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Solo travel rating: 1.75
(1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Primary: Spanish. English is found but not everywhere.
Reasons to go: Santiago is a fabulous and very busy city. It's generally very safe though you have to be aware of your surroundings. Pickpockets are common. Don't show off jewelry or technology. The public transit system is excellent.
There are two prominent hills in the city. (By some standards they would be mountains but a city situated next to the Andes does not consider them so.) San Cristobal is the largest hill with a huge park and a wonderful church at the top.
Santiago offers many museums but the most moving (and difficult) is Chile’s Memory and Human Rights Museum. Much of it is in Spanish but there is plenty in English. Focusing on the Pinochet dictatorship from 1973 to 1990, it preserves painful memories of this time when people went missing and were tortured.
The Mercado Vega is across the river from the Mercado Central (which I found touristy). There’s the flower market along the street on route there. At the Vega, the market is on one side of the road with just about everything in the world, and kind of a restaurant market is on the other side of the road. I wish I had pictures but, though I felt very safe personally, I didn’t think it a good idea to pull out my camera.
The Centro Artesanal Los Dominicos makes a great day outing where you can have a bite to eat and discover some truly beautiful Chilean handicrafts. It's at the end of one of the subway lines.
The Centro Cultural Palaceo La Moneda is located under La Moneda (the presidential palace) and good to know about given that you can’t actually go into the Palace. It houses a couple of wonderful craft gift shops and an art museum. The shops are more expensive than Los Dominicos.
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 2 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 3 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 1 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1.75 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)