Cerro San Cristóbal
Lonely Planet review for Cerro San Cristóbal
Bellavista entrance (Pío Nono 450, Barrio Bellavista; Baquedano); Providencia entrance (Av Pedro de Valdivia & El Cerro, Providencia; Pedro de Valdivia) The best sweeping views over Santiago are from the peaks and viewpoints of the Parque Metropolitano, better known as Cerro San Cristóbal. At 722 hectares, the park is Santiago's largest green space, but it's still decidedly urban: a funicular carries you between different landscaped sections, and roads through it are aimed at cars rather than hikers. The park lies north of Bellavista and Providencia and has entrances in both neighborhoods.
A snowy white 14m-high statue of the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepción towers atop the cumbre (summit) at the Bellavista end of the park. The benches at its feet are the outdoor church where Pope John Paul II said mass in 1984.
For years, the preferred mode of transportation to the summit were gondola-style cable cars; at the time of writing, the teleférico was out of service and the only public transportation to and from the top was the funicular train that climbs 284m from Plaza Caupolicán at the north end of Pío Nono. It stops halfway up at the small Zoológico Nacional. Though the zoo isn't too impressive, it may be one of the only places in Chile where you're assured a glimpse of the pint-sized pudú deer, Chile's national mascot. Note that the funicular stops at the zoo on the way up, but not on the way down.
Other attractions on the hillside include the Jardín Botánico Mapulemu, a botanical garden; the child-oriented Plaza de Juegos Infantiles Gabriela Mistral featuring attractive wooden playground equipment and an interactive water fountain; and two huge public swimming pools, the Piscina Tupahue and Piscina Antilén. The small but perfectly landscaped Jardín Japonés (Japanese Garden) is 400m east.
There are snack stands near the cable-car stations, but Cerro San Cristóbal is also a prime picnicking spot – pick up your provisions down in Bellavista before ascending. Near the top of the funicular is the Terraza Bellavista where there are extraordinary views across the city.