Visiting Santiago Chile with Children
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Once South America became part of our travel plans, visiting Santiago Chile with the children was a must. Not only had we heard good things about it, but it is pretty much the only way to get to Australia from South America.
However, once we left the UK, we heard rumours of protests happening across Chile. A quick Google showed that these weren’t rumours but a full-on news story about the people of Chile speaking out.
Some of what we read was worrying too, particularly around how the military and police were responding to protesters. We hoped that things would change by the time we arrived, but they were still going strong.
As a result of this, our time in Santiago was not what we hoped it would be. We imagined wandering the streets of this capital, taking in the sights and enjoying the local cafes. Much like we had done in Washington, New York and Lima.
Instead, we had to plan a shorter and more restricted trip to Chile. We decided that we would take a trip to Mendoza, Argentina in the middle too, but we wanted to do that anyway.
What was happening in Chile at the time?
Across South America, there was quite a lot of political unrest. There were protests in Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile and over similar issues.
The people of Chile, from my reading of the subject, were about the inequality between the rich and the poor in the country. Most of this was as a result of their constitution and they wanted that scrapped.
Their president, Pinera, made some attempts to appease the people but it was not enough. At the time of writing, the protests are still ongoing. Two months after they started.
What was unsettling to us was that in the early days of the protests, the government ordered the military on to the streets. The result of this lead to the UN being called in to investigate human rights violations.
Taking our children into this environment was scary. But we had to go to Santiago to catch our flight to Sydney, so we were determined to make it work. After much research, we had a completely trouble-free and enjoyable time there.
Where did we stay?
Our time in Santiago was split across two destinations. Most of our time was spent in a fantastic Airbnb in Maipu.
Maipu is southwest of central Santiago and only a 15-minute drive from the airport. Our hosts were a lovely couple with their own travel stories, who had chosen to return home to raise their family.
The region itself was highly residential, which made for a safe and peaceful stay, but without trips to the city was rather dull.
After our short trip to Argentina, we returned to Santiago for three nights. Unfortunately, our previous Airbnb was booked for one of those nights so we found a hotel instead.
The hotel was located in another suburban region called Las Condes. Clearly a wealthy area, we found Las Condes a great place to stay with kids. The hotel (Novotel) was perfectly situated and wonderfully comfortable too.
What is there to do in Santiago Chile with children?
Like the rest of South America, Santiago was a very welcoming place for kids. There were play areas dotted all over the city with many in residential areas.
One of our favourite places was Parque Arauco situated next to the mall. It is one of the best free playgrounds I have ever seen and was the best until we visited Sydney.
It was busy and clearly attracted families from all over the area. There were stalls selling toys and ice creams too. We were also able to do some painting, as we did in Lima.
Whilst in Maipu, we visited another mall. (Nice safe malls!) Mall Arauco Maipu was an outstanding shopping centre. But our favourite bit was the Yukinds soft play area.
The kids hadn’t seen a soft play centre in months so practically begged to go in. It was fairly inexpensive and made their day.
What would we like to do if we visited again?
If we return to Santiago again when things have settled down, then there is planning we would love to see.
The main one being Cerro San Cristobel. This hill in the middle of Santiago boasts the best views in the city and I believe it.
You can take the funicular to the top, which is perfect for those with young kids who don’t fancy the walk to the top. Once up there, you can hop on a cable car to carry you across the park.
Other attraction in the park include Virgen de la Inmaculada ( a 14m tall statue), the Zoologica Nacional and a botanical gardens.
This sounds like the perfect day out for a family and we are sorry that we missed out. But a trip we can plan for the future.
Did we see any of the protests?
The short answer is no! We were worried before we arrived because a traveller friend said a friend of theirs had been tear-gassed by the police whilst trying to take a picture. Naturally, I was on high alert.
But we didn’t see anything like this. When driving through Santiago after our trip to Argentina, we did see a small gathering waving flags. No violence or police presence though.
It was clear that this was a city that was suffering though. Talking to our Airbnb hosts, they confirmed what we were seeing. There were signs of increased graffiti and rubbish in the streets. Services such as rubbish collection and street cleaning were inconsistent owing to workers strikes.
Would we recommend visiting Santiago Chile with children?
Absolutely! If we were able to have a great time in the middle of some of the most unsettled times in recent history, then when this has been resolved it should make for a fantastic family trip.
Disclaimer: Remember the information you read here does not represent advice. Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you. Read the full disclaimer here.