Nicknamed “The Jewel of the Pacific”, Valparaíso is a unique seaport city in Chile. Valparaiso is a colorful and poetic city brimming with culture. Creative souls seem drawn to this unique city. We interviewed travel photographer Ann Chang to inquire about her travels to Valparaiso.
How long were you there?
It’s hard to say because I lived in Santiago at the time so I would make weekend trips or
sometimes day trips there every month since it only took 1-2 hours and the buses
weren’t too pricey.
What’s the estimated cost of the trip?
We always stayed in one hostel that costs about 7000CLP/night on one of the more popular hills, but the food always got us. It could cost anywhere from 15,000CLP to 30,000CLP if you’re eating in the hills. The transportation is very cheap though from the buses to the funiculars. All in all, a weekend probably cost me anywhere from 60,000CLP to 100,000CLP.
Must see attractions
In Valparaiso, I recommend taking the free walking tour that starts at the plaza. It gives you a good idea of the city and shows you all the wonderful murals of Valparaiso. However, if you’re looking for something sportier, take the bus north to the sand dunes of Concón and go sand boarding! You can rent a board at the bottom for $1000CLP/hour. Or because you’re by the ocean, you can head to the many beaches up and down the coast and go surfing! And when the sun sets, make sure you wonder around Cerro Alegre and Concepión or head on down to Esmeralda. On the weekends, there’s always live music playing in the streets.
Can't miss photo ops
With such a vibrantly painted city, what photo op spots aren’t there? Some popular murals include: “We are not hippies, we’re happies” on Templeman and Lautaro Rosas; the piano staircases on Beethoven; the different painted doorways found on the cobbled streets of Gálvez; and any of the colorful staircases dotted around the hills.
Things to know before you go
Make sure you have cash and change on hand! The buses don’t use the BIP card and the funiculars don’t have change. Additionally, there aren’t taxis in Valparaiso. They have colectivos, which are basically small buses that costs about $500 CLP/person. They run on specific routes, picking up people along the way. Lastly, I’ll say don’t stick to the two hills! Although Cerro Alegre and Concepción are the more popular and lively hills. There’s sights to see on the hills across the plaza and behind. Use your time toexplore! Finally, there’s lots of stray dogs but, except for in the north, they’re all usually friendly and clean, so don’t worry!
Why did you choose this destination?
When I first moved to Santiago, I honestly knew nothing about Chile except that they spoke Spanish and I wanted to learn the language, which if you’ve ever been you know that that’s a big mistake. Anyways, as I asked around, the locals and other tourists would always recommend Valparaiso; therefore, I did a day trip one weekend and absolutely fell in love.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
So many! But my number one would be seeing all the vibrant murals. Not that I’ve never seen a mural, I just loved seeing every wall covered in color because that’s just how I believe things should be! Number two: I learned how to sand board for the first time. Last but not least I loved the street music and getting to dance in public, not that I need a reason to.
What was your least favorite part of the trip?
Coming from Houston where everything is flat, climbing hill after hill was struggle for me, but my least favorite part was looking for the funicular and finding someone peeing. It would’ve been ok if he didn’t make direct eye contact and keep staring. Public peeing and defecating is quite common, especially during huge festivals.
Make sure you try
If you do the free walking tour, make sure to try some alfajores! There’s a few good restaurants, but my favorite would have to be El Peral which is straight up after you get out of the funicular on El Peral. Their menu is constantly changing– which is what I like about it– and the food is always good! Other popular options are La Fauna on Paseo Dimalow or El Internado directly across from it. The views you get from both restaurants are absolutely amazing! Definitely have a meal there at sunset. Lastly, a popular drink in all of Chile would be the terremoto (fermented sweet wine with pineapple ice-cream on top) but I am not a fan! Instead, try the local craft beer or the Chilean wine.