How to Visit Santiago on a Budget

Santiago city

Surrounded by beautiful vineyards and the towering Andes mountains, Santiago is the largest city in Chile, boasting world class museums, electric nightlife, and a thriving arts scene. It’s easy to see why Santiago is quickly becoming one of the hottest destinations in South America.

Best of all, there are plenty of free and budget-friendly places to explore in the Chilean capital. Keep reading for our best tips to help you navigate Santiago on a budget!


Santiago on a budget: Know before you go


Walk or take the metro

Save money on taxis by getting around on foot (Santiago’s grid layout makes navigation easy) or taking advantage of the city’s comprehensive transit system.


Remember that the seasons are opposite

Because Chile is located deep in the Southern Hemisphere, winter starts in June and summer begins in December. The best time to visit is during the shoulder seasons from September to November or from March to May.


Watch for pickpockets

Specifically around highly touristy places like San Cristobal Hill. Consider getting a money belt or a front pocket wallet for your trip.




Free and cheap things to do in Santiago


Take in the view from San Cristóbal Hill

santiago city

Perhaps the most famous of Santiago’s lookout points, San Cristóbal provides a stunning panoramic view across the city to the Andes mountains. You can hike to the top of this sprawling urban park if you’re feeling active (or budget-conscious), but most people just opt for the cable car. The park is also home to several other attractions including a zoo and wine museum.


Hike up Santa Lucía Hill

In a city that sits 1870 feet above sea level, there’s no shortage of challenging hikes. Santa Lucía Hill is worth the climb – the viewpoint provides a magnificent view over the city. If you’re looking for cheap things to do in Santiago, take some time to explore Santa Lucía’s trails and gardens. Admission is completely free.


Stroll through the charming Bellavista neighborhood


Situated between San Cristóbal Hill and the Mapocho River, Bellavista is Santiago’s hip, bohemian neighborhood. In addition to its reputation as a place for artists and creators, Bellavista is known for its vibrant nightlife. During the day, however, you can shop at the local craft stores, cool off with a sidewalk beer, and check out of some of the city’s best street art.

You’ll also find La Chascona in Bellavista, the house museum that was owned by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.


Visit the Museum of Memories and Human Rights

Though it may be a more somber stop on your Santiago itinerary, the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos is still worth a visit.

The museum commemorates and draws attention to the victims of human rights violations by the Chilean State under Augusto Pinochet between 1973 and 1990 so that ‘never again will these events that attack human dignity be repeated’. Most of the signage is in Spanish, so be sure to get the English audio guide for 2,000 pesos (about $2.60). Entrance to the museum is free.


See Santiago from the highest observatory in Latin America

santiago night

The Gran Torre may have just lost the title of the tallest building in Latin America last year, but Sky Costanera is still the tallest viewpoint in the region. Take the elevator up 300 meters (about 984 feet) and take in the stunning 360 degree view of Santiago – especially around sunset.


Explore Barrio Italia

Barrio Italia is one of Santiago’s best neighborhoods. Spend an afternoon enjoying the many shops, restaurants and wine bars in this area. It’s an excellent place to do some window shopping if you’re visiting Santiago on a budget. Tucked away from the main street you’ll find several arcades, filled with local art galleries and mate tea shops.


Plaza de Armas

If you’ve ever been to San Juan, Cusco or Lima, you may recognize the name ‘Plaza de Armas’, which means ‘square of weapons.’ The phrase dates back to colonial times, when one city square was intentionally left empty so that people could easily gather in the invent of an invasion.

The Plaza de Armas in Santiago has been the heart of the city since its founding in 1541. The square is enclosed by beautiful 19th century buildings, including the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago and the Central Post Office, both of which are open to visitors. Other highlights include the National History Museum and the centerpiece fountain of Simón Bolívar, who liberated Chile from Spanish rule in 1818.


Where to stay in Santiago on a budget


Eco-Hostal Tambo Verde

Situated in a 1920’s house that fits seamlessly with Bellavista’s Boho-chic vibe, Eco-Hostal Tambo Verde is one of Santiago’s coziest stays. They offer 10 room options, from private to dorm-style, with breakfast included.


Yogi Hostel

Splashes of lime green bring a vibrant touch to the whitewashed walls of Yogi Hostel. As the name suggests, this small but mighty hostel seeks to provide budget travelers (and their bank accounts) with tranquility.


Rado Boutique Hostel

This rock n roll themed hostel has put in enough thoughtful touches to be considered an almost boutique hotel. While guests appreciate the convenience of Rado Boutique Hostel being near some of Santiago’s best restaurants and vibrant nightlife spots, the rooftop terrace is everyone’s favorite.


Hotel Panamericano

Located downtown in the historic city center, Hotel Panamericano is perfect for those traveling to Santiago on a budget. The rooms are affordable and rates include a free buffet breakfast. The central location is ideal for getting around on foot, which will help you cut down on transportation costs.


panamericano santiago


Cheap flights to Santiago

Recently, Dollar Flight Club members have saved between 70-90% on cheap flights to Santiago. On average, our members spent $$$ on their tickets and saved over $$$ per ticket. Here are a few samples of cheap flight deals that Dollar Flight Club members have received recently.

New York City (JFK) to Santiago (SCL)

Price with Dollar Flight Club: $$$

Average Price: $$$

Boston (BOS) to Santiago (SCL)

Price with Dollar Flight Club: $$$

Average Price: $$$

Los Angeles (LAX) to Santiago (SCL)

Price with Dollar Flight Club: $$$

Average Price: $$$


santiago food


What to eat in Santiago on a budget

Mote Con Huesillo

This drink is a Chilean summertime favorite. Found at street carts throughout the city, it’s made with dried peaches, a peach-nectar-like juice and husked wheat or barley.


Pastel de Choclo

Pastel de Choclo is a traditional Chilean dish consisting of a savory corn pie typically filled with stewed beef.


Empanada de Pino

The Chilean version of this Latin American staple is baked and stuffed with ground beef, onions, black olives, raisins, and a hard-boiled egg.



In Chile, a completo is a tricked out hot dog served in many forms, usually with some combination of sauerkraut, diced tomatoes, mashed avocado, and mayonnaise.



Chile produces some of the world’s best wines and exports them worldwide. Not only are there several vineyards located near Santiago, such as the famous Concha Y Toro, but even the grocery store wine can often be affordable and delicious.


santiago countryside


Start planning your trip to Santiago

Ready to pack your bags? Santiago is vibrant and metropolitan city, worthy of so much more than a stopover on your Chile itinerary. Spend some time getting to know this South American capital – you won’t regret it!

Remember to save this budget travel guide and sign up to receive cheap flight deals, so you can start planning your trip to Chile today!

  • Zach Anderson

    Zach was a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helped 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.

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