3 Days* in VALPARAISO (CHILE)
“Valparaiso, how absurd you are… you haven’t combed your hair, you’ve never had time to get dressed, life has always surprised you.” - Pablo Neruda.
What a perfect description for this Chilean town that once was one of South America’s most important ports. Valpo is a vibrant mosaic of Latin joie de vivre, a breeze of anarchy and an explosion of color on dilapidated facades. Graffiti artists have adopted every surface in the Cerros – the historical neighborhoods dotting the hills- that seem like canvases in a huge, open-air street art studio.
Day 1* in Valparaiso
Valparaiso is only a 90-min bus ride from Santiago de Chile and TURBUS departs every 15 min. from Terminal Alameda in Santiago, located at the Metro station Universidad de Santiago. For about 8 bucks you’ll be on your way! Disembark at Avenida Pedro Montt and cab it to your accommodation in Cerro Alegre or Cerro Conception, the most captivating parts of town.
Don’t bother renting a car. Instead, start wandering the alleyways and steep staircases of this wonderfully gritty city where dockworkers, international students, prostitutes and street artists mingle, giving this place its unique charm. Stop for authentic, affordable Chilean grub at the unassuming Café del Pintor for a plate of seafood risotto and the popular South American cocktail, Pisco Sour.
After lunch, explore the rightfully popular Cerros Alegre and Conception and its shops and galleries. Local graffiti showcases real artistry on nearly every surface. This piece by Argentinian artists Martin Ron is located at Monte Alegre and Via Alemania, but many other gems decorate the neighborhoods. After a few hours of exploring the multicolored maze, make your way towards the Paseo Yugoslavo. If you’re in luck you might come across the local hang drum player who sweetened my sunset with his ethereal tunes. The view of the bay is phenomenal, with or without live music, though. Have an aperitif at Antonia Wines Boutique located under the Ascensor Reina Victoria, one of the city’s quaint funicular elevators and end your day with a fresh Ceviche at Café Turri overlooking the Pacific. The shrimp/scallop lasagna is out of this world!
Day 2* in Valparaiso
While you may be tempted to spend your whole time in the cerros, the rest of the city is worth exploring as well: The 612 bus known as the “O” wheezes its way up a sinuous maze towards Via Alemania. Ask the driver to kick you off at “Casa Museo La Sebastiana”, one of Pablo Neruda’s homes. The Chilean poet is depicted in the 1994 Italian movie “Il Postino” in which his real life is woven into a fictional love story. Explore the museum and relax in the shade of a palm tree in Pablo’s garden while reading some of his emotive love poems.
If you happen to be in Valparaiso on a Wednesday or Saturday, continue on to Feria, the local farmer’s market on Avenida Argentina where you’ll get a glimpse into authentic Valpo life. Alternatively you can take a trip to adjacent Viña del Mar, the preppier neighbor. If Valparaiso were Amy Winehouse, Viña would be Ellie Goulding… nice and just a wee bit bland.
If you want to soak up more of Valparaiso’s unique grittiness instead, wander along Independencia and Blanco Sur Brazil back towards Bellavista. Take Av Ecuador to Cementario de Disidentes – the Protestant cemetery - for another spectacular panorama of the city. Round the day off amongst locals with Los Porteños’ pastel de jaiba, a dream of cream, crab and carbs. Lastly shuffle your feet to some Latin Salsa beats at the nearby La Piedra Feliz.
Day 3* in Valparaiso
Start your day on the quaint patio at Un Cafecito (Pasaje Pierre Loti 9, Cerro Alegre) before embarking on your third day of explorations. While it might feel repetitive, you’ll find Valparaiso’s cerros so unique that another day is needed to explore more of its nooks and crannies. Don’t miss the artists’ hub Paseo Atkinson.
If your feet are as exhausted treat yourself to a massage at the Palacio Astoreca Hotel Spa. Soak in the traditional Southern Chilean hot tub where you’ll feel your battery recharge again.
A sandwich or, even better, the volcano chocolate desert with raspberries at the peculiar Dulce Pols will tide you over until dinner and a local brew at Casa Cervecera Altamira under the Queen Vic funicular will keep you sufficiently hydrated before heading to dinner at La Concepcion for their sunset views, conger eel soup and signature king crab ravioli. Mingle with the porteńos (locals) over live music in a 1920s setting at Bar Cinzano, which will put a perfect bow on this 3 Days* in Valpo gift.
- The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems, Pablo Neruda
- The House of the Spirits, by one of the most influencial Chilean authors of the 20th century, Isabel Allende
- The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle that Set Them Free, by Hector Tobar
- very comfortable walking shoes
- layers… warm during the day the nights can get rather chilly
- Pablo Neruda’s Selected Poems, it’s light!
- Folky Singer/Songwriter Camila Moreno
- Rap Chileno Dela 580
- Land of the Incas (Music of the Andes). More Peruvian, but close enough