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  • Writer's pictureBianca

Valparaiso: An Easy Day Trip from Santiago, Chile

The historical city of Valparaiso, a UNESCO World Heritage Site nestled along the central coast of Chile, is a popular destination for travelers seeking a taste of Chilean history, culture, and stunning coastal landscapes. Just a short ride from Santiago de Chile (about an hour and a half), Valparaíso offers an array of attractions and activities that make it an ideal day tour from the capital city. 

Since I wanted to get some practice in driving before officially setting off on my journey to all the countries in South America, I offered to take the guests at my homestay in Santiago on a Valparaiso day trip! Unfortunately, I had a class to teach early in the morning, and another late at night so we really only had a few hours to spare but we were determined to make it one of the best day trips ever. In case you find yourself in a similar time crunch, this blog post will be the perfect guide for your Valparaiso, Chile day trip from Santiago so you don't have to scramble to figure out what to do when you arrive.

Try Some Street Food

​There are street food vendors all over Valparaiso and since it's a coastal town, the seafood is super fresh and tasty. I highly recommend hitting up one of the many vendors for a seafood empanada while you're here.

Take a Funicular Ride

Valparaiso is a mountainous town and its residents travel up and down via old funiculars also called ascensores) that are scattered throughout the place. Most of them have a small fee of 100 clp (~$0.10 usd) to go up one way. It's definitely worth going up at least one since you get to see the entirety of Valparaiso from above! in addition to the entire city below, you'll also get gorgeous panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean.

Explore Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion

You can take one of these old funiculars up to Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion, two of the oldest and most charming neighborhoods of Valparaíso. The streets are littered with vibrant street art from local artists, colorful houses, historical monuments, and art galleries. You can grab a bite for lunch here and treat yourself to some typical Chilean food while enjoying the architecture of the oldest area of Valparaiso.

Visit Pablo Neruda's House, La Sebastiana

Speaking of art galleries, no visit to Valparaíso is complete without a stop at La Sebastiana, one of Pablo Neruda's former homes and a work of art in itself. This quirky museum offers insight into the life and works of the poet turned Nobel Prize winner, as well as stunning views of the city and the ocean. Unfortunately, my friends and I arrived too late to get inside - so this is another case of do as I say, not as I do!

Sightseeing at Sotomayor Plaza and Plaza de Armas

Make your way to Plaza Sotomayor, the heart of Valparaíso's port city, and Plaza de Armas, a great place to admire the iconic historical monuments and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of these bustling squares. This is a great spot for people watching and the perfect place to rest for a bit before tackling more of the uphill climbs (trust me, you're gonna want that break).

Open Sky Museum

The Open Sky Museum is a collection of incredible street art composed by famous artists from Chile. The best part? This "museum" is completely free and open 24 hours since it's weaved in throughout the Bellavista neighborhood. For me, this was one of the highlights of Valparaiso. From here it's clear to see why Valparaiso made it to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Return Journey to Santiago de Chile

Now that you've had a great time in this incredible town on the Pacific Coast, it's time to head back to the city of Santiago. Whether by private tour, local bus, or self-driving like me, the travel time is short (only about an hour and a half), which is why it is such an easy day trip from the capital city. If you are driving by yourself, I think it's a good idea to leave before sunset - but don't worry if you're visiting in the summer months, the sun sets well into the evening - around 9pm which leaves you plenty of time to exit. That being said, we wound up leaving after dark, so as I say, not as I do!

Valparaíso offers a perfect blend of historical charm, breathtaking scenery, and cultural richness, making it one of Chile's most popular sites. With its proximity to Santiago de Chile and an array of attractions to explore, Valparaíso is indeed one of the best places for a day tour, offering travelers a glimpse into the diverse beauty of Chile's central coast. So, why not plan your next adventure to this enchanting city and create memories that will last a lifetime?


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