Santiago, the capital city of Chile in South America, is a well-known destination for city travelers, often stopping there on their way to the picturesque Patagonia and other southern regions of this thin but very long country stretched along the Pacific coast.
During a recent press trip through South America for The Place Brand Observer and the Sustainability Leaders Project, I had the opportunity to spend over a week in Santiago, and to meet Felipe Vera Soto, one of the country’s leading sustainable tourism change-makers.
For Green City Trips I asked Felipe to share some tips on what to do in the Chilean capital.
Felipe, if you had to choose one, which would you consider your favorite place in Santiago – and what makes it so special for you?
My favorite places are not urban, but natural and one of them is the Andean mountain range, since it is very close to the city center. In only 30 minutes by car you can appreciate wonderful views of central valleys.
5 tips for travelers planning to visit Santiago – Do’s and Don’ts?
I would recommend enjoying the mountain, considering that it is so close to the city.
Visit the Pre-Columbian Museum to understand the origins of Chile as country.
Get to know the reality of the Pinochet dictatorship and the period 1973-1990. The museum of memory and human rights is a must, to know the most recent history of our country.
Walk through the Metropolitan Park and enjoy the gastronomic offer in the Lastarria neighborhood.
What I would not recommend: visiting the city during the summer period, from December to March, since temperatures and air pollution are very high.
What makes a city worth visiting for you?
I believe that cities have magical elements that allow us to recognize the advances in architecture, planning and design. Always in a city you can enjoy museums and nightlife to learn more about the way of living of the locals.
3 ingredients for the perfect Santiago trip?
- Hike in the mountains
Which green hotels, tours/experiences and eateries would you recommend to socially and environmentally conscious travelers visiting Santiago?
I would recommend to all visitors that they could visit the area called Cajon del Maipo, which is almost 1 hour from the center of the city. There is a growing scene of accommodation with a sense of responsibility for the environment, and with a cuisine that unites the best of northern and southern Chile.
In addition, this zone has protected areas which are in constant risk due to the expansion of mining and energy activities.
It is always good when tourists choose accommodation in Chile that has the S seal of sustainability, given by the national tourism service, SERNATUR.
Any advice for travelers visiting Santiago on a tight budget?
There are various options, such as hostels, in the center of Santiago. Buses and subway are safe and cheap. Better still if you can travel part of the city by bicycle, but remember that the network of good bicycle lanes is still under development…
In your view, how has Santiago as destination evolved in recent years, in terms of urban sustainability?
Despite the fact that sustainability in Santiago is very backward compared to other cities, there are some initiatives that are worth mentioning, such as Santiago Freak Tours. They offer walking tours with a special component, since they are the only carbon neutral tour operator in the country.
Thank you, Felipe!
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