Valparaiso is located on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, about one hour away from Santiago. Taking a tour or exploring the city on your own is undoubtedly worth it. A colorful city, spreading over a number of hills, is full of life, art, and food.
The city has a very distinctive charm and can create mixed feelings due to an overwhelming number of favelas, old cars, dirty streets, and stray dogs. My first reaction was where am I? Had I traveled 30 years back in time and didn’t notice it? Is it safe? All these questions rushed through my head one by one. Nevertheless, I resolved to investigate before making any permanent decisions on what I thought about the city.
Walking and exploring the ins and outs of the city, I now could see a very different side, which I came to adore. Extremely friendly natives, busy street markets and graffiti painted houses make this town even more appealing to the eye. Then suddenly favelas don’t look as old and scary as before. All of these make Valparaiso one of Chile’s most fascinating and unique cities to visit!
Attractions To Visit
Antiquated lifts: The funicular “lifts” connect the lower part of town with the upper suburban area. The lifts are considered to be one of Valparaiso’s oldest and most popular attractions. It’s a great way to view the city from above for only CH $100–CH $300.
Here are some of the popular lifts:
Ascensor Polanco gives spectacular views of the city and it’s the only vertical lift.
Ascensor Concepcion is hidden in a small passageway across from the Turri watch-tower. I was determined to ride the oldest lift to the top of the hill, however my attempt to do so was unsuccessful. The lift was closed at the time of my travel.
Ascensor El Peral – I had the chance of riding it to the top. It’s located about 2 minutes away from Ascensor Concepcion. One thing to note is that during the summer it gets very hot inside the lifts. While I was gradually ascending to the top of the hill, the city below increasingly seemed to get more and more peaceful, compared to the noisy and busy streets down there.
Ascensor Artilleria is the most popular among tourists and the busiest lift.
Ascensor Reina Victoria also gives great views of the city, the bay, and of a cemetery located on top of a hill. I used this particular lift to go down. All lifts are unique and are surely worth visiting.
Attractions To Visit Near Valparaiso
Vina Del Mar
Even though Valparaiso is located on the ocean bay, it’s essentially a port city, and for that reason, there aren’t any beaches. If a beach is what you want, then visit Vina Del Mar – summer getaway location for the locals. This waterfront town somewhat resembling Miami is located only 15 minutes away from Valparaiso and can be reached by train. It’s a fantastic getaway from all the noise of the busy port city to a calm beachy town. The long beach strip is nice and clean, however, the water is unmistakably frigid. Nevertheless, many still enjoy a short swim. Along the boardwalk, there are several conveniently located cafes and restaurants. The only downside is high food prices. I recommend sticking to ice cream and a drink of choice.
The village of Isla Negra, located about an hour drive from Valparaiso, became a well- known tourist destination thanks to its former resident, poet Pablo Neruda. Many travel to this little village by the ocean to visit Pablo Neruda’s home, now a museum, called “Casa Museo Isla Nerga.” This fascinating house is full of eccentric objects such as seashells, colorful bottles, masks, postcards, and much more. It’s also a place with the unbelievable view of the rocky beach (a great spot to picnic or just watching the waves).
-Buy food at the open street markets. Supermarket food store “Jumbo” is extremely expensive compared to market prices. Fruit, veggies, and bread are best to get at the street market. Buy meat at the supermarket, or ask locals to recommend a good meat street market. The street markets might seem a bit hectic and at times dirty, however they sell the same products at considerably lower prices.
-Exchanging currency in the city, you get a better rate. If Valparaiso isn’t the only city you’re planning on visiting, exchange the currency here. Remember, the further you get away from large cities like Valparaiso, the less likely you are to find a reasonable exchange rate.
-Driving here can be pretty chaotic, due to the many hills and a large amount of cars. If you are planning on renting a car and driving around the city for a couple of days, try to stay in a place with parking (it’s safer and you don’t have to worry about finding a parking spot).