Santiago is a fun place to explore when visiting Chile, but heading to the coast to Valparaiso can be a wonderful experience as well.
Just like Santiago, Valparaiso was occupied by natives who have been there for thousands of years until the mid-1500s when the Spanish arrived, changing everything. For a while, Valparaiso was just a little town with a small population until the early 1800s when the first pier was built. A few years later, Chile became an independent nation in 1812, which in turn made Valparaiso not only a port for the Chilean Navy but the City also grew to play a major role in trade between other countries. Due to its location, many Europeans including the French, German, Italian, British and Swiss immigrated to Valparaiso and the surrounding area, influencing everything from the culture to the food that’s still seen to this day.
Although there were two major earthquakes in the 19th and 20th centuries, ruining much of the City, Valparaiso was able to rebuild itself. Today, it’s a quirky, rugged, and hilly place that has fantastic cafes, restaurants, gardens, street art and wineries for everyone to enjoy. Thinking of heading to Valparaiso? Here are a few things to do.
If you have a few days in Valparaiso, we recommend booking a wine tasting tour at one of the many wineries outside the City. A few options include Kingston Family Vineyards, La Recova Vineyard, Casa Marin Vineyard or Matetic Vineyards—all of which offer some fantastic wines and beautiful views. Depending on where you go, you’ll get to learn about the vineyard’s history while also pairing different types of wine with cheeses, chocolates and other bites.
Valparaiso is a hilly city with tonnes of alleyways for you to explore. But what better way than to learn about the City’s history and historical spots than with a tour of it by foot guided by a local. We recommend Tours4Tips, which offers two different types of tours a day. The first tour is in the AM, and covers a smaller portion of Valarapaiso, focusing on the locals who live there and the City’s hidden gems. The second tour is in the PM, and focuses on a larger perimeter of Valparaiso but with less detailed information. The best part is that they are free—you can tip the tour guide however much you like at the end.
If you have a sweet tooth or are looking for a delicious gift to take back home, head to La Dulceria. This small shop sells some of the best hard candies in the city, all of which are handmade right there. You can watch as the artisans craft these tasty delights right before your eyes. La Dulceria offers samples for customers to try, and after tasting one you will most likely be hooked wanting more.
There are so many restaurants to choose from, but one of the best is called Taller 21, which puts a twist on Chilean dishes and presents it in a modern way—you’ll discover Italian and Meditteranean influences as well. Although prices are a bit higher than some other places, it’s not overly expensive. The menu changes often and is small, so what you may see one time can change the next. The best part of Taller 21 aside from the cuisine is the view—there’s a terrace at the top offering a fantastic panorama of the City.
Bar La Playa
Bar La Playa is the oldest bar in the City, established in 1908, that continues to bring locals together for a fun night out. The place serves cheap beer on tap, strong pisco and even food (although we recommend you stick to the drinks and save your stomach for a meal elsewhere). Bar La Playa has its quirkiness and can be a lot of fun. It’s open every day from 11AM to 12AM.
Valparaiso is known for its colorful homes, hilly streets, rugged views, street art and thriving culture. If this city is on your list of go-to places in Chile, we hope this guide will help you enjoy your time there.
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