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5 Can’t-Miss Experiences Unique to Santiago, Chile

Seek out these unforgettable experiences you can have in Chile’s capital – and nowhere else.

Tucked behind the peaks of the Andes, Santiago is remote enough to foster its own idiosyncrasies. From powerhouse cocktails to communing with the dead, here are five experiences you can seek out in Chile’s capital – and nowhere else.

1. Dine on ancestral cuisine

Panera at Peumayen

At Peumayen restaurant, chef Juan Manuel Pena Passaro employs the ingredients and techniques of Chile’s pre-Columbian tribes, such as the Aymara, Mapuche and Rapa Nui. He makes salads from weeds that grow in Andean lakes, infuses ice cream with the fragrant herbs of the Atacama Desert and serves highland stews by adding hot stones to the liquid just before serving. All the dishes are artfully presented and reasonably priced at Passaro’s upscale restaurant in Santiago’s lively Bellavista neighbourhood.
Constitución 136, Santiago, 56-2-2247-3060, peumayenchile.cl

2. Taste a truly Chilean cocktail

The pisco sour is Chile’s most popular drink, though its origins are hotly disputed by Peru. Instead, we suggest ordering Santiago’s runner-up cocktail: the terremoto (earthquake).The concoction is a potent mixture of pipeño (a young white wine) and pineapple ice cream, served in an outsize jug. Try it at La Piojera, a historic café near Plaza de Armas. 
La Piojera, Aillavillu, 1030, Santiago, 56-2-2698-1682, lapiojera.cl

3. Ask a spirit for a favour

Cemetario Generale de Santiago

Chile’s largest graveyard, Cementerio General de Santiago, is home to the Chilean tradition of veneration of animitas. The grounds feature ornate mausoleums – think Egyptian temples or Apples stores – and shrines built around the graves of those who died unnatural deaths. People who never knew the deceased leave offerings of flowers, toys and treats at the shrines in exchange for favours. If you’re in love, pass by animita La Novia. She might just bless you with romance for a cookie. 
Av. Profesor Alberto Zañartu 951, Santiago, 56-2-2637-7800, cementeriogeneral.cl

4. Drink at the mansion of satire

The mission of the Clinic – a lively restaurant-bar owned by a satirical newspaper – is to poke fun at the powers that be. To wit: It takes its name from the London Clinic, where Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in 1988. Choose from the excellent selection of local craft beers while surrounded by wittily Photoshopped depictions of world leaders. Try something traditional, like a churrasco (a rich, plate-size beef sandwich), or go for the outstanding octopus ceviche. After dinner, stroll around the rest of the complex, which includes an art-house cinema, a gallery and Santiago’s first sex shop for women.
Monjitas 578, Santiago, 56-2-2920-8304, bartheclinic.cl

5. Visit the house of unruly curls

La Chascona in Chili

Pablo Neruda, Chile’s most celebrated poet, built this house on the slopes of Santiago’s San Cristóbal Hill for his mistress, Matilde. He named it La Chascona – loosely translated: messy hair – after her unruly red curls. They eventually married, and after Neruda’s death in 1973, Matilde beautifully restored the house and opened it to visitors. The property is cherished as a monument to the quirkiness of the Nobel Prize-winning poet, who designed and decorated it himself, with artwork from famous friends and a dining room modelled on a ship’s cabin.
Fernando Márquez de la Plata 0192, Santiago, 56-2-2777-8741, fundacionneruda.org

Tags

BARS     CHILE     FOOD & DRINK     RESTAURANTS     SANTIAGO    

Getting There

Air Canada offers year-round non-stop service from Toronto to Santiago, Chile.

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