I decided to start my exploration of Santiago by walking through the neighborhood I live in – Barrio Bellavista. It’s popular with foreigners and young Chileans, and is known as the Bohemian quarter of the city.
The neighborhood is loaded with restaurants, bars, and clubs, especially along the streets Pio Nono and Constitución. The tables at all the restaurants along the streets are packed at night. The more upscale restaurants and quieter crowds seem to be along Constitución. All throughout the neighborhood, you’ll find colorful murals.
There are a couple mansions in the neighborhood. One is the Castillo Lehuedé, which was built in 1923. The other is The Aubrey, which was built in 1927 and is now one of the top boutique hotels in Chile. It was built for Domingo Durán Morales, a Chilean businessman and politician who made his fortune in the railroad business.
The star attraction of Bellavista is one of Pablo Neruda’s three homes, La Chascona. Work started in 1953, and because of Neruda’s love of the sea, it was designed to feel as if you were on a ship. It was severely damaged during the military coup in 1973. His lover, Matilde Urrutia lived here, and restored it after the poet’s death. It’s now a museum.
Admission to La Chascona is 4,000 pesos and no photos are allowed inside the house (in the gardens only). A very informative audio guide is given to explain every room of the house, and the tour takes about an hour to finish. It’s well worth visiting.
Tourists and locals both like to visit Patio Bellavista, an entertainment center with lots of good restaurants, bars, and shops. You’ll also be able to book day trips and get cash at ATMs. It’s a great place to hang out with friends. There are entrances on Pio Nono and Constitución.
Finally, there’s a small church a block west of Pio Nono on Calle Bellavista. It’s not that amazing but I really like the trumpeting angels on the tower. The church is called Capilla Liceo Alemán.
The nearest metro to Bellavista is Baquedano (Plaza Italia). After crossing the bridge over the Río Mapocho, you’ll be on the main street though the area, Pio Nono. Turning right onto the side streets of Dardignac and Antonia López de Bello will take you to Constitución. Following them to the left, there isn’t as much, but the street art is great. Continuing down Pio Nono to the end will get you to the base of Cerro San Cristóbal.
Some words of advice along Pio Nono: Watch your cameras and bags. Put your camera away when you aren’t using it. Keep your bags on your lap when you’re sitting outdoors. Don’t flash anything expensive at night.