It makes us very happy indeed how rapidly Santiago is becoming less a quick stopover place and more of a stop and explore kind of a city. Admittedly, Chile’s capital is not the most obvious city in the world to visit, lacking a long list of famous landmarks and easily overshadowed by Chile’s northern Atacama desert and the south’s Patagonian glaciers. However, whether it be a smartphone or the fanciest of fancy DSLRs, there are some seriously cool places to train your camera onto, and for this reason, Foto Ruta, the creative photography tour company, has landed on this side of the Andes (originally founded and still very much also found in Buenos Aires). Even after 2 years of shooting, we still love exploring Santiago and capturing the variety on offer with our lenses.
After sharing a wonderful afternoon taking photographs with the Two Monkeys, we had a little think, scrolled through our folder of favourite photos and borrowed some places that we regularly frequent on our various tours, and here are just a few of our favourite Must See/Do/Visit/Photograph areas of Santiago.
A popular yet chilled out little bubble of the city, contrasting nicely to its surrounding bustle, leafy streets and parasol covered cafes offer some great subjects. Look out for the great old Biografo cinema also.
A holey rusty monstrosity with a thousand angles to oggle over. A little of everything can be found here from sculptures and installations to great people watching opportunities. This is our usual meeting point for our Street Scape photography tours, the perfect place to start the creative inspiration flowing!
Depending on the day, you will find a bunch of grumpy/happy/flirty/drunk fishermen (delete as appropriate!) Whatever their mood, there is a serious feast of visual delights here, from ancient weighing scales, to numerous types of fish. There are also some delicious restaurants where you can give your camera (and legs!) a rest
Check out the very photogenic Museo Bellas Artes, the cool INTI murals situated by the metro station and just soak up the general vibe of this cool little barrio
Plaza de Armas
You are nearly guaranteed at all hours of the day to find a fabulous mixture of chess players, fortune tellers, artists, stuffed horses, real police horses, preachers, or all of the above. Great people watching and street photography possibilities as well as incredible architecture including Santiago’s cathedral
An incredible mixture of Chile’s finest street art and graffiti. Foto Ruta’s favourite streets include Bombero Nuñez, Antonia Lopez de Bello and Purisima. Although to be honest, there are photogenic pieces on every block. Besides the art on the walls, there are also great examples of old Santiago architecture, lots of people watching in the numerous bars on Pio Nono street and the famous Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda’s house, which for a small fee you can have a nose around (although no photography allowed inside unfortunately). From this area you can also zoom in to see the Virgin Mary looking down from her perch on top of the famous San Cristobal hill. You can hike or cycle up the hill, or take the funicular train to see a pretty impressive view of the city as a whole
Cerro Santa Lucia
This hill is the lazy/free/quick option in place of climbing Cerro San Cristobal. A great view point from the top castle (follow signs for El Castillo) and some great corners to explore with your camera within the park. Usually a plethera of adorable street dogs lazing in the sun can also be found here
In our honest opinion, there are other buildings in Santiago’s Patrimonial area which are more impressive than La Moneda, the presidential palace. However this building is rich in Chilean history, has a great underground culture centre situated below, and at 10am on alternate days, you can watch the changing of the guards, some good photographic opportunities, especially if you have good zoom capabilities!
Be ready to see television crews and photo shoots happening in this little cross section of Europe in Santiago. Great architecture, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find some cherry blossom covered trees fluttering in the wind
This is where we run iPhoneography, Foto Ruta’s smart phone tours, a wonderful little area away from the main hustle and bustle of the city, blocks and blocks of independant designer boutiques and packed full antique shops complete with old Chilean guys renovating furniture. A nice getaway from the main city.
If you are feeling adventurous, there are some amazing, less discovered areas of Santiago. (A little) off the beaten track:
An easy metro ride away from downtown, a completely different vibe is found here, with photogenic crumbling mansions and street art murals galore. Check out the Museo de la Memoria, Parque Quinta Normal, and a Foto Ruta favourite, the Peluqueria Francesa, the old school barber shop.
Located across the Mapocho river Santiago’s trendy area of Providencia, the sculpture park features some amazing works by Chilean artists and gives you plenty of cool textures, angles and colours to photograph
You can literally buy anything and everything at the huge and wonderful Bio Bio market. Well nearly anything. Like with all big cities, you have to be careful security wise, and this is definitely not the place to swing your new Nikon around your head, however, there are some great shots to be had here, we usually take our iPhones and train them on the interesting characters, the weird and wonderful mix of randomness you can find. A very different part of the city
So hopefully these will give you some more ideas of where to explore in Santiago, there are even more cool areas to explore, so feel free to get in touch if you are looking for even more photography inspiration. Also, whatever camera you have and whatever your level of experience, if you would like to join us for one of our great Foto Ruta explorations, we focus on slowing down the pace and getting creative, and always finish our photography adventures with a nice glass of Chilean wine (on us!) and review our images… the perfect way to finish an exploration!
Enjoy the list, and whether you’ve got a 6 hour layover or a week to spend, there really is lots to see, do and photograph in Santiago. We look forward to seeing your favourite shots!
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Foto Ruta currently spreads its creative photographic vibes in Santiago, Buenos Aires, London and Barcelona, with world domination on the horizon! We love the idea of people getting under the skin of a city, using their camera, and creating some fantastic photos along the way.
For more random, weird and wonderful photographs of Santiago and surrounding Chile, feel free to check out www.facebook.com/EyeSpyCat
Receive a 10% discount by mentioning Two Monkeys Travel when booking your Foto Ruta Santiago adventure!
All photos © Cat Allen/EyeSpyCat/Foto Ruta Santiago