadas and mote con huesillo (typical Chilean food) bought from the stands. Don’t buy souvenirs there. They are three times more expensive. Save your money for Santa Lucía Craft Market.
The city Zoo is also here. Not a panorama I would enjoy, but it is part of the list.
9. Santa Lucía Hill:
One of the most visited landmarks in Santiago, and personally, one of my favourite spots. It is not only a beautiful park, decorated with fancy stone stairs, colonial facades, European-styled fountains and gardens, and endemic flora, but it is also an open museum. Plenty of colonial relics can be spot on it, if you know what to look for.
- The canons used by the Spanish governor to terrorise the city neighbours if the independent army arrived to the city, about 210 years ago.
- Castillo Hidalgo, on the North side of the hill.
- One real cannonball from La Guerra del Pacífico.
- Two heralding coats of arm brought from the Spain to honour the king, which after the independency, where removed from the public spaces and left on the hill when it was not yet a walkable hill.
10. Parque O’higgins:
It is said to be the biggest green area in Santiago. Among other things, you’ll find picnic facilities, a swimming pool (though I still don’t know where it is) and a skate park. I wouldn’t recommend it as a landmark if you are visiting Santiago for only a few days, but, if you are planning to stay for a while or if you are a local, you can make it a weekend plan. There is also a nice theme park very close to it, called fantasilandia and a Chinese Garden.
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