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Welcome to Santiago de Chile!

Skyline of Santiago de Chile
Skyline of Santiago de Chile
Plaza de Armas
Inmaculate Conception statue at San Cristóbal hill
Hidalgo castle at Santa Lucía hill
Parque Forestal
Chilean Congress
Municipal Theatre of Santiago
Sanhattan, the financial center of the city
Santiago de Chile by night
"El Colorado" ski center, one of the many ski resorts close to the city
Amusement park "Fantasilandia"
Bellavista neighbourhood
La Moneda Palace
Gabriel Mistral Cultural Center
Bip! card. Mandatory to use buses and metro
La Moneda Cultural Center
Central market
La Piojera
La Piojera

Main Page of IFMSA-Chile: Chile

Hello future incoming student!! We are more than please to welcome you in the capital city of Chile, Santiago de Chile!!! This city would be your option if what are you looking for is a big one, and it is, it has a population of about 6 millions inhabitans.

Even if we don't usually have problems to recieve students here, we invite you to check out the other beautiful cities in our country and if you just come by we hope this webpage also help you during your stay.

About Santiago de Chile

Founded in 1541, Santiago de Chile has been the capital and economic center of Chile. The city has a downtown core of 19th century neoclassical architecture and winding side-streets, dotted by art deco, neo-gothic, and other styles. Santiago's cityscape is shaped by several stand-alone hills and the fast-flowing Mapocho River, lined by parks such as Parque Forestal. Mountains of the Andes chain can be seen from most points in the city. These mountains contribute to a considerable smog problem, particularly during winter. The city outskirts are surrounded by vineyards, and Santiago is within a few hours of both the mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

Santiago's steady economic growth over the past few decades has transformed it into a modern metropolis. The city is now home to growing theater and restaurant scenes, extensive suburban development, dozens of shopping centers, and a rising skyline, including the tallest building in Latin America, the Gran Torre Santiago. It includes several major universities, and has developed a modern transportation infrastructure, including a free flow toll-based, partly underground urban freeway system and the Metro de Santiago, South America's most extensive subway system. Santiago is the cultural, political and financial center of Chile and is home to the regional headquarters of many multinational corporations. The Chilean executive and judicial powers are located in Santiago, but Congress meets in nearby Valparaíso.


The climate is cold and rainy in the winter. It only snows up in the Andes, which are an hour and a half from the city. Temperatures at night fall to around 0ºC. It gets progressively hotter towards the summer. Summers are fairly dry although you may experience some humidity at times. The temperature can reach as high as 35ºC. Due to the inversion effect in the Santiago basin and other factors, winter air quality in this area can be unhealthy, in large part due to high concentrations of particulate matter. Santiago de Chile's location within a watershed is one of the most important factors determining the climate of the city. The coastal mountain range serves as a screen that stops the spread of maritime influence, contributing to the increase in annual and daily thermal oscillation (the difference between the maximum and minimum daily temperatures can reach 14°C) and maintaining low relative humidity, close to an annual average of 70%. It also prevents the entry of air masses, with the exception of some coastal low clouds that penetrate to the basin through the river valleys.

Political divition of the city

Santiago de Chile is divided in "comunas" which are like neighbors integrated in a one single province (called Santiago as well). It also includes a few "comunas" from some peripheral areas contained in the provinces of Cordillera (Puente Alto), Maipo (San Bernardo), and Talagante.


How to get here

By plane

Probably this will be for sure your way to get in Chile. Arturo Merino Benítez airport (IATA: SCL), also known as Santiago International Airport is located in Pudahuel, 15 km (9.3 mi) north-west of Santiago de Chile downtown, is the main Chilean gateway for international flights.

How to get from the airport to the city? There are many options indeed: taxis, minibuses and buses. More info here: How to get to the airport. We usually recomend the Transvip minibuses services that runs a shared-ride shuttle service and have a counter immediately after customs, before you exit into the main terminal. A ride to the city center (as of June 2013) runs Ch$6,500 (13 USD). And definily the last option is take a private taxis who will charge about Ch$15,000 (30 USD) for a trip to downtown or Providencia.


By bus

There are bus connections to all major destinations on the continent.

The Principals Bus Terminals are located at:

  • Terminal Alameda: Next to the "Universidad de Santiago de Chile" Metro station (Line 1). Private station for Turbus and Pullman buses. National and international departures.
  • Terminal Santiago: Also next to the "Universidad de Santiago de Chile" Metro station (Line 1) a most popular known as "Terminal Sur". A little less safer than Turbus Terminal, yet not dangerous. Beware of pickpockets and people trying to sell you robbed goods (iPods and cellphones are a common target). Has a food court with local fast food restaurants and a McDonald's. Note that prior to national holidays, it may be extremely overcrowded.
  • Terminal Los Héroes: Next to "Los Heroes" Metro station.

Local Transportation

The best advice we can give you about is topic is as soon you get in Santiago de Chile, go straight to a any Metro Station and by a Bip! card (Ch$1350, minimum recharge Ch$1000 [February, 2013]). This card is use for both subway and bus, and allows you free transfers between the two (you still have to swipe your card, but there is no deduction) in a 2 hour period.

Buses are mostly modern and run around the clock on the main lines. The only way to pay your fare is by bip!-card. You can buy this card and charge it in any metro station or in some stores. The card also allows for travel by metro.


Santiago de Chile has a metro system with five lines, 108 stations and 103 km of extension with many holding rotating art exhibitions. Trains run between roughly 6.00AM and 11.00PM, with each station posting the exact hours for the first and last trains. Buses run parallel to subway lines after hours. As of Feb 2013, tickets cost Ch$660 for peak periods (7.00AM to 9.00AM, 6.00 to 8.00PM), Ch$610 for shoulder periods (6.30AM to 7.00AM, 9.00AM to 6.00PM, 8.00PM to 8.45PM) and Ch$590 for low periods (before 6.30AM and after 8.45PM). Tickets are good for a single ride with unlimited transfers, and there is no time limit.


From your host family's house it can take from 20 minutes to 1 hour a half to get to the Hospital you will attend. In Santiago the Metro-Line is extensive and work very efficiently but is not open after 11:00 pm. The busses work 24/7 but at night they run with less frequency.

n Santiago the Mass Trasportation is easy to get use to it. The Transantiago is the name of the Transportation System in the capital. It works combined with buses and the subway. The subway lines covers up most of the city but still remain a lot of residential areas where it doesn't reach up yet. But most of downtown and other areas are pretty well cover. The Metro in Santiago works really efficiently and is really fast and pretty much safe. It has 5 lines and by the end of 2009 and 2010 will cover more Districts of the capital. The bus system was changed just a few years ago and is getting better every time. The City is divided in differents areas and each area get a different color bus which drives around. There're also "Troncales" which takes from further points of the city. To get into the Trasportation System you must use a Bip! card which you charge with money and allows you to travel either in bus, metro or combined. You just pay once and you get 1 hour a half ticket to use metro, bus or both. Upon your arrival to Santiago the SCOPE team will provide you with the BIP card and a initial charge. Unfortunately you can't get the students' price because it takes a long time to get the Students' National Card and a month exchange is not enough. The other cities aren't as big as Santiago and the only one which has Subways is Viña del Mar which shares the line with Vaparaíso and other neighbors towns. In the regions you can ride buses which takes from one point to another is not that hard to get use to it and is not necessary to have the BIP card. Buses are the quickest form of public transport in Chile. Unlike Europe, train services are scarse and the journey take 2-3 times longer than by bus.

Santiago de Chile is a capital with more than 6 millions inhabitants so the distance from one point to another might vary.

The cities in the Regions tend to be small so the distances among differents points shouldn't be longer than 40 minutes by bus. The only cities where there is Metro is Santiago and Valparaíso-Viña del Mar.

Hospitals for Professional Exchange in Santiago de Chile

Hospital Clínico Universidad de Chile (


Hospital Clínico San Borja Arriarán (


Universities for Research Exchange

Universidad de Chile (


Universidad Nacional Andrés Bello (


Social Program

It usually includes:

  • Santiago de Chile city tour
  • Internacional Dinner
  • San Cristóbal hill and Bellavista neiborhood
  • Tour to "La Chascona", one of the Pablo Neruda's houses
  • Aguas de San Ramón, Natural Park trek
  • Trip to Valparaíso and Viña del Mar and "La Sebastiana", one of the Pablo Neruda's houses
  • Tour to "Isla Negra", one of the Pablo Neruda's houses
  • Visit to "Concha y Toro" Wineyard

In winter (june-july-august) we add:

  • Sky resort "El Colorado"

In Summer (december-january-february) we add:

  • Trip to "Valle del Elqui"

Get around the city


  • Parque Metropolitano - This vast park is home to Cerro San Cristóbal. From the top there is a beautiful view over the city and, on a clear day, the Andes. The summit can be reached by funicular ($900 one way, $1600 return), cable car, or a 40-60 minute hike. In the park there is also a botanical garden, zoo and two swimming pools. Pope John Paul II visited its summit in 1987.
  • Plaza De Armas - The capital's main plaza, also the site of the national cathedral and main post office. It's few blocks from the traditional Central Market and has its own Metro Station. During the last years, Plaza de Armas has been used as a meeting and recreation place for the community of Peruvian immigrants. This has lead to a lots of cheap international calling centers, traditional Peruvian restaurants and Peruvian spice and food stores, being an interesting place to walk during day hours.
  • Santiago Centro - The Centro (Downtown) area is a nice place for a stroll down some of its major Paseos (streets turned pedestrian walkways), but be aware of pickpockets.
  • La Chascona - One of three homes of the famous poet Pablo Neruda, La Chascona (meaning tangle-haired woman, after his third wife) is in the artistic Bellavista neighborhood. The house is filled with lots of quirky artifacts collected by Neruda throughout his life, as well as artwork by some of his famous friends. Tours are given in English, French ($3500) and Spanish ($2500). [1]
  • La Moneda Palace - Presidential Palace, guided one-hour tours are free, unfortunately with a reservation of at least 7 days in advance. [2] (Spanish only)
  • Centro Cultural Palacio de La Moneda - An underground cultural center under the La Moneda Palace, with rotating art and cultural exhibitions all year. Local crafts and souvenirs are available at middle-high prices in the local gift shop. A café is also within the facilities. Note that most exhibitions are not free of charge, however, prices are very affordable.
  • Parque Forestal - A long park that runs parallel to the Mapocho River, also site of the National Museum of Fine Arts and Modern Art Museum.
  • Theatre & Dance - Santiago offers much in the performing arts, most takes place Friday & Saturday, check listings in El Mercurio. $500-5000 CLP, most offer discounts with student ID, even to foreigners, just ask.
  • Centro Cultural Matucana 100 - Inaugurated in 2002, Matucana 100 is an excellent exhibition venue for a variety of arts. From Metro Quinta Normal, walk south on Matucana (towards Alameda), M100 is on the left hand side. [3]
  • Teatro Municipal - Historical performance venue, including international dance and opera, worth a visit even if just from its outside. [4]
  • Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM) - An impressive-scale cultural center built on the former military Diego Portales building which was destroyed in a fire. The center has a art and film focused library with free WiFi, a theater, concert halls, a restaurant, a café, and public spaces for resting. Located on Universidad Católica metro station (Line 1). [5]
  • Jazz Clubs - Santiago is home to an impressive jazz scene, with several intimate clubs scattered throughout the city. The Club de Jazz de Santiago is arguably the best. Located in the northern part of the Nunoa neighborhood, this small club routinely brings in some of the best local, national, and international artists specializing in everything from latin jazz to blues to bossa nova. Check music listings in El Mercurio.
  • Festival de Jazz de Providencia - A very good jazz Festival takes place during summer (typically each February) in Providencia. The Festival de Jazz de Providencia takes place each year in Mapocho's riverside and showcasts the best local bands and some international guests. Tickets are cheap (from about 3 USD in the 2007 edition), so it's a good alternative for summer nights.

Tip: One thing you will quickly realize is that there are lots of stray dogs in Santiago de Chile and those who do have an owner are rarely kept on a leash. The dogs do not seem dangerous at all, you would even say they're pretty well adapted to life in a big city - you can even see one patiently waiting at a crosswalk for the pedestrian light to go green before crossing the street! In general, dogs in residential areas seem to be in pretty good shape, while those living downtown are a bit more skinny but most don't look sick. In other words, even if you're not a big fan of dogs, we don't think you should be too concerned about the ones in Santiago de Chile.

Stay safe

  • Santiago is notoriously infamous for the smog and it's worse during the winter (May-September). The locals welcome the rain which falls during winters as it cleans the air a let them to have a beautiful view of the mountains. Be sure to carry bottled water with you during the summer and avoid food or drink from street-vendors. Be prepared for sauna-heat on the metro during summer.
  • By Latin American standards Santiago de Chile is a safe city but we are still a Latin American city so visitors should be aware of pickpocketing and other petty crimes. Avoid parks at night and don't wear expensive looking jewelry or watches even during the day, unless you are in Provdencia, Las Condes or Vitacura. If you're alone, avoid large crowds of people, especially downtown. If you happen to have bad luck and get robbed, do as you're told by the criminal and if you don't understand Spanish, give away the wallet. Not doing so can provoke an attack until you give away your wallet. Don't try to stand up to them and once again: do as you're told.
  • The metro is regarded as safer for travelling amongst the locals, even though security has increased in the buses after the introduction of TranSantiago. But some locals still prefer using the metro especially when it gets darker, since almost all the stations have guards. Don't expect the staff to speak much English.
  • In any situation, you can trust in the Chilean Police or Carabineros (we DO trust in them, a big diferent from our neighbors countries). Although you can hardly find one who can speak English, they will try to answer your questions, solve your problems or give you orientations. Please, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BRIBE Chilean Police if they find you doing some stupid thing. Also remember that the Chilean police is a militarized police.

Go around

  • Beaches are 90 minutes to the west in Viña del Mar, Valparaíso, Reñaca, etc.
  • Ski resorts are 1 hour and a half to the east, like Valle Nevado, El Colorado, etc.
  • Rancagua is 85 km to the south and has some thermal springs and hiking opportunities nearby.
  • Cajon del Maipo, beautiful in spring, some 75 km south east of Santiago, day trip.Some nice places for lunch and tea; many of them only open on week-ends.
  • Isla Negra, a village in the coast, south of Valparaíso. The main and most beloved house of Pablo Neruda is there. This is probably the most interesting of his three houses to visit and the best conserved as it is the only one that the military didn't sack during the coup of 1973. To get there, you can take the Pullman bus ($3700, 2h) from Santiago Alameda station (metro Universidad de Santiago). You can also take the Turbus bus to San Antonio ($1000 - $2000, 1h30) from Alameda as well, and then take a local bus in front of "laPolar" ($450, 30min) that goes along the beautiful coast. Tours in the house cost $3000 and last 30min. Then you can go to the beach.
  • Sierras de Bellavista (150 Kms south of Santiago), wonderful little mountain village, especially after a rainy day. Alpine scenery.