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Earlier this year, I went on a cruise to Antarctica and completed my life goal of visiting all seven continents. The cruise started in Buenos Aires, where I was fortunate to spend a few days, and our cruise ended in the beautiful city of Santiago, Chile. Upon disembarking the cruise ship, my mom, my friend Kayla, and I had plans to spend the next three days experiencing as much of Santiago and its wheelchair accessible sights as we could. However, that didn’t exactly go as we hoped.
We were able to tour with a fantastic accessible tour company known as Wheel the World on our first day in the city, but on the morning of our second day, my mom became extremely sick. She suffered from scopolamine patch withdrawals after wearing the scopolamine sea sickness patches for 22 days on our cruise, so we weren’t able to enjoy our three planned days in Santiago, but we did have a lot of fun on that first day before my mom got sick. Luckily, she fully recovered within a few days and we hope to be able to return to Santiago in the future to truly experience everything it has to offer, but we are thankful that we at least had one day to enjoy the city. We certainly made the most of our one day, that’s for sure!
From rolling through plazas and seeing the most notable sights to drinking pisco sour in a nice restaurant, our one
normal day in Santiago was a lot of fun. Whether you have just one day in Santiago or multiple days, you’re sure to have a great trip as a wheelchair user. Here are six places to visit as a wheelchair user with one day in Santiago Chile –
Wheelchair Accessible Santiago Chile Sights
Plaza de la Constitucion
The first stop on our tour with Wheel the World was Plaza de la Constitucion, also known as Constitution Square. As you can probably recognize from the name, this is one of the most formal areas in Santiago with government buildings lining the square.
The most notable part of Plaza de la Constitucion is undoubtedly La Moneda Palace. La Moneda Palace serves as the seat for the President of Chile, so it’s one of the most important buildings to see in all of Chile. It is possible to tour the inside of La Moneda Palace with advance reservations, but we enjoyed just admiring its exterior.
La Moneda Palace was constructed in the late 1700s and eventually opened in 1805. It has neoclassical architecture and every other day at 10am, there is a changing-of-the-guard ceremony to the Chilean national anthem. Unfortunately, I visited on the wrong day, so didn’t get to see the ceremony, but if you time your visit right, you could witness the processions.
Aside from La Moneda Palace, you will also see four monuments in the plaza, each representing an important person in Chile’s history. The monuments are of Diego Portales, founder of the Chilean republic; Jorge Alessandri, the country’s leader from 1958 to 1964; Eduardo Frei Montalva, president from 1964 to 1970; and Salvador Allende (1970–73).
Plaza de la Constitucion is truly a historical and political landmark of the city of Santiago and worth strolling through during your trip!
Plaza de Armas
If you’ve ever seen Santiago featured on TV or on a postcard, then you’ve definitely seen Plaza de Armas. This is the most iconic square in Santiago and therefore, it’s the most popular by far. There were some crowds in Plaza de Armas when I visited, but for good reason… it’s a beautiful area that should be at the very top of your list for things to do during one day in Santiago Chile! You may also see street performers and artists in the plaza, so be ready to be entertained and have some money on you in case you want to purchase a piece of art to take back home.
A variety of historical buildings surround the square, including the Central Post Office Building and the Palacio de la Real Audiencia, which houses the National History Museum of Chile. While these buildings are impressive, the most notable building in Plaza de Armas is the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral.
Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral is the main place of worship for the Catholic Church in Chile and it’s absolutely beautiful on both the exterior and the interior. If you’d like to go inside, it is completely free to do so and wheelchair accessible. I’d highly recommend rolling inside for a bit, as it’s one of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve ever seen.
The cathedral is of a baroque style and has stunning frescos and gilded columns, all of which are worth taking time to admire. I stayed inside Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral for 30 minutes or so enjoying its beauty and taking it all in.
Whether you want to roll in the beautiful Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral or just people-watch in the square, Plaza de Armas should not be missed on any visit to Santiago. I could have honestly stayed in Plaza de Armas all day and had a fun time, but there was more to explore of Santiago!
Mercado Central de Santiago
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you probably know how markets are an absolute must-do for me in every destination that I visit. After visiting a couple plazas and seeing some of Santiago’s most notable sights, it was time for lunch and our tour guide said that the best place to enjoy some authentic Chilean food was at Mercado Central de Santiago, also known as the Central Market. Since I love visiting markets, I was all-in!
Our visit at Mercado Central started by browsing the various vendors. They were selling fresh fish (LOTS of fish!), produce, and even some souvenirs. The aisles were plenty wide enough for my powered wheelchair and strolling throughout the market was a great way to see what the daily life of Santiago’s residents was like. I thought it was special because there seemed to be mostly locals in the market, instead of tourists. It was a wonderful way to interact with locals and get a true sense of Santiago.
After browsing the market for a bit, we went to El Galeón for some lunch. El Galeón is a restaurant inside the market and it had authentic Chilean dishes, which I was immensely excited to try. The restaurant opened in 1935 and has been one of the top restaurants in the city since then.
Our meal started with Santiago’s most famous cocktail, a pisco sour. As its name suggests, it’s a very sour cocktail and it was quite strong, but when in Santiago, you simply have to try it.
For food, we had ceviche (raw fish in lime juice) and it was delicious for a starter. I am a big fan of ceviche and have eaten it in a number of destinations, and this was one of the best. I also had salmon for my main course, which was tasty. El Galeón was a fantastic choice for lunch and I would highly recommend it!
Parque Metropolitano de Santiago
We visited Santiago in late February, which was in the summer season in South America, so it was a phenomenally gorgeous and warm day during our tour. We wanted to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible before coming back home to the U.S., which was freezing in February, and one of the best places to enjoy the outdoors in Santiago is Parque Metropolitano (AKA Metropolitan Park).
Parque Metropolitano is an urban park located in the city and it is nearly 2,000 acres large. In fact, it’s the biggest urban park in the country of Chile and one of the largest urban parks in the entire world. Parque Metropolitano is home to a botanical garden and even the National Zoo of Chile, but we wanted to take in the stunning views of Santiago, so we ventured to the top of San Cristobal Hill.
We parked near Anfiteatro Pablo Neruda, an outdoor theater space, and took in the views. The area was ramped and easy to roll around in my powered wheelchair. The views were out-of-this-world and for a while, we just sat there enjoying the scenery and trying to spot some of the popular sights of Santiago down below.
Parque Metropolitano offered beautiful views and was the perfect ending to our one day in Santiago with Wheel the World. After taking in the views, we headed back to our hotel, the AC Hotel Santiago Costanera Center. Read all about it below.
Where to Stay: AC Hotel Santiago Costanera Center
AC Hotel Santiago Costanera Center is a brand new hotel in Santiago and I do mean brand new. It opened just a few days before I visited and I was actually the first wheelchair user to stay in the hotel. Being brand new, it was immaculately clean and the service was top notch.
Our wheelchair accessible room was located on the 26th floor and had floor-to-ceiling windows with the most beautiful view of the city. I do wish that accessible rooms were available on lower floors in case of an emergency, but the view from the 26th floor was grand enough to make me fall in love with this hotel.
Our accessible room had two beds (unfortunately, a hoyer lift could not roll under them, as there was a platform under each bed) and there was a roll-in shower in the bathroom. Everything worked well for me during this stay, but I wouldn’t say that it’s perfectly accessible for everyone. Check out a tour of the wheelchair accessible room in the video below to see if it would work for you –
The AC Hotel Santiago Costanera Center also had an outdoor bar on one of the upper levels, so you could enjoy a drink while overlooking the city. However, my favorite thing about the hotel was the fact that it was connected to the Costanera Center, a giant multi-level indoor mall with hundreds of shops and dozens of restaurants.
Costanera Center honestly reminded me of the Mall of America because it was so big. It had a Hard Rock Cafe, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and dozens of other restaurants in it and since it was connected to our hotel, I spent a lot of time shopping in the mall as well. If you’re a shopoholic, you could seriously spend days in this mall and never get bored probably.
My time in Santiago was unexpectedly short, but my one day in Santiago Chile made for a great introduction to the city. From seeing historical sights to enjoying authentic food and taking in the views, Santiago had plenty to keep us busy for a full day and now I can’t wait to go back one day and explore the city more in-depth! Whether you have just one day or multiple days, you’re sure to enjoy your time in Chile’s capital city.