By Ellie Greenwell for ContactChile.
Picture the scene. It’s a sunny Saturday in Santiago. You decided not to escape the city this weekend – no hiking, no beaches, no getting up close and personal with nature. This weekend you want to explore a little more of the city you’re calling home right now. But with so much to see, you’re not quite sure where to start.
Santiago has countless beautiful barrios to explore, but a particularly popular place for a Saturday stroll is Barrio Lastarria. A tiny barrio centered around one main street, Calle José Victorino Lastarria, this small neighbourhood is bursting with life, art and trendy spots to relax with a coffee. The area is popular among tourists, with a few boutique hotels nestled in the area. But don’t let this fool you: there are plenty of Santiago gems for new locals (like you!) to aprovechar (take advantage of).
If you don’t want to miss the best that Lastarria has to offer, here’s a run-down of some of the highlights to guide your perfect city weekend.
Important warning: Calle José Victorino Lastarria is not a street to walk down if you’re in a hurry. At the weekend, the street fills with a cute little feria at the top of the street, where artists show off their recent work alongside stalls full of souvenirs and arty gifts. And that’s just the official market.
Street sellers line the rest of the road, promoting their hand-made fanny packs, arty notebooks, second-hand clothes and incense sticks. FYI: This is the perfect place to find any cute last-minute gifts!
Slow your pace to a gentle wander and check out all the quirky things that sellers have to offer. Oh, and don’t be alarmed if suddenly there’s a frenzy of sellers picking up their stuff in a sheet and running off around the corner: there’s probably a carabinero(local police man) headed down the street!
Eating in Barrio Lastarria
Feeling hungry? Skip the touristy restaurants of Patio Lastarria and check out some of the other gems in the area.
Grab an amazing brunch at Wonderland Café (Calle Rosal), choosing from a huge range of breakfast options (including a full English Breakfast, for any Brits out there!). If you have a sweet tooth, their insane “Drink Me” milkshakes will have you drooling. I’m not kidding. Just look at this beast…
If you’re in need of a midday snack, check out Hogs (Calle Merced) for a yummy and more hipster take on a Chilean hot dog. Grab a latte at Bloom (Calle Merced), or sit down for a Chilean empanada at snack hotspot La Mensajería (Calle Lastarria).
At the bottom of the street, right by Metro Universidad Católica, you’ll run into some of the best ice cream in Chile at Emporio La Rosa. This little ice cream shop is full of incredible flavours (we recommend lucuma-manjar!), but be warned – the queue is often out the door on weekends.
If your day has turned into night, there are plenty of places to grab a drink and an evening meal. Chipe Libre is famous for their creative cocktails made with traditional pisco that go way beyond your average pisco sour. Ask to sit in the back where you’ll find an adorable courtyard to enjoy your drink away from the madness of the street.
Holy Moly on Merced has some of the best burgers in town, or hit Casa Madero (Calle Villavicencio) for some beers and chorrillana in this cute bar off the main street. If your family’s in town or you feel like a fancy dinner, splash out on a night at Boca Nariz, where the food is expertly paired with some of Chile’s best wines.
Culture in Barrio Lastarria
But Lastarria is not just all about the food. We promise. The area is full of some beautiful street art, and has a ton of culture to dive into.
Outside the metro you’ll find the beautiful towering metal building that is the Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral – commonly known as the GAM. This museum and arts centre has regular exhibits that are free to wander through, as well as a ton of theatre and dance performances regularly. Wander through the courtyard outside and stop to admire the building’s structure, watch tango lessons in action, and see teens practicing their K-Pop dance moves in the mirror.
(Bonus tip: on Thursdays, check out the open-air salsa classes across the street from the GAM with Santiago Baila Salsa (19:30-21:30). For just 1000 pesos, join in for a class and flex those latin rhythm muscles!)
Another place to get lost in some art is the Museo de Artes Visuales, or MAVI. This tiny museum is tucked back from the street but is well worth the visit. They regularly have exhibitions designed to engage the senses, and often feature local and student projects. Make a small contribution and see what they have on offer.
Whatever you’re doing in Barrio Lastarria – whether it’s shopping, eating, getting cultured, or just wandering and taking it all in – this barrio is perfect for a relaxing weekend exploring some of the amazing things Santiago has to offer.