Santiago’s principal market, La Vega Central is a chaotic, colorful snapshot of daily life in the Chilean capital. Housed in the salmon-colored Mercado Central and bustling with locals and travelers alike, La Vega is one of the most vibrant places in the city to pick up fresh, seasonal produce and try local cuisine.
Traversed by hundreds of thousands of visitors every day, La Vega Central is a must-do for foodies; however, exploring the market on your own can be overwhelming and disorienting. Opt for a group or private tour guided by a local who can point out the best stalls. Many culinary biking and walking tours include stops at La Vega, and some cooking classes source produce from the vast market.
Things to Know Before You Go
- La Vega Central is massive. Join a tour to get the most out of your visit.
- Watch your valuables, and wear nonslip shoes, as the tiled floors are sometimes slippery.
- The market is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, although crowds, slippery floors, etc., can make it challenging to get around.
- Unlike in some other parts of South America, vendors in Chile generally don’t haggle over prices.
How to Get There
La Vega Central is located in Santiago’s Recoleta district, a short walk from the Patronato and Puente Cal y Canto metro stations. Access the market from the entrance on Calle Artesanos or Calle Antonia López de Bello.
When to Get There
La Vega Central is open every day, year-round. The market is most active in the morning—for the best selection, get there early. Some stalls close by mid-afternoon.
What to Sample at La Vega Central
The stock at La Vega varies depending on the season. Look for chirimoyas (custard apples), lúcumas (rich, nearly dry fruits that make excellent smoothies), bayas de maqui (berries that some consider a superfood), and tunas (prickly pears). Chilean paltas (avocados) are also plentiful and delicious.