Skyline and mountains, Santiago, Chile (PhotoDisc)

Skyline and mountains, Santiago, Chile (VisitChile)

Skyline and mountains, Santiago, Chile (VisitChile)

Birdseye view of Santiago, Chile (iStockphoto)

Aerial view of Santiago, Chile (iStockphoto)

Dusk in Santiago, Chile (iStockphoto)

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What to do in Santiago

Santiago’s congested and often smoggy city-center may send you running for the hills. After all, the high peaks of the Andes loom in the east, and a smaller range dots the west. But give Santiago’s other areas a try, and you'll find a bohemian, livable capital just as enticing as its more popular neighbor, Buenos Aires. The Barrio Brasil district, for example, had been in decline since the 1950s, when the new Norte-Sur highway cut off the barrio from central Santiago. That isolation, though, is exactly what makes the barrio so special today, with its quaint cobblestone streets, boutique hotels, leafy parks, and local bands and artists. At its heart is the Plaza Brasil, filled with colorful statues by Chilean artist Federica Matta, that serves as a daytime playground for kids and a nighttime mingling spot for teens and 20-somethings.

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