Vibrant Valparaíso

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Valparaiso is nothing short of wonderful. Graffitied walls and rustic funinculars play to the tune of street performers and forgotten stories. You may grow to love Santiago overtime, but Valparaiso will sweep you off your feet in an instant and dare you to never leave. It is, in every sense, a vibrant city, from its famously colouful buildings to the brilliant personalities you´ll meet here. Valpo will forever be in our hearts...

Although there did seem to be a number of really great hostels in Valparaiso, we decided to book an Airbnb, as its often the case that when there's two of you it works out cheaper. Plus there's the added bonus (or drawback to Lissa) of us getting to practise our Spanish.
It didn't take us long however before we started to encounter problems, as in our last minute rush leaving Santiago we'd forgotten to contact Pilar (the owner of the Airbnb) about how we could get a key to the appartment or whether she'd be around to let us in. Not only this but the address of the appartment was e.g. 546 Bolivar, but there was a 546a, b and c. Nightmare. This meant that our first experiences of Valparaiso were of us breaking and entering into the wrong person's house, where we met some rather confused Chilean faces. 

We eventually got into the correct appartment though and Pilar and her daughter greeted us warmly, followed by an equally warm welcome later from Abuela and Abuelo! We loved every second of our stay here and would totally recommend the Airbnb so click here for the details. 

After much deliberation, we’ve narrowed down our top Valpo experiences, so here they are...

Take in the graffiti and street art

Valparaíso is the perfect example of graffiti done well. Here there are unwritten rules about space for artwork, dissuading tagging and encouraging genuine art. Walk around the streets of Cerro Allegre and you’ll see the different styles and takes on designs, some political, others simply beautiful and inspirational. If you hang around long enough you’ll see walls starting to change as another unwritten rule appears to be that graffiti can be painted over after a certain amount of time has passed out of respect for the artist.

Los Ascencores

Valparaíso has been named a UNESCO heritage site and part of the reason is down to the old elevator system they still have dotted around the city. Since Valparaíso is built on a number of hills, ascensores (elevators) were built around the turn of the 20th century, as a way of getting up and down with minimal effort. Of the 26 originally built only 8 are still running, our favourite being Reina Victoria (Queen Victoria), as you get a great view of the city from the top. There’s super cheap and pretty fun so make sure you check some out!


Imagine a small wagon wheel but with a caramel-like gooey centre...that’s what an Alfajore is and damn they’re good! Mainly found in Chile, Bolivia and Peru, these biscuits are made with Manjar aka Dulce de Leche which itself is made from slowly cooking sweetened milk. There’s a place in town simply named Alfajores pesos, where, if you knock, a guy (who we named Alfonso) will come and give you some of his biscuits. We couldn’t help going back for more!


We love breakfast, so when we discovered there was a place called ‘The Breakfaster’ we couldn’t resist. Nice vibe, decent coffee, alright price, brilliant breakfast.

Walking tour

Now we know we’ve gone on about these before and how they’re a great way of seeing a city, so we’ll keep it short. Free tours run from Plaza Anibal Pinto. Look for the people in red tops, tours start at 10am and 3pm.

80 Empanadas

It won’t take you long to work out that Empanadas are the most popular Chilean snack and can be found on every corner. They’re kind of like Cornish pasties but you can get them in a whole host of flavours. Hence the reason why 80 Empanadas makes our list, as it serves up the famous Chilean pastry in 80 different varieties, whilst still maintaining really good quality.

If we could’ve stayed longer, we would’ve as there is so much to do here! Here’s a few other ideas we’ve heard are great...

  • Boat trip off the harbour to see the city from the sea!
  • Walk to beach Viña Del Mar (This only takes about 30 minutes from the city centre)
  • Museum of open air (If you feel like you haven't quite seen enough graffiti- this is the place!)
  • Pablo Neruda‘s house (The famous poet was known to have quirky houses and the one in Valparaiso is supposedly the best.)
Hope this was useful,

Thanks for reading!

Will & Melissa

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