Valparaiso … where do I begin? It is simply a magical city full of surprises.
As I was making my way through Chile, I was hearing that most people travelling here usually bypass Valparaiso and head to Viña del Mar, often referred to as the South American version of the Hamptons. Skipping on Valparaiso is a huge mistake in my opinion, as Valparaiso is a beautiful coastal city only about an hour and half’s drive west of Santiago.
During the American gold rush (and prior to the construction of the Panama Canal), Valparaiso was a main port-of-call for the gold miners sailing from New York on America’s East coast, all the way around to California on the West.
Today, Valparaiso still has many of its old Victorian era buildings, which, makes it fun to wander the streets and have it feel like you are wandering back in time.
One of the great things about Valparaiso, like a lot of places I have come across in in South America for that matter, is that it is still relatively untouched by mass tourism, which gives it a real authentic charm.
The best way I can describe Valparaiso is that it is very similar to the café/graffiti culture in Melbourne, Australia but with the colourful architecture of Cinque Terre in Italy.
The best part of this city is by far getting lost amongst the amazing art filled streets – easily one of my highlights. Every corner hosts an array of colours with graffiti displaying incredible designs and inspirations. There is an unwritten law amongst the graffiti artists in Valparaiso that ensures there is no tagging or covering of someone else’s artwork, so unlike a lot of other cities, the graffiti here isn’t a public eyesore. You literally get to wander for hours in an open air street gallery!
Valparaiso gets even more brownie points with me because of it’s diverse range of quirky cafes that can be found in mysterious locations all over the city.
Wandering around the streets with your camera and a good book for the day is a travel must. This will ensure you discover many of the funky shops, cafes and art that are here. All sorts of unexpected surprise are found here around every corner.
Valparaiso has easily become one of my favourite cities, and like in Santiago, it was great learning about it’s history and the main highlights of this place by going on one of the “tips for tours” walking excursions, a great initiative where you decide how much to “tip” your tour guide at the end of the tour.
If you are ever planning on go to Viña del Mar, definitely stay in Valparaiso. If you are like me, you will want to spend more of your time in this inspiring maze instead of the tourist filled beaches of Viña.
About Hannah: Hannah has spent the last seven years living, working and studying in Sydney, Australia where she worked professionally in the corporate event industry. She is a recent full-time traveller deciding to quit the rat race and explore the world. She hopes to inspire people to live their dreams as she lives out her on. Only new to the writing game she hopes to captivate people with the lessons learnt and the stories gained from the travellers road. You can read more about her travels and experiences on the road on her personal blog “Blue Marble Adventures”