Valparaíso is a coastal town in Chile located about an hour and a half drive outside of Santiago. If you’re planning on visiting Chile, Valparaíso is one of the must-see destinations within the country. The city is the perfect place for colorful photo opps, to begin learning a little about Chilean history, and to sample traditional treats. Unsure of where to start in Valparaíso? This blog post is for you. I’ve included my favorite street art as well as a map so you can easily find your way to these spots.
Where to Go
If it’s your first time in Valparaíso, don’t let your first impression of the town throw you off. I personally do not find the lower part of the city to be impressive, but don’t worry, the hills make up for that times two. What can make or break your first trip to Valpo is where you stay. Make sure to book a hostel/hotel on Cerro Alegre or Cerro Concepción if you want to spend most of your time exploring the main tourist attractions. At the end of this post, I am including a map with the exact locations of some of my favorite street art in Valpo. This way, if you have something specific you want to see, you can find it first and then explore the rest of this charming port town.
If you feel like you’d rather take a tour than go out on your own, my favorite group is Tours 4 Tips. I did the Valparaíso afternoon tour back in November and had a wonderful experience. This tour has no set price. However, participants “tip” at the end typically between $6,000-10,000 CLP. All tours with this company begin at Plaza Sotomayor (pictured below).
Paseo Atkinson is probably my favorite place in Valparaíso, and if you have a thing for colorful houses, it may turn out to be your favorite as well. This walkway was financed in 1886 by John Atkinson, a prominent boat builder and one of the owners of a dam company. The houses have been kept in great condition and have even survived multiple earthquakes (remember, Chile is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world). The architecture in this area has a very particular character as Valparaiso received many German and English immigrants who settled on these hills. These waves of immigration are thought to be related to a number of factors including the location of Valparaiso as a port city during the time of the gold rush and its economic importance at the time.
“We are not Hippies, We are Happies” Stairs
After spending a few hours in Valpo, you’ll realize that the phrase “we are happies not hippies” is the perfect catchphrase to describe the town’s character. Easily the most hipster city in Chile, the artsiness of the town gives it a certain character you won’t find anywhere else in the country. The closest you could find in Santiago would be maybe the Bellas Artes neighborhood.
The piano stairs are accurately located on a small street called Beethoven (scroll down to the bottom of this post and you will see that I have this marked on the map for you!). If you’ve been to Valparaíso but you didn’t take a picture on the piano stairs, have you actually been to Valparaíso?
One of the best parts of Valparaíso is letting yourself get lost. If you’re going to spend time here, take it slow. Stroll the streets and really get a feel for Valparaíso and its people. With surprise street art on every corner, it’s easy to lose yourself amidst the bright colors.