South America Living

Valparaiso, Chile Travel Guide

Graffiti on a Hillside in Valparaiso

Home of the National Congress of Chile, Chile’s first public library and a major seaport … it is easy to see why Valparaiso is not only a popular tourist destination but also a Unesco World Heritage site (listed in 2003).

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Located just 1 1/2 hours from capital city Santiago, Valparaiso (or Valpo as the locals say) is unique in that it has a citywide system of ascensores (elevators) – fifteen of them to be exact – that help you get around the city’s hilly and often impassable terrain.

There is also the Metro Valparaíso (light-rail system) that serves destinations along the coast. You can take the Metro to Valpo’s sister beach city – Viña del Mar – or other outlying areas.

What to Do and See While Visiting Valparaiso

  • Be glad you are a law abiding citizen by touring Parque Cultural Ex-Carcel – where many stayed who were not. The park is built over the grounds of an old prison and can be accessed by taking Ascensor Reina Vistoria. Concerts are held here.
  • Visit Cerro Concepción (Conception Hill in English) by riding the oldest elevator in Valpo – Ascensor Concepción. If in an energetic mood you can walk up the hill from Belle Vista metro station. At the top enjoy a coffee or snack in one of the many lovely cafés. Noted to be one of the safer neighborhoods in Valpo with many hostals and popular bars in the area.
  • Have a walk through history at the Museo del Mar Lord Cochrane – the original home of the Scottish sailor who founded the Chilean navy. Today, it serves as a museum highlighting the history of Chile’s navy. Can access from Ascensor Cordillera.
  • Pay tribute to Valpo’s most famous artist, poet Pablo Neruda, by visiting one of his former homes turned museum – La Sebastiana. Address: Ferrari #692
  • Tour the nearby Casablanca Valley and vineyards which have put down roots there with Wine Tours Valparaiso.

Plaza Sotomayor is the central plaza of Valparaiso with the Edificio de la Comandancia Naval (Naval Command Building) taking center stage. The pier – Muelle Prat – is a shipping container terminal during the day and a popular place to get some nightlife action on the weekends. There is an informative tourist stand to help you plan your next stop on the tourist trail in Valpo.

Valparaiso is known for its arts scene (best illustrated by the vibrant graffiti plastered on buildings all over town) and bohemian vibe – unique to the conservative cultural norm in Chile. The best way to experience this is to visit at the end of December during its weeklong carnival festivities ending in a New Year’s Eve fireworks serenade.

Where to Stay in Valparaiso

Name: Hotel Boutique Sutherland House
Address: Avenida Alemania #4966 – Cerro Alegre

Name: B&B Casa Kreyenberg
Address: Avenida Alemania #4626 · Cerro Alegre

Name: PataPata Hostel
Address: Templeman #657 – Cerro Alegre

Where to Eat in Valparaiso

Name: Café Turri
Address: Templeman #147
Website: Exquisite dining perched on a hill overlooking the city.

Name: Los Porteños II
Address: Valdivia #169 El Plan
Website: None. Where to go to get your fill of reasonably priced seafood. Set menu deal at lunch time.

Name: Casino Social J Cruz
Address: Condell 1466 El Plan
Website: Serves the popular Valpo snack Chorrillana – steak, onion, and eggs piled ontop of a plate of french fries.

Interactive Map of Valparaiso

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Photograph by Mike Hower, all rights reserved.

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