Valparaiso & Viña del Mar

Trip Start Aug 15, 2008
Trip End Aug 14, 2009

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of Chile  ,
Friday, February 27, 2009

Valparaiso & Viña del Mar

Valparaiso is about 125km up the coast from Santiago, the road going through the Chilean wine country. It is considered to be the cultural centre of Chile & is a UNESCO Heritage site - I think it is the dirtiest, sleaziest dump of a city I have come across!

In its heyday, it was the major port servicing ships going round the Horn & was very prosperous; however, after the Panama Canal was opened in 1914, taking away its trade, it has gone downhill.

We stayed in a pleasant B&B in the congested centre of town called "El Plan". Although the B&B was pleasant, the surrounding area was shabby & worst of all, didn't have a decent restaurant, only cafes serving badly cooked steaks with a mountain of chips topped with 2 fried eggs - a local delicacy. The best of these cafes did sell wine by the bottle offering a wide selection, both a red & a white. The red was actually a very acceptable "Conche y Toro Export" costing all of £2.00 ! - We went there again.

Three streets away from our pad was a street market selling fruit & fresh fish & just round the corner was an on-street flee market.
The local park was not up to the standards we were used to in Argentina & Peru. The park benches had very few slats left in them, the statues had graffiti all over them & the pavements were absolutely filthy. There were also stray dogs lying around everywhere, even in the gutters, making cars & buses swerve to avoid them. Another thing about South America is that there are very few public loos & those that there are charge an entrance fee & also charge for paper. The poor in Valparaiso have found a way round this - they pee in the hedges.

Valparaiso bay is surrounded by small hills (cerros) which are where the posh(er) residential areas of the city are located. They are accessed via very steep flights of steps or the quaint ascensores (cable cars) which take 8 passengers at a time up the hill. These ascensores were built between 1883 & 1914 & are now in serious need of repair, but are fun to ride in (once).
We went up the Ascensore Concepcion (which was far from immaculate) to the arty-farty "Cerro Concepcion" district where the artists try to flog you very good, but quite pricy paintings. The views from the top are great, with the Andes behind & the harbour & bay in front of you. The Andes are only 40km from the sea in this part of Chile, so in winter it is quite possible to go skiing in the morning & swimming in the sea in the afternoon.

We went to a bistro & had a very nice lunch, washed down with a very cheap but splendid bottle of Chilean wine, before staggering down the hundreds of steps to the bottom.
The Port is still very active with container shipping vying with cruise liners for space. There is a thriving trade in trips around the harbour - you buy your ticket then take pot luck on which of the boats you get on, it could be a new craft with nice plastic seats & life jackets, or an overcrowded old tub with the water lapping over the gunnels.

Viña del Mar - ("Vineyard of the Sea")

Just round the bay from Valparaiso is the upmarket town of Viña del Mar which is a modern beach resort, popular as a weekend & summer resort for Santioguinos & also many Argentineans. The sea front is lined with high rise apartment blocks, high class hotels & casinos whilst just back from the front are smart residential houses.
We spent the day there walking along the 'prom', dozing in the sun, taking a leisurely alcoholic lunch in a nice bistro & talking to a student waiter who wanted to improve his English. - Very laid back.

Southern Chile

Many travellers had told us to go to Patagonia in southern Chile, which we would have liked to have seen. However, we didn't have any suitable clothing, nor did we have time to do it justice. Another area we wished we had seen is the Lake District in the south, again it was too difficult to fit into our schedule - perhaps we will do it on our next time round the world.
Slideshow Report as Spam
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • Please enter a comment.
  • Please provide your name.
  • Please avoid using symbols in your name.
  • This name is a bit long. Please shorten it, or avoid special characters.
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address


holly08121 on

P Smith
If you do it again I'm definitely coming!

rodnyc on

1914 Cable Cars!
The area sounds facinating and interesting especially the little cable cars, well you had to take a ride, you can at least say you did it, but I agree once is sensible!

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: