A fascinating city to visit in Chile, Valparaiso has many different sides to it. Its decaying hilltop neighborhoods, so full of beautiful, brightly-colored houses, look down over its busy port and docks. While there is a grittiness about it, beauty is everywhere you look, in the form of wonderful architecture, delightful street art and breathtaking views that bless Valparaiso.
Wandering around its steep streets is one of the most fun things to do in Valparaiso, and the city’s many funiculars – which are now tourist attractions in their own right – hug the hillsides and help people avoid the climbs. Once home to the renowned Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, the city is full of art and life and the views out over the Pacific are stupendous.
Exploring Valparaiso’s many hills is an absolute must for many visitors; the beautiful Pasaje Bavestrello is certainly worth stopping by for its fantastic street art and bright murals. The passage lies atop Cerro Alegre, and the hilly neighborhood is wonderful to explore with its bohemian vibe and artsy residents. Its many bars and restaurants often host music and poetry performances and there a lively atmosphere prevails. A favorite amongst locals and foreigners alike, Pasaje Bavestrello is the perfect introduction to Valparaiso and its fascinating hilltop neighborhoods.
With over forty hills dotted about Valparaiso, visitors will quickly discover that the best way to traverse this hilly city is by funicular; Ascensor Artilleria is just one of sixteen scattered about. The third to be built, it was constructed all the way back in 1892 and is now a popular tourist destination; people use it get to the top of Artilleria hill. The only funicular in Valparaiso with four tracks, Ascensor Artilleria offers visitors fantastic views from up high, and riding it is a magnificent experience. Although it may look a bit run down, this only adds to the funicular’s charm. Its enduring popularity means there are often queues to ride on it.
Built all the way back in 1916, this delightful building is now a historic monument and is named after the Croatian businessman Pascual Baburizza who used to live here. The palace is very distinctive in style and wouldn’t look out of place in the Alps with its wonderful woodwork, balconies and small turrets. Inside is equally delightful; the palace now hosts the Fine Arts Museum and the collection on show is fascinating to wander around. The galleries are home to some great artworks by Chilean and European artists.
Located at Paseo 21 de Mayo, this wonderful museum is well worth checking out when in Valparaiso and visitors are sure to learn a lot about the country’s rich maritime history. Old cannons line the entrance to the museum and the exhibition rooms are full of interesting items and oil paintings as well as maps, models and statues. While much of the museum is dedicated to the events that took place during the War of the Pacific, there is loads to see and do. From the upper floor, there is a great view of the entire city below. Much of Chile’s history has understandably been shaped by the sea, and the museum offers up a fascinating look at how the nation came to be.
The oldest funicular in the city, Asencor Concepcion remarkably dates back to 1883. The rickety ride has become a popular tourist attraction, although just as many locals use it to get up and down the steep hillside. The cheap and quick ride whisks you up the side of Cerro Concepcion – in no time at all, you’ll be wandering around the fantastic Paseo Gervasoni that lies at the top of the hill. With fantastic views from the top and loads of great restaurants, shops and cafes for visitors to check out, Ascensor Concepcion is a fun and easy way to access all these great sights.
The most important square in the city, Plaza Sotomayer is lined by impressive buildings, of which the delightful Edifico Armada de Chile is the pick of the lot with its soft blue tones and palatial features. At the center of the square is a monument that dominates the plaza; it is dedicated to the Chilean sailors who lost their lives during the War of the Pacific in 1879. Named after Rafael Sotomayor, the square lies not far from the harbor and is actually situated on reclaimed sea land. With numerous beautiful buildings showcasing different architectural styles, the Plaza Sotomayor is dripping in history and is definitely worth stopping by when in Valparaiso.
Joining the peaceful Plaza de la Justicia to the picturesque Paseo Yugoslavo, Asensor El Peral is a great way to skip the arduous climb to the top of the hill and reach the summit in seconds. The journey is very steep and the funicular precariously hugs the hillside. At the top, there are great views of Valparaiso, the bay below, and the mountains in the distance. The Fine Arts Museum is not far away either. A fun, quick and cheap ride, the Ascensor El Peral will save you loads of time and the narrow streets at the top are charming to wander around.
Located atop Cerro Concepcion, the Paseo Gervasoni is a wonderful walk that will take visitors past one of the most colorful parts of the city. A plethora of shops, cafes, and restaurants can be found here. It is a very arty area and there are lots of brightly painted street murals for visitors to enjoy. The lovely old buildings and cobbled streets only add to the picturesque scene. With a number of great viewpoints on offer, Paseo Gervasoni is a wonderful place to spend some time and there is lots of great shopping to be had in the area.
Dating back to 1902, this fantastic funicular was named after Queen Victoria and the views that it offers up of Valparaiso are absolutely spectacular. Connecting Elias Street to Paseo Dimalow, the funicular takes locals and tourists alike up the steep hillside in just under a minute; it is a very cheap way to avoid the climb up the hill. At the top, there are a number of restaurants and cafes on offer where you can stop for a coffee and enjoy the breathtaking view.
While the Acensor Reina Victoria may appear to be a bit run down and rickety, it has lasted over a hundred years. The delightful architecture on show highlights the influence of the German and British immigrants who settled here. A fun and cheap thing to do in Valparaiso, riding this funicular has become a popular tourist attraction.
Located at the top of a hill that overlooks Valparaiso’s beautiful bay, La Sebastiana was once the home of Chile’s most famous poet – Pablo Neruda – and it is now a fantastic museum that is dedicated to his life and works. While the walk to the top of the hill is certainly steep and quite hard going, the views from the top and from within the five-story house are stunning and well worth the effort. Neruda’s former home is very distinctive and the architecture is eclectic to behold, with its colorful stories that jut out one above the other. It is here that he won his Nobel Prize for Literature.
The museum houses memorabilia, furniture, and art, and the audio guide will tell you all about Neruda’s life and La Sebastiana itself. An interesting place, it is well worth visiting to gain a greater appreciation for the poet’s life and to see Valparaiso through his eyes.