Santiago, Chile (Pictures)

By Walker Dawson

Santiago has come a long way in the last 25 years. It was once considered a rather drab, conservative city, known more for its dictatorial oppression and smog than anything else. Today, however, the Chilean capital is in the midst of a renaissance. On sunny summer afternoons, Santiago’s parks attract musicians, joggers, painters, and tourists.

Santiago is a city of diverse neighborhoods. There is Barrio Brasil and Barrio Yungay, two bohemian neighborhoods west of downtown where improv Salsa classes take place on the art covered streets. East of downtown is Barrio Lastarria, an upscale neighborhood full of narrow streets, small apartments, classy restaurants and bars and a magnificent hill, Cerro Santa Lucia, will views of downtown. And the list of incredible neighborhoods keeps going on, from artsy and gritty to historical and low key, Santiago has it all.

Most residents of Santiago are shocked when a foreigner actually likes their city (local opinion is that Santiago is a necessary evil, a place you must come to make money, but not a place to enjoy). With easy weekend trips to the Pacific or the snowcapped Andes, it’s easy to see why Santiago is becoming one of Latin America’s hottest cities.