Valparaíso and Viña del Mar
Just north of Santiago is the jumbled port city of Valparaíso and Chilean beach retreat of Viña del Mar. Chaotic, yet charming, Valparaíso is one of the most intriguing and vibrant cities in Chile, packed with history, colonial charm and character. Once a thriving port town, it is now home to many artists and artisans and serves as a great addition to any Chile itinerary.
Valparaíso is the largest, oldest and most colourful port in Chile. Located less than two hours away from Santiago, the port enjoys a Mediterranean climate and sweeping views of a broad and open bay. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, its historic downtown is packed with beautiful architecture and clutches on to its faded grandeur from the 19th century. Ornate churches, Victorian-style houses and narrow streets are enclosed by undulating hills, studded with multi-coloured houses precariously placed at all angles. A complex maze of narrow twisting streets, steep stairways and century-old wooden funiculars provide access to these hilly suburbs. Aimlessly exploring the city’s chaotic layout is the best way to discover its gritty history and distinctive personality.
Peppered with cafes, buzzing bars, quirky restaurants and boutique hotels, Valparaiso also boasts various look-out points, maritime museums and a thriving art scene. Embracing graffiti as an artistic expression, vibrant pieces of street art adorn the walls of Valparaíso making it one of the most creative cities in Latin America. As a magnet for romanticism, Valparaíso is also home to generations of poets, writers and philosophers who have used the city’s allure as inspiration. A prime example is the Nobel-prize winner Pablo Neruda, Chile’s most revered poet and exploring his former home- now-turned museum offers insight into his life, quirks and love affair with the port town of Valparaíso.
After exploring the intoxicating mix of Valparaíso, the neighbouring town of Viña del Mar is home to miles of palm-fringed beaches, beautiful green sprawling parks and an array of hotels, restaurants and bars; the perfect antidote after revelling in one of Chile’s most exciting cities.