The Santiago skyline is dominated by San Cristobal Hill (Cerro San Cristobal), a forested mountain rising 2,821 feet (860 meters) above the city. The site is protected as part of the Santiago Metropolitan Park (Parque Metropolitano), one of the most famous city parks in Chile. Today, the park serves as a scenic escape above the smog that can grip Santiago on winter days, and offers fantastic views across this city of 6.5 million to the Andes Mountains.
The hill's walking trails, picnic spots, and amphitheater are all dwarfed by the 72-foot (22-meter) Virgin Mary (Virgen de la Inmaculada) statue, erected in the 1930s on the highest point in the park (Pope John Paul II hosted mass here in 1984). Most guided tours of Santiago visit San Cristobal Hill, with some mountain bike tours offering a fun and popular way to get to the top. Alternatively, take a ride on San Cristobal's funicular, a steeply pitched railway starting at the PÌo Nono park entrance, or the slightly less expensive cable car, located at the Pedro de Valdivia Norte entrance. Both the funicular and the cable car make stops at the swimming pools and Chilean National Zoo on the way to the top.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The park itself is free, but there are parking fees and separate admission costs for the pools, the Chilean National Zoo, and the amphitheater.
- Choose a tour that combines a day of shopping, sightseeing, or wine tasting with a visit to San Cristobal Hill.
- Half-day sightseeing tours last about three to four hours, while full-day options are about eight hours long.
- The Mirador Terraza Bellavista viewpoint, near the top of the funicular, hosts a snack shop and some souvenir stands.
How to Get There
San Cristobal Hill is located about 5 miles (8.3 km) from central Santiago and the Plaza de Armas.
When to Get There
The park is open daily, with the funicular running Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 7pm and on Monday from 2 to 7pm. Each attraction within the park as its own opening hours.
Things to Do With Kids in Santiago
San Cristobal Hill is a great destination for both local and traveling families in Santiago. Other popular family-friendly sites include the Chilean National Zoo (set halfway up San Cristobal), the city's two swimming pools (Piscina Tupahue and Piscina Antilén), and the Plaza de Juegos Infantiles Gabriela Mistral, a playground with an interactive fountain.