Living in Santiago

06.08.20166 Min Read — In Travel

Way of Life

  • Length of Stay:

    • 2 weeks in November 2015
    • 3 months in May - August 2016
  • Season:

    • Spring
    • Autumn and winter
  • Reason:

Local Transportation

Getting around is relatively simple.

  • The first thing I recommend is buying a Tarjeta Bip! and loading it with cash. In my experience, it’s possible to load it online with a MasterCard debit card on the Metro de Santiago site.

    • The Santiago Metro and Bus system can get extremely crowded during the hours of 8-9am and 6-8pm. I would avoid it at all costs.
    • When you’re waiting for a bus, make sure you hail it as you would a cab at the stop. The drivers don’t stop at every stop.
    • Same thing goes for getting off, make sure you know what stop you need and request the driver stop (via button) when you’re approaching it.
  • Uber Chile is available and reasonably priced.
  • Cabify is an Uber competitor and also reasonably priced.
  • EasyTaxi is also used a lot but I don’t have much experience with it.
  • To get from the airport to wherever you’re staying, I’d recommend making a TransVip reservation ahead of time.


  • I rarely need to carry cash here unless I need to recharge my mobile phone and Bip!
  • If you have Apple or Google Pay set up on your phone, it’s possible to use it at many establishments (and blow people’s minds).


Living and working in Las Condes was convenient. I had housing taken care of for me while I was there for work. However, I would recommend finding an Airbnb in Providencia, Barrio Italia, Lastarría, or Bella Vista if you’re visiting.

Internet & Mobile

  • It’s very easy to obtain a mobile SIM here, but to recharge online, you need a Chilean RUT (similar to Social Security Number). It’s possible to recharge at a grocery store or drug store, but you’ll most likely need cash.

Other Quirks


  • Avocados. Avocados everywhere. Don’t try calling it aguacate though. It’s called palta here.
  • Diet foods first. Establishments prominently put the “healthy” alternative to products before their sugary counterparts. You can find warning stickers for high calories, fats, sodium, etc. on packaging (similar to tobacco warnings).
  • Bread is a prominent component of all meals, but not great in my opinion. Unless it’s marraqueta. Marraqueta is delicious.

    • To order anything that comes between two buns without bread, you can order it “al plato.”
  • There is a lack of use of condiments and spices. Sometimes you have to ask to have salt and pepper brought to your table. This can be frustrating for someone that loves spices but I respect the mentality to respect produce and foods in their simplest forms as possible.


These are memorable restaurants and ones I visited on many occasions.

  • Baco: consistently delicious. Long wine list. On different occasions I’ve had the seared duck breast, beef medallion, smoked salmon salad, roast beef platter, octopus, and creme brulee. They were all great.
  • Gaon: Korean food in Las Condes. I would recommend the dark chicken spicy soup, kimchee jjigae, bulgogi, galbi zzim.
  • Polen: Solo vegan weekend brunch was a treat. Owners inspired by a visit to LA and SF.
  • Soler: MASSIVE pork loin sandwiches. Simple ingredients. My lunch usual is lomo tomate-palta with ají verde or chucrut (sauerkraut) al plato.


  • Café Diario: Consistently great on both drinks and service. My morning usual on my way to work. Super cute shop and practically standing room only. Closed weekends.
  • Taste: Super close to work and home for me. I think it’s funny this is next door to a Starbucks. They really highlight the essence of specialty coffee. I’d skip the siphon and get a Chemex if you’re going to stay for a while. The cappuccino here can be a hit or miss depending on the barista. Would have love to have been able to hang out here with my laptop on a rainy weekend but they’re closed.
  • Cafetín: The roaster that supplies the beans here is located in Algarobbo along the coast. The Brazilian I had prepared in a Chemex was fantastic. Wish this had this been closer to home and work.
  • Milk: Wish this were closer to work! Sometimes has guest roasters but most of the time gets coffee from Cafe Altura. Made friends with a barista, Criss (say hi to him for me), that showed me other parts of Santiago. ❤️ Busy, busy in the mornings. Standing room only. Closed weekends.
  • Café Altura: coffee cart in Mercado La Vega. Cash only. Espresso is fantastic. Recommend grabbing a cup and wandering around the market.
  • Good Café: Found inside Mall Espacio M. The baristas here are very keen on reaching perfection. Cash only.
  • Café Triciclo: Coffee trike now permanently stationed in Barrio Italia. Had a Chemex and was not disappointed. Live music Saturday nights and an invited guest barista. Cash only and open on weekends.



  • Rock Climbing: I haven’t done outdoor climbing here but there are a few options for indoor that I would recommend.

    • El Muro: Great for rope and bouldering. The roped routes are not updated often, but lead climbing opens up more options for mixing things up a bit.
    • Casa Boulder: Bouldering only. Can get really crowded but is in a nice neighborhood (Barrio Italia) with tons of options for food and exploring before and after.
    • Zenit Climbing: Las Condes’ best kept secret? This place is practically empty every time I go. Bouldering only. In Parque Araucano and next to Mall Parque Arauco.
  • Cerro Manquehue

    • Easy hike inside Santiago’s “city limits.” Great view of Santiago and the cordillera on a clear day.
    • Follow WikiExplora’s Guide for tips on how to get there via several methods of transportation. If you decide to go on the weekend, take advantage of the shuttle Vitacura provides to get to the trailhead.
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