Valparaiso (also called Valpo) is Chile’s second largest city and worth a visit for more than a few reasons — think beaches, ultra-fresh seafood, colourful street art and vibrant nightlife. The other thing that sets Valparaiso apart is the city’s hilly terrain, best navigated by a series of funiculars and filled with hidden gems to discover. If you only have time for a short visit, we have you covered. Here’s how to make the most of 24 hours in Valparaiso.
Casa Plan is a cafe-gallery-workshop combo located in the flat area of Valparaíso close to Plaza Victoria and a good place to start your whirlwind visit to the city. You can have a coffee, some pastries, and then take a look at the gallery since there’s always a new exhibition to see. They also have some courses on offer such as silk-screen printing, woodcutting and engraving, and you can see artists at work while you’re there. Just note, they don’t open until 8am, so you can sleep in a bit before heading to your first stop.
After grabbing breakfast, take a walk to Plaza Victoria and have a look around. The square has some beautiful sculptures and benches to sit on, and in front of the square you’ll see the Cathedral of Valparaiso and the Public Library.
Spend the later part of the morning at Museo a Cielo Abierto (Open Sky Museum), an open-air museum with fascinating art by Chilean artists. While you walk through the streets of Museo a Cielo Abierto, you’ll enjoy some amazing paintings on the walls, all replicas of famous artists’ works. The best way to get there is by taking the Ascensor Espíritu Santo from behind Plaza Victoria; the scenic ride takes about five minutes.
If you want to try some Chilean food for lunch (and of course you do), you have to go to Capri Restaurant. This is a cosy and local place where you’ll have a delicious traditional Chilean lunch. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but trust us that locals love this place, with good reason.
To get here, go back from Museo a Cielo Abierto to Plaza Victoria, where you can take a 10-minute bus ride to Plaza Sotomayor. In Plaza Sotomayor you’ll find Cochrane Street, where the restaurant is located (Cochrane 664, Valparaíso).
There are a couple of options to choose from for your afternoon in Valparaiso. Option one is to take a boat ride to see the hills of Valparaiso from the ocean. This will give you some really good photo-snapping opportunities while feeling the breeze of the sea. Boats operate Monday to Friday from noon to 6pm and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 8pm. Go to Plaza Sotomayor and walk straight to the pier (Muelle Prat), which is about a three-minute walk.
Your other option is to visit Museo Baburizza (closed on Mondays). This is the art museum of Valparaiso and besides having a beautiful collection, you can enjoy the view of the bay from the museum. To get here, take funicular Ascensor el Peral, which is in front of the Tribunal de Justicia building (Court of Justice), very close to Plaza Sotomayor. The ride takes 5 to 10 minutes.
Spend your evening in Valpariso at Cervecería Anfiteatro, a brewpub where you’ll find local craft beer made by locals, and each beer is named for a location in Valparaiso. If you want to try some really nice craft beer and have some authentic snacks like barley balls stuffed with cheese, or something traditional like sopaipillas con pebre (fried pastry with a type of salsa), you definitely must come to this place!
If you’re coming from the port, walk through Blanco Street and when you cross Urriola Street, you’ll find the bar (about a five-minute walk). If you’re coming from the museum, take the stairs down to Urriola Street and walk down until you hit Blanco Street. Turn right and you’ll find the brewery (about a 15-minute walk).
For travellers on a short visit, we recommend having a layover that will allow you to spend two hours in the city centre, and another four to five hours for travelling to and from the airport. Since the airport you’ll be using is not in Valparaiso, but rather in Santiago, you’ll need a lot more time for travel to and from the airport.
The best way to get from the airport to the sites is by taking the bus, which will take you to Valparaiso Bus Station. The ride can take up to two hours, so consider that when planning your layover.
If you want to see Valparaiso in two hours in the morning or afternoon, start from the port (Muelle Prat), walk straight until the funicular El Peral, and walk through Cerro Alegre y Cerro Concepción. On these two hills, you can find cafes, restaurants, workshops and more.
If you’re in Valpariaso for an evening or nighttime layover, explore the artisan stands located in the pier area. In the stands you’ll find some handmade products and souvenirs. Walk to Plaza Sotomayor (square), where you can appreciate the architecture of the old buildings and visit one of the many restaurants or cafes in the area.