Looking for the best things to do in Valparaiso Chile? Keep reading to find out how to have the perfect day in Chile’s port city.
Valparaiso, located on the Central Zone coast of the fifth region is just an hour and a half from Santiago, Chile’s capital and a must-see on any Chile bucket list.
Valparaiso is Chile’s most bohemian city and it’s full of patrimonial houses and buildings, skilled, politically-charged street art, ancient funiculars and houses that cling to the steep hillsides.
The historical centre of Valparaiso was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2003 in an effort to conserve its unique culture, heritage and immigrant-influenced architecture. Whether you’re looking for some wanderlust or planning a trip to Chile this travel guide to Valparaiso is for you.
Most travellers visit Valparaiso for a day from Santiago as it’s small and can easily be seen in a day. However, I do recommend you stay at least a night to really experience its bohemian vibes and what this casual city has to offer.
I lived in Santiago for 6 years and made countless trips to Valparaiso. In this travel guide to Valparaiso, I’ll outline all the best things to do and see, local gems and the best places to eat and stay for the perfect ‘Valpo’ experience.
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When to go: Any time of year but check the weather, it’s much nicer on a sunny day. Currency: Chilean peso. ATMs located in the centre of the city and are attached to banks, also in the major supermarkets.
Getting to Valparaiso
Bus – the easiest and best way to get to Valparaiso from Santiago or any other nearby city. From Santiago, you can take the bus from Terminal Alameda or Pajaritos Metro Station and it costs just under $10,000 CLP for the return ticket. Turbus and Pullman are the main companies operating the route.
Private tour – many tour companies in Santiago combine a day trip to Valparaiso with a stop at a vineyard in the Casablanca valley. Our favourite is this Valparaiso, Viña del Mar and Casablanca Valley Tour.
Car– If you already have a rental car it’s possible to drive to Valparaiso but I wouldn’t recommend renting a car just to get to Valparaiso. It’s better to take a bus. I do not recommend parking on the street. The safest and most central place to park is here.
Best Things to Do in Valparaiso Chile
1. Explore Cerro Alegre
Both Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepción are two steep hills that form the traveller and bohemian hub of Valparaiso and you will inevitably spend time here. There are so many alleyways, corners and staircases here that are home to the city’s best street art as well as views of the city. Exploring these neighbourhoods is one of the best things to do in Valparaiso Chile.
Stroll the numerous alleyways and staircases admiring the street art as you go. You can also have coffee or lunch in one of the many artsy cafes or restaurants here and admire the sea views from the tops of the hill.
While exploring Cerro Alegre make sure not to miss the Piano Staircase– as the name suggests it’s a staircase painted like a piano as well as Paso Atkinson which has some of the best views of the lower part of the city and the sea in Cerro Alegre. You’ll also find the Galeria de Arte Bahia Utopica here, a really lovely gem of a gallery selling a range of art- mainly block prints- of scenes from Valparaiso.
2. Explore Cerro Concepcion
Located just next to Cerro Alegre is Cerro Concepcion. It’s actually difficult to see where one finishes and the other starts- they naturally blend together.
There is some spectacular street art to be seen on Cerro Concepcion and while exploring don’t miss Pasaje Galvez and Paseo Gervasoni which have some of the best examples of it.
3. Check out the Viewpoints
There are some really amazing viewpoints around the city and you’ll no doubt uncover them as you walk around. Paseo Atkinson is one of the best viewpoints in the city. Take a seat on one of the benches and relax in the sun- there’s no better view in the city.
Make sure to also stop at the Mirador Paseo Gervasoni for great views over the city and the Pacific Ocean.
4. Visit La Sebastiana
La Sebastiana was Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s residence in Valparaiso and a must-see in the city’s attractions. Not only does a visit here give you the chance to learn more about his life, but the house itself is also a beautiful one, with quirky knick-knacks in every room, stylish furnishings and the most idyllic sea views.
When visiting make sure to pick up an audio guide which gives context to all the interesting artefacts and items in the house. It’s really worth it.
5. Take a Free Walking Tour
Free walking tours or tours for tips are a great way to take in the city and learn more about its history. Various tours normally depart from Plaza Sotomayor in Valparaiso for a 3-hour walking tour of the city.
I remember that our tour was one of my most memorable experiences from Valparaiso and I’d highly recommend going on one. Our native guide was so passionate and informative about his city that I can’t remember the last time I learned so much about a place.
The knowledgeable guides tell you about the history of the city and its significance as a port as well as take you to all the city’s most alluring places. Book your spot on the best 3 hour walking tour in the city here.
6. Take a Street Art Tour
One of the most unique aspects of Valparaiso is its street art and I’m not talking about some random scrawls on the walls.
Some of Chile’s most renowned street artists have their work on the walls here and taking a tour is the best way to experience it. The street art tour is the most popular and for good reason.
You’ll find out about the different artists and how to recognise their work as well as what the works represent and the political messages behind many of them. Click here to find the original Street art tour in Valparaiso.
7. Ride the Funiculars
Valparaiso’s funiculars date back to the early 1900s and were constructed to help people get from the lower, commercial parts of the city to their homes in the upper parts and hilltops. Many have since stopped working however there are a few that are still functioning for the general public. Here are the best funiculars to check out, without a doubt one of the best things to do in Valparaiso Chile:
Artillería Railway– this is the oldest funicular in Valparaiso and was originally built to transport sailors from the port to the Navel School. Nowadays you can take this railway up Paseo 21 de Mayo for amazing views over the city.
Ascensor El Peral – this rickety funicular connects the Plaza de la Justicia with the Yugoslavo walk located in Cerro Alegre. This is one of the most unique funiculars in the city.
Ascensor Concepción – this lift connects commercial Prat Street with Paseo Gervasoni, one of the most well-known lookout points in the city. Take the funicular up here, take a seat on a bench and stare out into the Pacific.
Ascensor Reina Victoria – the steepest lift in the city, enjoy the best views of Cerro Concepcion and Cerro Carcel.
8. Explore Barrio Yugoslavo
Barrio Yugoslavo is a tiny neighbourhood next to Cerro Alegre.
It used to be the place where all the Yugoslavs and Croats settled when they first arrived in Chile, hence the name. Here, you can see some of the houses in which they lived, including the Barburizza Palace once a mansion belonging to a Croatian family and now the Museum of Fine Arts.
The best thing to do in the neighbourhood is just to walk around and see what you can find, there are some pretty interesting corners here.