South America Living

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Viña del Mar, Chile Travel Guide

Looking Through a Wineglass at Viña del Mar

When most Chileans think of the word ‘beach’ they also conjure up images of Viña del Mar. Often referred to as the “Riviera of Chile“, Viña del Mar is an upscale seaside summer resort that originally hosted wealthy families from Santiago and now hosts just about everything under the sun.

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      Where To Eat       Where To Stay

Located just 8 km (5 miles) north of Valparaíso, Viña (Vineyard in English) is often called “The Garden City” due to its pleasant year-round climate.

Summertime (December to March) is high season with hoardes of vacationers (and holiday home owners) from Santiago descending upon the city, longing for the white sand beaches and sunshine after what is normally a cold and drizzly winter.

While enjoying the sun and surf stay within an area patrolled by lifegaurds – especially important if traveling with children. There are strong currents in all areas that have taken the lives of even the most experienced swimmers in years past.

Things To Do in Viña del Mar

  • Visit the Quinta Vergara Amphitheater (open-air, outdoor theater) especially in summertime when concerts are held such as the Viña del Mar International Song Festival in February.
  • Your Chilean pesos may be freshly minted but this casino is not: Viña del Mar Municipal Casino. One of the oldest casinos in South America it was built in the 1930s.
  • Spend an afteroon strolling through Plaza de Viña del Mar in central downtown area. Teatro Municipal is located here and events are listed on the Corporación Cultura Viña del Mar website (Spanish-only).
  • Enjoy a few glasses of wine and learning about grape harvests at vineyards near Viña del Mar with Santiago Adventures.
  • See and be seen at the most exclusive and popular beach areas – Reñaca beach a primary one. Now incorporated into Viña del Mar it is still a city unto itself with a large residential population, International schools, hotels and many restaurants and bars.
  • Pretend you are a descendent of former wealthy aristocrats and take a ride on a traditional horse-drawn carriage - a “Victoria” – that you of course own.
  • Work on your cultural-side by visiting Museo Corporación Fonck (archeology) or Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes (European paintings).
  • If traveling with children head to Plaza Colombia to ride go-carts, ponies or watch one of many regular events (during summertime) such as a puppet show.

Every November/December Viña del Mar hosts an International Film Festival in which Latin American films and directors take center stage. Founded in 1967 as the first Latin American Film Festival it is now an annual event. For more information view their offical website (Spanish-only): FICVINA

The glitz and glean (plus high prices) of Viña del Mar becoming a bit much for you? Hop on a bus or the Metro Valparaiso for a short trip (20 minutes) to the more esthetic-oriented beach hub – Valparaiso.

For where to stay, eat and things to do in Valpo read: Travel Guide to Valparaiso .

Where to Stay in Viña del Mar

Expensive
Name: Radisson Hotel Concón
Address: Avenida Borgoño #23
Website: www.radisson.com/concon-valparaiso-hotel-cl/

Midrange
Name: Gisela & Carlos House
Address: Avenida Las Mercedes #203
Website: None. Like a B&B with lovely rooms, T.V. room, Internet and pool in peaceful garden area.

Cheap
Name: Che Lagarto Hostel
Address: Diego Portales #131 (Caleta Abarca neighborhood)
Website: www.chelagarto.com/

Where to Eat in Viña del Mar

Expensive
Name: Tierra del Fuego
Address: 8 Norte 65
Website: http://www.tierradefuego.cl/. Upscale dining right on the beach (see photo below).

Midrange
Name: Diego Pizza
Address: Avenida San Martin 636
Website: http://www.diegopizza.cl/.

Cheap
Name: Restaurant Africa
Address: Avenida Valparaíso #324
Website: None. Simple Chiliean food (sandwiches, churrasco, chorizo, salads) at low prices. Popular with backpackers.

Interactive Map of Viña del Mar


View Larger Map

Panoramic View of Reñaca

Tierra del Fuego Restaurant on the Beach

Concon Beach at Viña del Mar

Photographs – except of Reñaca – by Mike Hower, all rights reserved.