Indie Guide to Santiago

Going off of our Neighborhood Guide to Santiago, here is an indie twist for the avant-garde traveler.

Bohemian Lifestyle

For a truly bohemian experience, I recommend staying in the Brasil neighborhood of Santiago. The area is a bit separate from the city center but if you want a real dose of old style architecture and street art, Brasil is the place to go. The interesting thing about this neighborhood is that there is a huge gap between the residents that reside here. Many locals are students, which is due to the increase in Universities in the area. The rest of Brasil is comprised of elderly couples or families who have lived there for generations. While Brasil is now a bohemian neighborhood, the area used to be inhabited by the wealthiest people in Santiago.


The local culture in Santiago is one I found very interesting. Perhaps the most unique aspect would be their coffee culture, where “Coffee with Legs” shops can be found on many street corners. Basically, businessmen come to these restaurants and order coffee from female servers dressed in alluring clothing. I went into one of these spots by mistake on my first day in Santiago, almost ordering a coffee before realizing that something was not quite right. Either way, it’s a unique aspect of Santiago culture so I recommend stopping by for a coffee or at least taking a look inside. The shops located in the city center are generally PG-rated so there isn’t too much to worry about.


Lastarria was my home during my time in Santiago and I quickly learned that this was the place to go if you loved to eat. While any real hipster would not consider Lastarria to be hipster at all, it’s a great neighborhood to go to if you want to experience bohemian life without going too far outside your comfort zone. Lining the streets are outdoor book vendors, coffee shops and restaurants offering cuisine from various cultures. Chile is especially well known for their seafood so make sure you try a few sea bass and salmon dishes.


Anyone heading to Santiago and expecting a boring club scene would be very mistaken. Bellavista is one of the most popular neighborhoods for college students and young adults who are looking for a night of drinking and dancing. Similar to other large cities like New York or Buenos Aires, there is a surplus of traditional bars mixed in with trendy dance clubs. I had my fair share of pisco sours while in Santiago and each bar had a slightly different recipe. Piscola is another popular drink made by mixing pisco with coke.


Until making my way to Santiago, I had no idea how hipster the local scene would be. If you are looking for a trendy neighborhood with a little edge, go straight to Bellavista. There is definitely a young-crowd here, which is evident in the groups of teenagers you see bar hopping at night. During the day, however, the streets are much quieter and ideal for anyone seeking a quiet cup of coffee. Just like in Lastarria and Brasil, street art is a huge part of the art culture in Santiago. Graffiti is a common fixture on just about any building. For a more organized art experience, the Museo Arqueológico de Santiago, Museo de Artes Visuales and Museo de Bellas Artes are three museums showcasing traditional and modern art. 

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  1. Ruth (Tanama Tales) November 2, 2012  4:26 pm Reply

    After reading this, I realize how little I now about Santiago (and Chile). Coffee with Legs. Piscola. This is new to me. Maybe we think Santiago is very similar to Buenos Aires when it is not.
    Ruth (Tanama Tales) recently posted..Experiencing the Beauty of TlaxcalaMy Profile

  2. Emily in Chile November 7, 2012  10:09 am Reply

    Great tips! Bellavista and Lastarria/Parque Forestal are more mainstream now, but I still classify them as hipster. You're right on that for the "real" student-style experience, Barrio Brasil is where to go. I feel like Santiago can be a hard city for tourists to get into, so I'm glad you enjoyed exploring these neighborhoods!
    Emily in Chile recently posted..Heading to Bogota with RoomoramaMy Profile

    • Megan Eileen McDonough November 7, 2012  1:21 pm Reply

      Hey Emily, thanks for your feedback! I know you know Santiago like the back of your hand :) I loved the Brasil neighborhood. It felt very local and less touristy.
      Megan Eileen McDonough recently posted..Turning 26 in the DarkMy Profile


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