Valparaíso Historic Quarter
The port city of Valparaíso was a major trading hub in the late 19th century—before the opening of the Panama Canal—and the historic quarter is famous for its colorful buildings and murals. Visit the area, which sits on the coastal plain and surrounding hills to see sights like bustling Plaza Sotomayor and the hills of Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion.
Though some streets are steep, the historic quarter is best seen on a walking tour. Day trips from Santiago and shore excursions from Valparaíso’s busy port typically combine a few hours in the city with a visit to Viña del Mar, a coastal town famous for its beach and it’s archeology museum. Some excursions also include wine tasting in the nearby Casablanca Valley.
Things to Know Before You Go
The labyrinthine streets of Valparaíso cause many first-time visitors to get lost; book a tour to avoid wasting time.
Steep hills and uneven terrain means that Valparaíso is a difficult place to explore in a wheelchair or with a stroller. That said, sturdy shoes are a must if exploring on foot.
Though the historic quarter is firmly on the tourist maps, some parts of the port city have high crime rates; avoid straying far from the main square after dark.
How to Get There
Valparaíso is about 1.5-hours’ drive northwest of Santiago. To reach the city by car, take CH-68. Buses to Valparaíso depart regularly from Santiago’s main terminal and take about 2 hours.
You can also opt for a day-long tour from Santiago that includes round-trip transportation.
When to Get There
For blue skies and the fewest crowds, visit Chile during the shoulder seasons, in November and March. Valparaíso is also a great place to be on New Year’s Eve, when the city hosts one of the world’s most impressive fireworks displays.
Outside of the Historical Quarter
Though most tours only cover the historic center of Valparaíso, there are plenty of attractions outside of the Old Town. Make sure to visit La Sebastiana, one of three former homes of revered Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. You can also head to Robinson Crusoe Island, a deserted island just off the city’s coast where you can go trekking, fishing, or kayaking among unspoiled natural landscapes.