Valparaiso was a weird and wonderful place, throw an earthquake in the mix it was surely a memorable stay in this seaside port town in Chile. Valparaiso is best known for its street art and colourful streets and it was a great spot to just hang out, walk, drink coffee and enjoy the sunshine after being in Patagonia.
Valparaiso is having a resurgence after many wealthy people fled after the Panama canal opened and money swiftly left the area. But in recent years artists have flocked to the city and created an environment that has in turn attracted a lot of tourists.
What to do in Valparaiso
Admire the amazing murals
Art is everywhere and due to lots of artists living in the area and rules have been lifted around graffiti so Valparaiso’s main attraction is all of the amazing street art situated around the city.
You can do walking tours in Valparaiso but we chose to just do our own thing as it is really easy to walk around and see all of the amazing street art yourself, plus were not really ‘walking tour’ people. I have the attention span of a gold fish and get seriously bored during them.
On our two days in Valparaiso we just walked around and enjoyed all of the beautiful art upon every building space, it was beautiful sunny weather during our stay and after so long in the cold in Patagonia is was so nice to have some sunshine and actually bare some skin!
Find art everywhere
It’s not just graffiti that is on offer, everywhere you look there is a little piece of art. Mosaics, houses and every little alley way are all created with art in mind and it makes for the most interesting and colourful town we visited in South America.
We stopped in at Aussie cafe called ‘Melbourne’ for a flat white and a pie, although not the best coffee it was nice to have a wee taste of home (via Australia).
Our favourite spot for coffee there was a cute cafe called Cafe Castillero, it was located right in the main area of the town and served some of the best coffee we had in all of South America. Its a great spot to sit and chill and for us a place to practice our Spanish.
Something as simple as painting stairs into piano keys draws people to this particular piece in their droves (me included). These stairs merely connect two streets but it has become a popular place to visit in Valparaiso. The artist is unknown.
We are happies not hippies
This is a picture that pops up if you search Valparaiso on google or instagram. It really incapsulates this place, although it looks like a weird hippy place covered in street art it is actually just a really great town with interesting people with a love of art, colour and happiness.
Experience an Earthquake
I also got to experience my first (and hopefully last) earthquake in Valparaiso, having felt a few tremors during our first two days there, on day three the entire house shook and the ground was rumbling beneath us. We quickly ran outside and felt reassured after it stopped just a few moments later but still it was crazy! On our fourth day there an even bigger earthquake hit where the epicentre was just 20km offshore and it was truly frightening but again no damage and it didn’t last very long at all.
Vina del Mar
We took a day trip to nearby Vina del Mar which was completely empty the day we visited but I imagine during the summer months it is a holiday destination for Chileans. It is a seaside town coupled with a huge beach and high rise apartments the whole way along the beach. As I mentioned it was off season so everything was shut so it was a bit of a let down. We caught a local bus and it took just 15 minutes and cost 400 pesos.
There are many many steps in Valparaiso but once you reach the top of all the steps it is a pretty great view! You realise just how colourful this town really is from the top.
How to get there:
From Santiago it is a only 120km away so it is a short 1 1/2 hr bus journey from one of the main stations, we caught an uber from our apartment to the bus station and it cost around £4 from Bella Artes.
Where we stayed:
We rented an airbnb for 5 days just out of the main town with incredible views over the sprawling city. It did mean a lot of steps had to be climbed each day but it was worth it to be out of the hustle and bustle of the main centre.
We really loved Valparaiso and would definitely recommend it for more than just a day trip from Santiago!
Interested in South America travel? Check out my page for more destinations.