An important port with a rich heritage ordained a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Valparaiso is one of the most interesting and attractive cities to visit in Chile.
The city is built up dozens of hilltops, or cerros, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with a maze of cobbled streets, alleyways, stairways and funicular lifts winding their way up steep sides through perched neighbourhoods to the top.
Much of the grand architecture dates back to the Valparaiso’s 19th century heyday when the port became a vital stopover en route to the American West Coast, especially so during California Gold Rush, when it also attracted immigrants from across Europe. Though its fortunes faded with the opening of Panama Canal, today’s city still remains an active port with a charmingly worn in feel.
Valparaiso’s brightly coloured wooden-clad buildings are matched by the works of the street artists which adorn seemingly every flat surface in within reach, the latest in a long line of creative types and poets drawn to this edgy coastal city. It was best described by resident poet Pablo Neruda, who wrote, “Valparaíso, how absurd you are. You haven’t combed your hair, you’ve never had time to get dressed, life has always surprised you.”
Just two hours from Santiago, a short stay here is recommended for anyone looking to experience an offbeat side of Chile, and there are now many new excellent restaurants, sunset facing pisco bars and boutique hotels opening. We can arrange privately guided tours with local history and art experts and you’re well located here to explore the vineyards of the Aconcagua and Casablanca Valleys.
When to go
Valparaiso is great all year round, especially in the warmer months November through March.
What to do
- Allow yourself to get lost in some of the smaller side streets - there is something new and interesting to surprise you round every corner.
- Take a ride in one of the funicular railways.
- Visit La Sebastiana, the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda's house, now a museum