NileGuide Expert Says:
Take a spin around this market on your own to people watch and discover new fruits, vegetables and seasonings.
Antonia López de Bello, Chile
NileGuide Expert tip:
Come on a Sunday morning if you'd like to avoid the crowds.
La Vega Central is where real Santiago goes to shop. No overly-organized, highly polished piles of fruits and vegetables here, there is chaos and piles of discarded cabbage leaves and more than the occasional cat perched atop a pile of produce.
You can cross the bridge over from the Mercado Central over to the Vega, or if you'd rather come up right into the middle of it, take the yellow line metro to Patronato and head in from there. You can walk through the various sections of the Vega, including the meat section, the Peruvian section and find special aisles just dedicated to mushrooms, or cheese, or dry goods.
For a truly authentic experience, stop in at one of the local eateries for a steaming hot bowl of cazuela (meat or chicken soup) or some fried fish with rice and salad. Appearances are deceiving here, and the various locales are actually quite clean and hygienic.
If you're not sure you want to do it on your own, consider a tour like La Bicicleta Verde's
City tour or walking tour. While it is generally safe, you should exercise caution here, particularly with valuables.