Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Travel: Ain’t No Destination As Colourful As Valparaíso, Chile

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Ahh, Valparaíso. The unofficial cultural capital of Chile. With its eclectic street art and steep hills, this city is edgy and charming, a full-blown artistic expression of the highs and lows of Chilean culture. Stretched along the sea, and offering unbeatable vistas of vibrant buildings and rolling ocean waves, this sunny city is one of our favorite South American treasures.

When To Go (Year-Round):
Valparaíso may be south of the equator, but it has the climate of a Mediterranean island. Travel is enjoyable year-round, but keep in mind that summertime (December to February) will be busier for tourists, especially with the famous New Year’s Eve fiesta.

“Valpo,” as the locals call it, is built on a series of hills or “cerros”, making this city a vertical challenge. There are a few tourist attractions to catch your eye, but time is better spent exploring the hills. Climb the decorated stairs or ride a rickety funicular to the top. Each cerro holds a new wonder, from Nobel-winning author Pablo Neruda’s house and stunning vistas of the sea, to architectural wonders and incredible street art.

Coastal Cruisin:
The city is one of the most important ports in Chile, so checking out the seaside activity is a must. Catch a boat ride from Muelle Prat. You won’t find any luxury cruises here, but you’ll have a blast on an old fishing boat with the locals. Look out for sea lions and get some picture-perfect views of the colorful houses from the water. Afterwards, hit up a local beach, like Las Torpederas, for a little sun and relaxation.

Let’s Take this Art to the Street:
You’ve heard of street art, but Valparaíso takes this concept to a whole new level. As you wander the hills you won’t know which way to look – up, down, or side to side. Whichever way your neck cranes you’ll be blinded by bright colors and incredible designs. You can hit the iconic piano steps on Cerro Alegre, or the murals of Cerro Concepción. Wander the city to fill your camera roll with snapshots of crazy art.

We’ll Always Have Chile:
If you’re a fan of vino, you’re in luck. Valparaíso is situated just outside Casablanca Valley, home to some of Chile’s most famous wineries. A quick 30-minute car ride will situate you in the heart of this beautiful valley where you can explore traditional, organic, and boutique vineyards to suit all your tastes.

Eat This:
When fresh seafood meets Chilean cuisine, you’re in for a treat. In Valpo it’s all about the empanadas, especially the fresh crab empanadas. Stop by Delicias Express to try over 60 different fillings! According to Discoverers Alli and TJ, “Manjar Empanadas are a must-try for anyone with a sweet tooth (Manjar is essentially a Chilean caramel). They usually come with a delicious sprinkling of powdered sugar on top.” Another necessary dish is chorrillana – french fries piled high with meat, fried eggs, and onions. The best local place to grab this dish is J.Cruz, so add that stop to your list after a long day of hiking the cerros.

Stay Here:
Between the hostels and Airbnb, you can easily find a comfy and cheap place to stay the night. Rent a room or entire apartment in the more popular cerros, like Cerro Alegre or Cerro Concepcion, to be close to the action. We’re loving this artistic home or this beautiful room with a killer view.

Guide Me (Get Some Direction):
If you stop by at Mercadito Alegre for desserts, be sure to pick up a map there – they have the best/most helpful ones.

Photo Credit: Getty

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