This is the second post in a throwback series about day trips you can take from Santiago de Chile.
I lived in this fantastic city for a year 2010/11, and I just love to talk about it and remember it, and I hope this information will be useful and interesting to anyone planning to spend some time there.
I first heard of Valparaíso on the TV show The Amazing Race, and I fell in love with this colourful seaside town at once.
Valparaíso (Valpo to locals) is actually the second biggest metro area in Chile, but it doesn’t feel like it when you are there. In the late 1800s it was known by sailors as “Little San Francisco”. The opening of the Panama Canal seriously damaged the town however, taking away much of its shipping traffic and the associated economic benefits.
The bit you will most want to see is the historic quarter, which is UNESCO world heritage listed. In the past decade or so it’s become quite popular with artists and musicians and it’s a pretty popular tourist destination.
It is lovely to wander the steep, cobble-stoned streets, admire the colourful houses and street art, explore the numerous cafes and take one of the ascensores to the top of the town for a fantastic view. The best view is from the top of Ascensor Polanco which is on Almete Simpson, off Avenida Argentina. Polanco is also the only ascensor that is actually a vertical elevator rather than a cable car, and it’s a truly unique experience.
I would also recommend visiting the home of Pablo Neruda, a beloved Chilean poet, perched on the hill of Cerro Alegre. It is called La Sebastiana and it’s a fun and quirky little museum.
Pablo Neruda, who drew much inspiration from Valpo, paints a good picture of what the town is like:
Valparaíso, how absurd you are…you haven’t combed your hair, you’ve never had time to get dressed, life has always surprised you.
Getting to Valpo from Santiago could hardly be easier – or cheaper. Buses leave every 15 minutes from Terminal San Borja, near Central Station. The 1.5 hour journey costs only 7USD. Seats are allocated, the buses are clean, comfortable with reclining seats, and bang on time. (I have found that – as a broad generalisation – buses in South America do tend to be very comfortable, perhaps because they have very little competition in terms of trains or flights?)
There are several companies operating this route, all charge the same fare.
Complete your experience
A Storm Hits Valparaíso by David Gaughran
I haven’t actually read it, but it sounds pretty cool:
Catalina Flores de la Peña’s tongue got her in more trouble than any other part of her body, even though there were far more likely candidates.
But when a storm rolls into her sleepy port town, she finds herself embroiled with a gang of adventurers, mercenaries, and prostitutes on a journey to free South America from the Spanish Empire.
A Storm Hits Valparaiso is an epic, historical adventure starring two brothers torn apart by love; a slave running for his life; a disgraced British sailor seeking redemption; and José de San Martín, an Argentine general who deserts the Spanish Army to lead a bloody revolt against his former masters.
It’s going on my list.
The Motorcycle Diaries – they are seen riding in an ascensor.
Chile has pretty good seafood, and in Valpo you are right at the source, so have at it! I recommend caldo de mariscos, which is a nice creamy seafood soup.
Beach Houses by Lanks