Insider South America Series, Chapter 11: Fiestas Patrias Festivities in Chile
If you’re eager to visit Chile, then we strongly recommend you base your trip around 14 - 19th September. Why, you ask? Fiestas Patrias, of course!This is Chile’s biggest and most highly celebrated annual event. Its origin dates back to 1810 when Chile gained its independence from Spanish rule. It’s a massive reason to celebrate and dive into what Santiago has to offer! Olé!
The first thing you need to know is that pretty much all of Chile celebrates this holiday for a period of 3-5 days. During this time, you’ll notice that most shops are closed. So, it’s best to book yourself a hostel that has self-catering facilities.
Staying in Santiago
We highly recommend going to the country’s capital, Santiago, to start with and staying at the Princesa Insolente Hostel. Fully equipped with a kitchen, comfy beds, clean rooms, lockers and a bar with the cheapest beer, you can't beat it! We stayed for a little over a week and partied with the staff while making friends with a bunch of other travellers. The team that runs the hostel are very knowledgeable, easygoing and will show you the best time. Like us, you might find it hard to leave!
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We started the celebration of our #fiestaspatrias in the #hostel with a typical #ChileanBBQ, #Empanadas, #Choripan, #TerremotoChileno and some #cueca demonstration from our #staff 👒 We also took the chance to celebrate our dear friend @callmetazy 's birthday 🎉 . . Comenzamos la celebración de fiestas patrias con un #asadochileno, empanadas de pino, choripanes y #terremoto en #PrincesaInsolenteHostel #Santiago Además celebramos el doble cumpleaños de nuestro amigo Taylor! 🇦🇺 . . . @princesa_insolente_santiago #tpihostels #travel #safe #cheap #fun #cumbia #backpackers #travelling #hostellife
Try the Terremoto
The staff here put on a traditional Chilean BBQ for us all and it only cost 5000 Chilean Pesos, including a couple of drinks. It was incredible. We recommend trying out one of Chile’s most popular drinks, the Terremoto! Named after one of the worst earthquakes in the country’s history, it’s an unusual mixture of sweet but incredibly potent white wine, pineapple ice cream and a dash of grenadine… The locals would say, this drink will leave you laying on the floor! We confirm this to be true.
Find the local fondas
After a big lunch and a few boozy beverages, it’s time to hit the city and find the local fondas! If you don’t know, a fonda is a big festival that you can find around the city, so be sure to ask the staff which one is best and how to get there! We went to Hasta Pronto which had multiple stages with live music, traditional dances, markets, variety of street foods, BBQ and tons of bars! Walk around and check it all out, find a place to sit and chill, or pick a tent and have a boogie with your travel buddies.
Keep the party alive
After Fiestas Patrias, if you still want to keep the good vibes going and the drinks flowing, you’ve got to head to the area of “Bella Vista”. This is Santiago’s nightclub district and it’s an adult’s playground! Not just the typical single street lined with a few clubs, but an entire district of bars and clubs. The nightclub area is around 4-5 blocks in size and each venue has a completely different vibe from the next!
Explore stunning Santiago
Outside the party scene, there’s so much to do and see in Santiago, especially during this crazy celebration! We suggest taking the free walking tour where you’ll only have to tip at the end. Usually, 5000 to 10000 pesos is more than enough and so worth it for the amazing insight these tour guides provide. Meet with the group at both 10am and 3pm for 2 different tours.
Your private guide will give you an epic rundown on the city’s history. The tours are a great way to explore the city, learn about its diverse (and somewhat dark) history and, best of all, meet new people from all corners of the world! If you’re feeling adventurous afterwards, get the group together and climb to the top of San Cristóbal Hill for 360° views of Santiago afterwards! Trust us, the climb is well worth it.
In your free time, you’ve got to check out the city markets, especially La Vega Central markets! With over 250 stores and 1000 staff, the locals say the markets are second to God - if God doesn’t have it, Vega will! You can browse the best and freshest local produce here when all the other shops are closed for celebrations. Find delicious fish, meat, fruit, vegetables and anything else your heart desires.
Dining in Chile
If you don’t speak any Spanish, eating and dining out can be quite the experience. You may find yourself ordering a crazy dish! All in the name of travel though, right?! If you’re vegetarian, we suggest making it known wherever you go, as most places will serve you delicious veg Chilean feast at a cheaper price! Verde te quiero Verde and Emporio Vegetal are our top picks for places to eat.
Can you see yourself in South America? You could be off exploring all of Chile and beyond on one of our many South America trips, from paid teaching English to volunteer trips with communities and wildlife. Let us help get you there by clicking that button below. Adios (for now)!