What to do in Valparaíso
Valparaíso has been declared Cultural Heritage for Mankind in 2003. Famous for its hills filled with colourful houses, elevators that are considered national monuments, and being a young vibrant city (an important educational hub is here). During the colonial times, it was a very important port, depending mostly from the Callao port in Peru and all its commercial routes. It became even more popular after the independence, when it served as a stopping point for the ships travelling from the Atlantic Ocean towards the Pacific (and vice-versa), after crossing through the Strait of Magellan.
Open Air Museum
You could probably say that the city itself looks like an open air museum filled with street art and colourful houses everywhere. But there’s a specific area in the Bellavista Hill, which started with a collection of pieces done by the students of the Art Institute of the Catholic University. In the early 70’s, there was a plan to bring famous painters and work together to create an artistic path in the city. Due to the dictatorship, this project was postponed and happened finally in the early 90’s.
These murals are spread around the hill (20 originally), and now mixed up with more current pieces.
Plenty of tours begin at Prat Pier, and there are a lot of companies so for sure you’ll find one that suits your needs. As you start sailing, you’ll be able to see a small group of sea lions posing for your camera. Then you’ll enjoy beautiful views of Valparaiso from the sea, and be able to recognize several of the landmarks you’re probably planning on visiting by foot. These boat rides are normally quite short (not more than an hour) so they will allow you enough time to continue exploring the city.
Elevators or Funiculars
There are 16 elevators in the city that are declared National Historic Monuments. About half of them are actually operative.
–Queen Victoria, in the Cerro Alegre (Joyful Hill), will give you great views of the Luteran Church.
–El Peral (The Pear Tree), right next to Sotomayor Square, will give you a panoramic view of the Port.
–Cordillera (Mountain Range), second oldest one installed right at the end of the 19th century (the first one, Concepcion, is from 1883). Right next to the Cordillera funicular you have one of the famous staircases of Valparaiso, the one referred to as Cienfuegos Staircase (100 Fires).
There are plenty of colourful staircases, some of them with deep meaning, others just full of colour and creative ideas. A delight for your eyes, not so much for your legs if you’re tired!!
Some of them are:
–Piano Staircase (in the Beethoven passage),
–Apolo Staircase (look for Apolo and Urriola street),
–Templeman Staircase (pedestrian area between Urriola and Lautaro streets).
The Sebastiana House (Pablo Neruda’s house)
Is one of the properties that Pablo Neruda owned, with audioguides available in different languages. You don’t need to pre-book your visit but there’s a maximum of visitors allowed daily so if this is really a point of interest it might be best to go early (you’ll access in order of arrival). Right next to the museum entrance you also have a lookout point with nice views of Valparaiso. More info on the house here.
This historical square is also the main meeting point of the city. You’ll be surrounded by some of the most beautiful landmarks, such as the Navy Headquarters, and the monument to the heroes of the Battle of Iquique, when Chile confronted Peru in 1879, in the context of the War of the Pacific.
Baburizza Palace Art Museum
Is the Valparaiso Fine Arts Museum, located in a eclectic house that was built in 1916. Today it shows a collection of a former owner of said house (a Croatian businessman) mixed with Chilean artists as well. The entrance ticket includes the audioguide, available in different languages. More info on the museum here.
If you need help getting to Valparaiso from Santiago, you can see more details here.
Map of Atractions