Exploring Central Chile’s Coastal Cities
Less than two hours outside of Santiago lies the Pacific Ocean and the two cities of Viña del Mar and Valparaiso. Each with their own personality, activities, and sights to offer, a visit to the coast is a great way to spend a few days in Chile! Viña del Mar offers relaxation on a beach, while Valparaiso offers history, art, and delicious food! After spending only 3 days there, I am already dying to go back. If you have a chance to visit, here are some tips on what to eat, see, and do in Viña del Mar and Valparaiso.
From Santiago, take the metro to the Pajaritos station. There, buses leave for both Viña del Mar and Valparaiso every ten minutes and only cost about 4,000 CLP. For traveling between the two cities you can easily find city buses. Look for buses labeled “Libertad” to get to Viña’s main road, and pretty much any orange and cream colored bus heading toward Valparaiso.
Where to Eat:
In Viña del Mar…
WOW! This place was incredible! Fancy and absolutely delicious… try the classic Chilean appetizer Machas de la Parmesana, the sea bass, and for sure the house special Cappelleti.
Delicious fresh sushi.
Flor de Chile
A fun local place with big servings of yummy food.
Enjoy a yummy pizza and a great view from the top of Cerro Alegre at this bright yellow boutique hotel.
A great brewery on Cumming street right at the base of the Reina Victoria funicular with live jazz music on the weekends.
What to Do:
Relax on the Beach
Viña del Mar has a fantastic stretch of beach that just begs to be lounged on with a good book. There are lots of places with public beach access, and if you’re a party of two looking for a place to stay with a great view of the Pacific sunsets, check out this AirBnB hosted by the kind and hospitable Marta.
Get Lost in Valparaiso
Valparaiso is a really unique city. Prior to the construction of the Panama Canal, it served as the largest Pacific port in Latin America and as such was home to a diverse (and quite wealthy) immigrant and merchant population. The huge, colorful old homes, while clearly past their glory days, are still absolutely charming, nostalgic, and beautiful. The colors of the old homes are echoed in the bright colors of the many wall murals and modern street art throughout the town. The city’s many “cerros” each have their own purpose and personality, and they are connected by many alleys and footpaths, making it the perfect city to get a bit lost in. There are also plenty of funiculars to enjoy! Most of them are over 100 years old, so they can be a bit creaky, its a bit of fun and will save you some steep stairs. I recommend starting at the Reina Victoria funicular which takes you to the top of Cerro Alegre and then wandering until you reach the El Peral funicular above Plaza Sotomayer. Or, for a great view of the port, head to the Artillería funicular. If “getting lost” isn’t exactly your cup of tea, you can see some great sights and get a bit of a history lesson with a tour! Tours 4 Tips does a great “Valparaiso Highlights” walking tour every afternoon for a great price – free! (As I mentioned in my previous post about our time in Santiago, we usually don’t go for group tours, but this organization does a really great job.) Definitely take some time to enjoy and appreciate the art, colors, views, and history of Valparaiso!
Bike Through Casablanca
A short drive from Valparaiso is the Casablanca Valley, a region known for producing fresh, crisp, white wines. (You might actually notice this valley as you drive to the coast from Santiago.) While there are plenty of traditional vineyard tours available, a company called La Bicicleta Verde offers a biking tour of the small Kingston Family Vineyard. The scenery is gorgeous, the guides are informative, and the wine is delicious. After your biking adventure, I suggest taking a taxi to the nearby Casas del Bosque vineyard for lunch. Their restaurant, Tanino, was recently recognized as one of the top 20 winery restaurants in the world!
I hope you get a chance to visit Chile and explore both Viña and Valpo. If you have any questions or your own suggestions for visiting these two cities, comment below!