San Cristobal Hill (Cerro San Cristobal)
The Santiago skyline is dominated by San Cristobal Hill - or Cerro San Cristobal, a forest-carpeted mountain rising from the city, protected as the Parque Metropolitano, or city park. It was once called Tapahue, after the indigenous headdress it resembles, and developed into a public greenspace at the beginning of the 20th century, after the astronomical observatory was constructed atop.
Today, the park serves as a scenic escape above the smog that can choke Santiago on winter days, and offers fantastic views across this city of 6.5 million to the Andes. Walking trails, picnic spots, and an amphitheater are all dwarfed by the 22-meter (72-foot) statue of the Virgin Mary, erected here in the 1930s.
The park extends into the cerro's skirts, and also encompasses the National Zoo and two pretty public pools, both excellent options for families.
While you can certainly climb the 860-meter (2,821-foot) San Cristobal Hill (Cerro San Cristobal) yourself, or perhaps hire a car or take a taxi, there are 2 other options worth considering.
From the Pío Nono entrance to the park, you can take the Funicular, a steeply pitched railway with wonderful views. If you're closer to the Pedro de Valdivia Norte entrance, the slightly less expensive cable car sails through the air up toward the peak. Both stop at the swimming pools and National Zoo.
While the park itself is free, note that there are surcharges for just about everything else, including stiff parking fees and separate admission costs to the pools, zoo, and amphitheater. It's still worth it.
Tours & Tickets
Santiago Like a Local: Private Walking Tour with Coffee, Markets, Street Food and San Cristobal Hill
On this private walking tour, experience Santiago like a true local -- a Santiaguiño -- as you explore boutique shops, food markets and diverse ... Read more
Duration: 6 hours (approx.)