Valparaiso is unique. There is this contrasting mix of beautiful views, colorful houses, amazing street art, as well as dirty streets and a sense of unsafety.
The cultural capital of Chile can be a dream or just the opposite. For Bertrand, it was photographic heaven. He was inspired by every street, graffiti, house. He could make abstraction of the sometimes unbreathable streets and the dirt in most parts of the city.
New Years in Valparaiso
When planning New Year’s Eve we read that Valparaiso was the host of the biggest firework show in South America. Since I am a big fan of fireworks, I could not miss that. So off we went, from hot Santiago to discover the cultural capital of Chile.
We arrived in the city late afternoon, had a stroll, witnessed some street performances, and waited patiently for the famous fireworks.
The show was beautiful! The fireworks were being shot from 10 different places and it was really impressive to watch. I have witnessed the London show twice and loved it, so I was happy to experience this in South America. We don’t have pictures of the fireworks, unfortunately, but we have tons from the 3 days we spent in the city :).
The views, the street art & Viña del Mar
We spent one of the 4 days planned for Valparaiso in Viña del Mar. Only 30min by bus and considered the posh Valparaiso, this port town is a very popular destination for Santiguanos (Santiago residents). As much as I was happy to see cleaner streets and breathe easily, the place was not really worth the visit. If you have 4-5 days in Valparaiso it’s good to go, just to see something else. Otherwise, it’s not really interesting and it gets quite packed in the summer.
Back to Valparaiso and its biggest attraction: The Cerros (peaks). They are literally a work of art. Besides the impressive street paintings, you also get beautiful views of the city.
Amongst my favorites, there is Cerro Alegre where there is a nice place to eat called, La Coco. Cerro Carcel was quite nice as well as Cerro Bella Vista where Pablo Neruda’s house can be found.
A very popular Cerro is Conception. Although nice, it is far too touristy.
Whatever your preferences are, there is a Cerro for you out there :).
Tips & tricks
How to get there: From Santiago by bus or Tripda (Blabla car).
Where to stay: We stayed in an AirB&B and in a hostel, and both were bad. If you want a nice and clean place you will need a budget. My advice is to not go for the cheap ones, it’s better to stay less than not enjoy because your room smells, has no light, and you can hear all the partying going on in the other rooms :(.
Where to eat. We loved La Coco (Cerro Alegre) which had a wide selection of sandwiches (as one local put it “we love sandwiches in Chile”). However, looking for their address to add it to this post I learned that it has closed :(.
Another place to try is Empanadas Famosas. They are very good and fairly priced and what gives it the seal of approval is the fact that it is packed with locals. I recommend the cheese one :).
Transportation: We walked most of the time, but you have the funiculars to go up the cerros and for longer distances (to Viña let’s say) you have buses.
To go or not to go
Although Valparaiso was not been my favorite place in Chile, I have to recommend it. The street art is amazing, like nothing I’ve seen before, and the views from the top are well worth it.
If I could do it again, I would just spend less time and more money on better accommodation :).
Next stop: Valle del Elqui. Stay tuned!