So that’s it, you decided to pack your bags to travel to Chile for your next vacation? This long-stretched country of South America borders the Pacific Ocean and offers striking contrasts. You will be charmed for sure by the welcome of the inhabitants and the incredible natural landscapes. Visit Valparaiso is just one great option for you !
The cities in Chile are worth seeing. Once arrived in the capital, Santiago, continue your stay in the beautiful Valparaiso (the Paradise Valley, just that!) just hundred kilometers away. It is the second largest city in Chile, and its charm has earned it a UNESCO World Heritage designation. Come and discover the pearl of the Pacific and its essential port for sailors who use the Strait of Magellan. Visit Valparaiso.
What to do in Valparaiso ?
1. Cerros Concepción and Alegre
These are two neighborhoods highly appreciated by visitors. There are small colorful houses that can be seen on postcards, labyrinths of alleyways with a lively atmosphere, flowers, and shops. These are certainly very touristy neighborhoods, but for good reasons.
In these cerros you will find great viewpoints, Paseo Atkinson, and the Museum of Fine Arts, called Baburizza. Opposite, the Palacio Astoreca is also worth a look for its flamboyant and very original architecture.
To access the most interesting places of these hills, don’t hesitate to take the funiculars, also called elevators. And to soak up the city’s exhilarating atmosphere, wander around the labyrinth of streets, simply by having a good time.
2. Pablo Neruda’s home: la Sebastiana
Pablo Neruda was a Chilean poet, but also a diplomat and a great traveler. His career and his literary works have marked his country.
La Sebastiana is a haven of peace in the heart of the city, where tranquility and beauty reign. The view of Valparaiso is breathtaking from all the floors of the house. You will discover the work of the poet, and the important stages of his life in a very cute setting, with the help of an audioguide. If you do not know the writings of Pablo Neruda yet, this may be an opportunity for you to leaf through now.
3. The Church of La Matriz
It is a national monument of Chile and a must when you visit Valparaiso. Recognizable by its white walls and high tower, since the 16th century, a religious building occupied this place, but over time, it has evolved a lot.
Rich families have contributed to its construction, but many looters and natural disasters have repeatedly destroyed the church. However, the inhabitants have persevered, and despite all its vicissitudes, the church of La Matriz is still there, proudly erected. Its architecture is quite original, since it has been influenced by various currents over the reconstructions.
4. La Plaza Sotomayor
It is an emblematic place of Valparaiso. It is dedicated to the Chilean sailors who lost their lives during bloody naval battles. In the center of the square, there is a war memorial. Around the Plaza are colorful buildings with typical colonial architecture which give a particular character.
During your visit Valparaiso, it’s perfect for a coffee break, before heading back to explore the city center. Moreover, just a hundred meters further, you will discover another great place: Plaza Echaurren. It is built around a fountain, and has many small shops. Both have very different styles, but are just as beautiful.
5. El Mercurio de Valparaiso
It is the head quarter of a historical newspaper created in the 19th century, ancestor of the paper press throughout South America. The building has a much sought-after neoclassical style, with many facade ornaments and an imposing tower. It is one of the most photographed of the city.
6. The Port
It is far from being the most beautiful port in the world, but it still has a certain charm with its colorful containers. Since the creation of the Panama Canal, its activity has dropped drastically. But at the time, the port of Valparaiso was an obligatory passage for the boats that counted to join the Atlantic by the strait of Magellan. So it was a good time, during which the whole city was influenced by the many sailors who are refueling here and trading. Today, it is possible to cruise the bay and observe the city from sea level.
7. La Avenida Alemania
This major artery of Valparaiso dates back to the hillside and offers a splendid panorama of the whole city, the port, and the ocean. This is the perfect place to admire the setting sun and take pictures for your souvenir album.
If you have the time, visit Valparaiso and discover small alleys and murals by foot. But if your stay in Valparaiso is rather short, or the effort is too intense, you can climb to the point of view with a local bus. Once up there, time is like suspended, and there is nothing to do but enjoy the moment while admiring the view.
8. Uncover street art frescoes
It is omnipresent in the streets of the city. Valparaiso is known as a landmark for artists of all kinds: poets, painters, musicians… But what is striking at first glance is the impressive number of murals that punctuate the neighborhoods.
However, these frescoes are considered illegal, and regularly destroyed. But at the Open Air Museum, a space is devoted solely to this form of expression. If you like photographic safaris and street art, you’ll be thrilled.
Full Days – Visit Valparaiso
1. Viña del Mar
This seaside resort north of the city is the meeting place for city dwellers during the weekend. Only 20 minutes by bus, you can escape from Valparaiso for a day on the beach.
Viña del Mar has everything to entertain you: shops, nightclubs, walking paths, casino and restaurants. It feels like being on the Cote d’Azur, but with the Pacific Ocean as its horizon. And that’s not all. Architecture and heritage are very present in this city not so superficial as that. There is even a beautiful botanical garden, a little outside the center. Viña del Mar will be a delight for all types of visitors, not just clubbers who think only to party.
Continuing on the north coast of Chile, about an hour from Valparaiso, you will come across a charming fishing port. Horcón is a very colorful village where birds like to come and stretch their wings. Here, no flamboyant shopping centers, only modest fishermen who live by the tides, pulling their boats on the white and black sand. Come admire the bay, and take a dip in this authentic village.
A little further up the coast, the very elegant city of Zapallar awaits you. It is inhabited by rich owners who enjoy the tranquility and beautiful natural surroundings. The early 20th century style houses are worth a look, as are the plaza, the long beach, and the pine-covered hills.
4. Lago Peñuelas National Reserve
Visit Valparaiso and this natural park, built around the great Peñuelas Lake, which is a world biosphere reserve. It is the ideal place for a natural excursion among the birds and the green plain. Fishing enthusiasts can try to catch carp, while sports enthusiasts can stretch their legs on foot or by bike. The many picnic areas are perfect for a quiet lunch break and a nap before heading back to Valparaiso.
5. Casablanca Valley
If you like oenology, the Casablanca Valley will please you for sure. Its vineyards are well known around the world for the excellent white wine they produce. The climate of the valley is particularly conducive to the cultivation of grapes, and winemakers have understood this well. Many enthusiasts have planted Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes to extract this nectar appreciated by all. It is also possible to go around the producers and spend a day tasting in the vineyards. Horseback rides are even proposed to walk quietly among the vines.
Ideas of Stays – Visit Valparaiso
A week-end in Valparaiso
This is the minimum you need to spend here. In two days you will have time to tour the city and its main monuments, but no more. Do not forget that Valparaiso is all in hills, which requires an extra effort for visits. We advise you to use the elevators to move faster and admire the view. The must-see is the harbor district, the house of Pablo Neruda, and the Concepción and Alegre Cerros.
If you have a little more time, you can explore the less known cerros of tourists and go on a hunt for hidden street art frescoes. It is also an opportunity to do some excursions around the city. A day north, between fishing village and opulent houses, and another in the land to recharge your batteries in contact with nature. You can also simply enjoy Valparaiso quietly and soak up your relaxed and sunny lifestyle.
In seven days, you can go over activities listed above, and possibly visit the southern part of the coast. For example, you’ll find the largest swimming pool in the world at the Algarrobo Aquatic Complex. It is not only for swimming, but also for water sports such as windsurfing, canoeing, and even diving. Further south, it is the Isla Negra that will take you for a poetic stroll along the beach. Pablo Neruda had another house there, facing the ocean. It was here that he found inspiration in this modest village. To end this small coastal journey, the surroundings of Cartagena are perfect to bask on the sand and enjoy the benefits of the sun and salt water.
Good places to visit Valparaiso
Where to sleep in Valparaiso?
- Zero Hotel (4-star): this luxury hotel is located in the heart of the tourist district, in Cerro Alegre. The view of the ocean is spectacular from the terrace, and the breakfast. The rooms are new and very bright, and the quality of service is indisputable.
- Departamentos Puerto Claro (4-star): these upscale apartments are located in the Concepción district. They feature fully equipped kitchens and rooms with beach views. The style is neat, between brick walls, wrought iron furniture and refined woodwork. Breakfast is served on site, but you can cook your other meals independently.
- Increible Loft (3-star): this original holiday home is made for those who are tired of hotels with impersonal decor. In this loft of 50 square meters, a family or a group of friends can come to live a few days to feel like a local inhabitant. The multicolored mosaics and the atypical decoration make this charming place a real favorite.
- Departamento Turquesa (3-star): this exceptional apartment is located in Viña del Mar, the seaside resorts a quarter of an hour from Valparaiso. With its patio, modern kitchen and breathtaking views of the Pacific, this is a little pearl not to be missed for a good holiday.
Where to eat in Valparaiso
- La Concepción: gourmets will appreciate the cuisine of this establishment in the city center. Here, seafood is honored with typical Chilean recipes. The dishes are exquisite, the fish are of incomparable freshness, and the setting is beautiful.
- Maralegre: in the Alegre district, it is one of the best restaurants. For a romantic outing between lovers, Maralegre is the perfect choice. The chefs cook both seafood and meat, and the service is very friendly. In addition, the splendid view adds a little charm to this already magical place.
- El Pimentón: for a typical and cheap meal, head to El Pimentón! Moreover, locals often come to eat in this facility that is always full. It is worth waiting a few minutes to taste the best local specialties, in a friendly atmosphere.
- Moneda de oro: another well-known Chilean address, where you can taste the famous “cazuela”. It’s a local dish of beef, vegetables and rice floating in a tasty broth. Chilean cuisine is simple, but generally very hearty and balanced.
How to get around in Valparaiso?
The easiest way to visit Valparaiso is by bus. The city and its surroundings are very well squared by several companies that share neighborhoods. Because of the city’s special urban planning, the buses are rather small and compact, but that’s not a problem.
There is also a metro line that goes through Valparaiso right through to Viña del Mar. The taxi is another possibility, but the bill can quickly become salty if the traffic is dense, and your destination a little distant. A good compromise may be the car rental if you stay several days and want to explore a little coastal villages or natural parks.