Shopping in Santiago is a mixture of the old and new as bustling craft markets sit in the shadow of brand-new megamall complexes. The city is a major shopping destination, and visitors will find everything from tacky tourist items to high-end local brand names and international labels.
There are more than a few shopping malls in Santiago. The air-conditioned centres are popular on hot days, and most have food courts and movies to entertain children while their parents shop. Alto Las Condes and Parque Arauco are two of the biggest and best of Santiago's malls, with more than one hundred shops in each and a variety of entertainment options. Mall Vivo Panoramico is a good shopping centre to find mid-range items, and the 'Drugstore' on Avenida Providencia has a range of funky boutiques. Malls in Santiago are open seven days a week.
For tourists looking more for handicrafts than haute couture, Santiago has a few good craft markets that are great places to visit on a nice day. Patio Bellavista has a wealth of locally made goods, and is a good place to find souvenirs as well as good restaurants. Pueblito de los Dominicos, which is made up of small stores located inside an attractive old convent, also promises a wonderful array of local crafts in a picturesque setting. For cheap (but sometimes less authentic) souvenirs, Feria Artesanal Santa Lucia, on Cerro Santa Lucia, is another popular market with visitors.
Sought-after souvenirs include jewellery made with locally mined lapis lazuli, folk art, and alpaca scarves and jerseys. Chilean wine from the region around Santiago is also a good souvenir, particularly from well-regarded wineries such as Casa Julia and EQ.
A famously nocturnal city, the nightlife in Santiago often stays lively until the sun comes up. Locals may only go to dinner at 11pm, getting to nightclubs after 1am and staying until dawn. While some visitors may not have that sort of stamina, they shouldn't be surprised to find that clubs in Santiago often don't fill until midnight.
Much of Santiago's nightlife caters to people between 18 and 35, and live music is popular, spanning a wide range of musical styles from electronic to rock and jazz. Internationally renowned bands and musicians play at venues such as the Estado Nacional Julio Martinez Pradanos (the national stadium) and the Espacio Riesco.
Pio Nono has the highest density of bars in Santiago, and there are a number of high-end nightclubs surrounding the Plaza San Enrique. The Bellavista neighbourhood has a large number of nightclubs and bars, many of which stay open until as late as 5am, as well as a few relaxed venues with local music like tango, bolero and Latin jazz. Avenida Suecia, in the generally upmarket Providencia neighbourhood, was once considered the nightlife centre of Santiago, especially for foreigners, but the road developed a reputation for seediness and debauchery and most of the best venues have since closed down.
The legal drinking age in Chile is 18 and the locals are generally very welcoming and friendly on a night out. The party tends to spill out into the streets in a festive manner, especially in Bellavista, where the sidewalks are extensions of the various bars and restaurants.
There is a huge theatre community in Santiago, with offerings ranging from small independent productions to large-scale operas. Established theatres such as the Teatro Bellavista, Teatro Alcalá, and Estación Mapocho put on regular stage productions, but performances in English are few and far between. Tourists who don't speak Spanish will enjoy symphonies or ballets at the Teatro Municipal, Teatro Oriente and Teatro Universidad de Chile.