We can arrange all-inclusive, or part inclusive itineraries. We can arrange your itinerary as a standalone or form part of your larger travel itinerary to Chile (Argentine and or Peru). We suggest a minimum of 2 nights in Valparaiso and longer if you have the time. We can also arrange a full day from Santiago with the option of a visit to a vineyard on the way. We can also offer you hotels of high level that offer comfort, good facilities and great views.
Prior to the opening of the Panama Canal ships would stop off at Valparaiso to offload and pick up cargo en-route to another port, or just to rest and pickup supplies having rounded the Beagle Channel (near Cape Horn), before continuing towards North America. Chile´s then booming nitrate-mining industry was a key driving force behind the growing Chilean economy, which drew in many foreigners, mainly English, who set about making places like Valparaiso and Iquique in the far north, their new home.
Valparaiso is the only city in Chile that exudes some real history and an interesting vibrancy. Having said that it is a “love it” or “hate it” kind of place for people visiting. People love it because it is historic; has small, artistic cafes, old buildings and superb views to a working port, whilst others hate it because it also looks quite “shabby”, dirty and messy (more about that below). It is like a miniature San Francisco, with steep streets and instead of trams going up and down it has funicular railways. The main areas of interest – Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion – offer streets lined with wonderful, old English-style buildings from a previously affluent era. Most of these houses are still lived in while some have been converted into hotels. At street level there are boutique cafes, restaurants, and artisanal shops. On some of the general exterior walls are impressive artistic murals, whilst many of the outside walls of the houses have been painted in contrasting bright colours that give life to this neighbourhood. Indeed, it is this picture that creates the charm of the place and why people “love it”. However, very unfortunately, due to incompetence of the authorities and / or lack of vision, the experience can be sullied by tag graffiti in may places, dog faeces on the side walk from the many street dogs, overhead cables hanging between the lamp posts that ruin views, and the odd assault at night (as a tourist you need to be careful at night) – so that is why some people “hate it”. Further up the hills and running each side of the interesting hill tops (Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion) the surface area is covered by thousands of simple, poor dwellings and the poverty can be unsettling. Having said all that, for many it is a very special place to visit and despite the negatives it does offer a unique opportunity to see and feel an important part of not only Chile´s, but the World´s history, which is why is it a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Although the port is less active than in its heyday it is nevertheless still an essential port of entry and export for goods coming in and going out of the country. It is also a stop off point for the increasing numbers of cruise ships that visit Chile.
Vina del Mar
Is Chile’s principal sea-side city located 120km to the north-west of Santiago and adjacent to Valparaiso, offering beaches, night life and an all-night casino. In the summer months it is very popular and consequently packed (over saturated may be better adjective) with holiday makers including many Argentineans who come over from Mendoza.
All access to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar is by road from Santiago. The drive takes about 1.5hrs. We will arrange for private transfers that can also include a stop-off at a winery.
There are 42 cerros (hill tops) that populate the steep hill sides that rise up from the Pacific Ocean. The vast majority of these hills are covered in ramshackle-looking houses mainly constructed out of simple wood and very close to the house next door.
However, the section of the city immediately opposite the main port area is an interesting historic part of Valparaiso. The interesting streets have houses that were constructed by the English in the late 1800´s. This was an affluent period for Valparaiso and the houses of the time reflect this. Many are now painted in contrasting bright colours that create a “warming” and interesting atmosphere. Walking through the narrow streets and passages is an interesting way to explore this “bohemian neighbourhood” offering an opportunity to see and feel some of the local life at close quarters. The key hills for visitors are “Cerro Concepcion” and “Cerro Alegre” (cerro means hill by the way).
Getting up the hills can be on foot, which can be tiresome; by car, which is boring or by taking one of the many funicular railway carriages, some built in the late 1800’s (in places like Manchester, England and assembled in Chile), from street level. Once up there, take a walk around and then have a drink or meal at one of the restaurants from where you will get a wonderful view of the Valparaiso bay, the docks and over to Viña del Mar.
Suggested funicular start point is: Acensor Concepcion. At the top is Cafe Turri (restaurant with terrace) and around the corner is Hotel Brighton (also restaurant with terrace) and La Colombina (pub) off Paseo Yugoslavia. Another good place is Restaurant Concepcion.
If you are a follower of Pablo Neruda, Chile Nobel Prize-winning poet in 1971, one of his houses is in Valparaiso at Ferrari 692, on the hill called Cerro Bellavista. Access is from Plaza La Sebastiana. Open Jan / Feb: Tuesday to Sunday, 10:30 hrs to 18:50 hrs, rest of the year: Tuesday to Friday 10:30 hrs to 14:10 hrs and 15:30 hrs to 18:00 hrs.
Valparaiso puts on a spectacular firework display on New Year’s eve, one of the best in the world. The spectacle draws in the crowds and restaurants make a killing by charging exorbitant prices. If you can get to a view point, however, the show is pretty impressive.
If summer time (December, January, February) bring summer clothes, but also bring extra tops to put on should it be breezy or cloudy. As always sun-screen cream, sun glasses and a hat.
Our selection of hotels includes many of the most popular accomodations in South America. You’ll find the perfect hotel in your budget.
VALPARAISO AND VINA
Valparaiso is an historic port city designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. As long as you stay in the right place you can experience a glimpse of a hugely interesting time in history. Viña is the popular, adjacent sea-side city.