16 May 2012
Take advantage of the many wonderful free opportunities to explore the city, will not only save some cash but perhaps lead you to less typical destinations.
Here, we look at four incredibly free, wallet-friendly adventures around the cosmopolitan capital, with a special emphasis on Santiago's many-storied history and dynamic art and culture.
Readers will notice that in order to reach some of the below attractions, taking the metro is suggested, which is not free. To solve this problem and make your free tour completely gratis, pick up a map at a tourist office or hotel and enjoy a day of walking the city streets.
1. Cementerio General is described in turn as eerie, decrepit, imposing and positively fascinating. Visitors interested in Chile's political history and anyone with an appreciation for cemeteries will not want to miss this spot in the Recoleta neighborhood - one of Santiago's most historically remarkable sites.
Getting there: Take the metro to the Cementerios station (Line 2).
2. Library-Cafes, centrally located in the Providencia neighborhood, offer free Wi-Fi, ample reading material and a place to kick back and rest your legs in very comfortable armchairs. The Parque Bustamente Café Literario and the Parque Balmaceda Café Literario are both located in the hearts of their respective pedestrian-friendly parks, and offer visitors the chance to take a breather from the city rush while reading a local newspaper.
Getting there: To get to the Parque Bustamente Café Literario (on Avenida Bustamante), take the metro to the Baquedano station (Line 1) and walk east one block to the northern tip of the park. The library is located just a short walk south. To get to the Parque Balmaceda Café Literario (at Avenida Providencia 410), take the metro to either the Manuel Montt or Salvador stations (Line 1) and walk west along Avenida Providencia.
3. Great museums abound in Santiago, including the Gabriela Mistral Center, a spacious, architecturally impressive museum housing several galleries of aesthetically displayed exhibits that are continually updated. The museum, named in honor of the beloved Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, often exhibits outdoors displays as well.
Getting there: Take the metro to the Universidad Católica (Line 1) stop. The museum is located on the same block as the metro stop - look for the imposing copper-hued structure.
Museo Ralli, funded by a private foundation, showcases an impressive array of Latin American artists in a spacious series of galleries. The museum includes a sizable collection of works by Salvador Dalí and Marc Chagall.
Getting there: Take the metro to the Escuela Militar (Line 1) stop and from there take a taxi or colectivo (shared taxi) to the museum, Alfonso de Sotomayor 4110, Vitacura.
4. Film and culture in Santiago is surely a highlight of the city's appeal, and visitors can enjoy a diversity of offerings without paying a single peso. Institutes supported by any non-Chilean country, such as the Instituto Chileno Norteamericano (United States) or the Instituto Chileno-Francés (France), advertise a variety of free films and events.
Other free film events can be enjoyed at the Juventud Providencia center (Manuel Montt 101), where international films are shown weekly free of charge. The Museo de Bellas Artes also offers a variety of free film events, and the Centro Cultural de España (Avenida Providencia 927 ) shows films on a variety of Latin American and Spanish themes and personages. The Librería Le Monde Diplomatique (San Antonio 434) screens a documentary every week free of charge, often by Chilean filmmakers.
For events specific to each neighborhood, check out the local government website - especially in Providencia, Las Condes or Vitacura. Although only available in Spanish, these sites are troves of information about the different neighborhoods, such as where bike rentals are located and, under "noticias," upcoming events, including expositions, fairs or summer film festivals, to name a few.
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