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Mercado Central

Step inside this grand 19th-century marketplace to experience the sights and smells of fresh food stands and to sample delicious plates of fish and seafood.

Allow your senses to run wild as the diversity of Chilean cuisine unfolds at the Mercado Central. This colorful and frenzied food market has been a quintessential part of Santiago’s daily life since 1872. Sample everything from colorful fruits and vegetables to freshly-baked breads and delicious plates of seafood.

There’s no real order to the layout of the market and upon entering you’ll notice a variety of animated stalls. Find butchers offering just about any part of a cow, artisanal cheese sellers, tropical fruits and vegetables, bakeries and candy stores. The real highlight, however, are the fish stalls. Check out the counters crawling with live crabs and lobsters, the piles of giant muscles and buckets of sea urchins and oysters.

Visit the market’s many restaurants and fast food stands, which offer a range of tasty fish and seafood dishes. Those in the middle of the market are geared toward tourists. Musicians regular approach tables to perform in front of diners and then ask for tips. Go to the smaller restaurants on the market’s outer edge for a more authentic and cheaper experience. Try typical Chilean cuisine, such as caldillo de congrio (conger eel stew), paila marina (seafood soup) and picocoros (giant edible barnacles).

The market’s architecture is an impressive sight in itself. Prefabricated in Britain and then erected in Santiago in 1872, the grand neoclassical structure resembles a Victorian train station. Look for the artistic decorations adorning the buildings pillars and arches, intricately carved from wrought iron. 

The Mercado Central sits on the northern edge of Santiago’s historic center. It’s about a 10-minute walk from Plaza de Armas and easily accessible by bus and metro. A hop-on, hop-off tourist bus also stops at the entrance to the market. Combine your visit with a stroll around the picturesque Parque Forestal (Forest Park) and see modern art in the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo and fine arts in the prestigious Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.

The market is open daily. It’s at its most animated at lunchtime, when the fish restaurants fill up with locals and tourists alike.

Popular Activities at Mercado Central

Get the most out of your time at Mercado Central. Here's a list of the most popular activities:

When arranging your visit, you might want to think about purchasing a Santiago: Small-Group Foodies and Sights Walking Tour and a Managua City Explorer.

If you're looking for more activities, take a look at our Santiago things to do page.


Guide to Exploring around Mercado Central


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Lodging Near Mercado Central

See all 882 Properties near Mercado Central
Hotel Capital San Pablo $61
Reviewed on Apr 23, 2019
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Hotel Capital San Pablo

Hotel Capital San Pablo

San Pablo, 1457, Santiago, Region Metropolitana
     
    4.0 of 5
    3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    El servicio muy bueno desayuno excelente cerca de todo y en personal muy amable

    Mercure Santiago Centro $115
    Reviewed on Apr 25, 2019
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    Mercure Santiago Centro

    Mercure Santiago Centro

    Av. Libertador Bernardo O Higgins, 632, Centro, Santiago, Region Metropolitana
       
      4.1 of 5
      3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Location of the property was good and no noise inspite of being on main road. Staff at reception was not friendly.

      Altura Suites $42
      Reviewed on May 19, 2019
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      Altura Suites

      Altura Suites

      Huérfanos 549, Belles Artes, Santiago, Region Metropolitana
         
        4.0 of 5
        3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Very central to main attractions and restaurants. Very cosy atmosphere inside the room. Layout of the room is also great. English speaking staff who are helpful.

        Hotel Plaza San Francisco $132
        Reviewed on May 1, 2019
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        Hotel Plaza San Francisco

        Hotel Plaza San Francisco

        Alameda 816, Santiago, Region Metropolitana
           
          4.4 of 5
          4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Friendliness and the effectiveness of the staff. They always gave a us great recommendations and organized all activities well

          Hotel Sommelier Boutique $110
          Reviewed on May 1, 2019
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          Hotel Sommelier Boutique

          Hotel Sommelier Boutique

          Merced 433, Santiago, Región Metropolitana de Santiago
             
            4.5 of 5
            3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Good walkable location in the heart of the city, surrounded by iconic places and good restaurants. The rooftop lounge offers good food and a great atmosphere.

            The Singular Santiago $189
            Reviewed on Jun 6, 2019
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            The Singular Santiago

            The Singular Santiago

            Merced 294, Santiago, Region Metropolitana
               
              4.7 of 5
              5.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Very stylish hotel with great staff. Lots of thoughtful extras like welcome chocolates and excellent concierge service.

              Altiplanico Bellas Artes $100
              Reviewed on Apr 14, 2019
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              Altiplanico Bellas Artes

              Altiplanico Bellas Artes

              Santo Domingo 526, Santiago, Region Metropolitana
                 
                4.6 of 5
                3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                Free unlimited coffee. Very comfortable lobby, perfect for staying before/after flight.

                Hotel Cumbres Lastarria $125
                Reviewed on May 19, 2019
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                Hotel Cumbres Lastarria

                Hotel Cumbres Lastarria

                Jose Victorino Lastarria 299, Santiago, Region Metropolitana
                   
                  4.7 of 5
                  4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Great location! I liked the breakfast menu, but would suggest to change the hot items every 2 days.