As I recently said in an Instagram post, Valparaíso has become my favorite big city in all of Chile (sorry Santiago). It’s located right on the coast and such a quirky, colorful place. I never get tired of wandering the maze-like narrow streets of Cerro Alegre or sipping sweet Ají sours out on a scenic terrace overlooking the harbor.
If you ever find yourself in the Santiago area, Valparaíso is an absolute must see.
Valpo (as the locals call it) is a typical touristy day trip from Santiago, and so after many requests for info on this city, I finally decided to craft this guide. I myself have done the trip many times on the weekends, and after lots of experimenting and testing, I like to think I’ve near perfected my itinerary.
Here’s how I like to spend my time in Valparíso:
9 AM Breakfast on Cerro Alegre
If you happen to be arriving to Valparaíso in the morning or have stayed over the night before, I would suggest getting as early of a start as possible to take full advantage of the day. Unfortunately, Chile’s culture wasn’t exactly designed for early risers, so you won’t find much open (not even coffee shops) before 10 AM. Very strange for this New Yorker.
Luckily in past visits to Valpo I discovered a little breakfast café, right in the middle of all the action- on the city’s famed Cerro Alegre. Desayunador opens its doors at 9 AM, has got pretty fast service (often hard to come by in Chile) and an all-day breakfast menu of eggs, toast, freshly squeezed fruit juice, pancakes and more! Its the perfect spot to fuel up before the day of exploring ahead.
El Desayunador, Almirante Montt, 399
11:30 La Sebastiana Museum
After enjoying a hearty breakfast head over to check out one of Valpo’s main tourist attractions, La Sebastiana Museum- the former Valparaíso residence of Chile’s famed poet, Pablo Neruda. I’m not usually one for crowded touristy sites, but this one is worth checking out. With sprawling views over the city and harbor below, you’re free to explore all 3 levels of Neruda’s hilltop home, getting an inside look at some of the writer’s personal belongings, historic 1950’s style and sources of inspiration.
I recommend getting to La Sebastiana in the morning as entry works on a ‘first come first serve’ basis. Also, keep in mind that the Sebastiana house is closed on Mondays.
Entry costs $7,000 CLP per person
La Sebastiana Museo de Pablo Neruda, Ricardo de Ferrari 692
1:00 PM A ride on Valpo’s Historic Elevators
At this point in the day, you’ve probably already realized that Valpo is hilly AF. You’d be sure to get into great shape wandering around this city for a while.
Thankfully for Valparaíso residents, this has been taken into consideration and 16 elevators have been installed around the city to make their hilly commutes less daunting- and thankfully for you, anyone can take them for a spin (for the equivalent of less than a dollar)! It wouldn’t be a true trip to Valpo without experiencing one of these historic lifts, and this one happens to conveniently drop you off right around the corner from your lunch spot!
Once you arrive at the top, allow yourself a few minutes to take in yet another breathtaking view from the balcony and then walk on over to El Peral.
El Peral Lift, Plaza de la Justicia
1:30 PM Lunch on El Peral’s Picturesque Terrace
On to my favorite part of the day- lunch at Restaurante El Peral. If you know me at all, you know eating (especially when traveling) is not something I take lightly. I tell just about everyone, who’s visiting Valparaíso or not, that El Peral is one of the best restaurants in all of Chile, and I firmly stand by that statement. I have to admit that when I’m in the area, I rarely go anywhere else for lunch, but you know what they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The terrace at El Peral reminds me of a secret garden and is an incredibly cozy corner to relax and enjoy your midday meal. Their menu is incredible and never fails to impress me, featuring fresh local ingredients and a modern twist on traditional Chilean cuisine.
Be sure to check out their menú, as the chef’s change selections daily, but there’s sure to be something for everyone. If you’re lucky enough to catch them on a day when ceviche or pastel de jaiba (a pot-pie like baked crab dish) is on the menú, don’t hesitate- just order it. If you’re up for it, compliment your meal with a classic ají sour.
El Peral #182, Cerro Alegre
*Call ahead or email for a reservation.
Three Options for your Afternoon
When I’m getting to know a new place, I’m a big fan of walking and wandering, and so I’ve done just about every walking tour offered in the city of Valparíso. The best way to uncover all of Valpo’s hidden treasures is by foot, taking notice of all the little nooks and crannies and incredible street art along the way.
Here are my two favorites (& one of my own):
Option 1- Valparaíso Highlights- A Free Walking Tour with Tours 4 Tips
The 3 hour Valparaíso Highlights Tour is the best way to get your first introduction to the history and colorful culture of Valpo. All of the Tours 4 Tips guides know this city like the back of their hand (I should know, I think I’ve met just about all of them) and are great resources to ask questions and get recommendations.
On this tour, you’ll visit the port, learn the history of the Valparaíso elevators (or funiculars) and explore Cerro Alegre some more! If you’re interested in the history and many stories behind this dynamic city, this is the tour for you.
Option 2- GraFREEti Tour with Valpo Street Art
If art is more your thing.. check out the GraFREEti Tour.
This 2-hour tip-based street art tour is sure to give you your daily dose of Valpo color. Not only will your GraFREEti guide bring you around to see some of the city’s long-standing influential pieces, but they’ll also show you brand new (sometimes even in-progress) designs. Valparaíso has become an international hub for street art and artists from all over the world, who come to leave their mark on the city’s walls, streets, stairs, and well, any other surface they find fit!
On this tour, you’ll learn all about both international artists and some of Valparaíso’s very own, as well as visit some popular sites and off-the-beaten-path gems.
The GraFREEti tour starts 3:30 PM and meets in Plaza Anibal Pinto, right in front of the Neptune Statue. Keep in mind- the tour takes place every day except for Sunday.
Option 3- My DIY Street Art Tour
If you’re a fan of art, but would rather leisurely explore or take on your afternoon without a strict time restriction, check out my “Where to Find Street Art in Valparaíso” guide. In this blog post, I cover some of my favorite pieces around the city, the story behind them and even a map with where to find them! Start with my guide and then continue wandering to find some of your own favorites!
6:30 PM Recess!
Now is your time to shine! 😛
If you’re tired from all the walking, sit and take a break at a corner café (a few of my favorites are Café Entre Cerros, Amor Porteño, and Dulce Pols) or if you’re really exhausted, head back to your accommodation for a mid-afternoon nap. (Yes, 6 PM qualifies as afternoon in Chile).
If you’re feeling energized and ready to keep on going, check out some of the local artisan shops in Galería Galvez or if you’re feeling up to it, continue wandering about on your own and see what you find!
9 PM Dinner at Fauna
After all long day of exploring, I’m sure you’re ready to kick back, relax and indulge in dinner!
Fauna is one of the most popular restaurants in Valparaíso, and with good reason. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but you get what you pay for- which is great service, an awesome ambiance, tasty dishes and one heck of a view! It’s located in the heart of Cerro Alegre in an old traditional building from the 1870’s and is a great spot to spend your evening.
If you choose to have dinner at Fauna, be sure to make a reservation, or be ready to wait a while. This spot is always packed!
Somehow have the energy to continue your night? Check out Terraza Bellavista, a 3-story “discoteca” with different music on every level. Check out the night’s events on their Facebook page and make sure to make your way up to the rooftop bar for one last view overlooking the sparkling night lights of the harbor!
Have you ever heard of Valaparaíso? Would you like to visit this city one day?
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