The Chilean capital is a place for all types of interests and tastes. If you’re looking to spend a unique afternoon in a relaxing atmosphere with a touch of culture in a pleasantly fragranced environment (and why not?), you might want to consider the following activities in Santiago.
While the city center is an intense, hectic place, you’ll also find one of the most beautiful and peaceful spots in the whole capital: the Parque Forestal. A brief tour of this park on foot or by bike will take you along a two-kilometer path winding through this veritable urban oasis of lovely gardens and noble trees. In a city full of attractions and sights, the Parque is an absolute must.
You might consider starting your tour at Plaza Italia, the point where the park begins, and simply drift westward following the course of the Mapocho River along the southern bank. As you pass beneath the canopy of trees, the air becomes notably fresher and more humid, the noise of the city begins to fade and a feeling of peace begins to take over. The paths send you weaving between the enormous oriental plane trees, magnolias, acacias, Chilean evergreens, the quillayes (soapbark trees), and araucaria coniferous evergreens. This stroll is ideal for the autumn months when the leaves are changing color and starting to fall.
The surrounding area is dotted with all kinds of fountains and sculptures, and everywhere you look, people of all ages are enjoying the park, relaxing, juggling, or playing sports. From this vantage you can also appreciate some of the other attractions lying just beyond the park, such as the historic iron bridges crisscrossing the Mapocho River. Along the streets adjacent to the park, you can see a Santiago classic: the Lastarria neighborhood, another attractive location worth visiting, and just another example of the many activities in Santiago.
Midway through the park and near the bridge, you come to an important heritage building that houses the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, as well as the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (the National Museum of Fine Arts and the Contemporary Art Museum, respectively). This neoclassical edifice, replete with its flowing art nouveau architecture, was constructed in the early 19th century. If you pause to visit its spacious salons you’ll be drawn into the history of Chilean art. The permanent collection of the MNBA has a number of hallmark works from national artists as well as temporary exhibits. Crossing over to the other side of the building, at the MAC you’ll find some avant-garde works from national and international artists.
To add a sweet touch to your day, you might want to call in at the Emporio La Rosa. On the outskirts of the park, this locale with its vintage ambiance will transport you back to the 50s, although the ice cream flavors are hardly typical of that era: ulmo honey, araucano chocolate, rose petal, and orange ginger are just some of the exclusive, signature flavors of this famous ice cream chain that was first started at this very spot.
After an enchanting afternoon in Santiago’s woodland park, you’d be forgiven if you forgot that the Chilean capital city is also one of the most bustling and dynamic in all of Latin America.