Chile’s capital, Santiago, is divided into districts and then barrios, otherwise known as neighborhoods. Each of these neighborhoods brings its own lifestyle to the party, and no two are the same.
If you were to walk through all of the barrios in Santiago, you might find it hard to believe that you’re still in the same place as the last.
Bellas Artes/Lastarria is a neighborhood downtown and is commonly known for its artsy vibe and friendly residents. I was lucky enough to live there for a few years while enjoying the Mediterranean climate in Chile.
This neighborhood holds a dear place in my heart due to countless things that I can’t wait to mention in this article.
If you take one thing from this article today, I would highly recommend you to stay in Bellas Artes/Lastarria if you have the chance – you won’t regret it.
What’s so special about Bellas Artes/Lastarria?
When I lived there, I would always look forward to my morning ritual of drinking my morning coffee while looking out over the vibrant trees of Parque Forestal. The stillness was so calming and just the perfect way to start your day.
When visiting Bellas Artes/Lastarria, make sure that you check out the Fine Arts Museum before getting a picture of the San Cristóbal with the Virgin, otherwise known as the Guardian of Santiago.
This statue towers over the entire barrios, so it won’t be difficult to miss!
Other than these tourist attractions, there are plenty of bars, hipster cafes, and food joints to try.
Try not to fill up too much on one dish, as you’ll be spoilt for choice with the ice-cream stores, pizzerias, sushi stalls, Chilean pastries, and much more.
Once you’ve finished eating your way through the neighborhood, you can enjoy the yoga studios, art galleries, and markets selling fish, cheese, fruits and vegetables, and much more.
Everything in Bellas Artes/Lastarria worth visiting is around 10 minutes away on foot, so you don’t need to hire a car when staying in this neighborhood.
However, if you want to venture out further, there are two metro stops that you can use instead of a car.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, what makes this neighborhood so special is the people. They’re fun, lively, eclectic, and amazing company.
They’re all so welcoming and will allow you to join in with whatever activities are happening at the time.
If you’re looking for somewhere to visit where the people are as vibrant as the place they live, the Bellas Artes/Lastarria is the place for you. I doubt that anyone who has had the pleasure of visiting here has regretted their trip.
The vibe of Bellas Artes/Lastarria
This area of Santiago is full of character – so much so, in fact, that it’s bursting at the seams! It has a slight European feel to it, particularly Latin. The parks and streets are always alive with fun and laughter.
If you ever find Bellas Artes/Lastarria deserted, you’re in the wrong place.
The gay community is welcomed in this neighborhood, which is unfortunately not always the case here in Chile. The country is traditionally very catholic and strict, so the gay community is not always welcomed in all of the districts and barrios.
However, in Bellas Artes/Lastarria, everyone is welcomed and celebrated. Young people mingle with older generations, and there isn’t just one type of person found in each group.
Hipsters, entrepreneurs, artists, intellectuals, and tourists all come together to enjoy the same ambiance.
Making your way around Bellas Artes/Lastarria
As you can imagine, there are so many places around this neighborhood for you to visit and enjoy. If you’re a fan of exploring on your own and getting lost in new cultures, this is the ideal place for you.
However, if you’re more of a planner and prefer to know where you’re going, you’ll enjoy the rest of this article. Think of us as your companion, taking you through all of what Bellas Artes/Lastarria has to offer.
I’m going to take you through a short walk through five blocks that everyone should follow. You’ll be walking through the heart of the city, and you should never miss this walk when visiting the area.
The walk I want you to take is bound to take you through the liveliest place in the neighborhood, where everything is happening. Everything that is cool is within this five-block radius.
If you only have a few hours in Bellas Artes/Lastarria, this is the walk that you should do to enjoy as much of the neighborhood as possible.
Virtual walk to take around Bellas Artes/Lastarria
To get to the starting point, you’ll need to take the Metro to the Bellas Artes stop on either Line 5 or the green line. Once you exit the Metro you’ll see a sidewalk full of tables and budding musicians waiting to greet you in song.
There are plenty of restaurants here, including one of Santiago’s most notable sushi stores Kintaro. Kintaro in Japanese means ‘Golden Boy’, which is fitting as it is one of the golden boys of sushi in Chile.
Kintaro pulls a mixed crowd of people of all different backgrounds and cultures, so it’s a great place to start your journey in the neighborhood. They serve ethereal rolls, udon, sashimi, and lots more sushi dishes for you to enjoy.
Once you’ve finished your meal in Kintaro, walk right around the corner on José Miguel de la Barra to come across Verace. This is a thin-crust pizza joint that serves the best pizza I’ve ever tasted.
The toppings, such as rústica with Serrano ham and fresh arugula, are very different from fast-food chains and therefore offer a much more rustic and enjoyable experience.
If you’re not too full from your sushi, get a slice and make your way over to the street called Merced. Walk for half a block and find the Asian grocer on the right side of the street called Chinese Mark.
Here you can get any ingredients needed for making pad thai or homemade tofu.
I love Asian foods, which is why I’ve insisted that you stop here. However, there is also a Lider Express supermarket right across the road if this isn’t what you enjoy eating. Here you’ll be able to get other ingredients and snacks.
Once you reach the corner of Miraflores, take a left and you’ll be blown away by the intoxicating smell of fresh eucalyptus. Walk until you reach a parking lot and travel down the stairs to the basement.
You’ll find one of the old school institutions in Santiago called Baños Miraflores, which are the Turkish steam baths.
This spa has been here for decades and many tourists visit here for the hot steam baths. The vents are covered with eucalyptus, explaining the scent that you experienced earlier.
There’s also a dry sauna as well as massages and facials offered for incredibly low prices. So, take a load off and enjoy the spa!
Once you’re relaxed, start your walk again and cross to Tostaduria Talca. Here you’ll find lots of natural products from the countryside such as dried nuts, grains, spices, fruits, and more.
You can also enjoy the toasted peanuts on sale, coming in a variety of flavors such as sour cherries, apricots, dates, and chocolate.
This is the ideal place for stocking up on travel snacks, so take your time here and really look around.
Now you can go back to the hub of this walk, José Miguel de la Barra. This connects to Santa Lucía Hill along the highway that runs next to the Mapocho River.
All along here you’ll find plenty of cafes, bars, and restaurants. I recommend the Catedral and Opera, which offers live music on the weekends.
Walk along the scenic Subercaseaux to the French apartment building. This might not sound like the most amazing place to visit, but it is incredibly beautiful and deserves to be seen more.
At the bottom of this building is an artisan handicraft store where you can find lots of gorgeous keepsakes.
Make your way up Rosal to Lastarria, which is the Bohemian heart of the neighborhood. Enjoy artisan beers and coffees from various shops, as well as pasta dishes while watching foreign films at the Cine Biografo.
Find the MAVI, Visual Arts Museum, nearby, and enter to see some of the best contemporary art in the area. There is a cafe next door that features some of the best interior designs that I’ve ever seen.
Walk over Merced and Monjitas to the old French Embassy to find the Emporio La Rosa. This is on the Parque Forestal which also houses Santiago’s best ice cream house.
Try and pick one flavor to try from the 30 on offer – it’s much harder than it sounds!
Enjoy your ice cream in the Parque Forestal and admire the houses that were built in the 1940s. Once you’ve finished, feel free to make your way back to the starting point or explore more on your own.
I hope that you enjoyed this article and got a good feel of the barrios of Bellas Artes/Lastarria through this virtual walk. Nothing will beat the feeling of actually visiting there though, so do just that at any chance you get.
Put it on your bucket list, you won’t regret it.