Santiago's Mercado Central an important stop during your South America tour
When it comes to South America tours, there are certain activities you absolutely have to do. Whether it's a trip to Machu Picchu or a ride on the funicular railway of Valparaiso, some aspects of the journey cannot be missed. This is also true for the Mercado Central de Santiago when you find yourself in the Chilean capital.
A tourist hotspot for years, this marketplace has become a popular destination for good reason. The large market can trace its roots as far back as the 1860s. The steel building it is housed in today is an enormous building with a vaulted ceiling and intricate interior design, and has an interesting story to it. The structure was built in England, taken apart, and then reassembled once it made its way overseas.. Over the last 100-plus years, a visit to the market has become a staple of trips to Chile.
Mercado Central has earned a reputation thanks in large part to the fast-paced atmosphere housed inside. The building is lined with merchants trying to sell you their wares, from fruits and vegetables to seafood. It can certainly be a little overbearing if you're not used to it, but the chaotic environment is part of the charm.
There's likely no wrong time to go to Mercado Central, but travel experts advise heading there during the lunchtime. Having some of the local fare for a mid-day meal is a great way to break up the day in Santiago, and the market is especially famous for its ceviche and caldillo de congrio - a thick eel soup. You'll have a taste of Chilean cuisine and culture all in one quick stop.