Well known for its bohemian culture, pastel coloured houses, and amazing shoreline, Valparaiso is a stunning port based on the pacific coast of Central Chile. The hilly streets of the township, well served by escalator cars that zig zag across the various districts, provide amazing views across the bay. These metro cars, commonly known as ascensores (inclines) cost little more than 60 US cents but offer up panoramic views, as well as a nimble way to go between the numerous intriguing districts packed into Valparaiso.
With crumbling mansions, beautiful hills, and colourful sloped housing districts painted in every conceivable shade, touring Valparaiso has unexpected scenic delights around every corner. Miles away from the central capital of Santiago, this beguiling port is a unique city in both architecture and attractions, that will enrapture cruisers who are bored of the more modernised regions of South America. Valparaiso is an untamed yet friendly township that has long resisted becoming another run-of-the-mill port. With a thrilling escape from the mundane on offer, cruisers will find themselves bewitched by the unexpected charm of this spontaneous city.
The most famous resident of the bountiful Valparaiso district of Bellavista was Pablo Neruda, an artist of unimaginable flair and ambitious scope, who considered the chaotic delights of the township a home away from home. His former home, La Sebastiana, rests at the top of one of Valparaiso's many hills, and is host to a multitude of floors. Visitors are free to explorer the famous artist's house freely, looking out from the windows to be granted a stunning view of the harbour, as well observing the artist's chaotic collection of glasswork, furniture and artwork. A truly remarkable stroll into the past awaits cruisers who make the trip.
This striking plaza is the naval heart of the city, and has been for some time. A wonderful waterfront features an extremely helpful tourist kiosk, as well as a sprawling market which is populated by friendly locals. Small boats offer tours of the harbour for a slight price, giving tourists a fantastic view of the numerous military boats that consider the harbour their home port. Notable sights include the Naval Command Building and the Monumento a los Heroes de Iquiqe, a fascinating subterranean museum.
Parque Cultural Ex-Carcel
An architectural marvel, this former prison site is filled with the crumbling remains of cellblocks and exercise yards that are still standing after decades, as well as huge wall spaces which are coated in graffiti. This enduring cultural centre is soon to become a massive arts centre, designed by Oscar Niemeyer. Cruisers can reach this incredible historical site by hiking up the Subida Cumming.
Shopping in Valparaiso
For unique silver jewellery, head to the Art in Silver Workshop, which offers unusual pieces with unique designs, ranging from earrings to necklaces. For the curious and adventurous, make a stop at Antiguedades El Abuelo, an eccentric boutique store that offers historical antiques and relics for Chile's past.
Eating Out in Valparaiso
A unique experience await diners at the Bijoux restaurant, as a homely hideaway belies a fantastic local eatery which works on a unusual principle- rather than offer a menu, a chef greets you at your table and discusses the catch of the day with you, and how best you would like them prepared. What this creates is a beguiling, entirely personal experience, with a quality chef improvising Chilean dishes according to your tastes.