I’ve wanted to go to Valparaiso since I started reading about Chile.
Valparaiso was rumored to be a gorgeous little coastal town with lots good food, street art, and also was the home to one my favorite poets, Pablo Neruda.
Our group was short on time because we planned to hike the W Trek in Patagonia so we had to do it in one day.
This is how we did a day trip from Santiago to Valparaiso stop for dinner in wine country, and also, what not to do.
I got into Santiago around 9:30 AM after an all-night flight.
If you will be doing the same fast travel bring a bright lip color, dry shampoo, and make-up wipes, you’ll look much more awake and alive. If that fails, have a pair of big sunglasses handy.
The rest of the group had already been in Chile a few days. They picked me up to head Valparaiso in our tiny rental car.
Renting a car and driving from Santiago to Valparaiso can be a great option if you’re short on time, like we were. You can also enjoy stops to a few wineries on the way back.
One of the easiest things to do is just book a rental car to pick up at the airport. However, please note that you will pass through multiple tolls. So make sure stop at the ATM for some Chilean pesos on your way out.
There was a little traffic at the beginning. The traffic rules in Chile are a bit more flexible than the US. Prepare yourself that it may be stressful at first. However, once we got out of Santiago, it was a nice, easy drive through the countryside.
The drive from the airport to Valparaiso is only about 1.5 hours, even with traffic.
It’s an easy drive!
Once in Valpariso, we did not want to drive up and down the steep hills and deal with limited parking on narrow streets so we drove to the city center and found a parking garage.
You will see a square with tables and some small souvenir vendors. Towards the ocean, there is an underground parking garage. When we were there, we saw a police officer helping to direct traffic. It was early in the morning so commuters were going through, while tourists were looking for a place to park.
If you’re flying into Santiago and heading straight to Valparaiso, Turbus is the best option. The bus from Santiago to Valparaiso runs several times a day from the airport (international arrivals, door 6) but can also be taken from the Santiago station as well. and can be booked under the Turbus website or at the Turbus ticket office which is just past customs.
If you want very specific instructions on taking the bus, this blog post may be helpful.
The bus is posted to take from 1.5-2 hours. Once you're off the bus, you'll have a 25-minute walk from the tourist attractions.
Another advantage of renting a car is that you can make a stop at a vineyard on your way to the coast!
One of the original reasons I wanted to go to the Valparaiso is to the see the home of Pablo Neruda, one of my favorite poets. His museum, Le Sebastiana, was closed for the day (why didn’t I google this before-hand?!), so we wandered around and admired the art along the streets here.
A note to anyone else who wants to see the museum, it’s closed on Mondays.
However, after seeing Vaparaiso, the last thing I wanted to do was spend much time inside. It was a January day and the warm sun after the rain of Portland, Oregon felt awesome.
Valparaiso is also one of the most magnificent cities you will ever see in terms of street art. It’s everywhere! It’s the most colorful, artistic and beautiful city!
Valparaiso is known as Santiago’s scrappy little sister.
Valparaiso itself was bigger than I’d expected. It’s not exactly a quaint little town but more of a booming port.
If you want to see it in a day, stick to the arts districts. That’s where it’s the most beautiful.
The first thing you want to do is head to Le Sebastiana Museum since that is one of the main attractions and also, it’s works on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Then head to the Valparaiso funicular cars for a ride up the steep slopes of town.
Depending on your fitness level, you may want to consider winding down through the boutiques, bars and cafe’s while admiring the amazing street art. There are details on that below.
Valparaiso is hilly! Do not plan to walk all day unless you’re prepared to go up and down steps most of the day. After so much travel, we were up for stretching our legs.
Bring sunscreen! It was a beautiful sunny day and we needed it!
By mid afternoon, we had seen some awesome street art, gotten a really great latte and a few empanadas too but we needed to head back. The plan was to stop in wine country along the way.
You can easily wander the winding alleys and streets, going from one beautiful mural to another, of you can book a free street art tour through GraFREEti.
If you choose to do a self-guided tour like we did, start at the top of Cerro Alegre at Templeman and Galos, then head down Galos to Monte Alegre. From there, we just wandered, but for detailed information, I found this guide extremely helpful.
I'd recommend giving yourself 2-3 hours to enjoy the Valparaiso streets, boutiques, and cafés. It's really not the type of day to rush.
The wineries in Chile are luxurious and beautiful. We had done a little research ahead of time and only knew the names of a few that sounded interesting.
We ended up choosing Casas del Bosque for dinner. I would definitely recommend this one for anyone interested. It was a beautiful setting, excellent wine and really great food.
We tried a few bottles of wine, sitting on lounges in the sun and moved inside for an exceptional dinner before heading back to Santiago for the night.
What I would say about a day trip from Santiago to Valparaiso, is it’s definitely worth the drive. I actually would like to have a few days there but this was a great introduction.
A day was not enough in Valparaiso. It’s got the largest art district I’ve seen and is so charming and beautiful. It’s distinctly South American and distinctly makes me want to read poetry in the sun all day.
However, I would recommend you give yourself more rest than I gave myself.
Valparaiso is definately worth the trip, but remember to set aside time for rest.
If you’re going to go from Santiago to Valparaiso in one day and then Patagonia the next, you will end up throwing up in a cab and falling asleep every time you sit down, like I did.