Valparaíso and Viña del Mar are found along the Central Chilean Coast and have very different vibes. Valparaíso is a port city known for its colorful homes and steep roads while Viña del Mar is a resort city known for its beaches and resorts. Regardless if you stay in both or just one of the Central Chilean Coast cities, we are confident that you will have a great time.
If you would rather hear about our 5 weeks in Chile, listen to the Podcast Episode – Podcast 28: Chile Travel – Santiago, Valparaiso, San Pedro de Atacama (& Other Beauty)
Viña del Mar, Valparaíso Chile, & the Chilean coastline
We spent a week in Santiago and headed about an hour and a half west to a beach city called Viña del Mar or “Vineyard by the Sea”. We stayed in a small apartment by the beach through Airbnb. Viña offers beautiful waterfront, Chilean coastline views, with the Andes mountains in the background. The beaches of Viña are beautiful and relaxing and also provide an amazing place to meet people, people watch, enjoy a glass of fresh juice, and even workout.
All the beaches along the Central Chile Coast have outdoor gyms. The gyms have no walls, are open to the public, and solely consist of basic gym equipment. The equipment itself is located directly on the beach or in an area just adjacent to the beach, providing the user a beautiful, peaceful, sun-filled workout environment.
In Viña there are a plethora of health conscientious restaurants to choose from where one can sip on a latte for breakfast or one can choose to indulge at a traditional Chilean pastelería or panadería over a mimosa. In Viña del Mar, it is not uncommon to brunch and socialize for hours over a glass or two of wine.
Viña also provides a variety of night-life options (besides the many bar options, Enjoy, a 1930’s-era Casino and Hotel overlooks the ocean and Ovo, a super swanky, weekend nightclub is located just inside the casino; opening at midnight until 5 am).
With Viña being located right on the oceanfront, fresh seafood and fish is always available. Ceviche is a very popular dish that can be found at most restaurants in the Central Chile Coast and the neighboring towns. The dish consists of a mixture of raw fish that is marinated in lemon or lime juice and mixed along with chopped cilantro, onions, salt and additional seasoning.
Travel Tip: Packing your clothes and goods can be an art form if you attempt to minimize the amount of bags or luggage you bring on your travels. We have just one 46 liter backpack each so squeezing everything in can be a tough task sometimes. These Eagle Creek pack it fold bags are game chargers for your luggage! They keep everything tight (many times well folded) and allow you more space and organization in your bag. We are extremely happy that we brought these along for our long-term travels. Find this and other tips on our Travel Tools page.
With Viña being located along Chile’s coastline, we decided to walk from Viña (Playa El Sol) to Playa La Boca, ConCon. The walk itself is about 2 hours and 45 minutes (8.2 miles) but well worth it. Along the way, there are several beach towns with restaurants and shops to see. The views of the Chilean coastline are spectacular. The walking path itself is at times narrow and sometimes unpaved; either made of dirt and/or sand.
There are cars, trucks, and buses that are driving on the roads alongside you, however, they are very respectful of the people walking along the coastline and will tend to slow down when they see you. There are also points along the way where you are able to stop and take some incredible pictures of the ocean and coastline that would not be possible if you were to drive the route instead (38 minutes). Note: Make sure you bring plenty of water as the walk is long and you will want to make sure you stay hydrated and wear sunscreen depending on the time of year you decide to take the walk as you will be in the direct sunlight for over 2.5 hours.
As I mentioned there are several restaurants and shops along the way in case you are in need of something (water or a bite to eat) or have to use the restroom. Also, be respectful of the vehicles driving on the roads as you are walking alongside the coastline, as you see a vehicle approach, try and move over as far as you can, even if this means moving off of the pavement at times so the vehicle can pass. The roads along the coastline are very narrow. There are also several bus stations along the way in which you are able to catch a “micro” back to where you are staying. The cost is $400 CLP per person ($0.62 USD).
Valparaíso, or “Valpo”, is another city, very close to Viña, so close in fact, you can actually see Valpo from the shoreline of Viña. Although very close in proximity to Viña, the city itself is very different in appearance and character from Viña. Valpo is known for its many rolling hills and its bohemian, artistic vibe. There are approximately 40 hills throughout the city and 14 funicular lifts (elevators) that assist people up the steep hills.
Around every corner, one can find a multitude of vibrant colors from street art on the buildings and signs and the colorful painted houses and storefronts. We found a free, 3-hour walking tour through TripAdvisor through a company called Free Tour Valparaíso. The concept is simple; you choose the tour you want to go on, you can sign up online or show up at the determined meeting place/ time, walk the free tour, meet new people on the tour, and tip your tour guide at the end of the tour. We did similar tours in Santiago through a different company we found on TripAdvisor. We were able to see the entire city in just one day and meet some interesting people along the way!
For this tour, we met in Plaza Aníbal Pinto (Anibal Pinto Square). We then went to the Ascensor Reina Victoria (Queen Victoria Elevator- the elevator takes you up a hill to a small square where you can see graffiti on the walls of the square by famous artist, Lukas, and views of the nearby Concepción Hill and the Lutheran Church of La Santa Cruz).
It was explained to our tour group that graffiti is legal in Chile and considered art under certain circumstances (the artist wanting to place graffiti on a certain building must ask the owner and the art must be of “creative nature”). Graffiti is acceptable in Valpo, under “supervision”. The city promotes artists to express their ideas, creativity and views as long as they are contributing the urban areas in a responsible, creative manner. There are fines associated with graffiti that is not “supervised”. The fine was recently increased to $2 million CLP and jail time.
We also visited the famous Paseo Gervasoni and Paseo Atkinson (Gervasoni and Atkinson Boulevard- located on Conception Hill, the cobblestone boulevards have scenic passageways for local artists to set up their stands and sell their handmade jewelry, leather goods, paintings, etc.).
We then visited Paseo Yugoslavo where the Palacio Baburizza is located (Yugoslavo Boulevard home of Baburizza Palace, the former residence of Croatian businessman, Pascual Baburizza, now the home to Valparaíso’s fine arts museum). We also stopped by the famous Casa Crucero (Cruiser House- a four-story “cruise-ship” shaped house).
The last stop on the tour was Muelle Prat (Prat Dock). Here you are able to see the activity of the large ships and loading cranes. The smell of fish is in the air, seagulls are soaring both in the sky and walking on the ground amongst the people and you can see and hear the sailors communicating with each other to coordinate moving the heaving fishing nets, anchors and various other moving parts to get the merchandise off of the boats and onto solid ground. There are also hundreds of multi-colored containers that can be seen on the large barges.
Traveled March 2017