How To Spend A Day In Vibrant Valparaiso

Valoparaiso skyline

Valparaiso had always been on our Inca to Inuit bucket list. Jake and I had promised my step-dad Noel that we would take a trip to the city he had read about in a poem (‘An Long” in Gaelic) as a child. The poem, by Irish poet Padraig de Brun, tells the tale of a young Irish boy who becomes fascinated with a Chilean ship which has docked in an Irish harbour. Not knowing anything about the origin of the ship (Valparaiso) the boy gets lost in an imaginary and colourful World as he conjures up images of a long lost city Valparaiso.

Before arriving in Valparaiso, we had done no research and as such had nothing more than the Noel’s fond words about the city as a reference. After an eight-hour bus journey from the quiet and quaint village of Pisco Elqui, we found ourselves in a wash of vibrancy and colour erratically pasted up and down the hilly city streets.

Dogs, Valparaiso

There is an Escher-like quality to this frantic port town. The steep hillsides and never ending network of staircases and corridors enable you to roam this city seeing it from what feels like endless angles. The arresting wall art provides welcomed anchor points as you weave your way through the cities maze of streets.

Dogs, Valparaiso

You could quite easily spend weeks on end lazily exploring this exquisitely interesting and gritty Chilean city but if like us you only have a day, here are the best bits.

With your camera fully charged and at the ready start your day at the top of Templeman hill. From this pedestrian road, you have a phenomenal view of the sea down a colourful lined path of patchwork coloured houses and multi-coloured steps. The street itself is lined with bohemian hostels so if you are looking for an affordable night’s stay this is definitely the area to head to. We stayed at Pata Pata Hostel which much like its city is a wash of colour.

lynds on corner, valpariso

Head down the hill towards the water, down Monte Alegre taking in the Palacio Baburizza and the Ascensor El Peral.

Palacio Baburizza

Take the Ascensor down towards the Plaza Sotomayor where you can enjoy Chile’s biggest and busiest port. The area is teaming with industry, cruise ships and Navel ships.  There is also a great view of one of the city’s Ascensors. With a coffee or ice cream in hand, head along the waterfront towards the main shopping area. Here you can find a huge selection of high street and independent stores and cafe’s. Head down Pedro Montt to find a bustling market where you can pick up all sorts!

Valoparaiso skyline

Lunch is best spent down the numerous back street artisan sandwich delicatessens around Cerro Alegre. Try La Coco  for a leafy and shaded courtyard and delicious sandwiches. Be sure to try the homemade lemonade with ginger of basil. After lunch head to La Dulceria where you can watch handmade sweets being made. Be sure to grab a bag to munch on as you spend the afternoon taking in the incredible street art that can be found across the city.

Lynds walking up street

Boxer, Valparaiso

Purple Genie, Valpariso

Tunnel Graffiti, Valparaiso

Spend the evening sat relaxing at the charming La Capaucita y el Lobo. Enjoy world class food on their stunning and secluded terrace taking in Valparaiso at dusk. The pink sunsets and big bright lit moon inject this vibrant city with flashes of colour even when the lights go down.

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