When I first arrived in the port city of Valparaíso after the hour long drive from Santiago, the thought that went through my mind is, "this city is a ****ing maze." Valparaíso is a old historic city (2nd largest in Chile), that sits nestled in the cliff sides adjacent to the South Pacific Ocean.
Valparaíso is a port city known for its long and vibrant history. What brought me to this city was its rich cultural history, and its bohemian vibe. This can be seen almost immediately upon entering this city. Much of the buildings and architecture are influenced from English and German travelers when the city turned into a flourishing seaport for Chile. These buildings are often nautical in style and color. The reason behind this style is that there was an abundance of ships and ship related resources that were torn apart and used to construct the city as it became a thriving seaport in the 18th and 19th century. The vibrant colored buildings were painted with the same paints that were used on ships.
Entering this major city was quite difficult. I would not suggest driving here unless you are familiar with driving in foreign countries, and have a GPS. This was easily one of the most confusing cities I have ever driven in. The road directions and angles make no sense, but that is what makes Valparaíso so special.
Aside from being placed in such a beautiful location, and having very colorful buildings and homes, Valparaíso is known for its bohemian vibe. This city is the hub of anything artistic in Chile to say the least. People from all over the world have traveled here for inspiration, and or have gotten hooked by its laid back vibe and made it their new home. The city streets, buildings, walls, and homes are all decorated with artistic and meaningful graffiti and murals.
Out of everywhere I traveled to in Chile (Torres del Paine, Atacama Desert, Tierra del Fuego), this was the place I felt most at home, and comfortable in. I originally had only slotted myself one day in this cultural hot spot, but on my way home, I specifically headed back one day earlier in order to spend at least one more day here.
The city is very tourist friendly. Many of the artists in this city are interactive with people visiting, and enjoy telling their tales, and hearing the stories of travelers. There is no specific type of artist that resides in this city. They range from graffiti artists, muralists, poets, authors, musicians, jewelers, and more. Many of these artists have stands set up in various spots throughout the city, and sell their various and unique work.
Those who find cities filled with culture, positive vibes, good food, originality, and bohemian vibes would love a trip to the seaside city of Valparaíso. If you ever were to find yourself in Chile, do yourself a favor and visit. It is a very unique city, and one that I will never regret visiting.
There is lots of activities to keep yourself occupied with, and this city had a plethora of good eats. Food ranged from street side vendors, to established fine dining restaurants with very picturesque views of the city. While I found most of the restaurants and food in Chile to be sub-par in quality, every meal I had while in this city was great!
The nightlife in this city matches its vibe. It has a European take on night life, with a South American vibe. The partying in this city goes on late and pretty much every day of the week. Much of the night life scenes here are not for those who enjoy a quieter vibe. Many of the pubs, bars, and clubs in this area are loud, with a variety of music. Many local artists perform in these locations. You can also find your usual world wide popular music playing at these locations too. This city is developing into a craft beer center for the country as well, housing several craft breweries in the city's restaurant and bar
If partying in this city, make sure to know where you are going, and try to avoid going off solo. While the city is relatively safe, there are regions in the city where crime is more common, especially at night.
If you ever visit this city, I highly recommend taking the guided walking tour provided by Tours 4 Tips. This tour company is ran by locals, and is led by individuals who are highly eager to share the history of the city, and provide recommendations for places to visit, eat, and drink. Another great feature about Tours 4 Tips is they have tour guides who are fluent in both English and Spanish, so regardless, you will know what they are saying. Most importantly at the end of the tour, alcoholic beverages are provided!
More advice I have for those who may travel to this city, is to just get lost in the city. Spend several hours hiking throughout the steep cobble stone roads and sidewalks, hills, stairways, and take a ride on the rickety funicular railways. Enjoy the colorful array the city has to offer. It is impossible to not get lost while wandering here as a tourist. Just remember where you are staying!
I would also recommend being in decent shape to take on the steep climbs of this city. There were several sober and drunken adventures in this city where I was finding myself out of breath!
A trip to Chile is not complete with out visiting this cultural hot spot. This city and Punta Arenas were my favorite in Chile. I had never intended on visiting this city prior to traveling to this country, but after hearing many Chilean's rave about this coastal city, I decided to go. I was not disappointed in even the slightest way. It was exactly as they had talked it up to be. Valparaíso truly does live up to its nickname, "The Jewel Of the Pacific".
Other places I would recommend visiting in Chile:
Torres del Paine and Patagonia
The Atacama Desert
Tierra del Fuego