Sign outside La Chascona, one of Pablo Neruda's homes.

Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images

La Chascona

Top choice in Santiago

When poet Pablo Neruda needed a secret hideaway to spend time with his mistress Matilde Urrutia, he built La Chascona (loosely translated as 'Messy Hair'), the name inspired by her unruly curls. Neruda, of course, was a great lover of the sea, so the dining room is modeled on a ship's cabin and the living room on a lighthouse.

Audio tours (available in English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish) take you through the history of the building and the collection of colored glass, shells, furniture and artwork by famous friends – sadly much more was lost when the house was ransacked during the dictatorship. The Fundación Neruda, which maintains Neruda's houses, has its headquarters here and runs a lovely gift shop.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Santiago attractions

1. Cerro San Cristóbal

0.15 MILES

The best views over Santiago are from the peaks and viewpoints of the Parque Metropolitano, better known as Cerro San Cristóbal. At 722 hectares, the park…

2. Zoológico Nacional

0.17 MILES

The dinky Zoológico Nacional houses an aging bunch of neglected animals. It is, however, probably the only place in Chile where you are assured a glimpse…

3. Patio Bellavista

0.22 MILES

Upmarket eateries and posh souvenir shops ranged around a huge courtyard make up Patio Bellavista, a clear attempt by developers to spruce up Barrio…

4. Terraza Bellavista

0.33 MILES

Near the top of the funicular is the Terraza Bellavista, where there are a few snack stands and extraordinary views across the city.

5. Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepción

0.41 MILES

A snowy white 14m-high statue of the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepción towers atop the cumbre (summit) at the Bellavista end of Cerro San Cristóbal.

6. Museo Violeta Parra

0.52 MILES

One of the most influential folk musicians on the continent, Violeta Parra was also a prolific artist and the first South American woman to have a solo…

7. Parque Forestal

0.54 MILES

On weekend afternoons, the temperature rises in Parque Forestal, a narrow green space wedged between Río Mapocho and Merced. The rest of the week it's…

8. Patronato

0.54 MILES

This barrio within a barrio, roughly bordered by Recoleta, Loreto, Bellavista and Dominica streets, is the heart of Santiago's immigrant communities,…