If you’re planning a visit to Santiago, Argentina, there are a few things you should know. Don’t worry, these are good things meant to guide your steps to the most important things to see and do during your trip.
Now, the first thing you need to know, just to avoid getting on the wrong plane, is that the Santiago we’re going to talk about is in Argentina not in Chile. While the Santiago in Chile is more famous being the capital and largest city in the country and all, Santiago of Argentina, by its full name Santiago del Estero, is the capital of a province in Argentina. Santiago is situated in the north of Argentina on the flatlands of the Gran Chaco.
Expect hot weather and relaxed people
Expect a hot Santiago mostly because it has a sub-tropical climate. The best time to visit the city is undoubtedly winter because the weather is warm and pleasant then. There aren’t numerous attractions in Santiago but nevertheless, it is worth a visit. No architectural heritage has survived since its founding in 1553 by, as expected, the Spanish settlers, but it is a lovely place to visit. Also known as the “Madre de Ciudades” (Mother of Cities), Santiago is renowned for its folk music, like zamba and chacarera, and the tendency of its locals to choose relaxation overwork. And who can blame them? There’s such a nonchalant ambience in Santiago del Estero that you will definitely find no workaholics living here. And I don’t think this is such a bad thing!
The city is the birthplace of the Argentine folklore and literature and, obviously, this couldn’t have happened if its locals would have only focused on working and becoming CEOs. There are numerous festivals organized in Santiago every year and, if you have a chance you definitely attend a peñas, which is a popular meeting where people get together to listen to folk music and enjoy simple food and drinks.
The city is considered to be the mother of the cities because it was actually the foundation of the Hispanic colonization that took place during the second half of the 16th century. Santiago is the oldest city in Argentina and very proud of this although all its architecture is rather modern. It lies on the banks of Rio Dulce and offers a beautiful path along the river shaded by really old palm trees. If you’re into water sports, the Municipal Beach is definitely the destination of choice for you. You will find it easily if you just head to the Francisco de Aguirre Park by crossing the Carretero Bridge, a national historical monument, or one of the other bridges that connect the park with Santiago.
Take the time to discover the must-see attractions
Like I said above, don’t expect to find architecture dating to the early years of the city, but you will get to admire the beautiful Basilica Cathedral built in 1570 and, if you have the time and curiosity, stop at the Saint Dominick Convent too, where you will get to admire a reproduction of the Holy Shroud from the 16th century. Want to find more about Santiago and Argentina, do visit the Anthropological Sciences Museum, the Fine Arts Museum, and the Natural Sciences Museum. You can find them all at the Bicentenary Cultural Center housed inside the San Francis Convent.
However, the most important attraction in Santiago, Argentina, is definitely the Rio Hondo Thermal-Baths. The baths are to be found on the banks of the Dulce River and have their origin in the natural groundwater layers. Santiago is considered to be the biggest thermal city in the country due to these baths, so visiting them is a must. If you want, you can book a room at the hotel here and actually get to enjoy the beneficial properties of the thermal waters. They are rich in salt and minerals and really do wonders for your body.
Another must-see attraction in Santiago is the Copo National Park. This natural reservation covers 282,300 acres of the Dry Chaco Region and is home to numerous flora and fauna species quite hard to find in other places of the world. The park is situated about 187 miles from Santiago and it’s a great place to spot the beautiful Red Quebracho, a beautiful noble tree, as well as the South American jaguar, the skunk pig, and the giant armadillo. Nature lovers should definitely plan a trip to the Copo National Park, especially if they visit Santiago between April and November.
Wondering what is there to eat in Santiago? Empanadas, of course! You will find a variety of empanadas and I dare you to try them all. You will not regret this culinary adventure. Tortillas, cayote jam, and pastelitos are also to be found on the streets of Santiago, ready to tempt passer-byes.
This hidden gem of Argentina reveals the authentic, less touristy charm of the country. It opens the door for travelers who want to emerge into a journey of exploration of the real Argentina.