Welcome to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar! If you’ve landed on this page you are probably looking for information on what to do and see while you are visiting Valparaiso and Viña del Mar. You’ve come to the right place. I’ve got you covered!
Valparaiso and Viña del Mar are both cities on the Pacific Coast about 125km west of Santiago, however they each have completely different vibes.
The port city of Valparaiso (also known as Valpo) is a UNESCO World Heritage site, full of steep cerros (hills), acensors (funiculars), and has way more character. Viña del Mar (also known as Viña) has beaches, high rises, and more of a resort feel. Also, Viña is safer whereas Valparaiso has a reputation for tourists getting mugged. We didn’t have any problems during the time we spent in Valparaiso however seeing as we were 2 women traveling, we erred on the side of caution and decided to stay in Viña del Mar, and to make day trips into Valparaiso.
Whichever you decide on, it’s super easy to get between the 2 cities for a day visit. And you will fall in love with Valparaiso either way!
Keep reading to learn about...
Valparaiso and Viña del Mar: The Perfect 4 Day Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrive Viña del Mar
First, check into your hotel. We stayed at the Pullman Viña del Mar San Martin. It’s a modern hotel located across the street from Playa Acapulco. As soon as you’ve settled into your room, HEAD TO THE BEACH! If you’ve just come from Santiago it feels so good to walk in the sand and hear the crashing of the waves. If you are here during the summer like we were, and especially on the weekend, the beaches will be packed with Santiaguinos (locals from Santiago) escaping the heat of the city for a few days.
Viña del Mar has a long stretch of beautiful sandy beach. Walk down Playa Acapulco and stroll up to the beach towards Vergara Pier. Along the way if you see a spot that’s calling your name, stop, sit down and enjoy the view.
After a glorious day at the beach, freshen up, then head out to dinner just down the street at Imperio Peruano Restaurant for some Peruvian cuisine. The ceviche is amazing! (You will see a lot of Peruvian restaurants all over Chile.)
For a beautiful sunset, keep walking west on San Martin. Just past the casino you will cross over the Estero (estuary) Viña del Mar.
The palm tree lined estuary makes for quite a stunning scene as the sun sets behind the Pacific Ocean!
If you like rock music, try Arica Rock Bar, a few more blocks down. Beers are cheap and the music is heavy! If you prefer something a little more low key, try your luck at the Casino Viña del Mar.
Day 2 – Valparaiso
Viña del Mar
Today you’ll see a bit of Viña and Valpo. Start off with a leisurely breakfast in Viña. From the Pullman Hotel wonder up 8th St. It’s a lovely tree lined street with cafes, and restaurants. We also found a cute little flower stand and bought some beautiful lilies for our hotel room. Stop at Panadería Panqueque for breakfast. It’s a cute cafe with a great patio, and very instagramable!
Once breakfast is finished, jump in a taxi and head to Valparaiso. A taxi will cost about $8-9 USD.
Start at Plaza Sotomayer. There is a small market selling antiques, books and crafts. Also right there, you can’t miss it, is the Edificio Armada de Chile, the large blue naval command building. It once functioned as a presidential palace and in 1979 was declared a Historical Monument of Chile.
Across the street is the Monumento a los Heroes de Iquique which was constructed to honour of ‘the Heros of Iquique’, the naval officers who fought in the battle of Iquique and Punta Gruesa.
Next, make your way down Prat Street towards Ascensor Concepcion and make the ascent to the top of Cerro Concepcion. At the top you will be met with unbelievable views of Valparaiso.
Take your time and wander the streets at the top. You never know what you will find. There is a lovely art gallery called Galería Fotocíclope at Abtao 529. Not far from there is Escalera Piano, a staircase with each step painted like a key from a piano.
By now, you are probably in need of a ‘refreshing’ beverage. Try the Brighton Bar at Hotel Brighton! The cute (and very instagramable) patio has one of the best views of Valparaiso, as well as live entertainment in the afternoons. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a pisco sour (or two)!
Finally, end your day in Valparaiso with a visit to the well known Cinzano Restaurant! A trip to Valparaiso is not complete without a stop here. It’s a historic and lively place with great atmosphere and staff. The place really gets going around 10pm with live music. The night we were there, Oscar Anibal kept us entertained all evening with his enchanting voice, his charm and wit. (Check him out at Tangocantor54.blogspot.com). It didn’t get too busy but it sure got lively!
We ended up dancing the night away with a table of local women. What a memorable night!
Photo by @meet_melanie (instagram)
Day 3 – Concón and Reñaca
Start off with breakfast at Good Nick Cafe located on 8 Norte. It’s a fabulous cafe catering to vegetarians. Make sure to try the fresh squeezed orange juice! You will need it if you were at Cinzano the night before like we were! LOL!
Be adventurous today and take the bus to Concón. Concón is home to Las Dunas de Concón and is just 12km north from Viña del Mar. To get there on the bus, walk up to Avenida Libertad. There are a few different buses that you can take. Your hotel should know which numbers will get you there, or just jump on any bus that says Concón on the front. It’s about a 25-30 minute ride. Get off the bus at the Jumbo store and across the street you will see Las Dunas. Spend some time wandering over the dunes.
From the top, take in the dramatic view of the dunes with the high rises in the background. The contrast is pretty cool!
For lunch head to Aquí Jaime, located at Av. Borgoño. We walked there from Las Dunas along the coast but it was a pretty long walk, maybe 1 hr. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, jump in a taxi. However, if you do decide to walk, you will pass by some really nice little beaches.
After lunch, get back on the bus and head south to Reñaca. The main drag is lined with apartments on 1 side and a large and beautiful sandy beach on the other. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon there. There are stands all along the beach where you can grab a refreshing beverage or light snack.
Next, head back to Viña on the bus. If you are up for it, stop at Mall Marina for a bit of shopping. It’s a large mall with a lot of choices for spending money.
And also some very interesting street performers!
La Flor de Chile
Finally, for dinner tonight, make your way to La Flor de Chile in Viña del Mar, on 8 Norte. What an amazing place. We had walked by it the day prior and it looked so cute, but it wasn’t open. Once we took a peak at the menu they had outside and saw that they serve spanish torta, we decided we needed to come back. It ended up being a really fun night. The food was good but the atmosphere inside was incredible. It was small and busy with such a good vibe. Everyone was so friendly that we ended up staying there for hours and drinking (way too much) wine and pisco sours.
TIP: The Spanish Torta’s are huge, you can share 1 between 2 people. Talk about leftovers!
Day 4 – Valparaiso
Today is another day to enjoy charming Valparaiso. After breakfast at the hotel, jump on a bus and make your way there.
Start off at La Sebastiana, one of Pablo Neruda’s houses. Like his other 2 houses, La Chascona in Santiago and Casa de Isla Negra in Isla Negra, it has been converted into a museum and features his collections of weird and unique objects.
I recommend starting the day there as it is atop of Cerro Bellavista, then you can just walk down from there to other sites, otherwise you will have a fairly steep and steady uphill walk. The bus from Viña takes around 30-40 minutes and stops right outside of La Sebastiana. You could also take a tax for $8-9USD or Uber for $6UDSD, of course subject to exchange rates and price surges.
La Sebastiana is probably my 2nd favourite attraction that I visited in Chile after La Chascona, his house in Santiago.
You are not allowed to take photos of the inside the house but you get some pretty amazing views of Valparaiso out the windows in which you are allowed to take from.
Museo Abierto de Cielo
Once you’ve finished at Le Sebastiana, walk downhill towards Museo Abierto de Cielo (open air museum). It’s an outdoors arts area with murals and mosaic tiles around every corner. You’ll also pass by some very colourful houses along the way. I was getting my picture taken in front of one and the resident walked out right when the camera was snapping. It was quite funny. He was very friendly and even jumped in a picture with us.
Espiritu Santo Restaurante
Continue on to Espiritu Santo Restaurante for lunch. They have a wonderful (and very much needed) patio in the shade. The service was amazing! Ok, I might be a little biased seeing as our server had friends living in the same city in Canada we are from. What are the chances?, And the people at the next table had also visited our home town of Calgary. Anyway, we had a really great lunch here!
So great that we came back for dinner! The same day!
Valpo Street Art Tours
Go on walking downhill to Plaza Anibal Pinto. Everyday at 10:30am and 3:30pm (except Sunday’s), Valpo Street Art Tours offers a free 2hr tour of some of Valpo’s best street art. The tour shows you some of the works by the best artists. You will learn about the local graffiti and street art, and go to touristy areas as well as areas where not many tourists go. Reservations are not necessary. It is a free tour so pay what you think it is worth at the end of the tour.
Espiritu Santo (yes, again!)
For dinner, make your way back to Espiritu Santo. I normally like to try different places but we had such a great lunch here and we had learned that they had Chilean sea bass on the dinner menu. We had been looking for Chilean sea bass but for some reason couldn’t find it anywhere. And we were not disappointed with our decision to go back!
This ended up being my favourite meal of our trip to South America.
Where to Stay
First you need to decide if you want to stay in Valparaiso or Viña del Mar. As you’ve seen, although they are both coastal cities, less than 10km from each other, they have completely different vibes. Valparaiso definitely has more character and is full of colour. Viña has the beach. It’s a tough choice. In the end we chose Viña del Mar mainly because we had heard about tourists often getting mugged in Valpo, although we had no issues during the time we spent there. In addition, even though this didn’t affect our decision, we found prices to be lower in Viña.
Here are some options for both cities…
Viña del Mar
The Pullman Hotel San Martin is a mid-range to luxury hotel and the perfect place if you decide to stay in Viña. It’s location on the beach, and proximity to restaurants and bars, make it an excellent choice. They have a rooftop pool and bar with views over the beach. Their standard rooms are a little on the small side but their suites are lovely so if it’s within your budget, go for the suite.
Even though this is a mid-range to luxury hotel, the prices are very reasonable. We were there in the summer and prices were starting at $110USD/night.
To get to the hotel from the bus station, take a taxi. Drivers are there to meet buses as they arrive so it’s the quickest and easiest option. The cost was around 5000CLP ($10CAD/$7USD).
While we didn’t stay in Valpo, we considered it and did extensive research on hotel options. In general we found Valparaiso to be a bit more expensive. These were our top 2 choices for hotel based on reviews and location.
Hotel Cabernet – Hotel Cabernet is a mid-range hotel that offers a variety of air conditioned rooms, from standard to lofts with terraces. It’s located in a great location on Cerro Bellavista and has a pool, lounge, street parking, and a great rooftop for amazing views of Valpo. We walked past this hotel one day, and before realizing it was Hotel Cabernet, we thought that it looked really nice. The front was nearly all glass which I expect would offer amazing views of Valparaiso and allow natural light into the hotel.
Hotel Palacio Astoreca – Hotel Palacio Astoreca is a luxury hotel with amazing architecture, pool, bar and lounge. This is actually where we were booked to stay in before deciding to stay in Viña del Mar. The rooms look beautiful and I am a little sad that I didn’t get to experience it in person. Reviews say great staff, breakfast, AND pisco sours!
Getting to/from Viña/Valpo from Santiago
There are no flights to Valparaiso or Viña del Mar. You can drive or take a bus. We took the bus which was easy, comfortable and fairly quick.
Take a taxi or public transport to Parajitos in Santiago. A taxi from barrio Bella Vista is 10,000CLP ($17CAD/$12USD). Once you are there, there are a couple of bus companies to choose from. We picked Turbus, not for any particular reason, it was just the 1st we saw. A bus ticket from there to Viña Del Mar is 4500CLP ($7CAD/$5USD) one way. There are departures every 15 minutes, and it takes about 2 hours. The buses are modern with air conditioning and have free wifi.
When to go
The temperature in Viña and Valpo is very comfortable year round with the best weather during the summer (Dec-Feb) when the average temperatures are in the early 70’s(F) or 20’s(C). In the winter (Jun-Aug) average temperatures are around 56F or 13C. Keep in mind though, that during summer vacation, both Viña and Valpo are considerably busier with Santiaguinos escaping the cities.
We had a really great time in Viña del Mar and Valparaiso and found 4 days the ideal amount of time to see this region of Chile. If you have time, I would suggest a trip to Isla Negra to see the 3rd house of Pablo Neruda, Casa de Isla Negra. It’s supposed to be as fascinating as his other 2, La Chascona and La Sebastiana. If you’ve had the opportunity to visit it, I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
Ciao for now!