A Perfect Day In Santiago

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Steve Allen Travel Photography / Getty Images

City of ages Santiago was founded over 460 years ago

Pedro Montes, 40, owner, D21 gallery
I would start at La Moneda, the presidential palace that was bombed during General Pinochet's coup in 1973. Beneath it is one of the city's biggest cultural centers, Museo Palacio La Moneda, tel: (56-2) 355 6500, which features an exhibition of embroidered, large-scale masterpieces of traditional life in Chile by Violeta Parra. I would then head to Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, tel: (56-2) 928 1500, to see pieces of pottery and textiles that offer a glimpse of a refined and rich legacy before European colonization.

To get a feel of Santiago's contemporary-art scene, I would move on to Galería Afa, tel: (56-2) 664 8450, which exhibits mainly Chilean photography on the second floor of a restored beaux-arts building. I would then walk up Calle Merced, one of the city's oldest streets, to Casa Colorada, tel: (56-2) 633 0723. This was the home of the last governor before independence in 1818 and is the finest example of colonial architecture in Santiago.

The city's most renowned arts and culture bookshop, Metales Pesados, tel: (56-2) 638 7597, is in the Parque Forestal neighborhood. Over the past few years, this vibrant area has lured many young people to open art galleries, restaurants and design shops, making it a great place to spend an afternoon.

Finally, I would visit the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, tel: (56-2) 639 3297, which houses the best and most evocative collection of 19th and early 20th century Chilean painting. The building was built in 1910 to commemorate 100 years of independence from Spain.

Felipe Bulnes, 41, Minister of Justice
Spending a perfect day in Santiago means enjoying the natural sanctuaries in the city. I would start with a hike on the highest mountain, Cerro Manquehue, where you have some of the best views of Santiago and the Mapocho River that winds through it.

Afterward, I would check out Parque Bicentenario, just a short drive away. It's one of Santiago's newer parks but has already been landscaped with hundreds of trees and a beautiful pond. On a corner across from the park's water gardens is the Mestizo Restaurant, tel: (56-9) 7477 6093. For lunch, I would have their sea bass wrapped in ham.

In the afternoon, I'd visit Pueblito Los Dominicos in the Las Condes neighborhood. Within this sprawling market you have over 150 stalls run by artisans making Chilean handicrafts. Because their workshops are open to the public, you can watch how the traditional products are made from start to finish.

Veronica Alfageme, 31, chef, Aubrey Hotel
Of course, for me a perfect day would be spent eating. I'd start with breakfast at Sabor de Buenos Aires, tel: (56-2) 269 6425, an Argentinean restaurant that makes delicious breads and croissants. Afterward, I'd go food shopping in the 115-year-old La Vega Central. This huge market is filled with hundreds of vendors who sell spices, flowers and incredible goat cheese. I like to buy a little of everything.

Lunch would be at Olan, tel: (56-2) 223 9342. This Peruvian restaurant may only have four tables, all of which are outside on the sidewalk, but it serves some of the most perfect seviche in the city. In the afternoon, I'd take a break from all the food and head to Barrio Lastarria, touring the neighborhood's antique shops and taking in a film at one of the city's best cinemas, Cine el Biógrafo, tel: (56-2) 633 4435, which shows independent films from South America.

Next, I would grab a couple of friends and head to Restaurant Ky, tel: (56-2) 777 7245, for dinner. You can't quite see the entrance from the street — you have to find an almost hidden door and knock. Once inside, though, you're overwhelmed by colorful decor and hundreds of candles. It has some of the best ambience in Santiago.

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