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The Three Best Neighborhoods in Santiago for Scoping Out Street Art

Where: Santiago, Chile
September 25, 2012 at 2:03 PM | by | ()

We've said it before and now we've just got to say it again: Santiago, Chile is a revelation for fans of street art. The city is just...spectacular. You've got to see it.

Santiago is divided up into quarters and, within them, neighborhoods (barrios). Here we're focusing on these barrios because, if you go to Santiago and ask a local to point you to one of the quarters, then you're going to be met with a quizzical look for such a broad question; it's a bit like asking how to get to lower Manhattan, when you should specify Tribeca.

· Barrio Bellavista: Where you'll find us! Bellavista is within the Providencia quarter, but sat right at the bottom of the Cerro San Cristobal mountain. From the Mapocho River, walk straight up the street Pio Nono to pass a slew of outdoor restaurants and an excellent churros truck, plus the outdoor Patio Bellavista mall-like complex.

It's a bohemian quarter thanks to the presence of the large Universidad San Sebastian and the University of Chile Law School. Pio Nono ends at the hill, with the city's Zoo and a funicular railway and hiking path, but turning off onto any street (Dardignac is especially good) will yield tons of street art.

· Barrio Lastarria: Another awesome neighborhood that backs up against a hill (Cerro Santa Lucia) and a university (Universidad Catolica), the Barrio Lastarria is awash with excellent eateries a little more formal than the curb service in Bellavista (but not formal formal). The Cerro Santa Lucia's grassy sides swell with young lovers in the evening, the perfect time for a street art-gazing, pre-dinner stroll. Try the Quince Pisco Sour at Casa Lastarria—trust us.

· Barrio Brasil: Before the rich folk up and moved across the city to Las Condes, Brasil is where they built their city palaces. As a result, the barrio is a maze of tiny plazas, a mix of architectural styles and, blessedly, home to some of the best vibrant, large-scale, easily accessible street art in the entire city. It also happens to have the most affordable, local-variety dining and drinking of these barrios, we just wouldn't recommend strolling solo here after dark with your DSLR out. You know—common sense. Best to hit the Barrio Brasil when the sun is high at lunchtime.

If you've got little time but want to safely hit the hotspots, you may always opt to hire a private guide, such as from Santiago Adventures. The large Barrio Brasil had always seemed so daunting to us, but these guys turned the corners and opened the doors necessary to give us an excellent start for our own in-depth explorations of the area.

Note: You'll hear a lot about the areas of Vitacura and Las Condes, but as these are areas where you'll find TGI Fridays next to a glass office building and streets of upscale shopping, the street art presence is extremely minimal. Frankly, they're pretty boring districts unless you've got to do business in them.

[Photos: Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]

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