Santiaguinos take Sunday off to be with family, but you can find a good party any other day. Bellavista is the main nightlife district, while the chic Lastarria, working-class Brasil and upscale Vitacura and Providencia neighborhoods are best for bars.
For clubbing, you'll need to stay up late. Most clubs don't start until midnight, staying open until 4am or 5am.
Santiago's newfound cafe culture centers around the Barrios Italia and Lastarria neighborhoods. You'll also find cafes sprinkled across Providencia's side streets and along JM de la Barra, a short stretch of road between Cerro Santa Lucía and the Río Mapocho.
Chilean Tea Time
Traditional nightlife starts with afternoon coffee or tea, accompanied by a little cake, in the still-beloved tradition of the once, Chile's 'fourth meal', which is generally taken from 5pm to 8pm. You can always replace your coffee with beer and join the raucous revelry at the pubs and lounges that start to pack in by 8pm.
Pubs & Bars
Boy, do Santiaguinos love to drink. And we're talking all-out, under-the table boozing that rivals their international counterparts. Even on weeknights, by 8pm or 9pm many bars are packed with after-work or after-school gatherings, their tables cheerfully heaving under empty bottles and beer jugs. From rowdy pubs to cozy wine bars, wherever you stay, chances are you'll have a great watering hole nearby.
In Santiago, the life and soul of the carrete (nightlife) is Barrio Bellavista. By 10pm tables inside and outside of its many bars are filled with rowdy groups of Santiaguinos giving their all to the previa (preclub drinking). Many of the restaurants and clubs in Bellavista also double as drinking spots.
The identical watering holes along Pío Nono are basic and ultracheap – tall beers are the standard order. Both the drinks and the crowds are a bit more sophisticated along Constitución, Mallinkrodt and Antonia López de Bello, peppered with arty cocktail bars. Further west, Bombero Núñez is home to a handful of more underground bars and clubs, including some of Santiago's best gay nightlife.
Although the bars and cafes inside Patio Bellavista are a bit bland, they're just about the only places open on Sunday nights.
This left-of-center barrio is becoming increasingly happening at night, but be aware that the quiet side streets can be sketchy after hours. Taking a taxi is advised.
Urban Wine Tasting
If you don't have enough time to venture into wine country, you can still sample some of Chile's crisp Sauvignon Blancs and smoky Carmeneres at one of a growing number of wine bars. Make a reservation at these spots for specially crafted flights of wine. Note that upscale wine sellers like El Mundo del Vino and Vinomio also run regular tastings with local winemakers (in Spanish only), while Uncorked Wine Tours can arrange English-language tastings and workshops.
Bocanáriz Santiago's first proper wine bar, specializing in Chilean bottles.
La Misión A chic spot to sample wines from across the Americas.
Vinolia Disney World for wine lovers.
Don't even think about showing up at any of these places before midnight: in Santiago, if it's not all night it's not a night out. Most clubs close at about 4am or 5am, at which point those still on their feet adjourn to an after-hours to wind things up.