Colourful, lively, and often emblematic of the city they are in, visiting markets is usually an activity on any tourist’s bucket list when visiting a new city.
Santiago is, of course, no exception. Dotted around the city are pockets of vibrant colours, enticing smells and the lively activity of vendors pushing their wares, that make up the many exciting and varied markets of Chile’s capital.
source: Santiago Do Chile
Maybe you are just looking for a cheap memento of your holiday, or are interested in some artisanal treasures handcrafted in traditional Mapuche style, or perhaps you just want a pleasant stroll, admiring the knickknacks and craftsmanship while chatting to local artists. Either way, there is a market in Santiago for you. Here is a list of some markets not to be missed.
Feria Artesanal de Santa Lucia
The Feria Artesanal in Santa Lucia is a one-stop shop for all your typical South American souvenirs if your time is running short and you think you only have time to visit one of the markets on this list. Here, you can find a myriad of traditional arts and crafts, from which you can clearly see the evidence of Chilean folklore. Admire beautiful clothes, jewellery studded with lapis lazuli – a quintessentially Chilean gemstone, and hand-painted ceramic products. It is easy to spend an hour or so wandering around the many stalls and browsing the little keepsakes, from the dainty handmade wooden ornaments or native instruments to the leather bags and shoes, which the vendors proudly display.
source: Santiago Tourist
If you want to get a feel for other parts of South America, but aren’t travelling outside of Chile, this is the perfect place for you, as you can see an array of Peruvian and Bolivian products as well. Be careful though, and do not be fooled by the vendors into thinking you are buying pure alpaca wool products. There are some gorgeous ponchos, blankets, and scarves at the Feria Artesanal, but they are likely to be a mixture of alpaca and regular wool. However, this means they will be cheaper, and in no way less comfortable or warm than their ‘purer’ counterparts.
The market here is steeped in authentic tradition, but recently has been more aimed at tourists, which explains why you can find a complete mixture of souvenirs, from the stunning and impressive artisan craftsmanship of the wood, leather and jewelry products, to more basic and cheap tokens such as T-shirts, aprons, and magnets.
How to get there: The closest metro station is Santa Lucia, on Line 1 (red line). From there, walk along Avenida Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins for a couple of minutes in the direction of the Cerro Santa Lucia, and soon you will see the Feria, right opposite it.
Centro Artesanal El Pueblito Los Dominicos
Settled in the foothills of the Andes, this picturesque artisan village is well known for its craft and folkloric goods, sold directly by the artists themselves. As you admire their high-quality gifts, you can chat with them about their craftsmanship and learn about Chile’s artistic heritage. Pick up the traditional Chilean drink ‘mote con huesillo’, made with sweet peach juice and husked wheat, as you peruse a wide variety of market stalls.
source: Santiago Tourist
You can expect to find many treasures in this quaint little village, such as wooden masterpieces crafted from Chilean Rauli wood, or charming ceramics with designs inspired by native tribal artwork, or hand-painted scenes of Chile such as the colourful hills of Valparaíso. You might recognize some items as similar to what you can find in Santa Lucia, such as leather goods and silver jewellery. However, products here are usually of higher quality and sold by the artists themselves so you can expect to pay a higher price. There are some more interesting stalls too, selling impressive glasswork, medicinal herbs or Chilean sweets.
There are also pets for sale at the market, so if you are an animal lover, you might like to stay a little longer, especially if you are planning on visiting with children.
Being further out of the city, in the clean and modern neighbourhood of Las Condes, it is a very pleasant place to have a stroll, amongst all of the decorative wares and away from the hustle and bustle of central Santiago.
How to get there: Take Line 1 (red line) all the way to the Eastern end, to the Los Dominicos metro station. Coming out of the station, walk through Plaza Los Dominicos park, where sometimes you will find a fresh produce market (feria). Then head up a slight hill towards El Pueblito, a quaint white church, and you will see the market entrance just beside it.
Patio Bellavista & Bellavista’s Craft Market
It would be difficult for a tourist to spend any length of time in Santiago and not visit Bellavista, whether it’s to see the view from Cerro San Cristobal, visit the house of Pablo Neruda, go out for dinner or have drinks in the evening. The markets in Bellavista are open into the evenings, so why not drop in to check out the bohemian market as you explore this lively part of town.
As you stroll through this neighbourhood, you can’t miss Patio Bellavista, a hub of bars, restaurants, and little boutiques. This is a great place to find souvenirs, as you can find upmarket clothing and pretty silver jewellery in the various little shops, which stay open until 11pm.
source: This is Chile
Head across the road to the bohemian covered market to find more unique and affordable treasures. There are various stalls displaying special handmade trinkets and knickknacks often crafted in the traditional Mapuche (a native tribe from this area) way, such as ornaments, llama and cashmere clothing, and jewellery. You can find curiosities such as Mapuche-style brooches made from old forks and spoons. Traditionally, Bellavista is known as the artistic neighbourhood of Santiago, so it is fitting that the market is a dazzling array of color and creativity.
How to get there: The closest metro station is Baquedano, which is a large station connecting Line 1 (red line) and Line 5 (green line). From there, cross the busy bridge into the Bellavista neighbourhood and you will see the craft market on your left. Continue down the main street, Pio Nono, for a few blocks and you will find Patio Bellavista on your right.
Mercado Persa Biobío
The flea market found at Biobío is a hectic explosion of people, noise and every kind of item or souvenir you could hope to buy, all in one place. It may seem daunting at first, but this market should give you a good insight into authentic Chilean daily life, as it is not so much aimed at tourists but is regularly used by locals who go there to buy, sell and browse.
Sprawling across multiple streets and blocks, the Persa market plays host to vendors of all kinds. While the large warehouses of old furniture may not be of much interest to a tourist looking for souvenirs, you are sure to find at least something of interest here. There is a rabbit warren of little shops and stalls inside another large warehouse-type building, with various food stalls where you can stop and fuel up on plates piled high with roasted chicken and chips or rice and seafood, before continuing your shopping. Amongst the chaos, alongside the food stalls, you will find electronics stores, toys and games, sports clothes and shoes, book stalls, and even hair salons!
source: Bio Bio Chile
Step back out into the sun and you are more likely to find traditional souvenirs, with street vendors selling jewellry and antique ornaments. There is a frenzy of vendors shouting out what they are selling, and pulling their carts up and down the street, so make sure to keep an eye on your valuables. Grab some street food, like an empanada or a ‘completo’ (hot dog) as you wander through the endless streets and look out for vintage clothes and unique trinkets. Vendors here will be happy to haggle prices with you, so make sure to take off at least 10-15% of the price they originally offer you. La Persa Bío Bío will offer you the true Chilean market experience, which is far from peaceful!
How to get there: Take the newly installed metro Line 6 (purple line) to Biobío. Walk a couple of blocks to Calle Placer to find the outskirts of this sprawling flea market.
While Lastarria is not home to a large outdoor market on the same level as the others mentioned above, it would be a shame to leave it out, as you can find some beautiful souvenirs here. The streets of Lastarria are very pleasant to stroll down, and you can pop in and out of the many boutiques and art galleries with local art, which would make perfect high-end gifts or souvenirs.
Barrio Lastarria also boasts countless street vendors selling beautiful gifts such as distinctive notebooks, handcrafted jewelry, and all sorts of antique trinkets ranging from larger home furnishings such as lamps, right down to tiny semi-precious stones. Along the pedestrianized Calle José Victorino Lastarria you will also find beautiful artwork such as Batik-style stickers and magnets and hand-painted images of the city of Santiago. You couldn’t ask for a better souvenir!
source: Ismael Hotel
On weekends, you can wander into one of the little exhibition spaces of Lastarria to find artisans proudly showing their edible wares, such as organic peanut butter, honey, olive oils or sweet treats made locally. These will also make for lovely souvenirs. However, if this makes you too hungry, head up to Calle Merced for food you can grab on the go such as waffles, falafels or hot dogs, as you wander along the street looking at the creative artwork for sale.
How to get there: From metro station Universidad Católica on Line 1 (red line), walk down the short alley next to GAM cultural center, and soon you will be amongst the street stalls of Calle José Victorino Lastarria.
GAM Feria de Antigüedades
Not far from Lastarria, just outside the Universidad Católica metro station, you can browse the GAM Feria de Antigüedades. GAM, or Centro Gabriela Mistral, is a cultural center in Santiago which promotes all kinds of culture from theatre, dance, music, and visual arts, to the handicrafts displayed in this feria (market).
The Feria de Antigüedades is a pleasant outdoor space with vendors chosen by the GAM cultural center, selling their variety of wares out of modern wooden huts. You can browse the second-hand books, ethnic Chilean items, antique cameras and typewriters, and collectibles as well as fine arts such as oil paintings, pencils, watercolors and engravings.
How to get there: The closest metro station is Universidad Católica on Line 1 (red line). Get out next to the GAM cultural center and you will immediately find yourself in the Feria de Antigüedades.
Mercado Central & La Vega
Although you are unlikely to find any keepsakes to take home in these fresh produce markets, a blog about the markets of Santiago would be amiss not to mention them. Instead, make memories that you can take home with you with the attack on all the senses when you arrive in the Mercado Central, the city’s most famous market, located in a historic wrought iron building in the center of Santiago. Here, seafood is the main event, so be sure to sample some shellfish or even a typical Pisco Sour in the many little cafes in the center of the market, or buy some very reasonably priced fish to cook yourself if you are staying in Santiago for a bit longer.
Close by is La Vega Market, where you can walk amongst the locals and enjoy the bright colours and loud noises of the market. Grab a fresh fruit juice as you admire the scenes and feel like a local, in the beating heart of Santiago! It can be a hectic place, so watch out for your valuables and try not to get caught out and end up paying ‘tourist rates’ for the produce that you buy.
Read more about all the different exotic fruits in A Guide to Chile’s Most Exotic Fruit!
How to get there: Take Line 5 (green line) to Plaza de Armas, Santiago’s historic central square. Walk just 4 blocks and soon the large peach-coloured wrought iron building which houses the Mercado Central will come into view. La Vega is a short walk across the river.
source: Trazee Travel
Make sure you remember your trip to Chile forever by picking up the best souvenirs from these markets, and even the memorable moments you spend there, brushing shoulders with locals and tourists alike, will be the best kind of souvenir you can take home.
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