Viña del mar and Valparaíso
These cities are located in the 5th region of Chile. Valparaiso is the regional capital and it is recognized for its historic center which is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 2003 .
Valparaiso is a great natural amphitheater, with a particular geography of a bay surrounded by hills. In these hills the greatest number neighborhoods are located, while the sea is one of the most important ports of the country.
There are 42 hills, some of the most important are Baron, Mariposa, Cerro Alegre, Cerro Concepción among other hills, where homes and neighborhoods of the city are located. Some of them still have scenic elevators which were built to quickly get to the heights of Valparaiso and enjoy their viewpoints that allow you to observe the surroundings.
It is interesting to observe its Casco Patrimonial, where we find churches and houses blend of French, English and German architecture. Besides this, it offers many trips and panoramic viewpoint areas to enjoy the view of the bay, especially during the New Year, where a beautiful fireworks display takes place.
Valparaiso’s climate is Mediterranean with clouds, with dry summers and mild winters. The annual average temperature is 13° C, and rainfall is more frequent during the winter, where strong winds also appear with a very cold wind chill.
Valparaiso has a large pier of dynamic commercial activity, with a public walkway and a cruise terminal with cruise liners arriving from around the world.
It has many tourist attractions, such as panoramic viewpoints overlooking the sea, sightseeing and sectors that stand out for the beauty of its buildings, squares and gardens, with colonial architecture and European style, especially the area of El Almendral.
There are also cultural centers like the Naval Museum, Casa Museo La Sebastiana of the poet Pablo Neruda, the Natural History Museum, the Municipal Art Gallery, and others.
The highlight of Valparaiso is its unique culture, with Victorian architecture adapted to the geography of the area, museums, libraries and hosts of cultural events of great importance, such as the Chilean Bicentennial.
Viña del Mar:
Viña del Mar for its part, is known as the Garden City for its great quantity of parks and green areas. It is located minutes from the city of Valparaiso and is considered by Chileans as the best city in the country to live and work.
It has attractive resorts such as Playa Reñaca, the Salinas and Concon. Its attractiveness in tourism allows it to have major international hotel chains, lots of shopping centers, restaurants and bars.
Other attractions are the Jardín Botánico Nacional (National Botanical Garden), known as Parque Metropolitano de Valparaíso (Metropolitan Park of Valparaiso), the Quinta Vergara where the Festival de la Canción (Song Festival) is performed, the flower clock, located in front of Caleta Abarca, on the road connecting the sector with Valparaiso and Muelle Vergara (Vergara Pier), from where you can observe the bay of Valparaiso, as an important viewpoint.
Viña del Mar is famous for its cultural events such as the Festival Internacional de la Canción (International Song Festival), held every year during the last week of February. This important event brings together renowned singers from around the world in addition to rewarding the best example of South American and international songs.
In this city there are many museums, including the Museo al Aire Libre de Artes Visuales (Open Air Museum of Visual Arts), the Teatro Municipal de Viña del Mar (Municipal Theatre of Viña del Mar), the Fonk Museum, with collections of original towns such as Rapanui, Mapuche, diwguitas and atacameños, plus an area with samples of Chilean insects and animals, among others. The Presidential Palace of Cerro Castillo, is another of its attractions, and corresponds to the retreat of the Presidents of the Republic. It is considered a National Historic Landmark.
The climate is Mediterranean in Viña del Mar because of its oceanic influence, with warm summers and rainy winters. The annual average temperature is 15° C and the presence of the Humboldt Current causes a drop in temperature throughout the year, so only rarely does Viña reach or exceed 30° C. It also has rainfall during autumn and winter.
Just as Valparaiso, it is famous for its New Year celebrations, where a show with fireworks is performed from the bay, extending to Concon.
Valparaiso was inhabited by the people chango, a group of nomadic fishermen who traveled on rafts made of sea lion skin and ate seafood and wild fruits.
The Spanish conquerors arrived with the marine expedition of Juan de Saavedra in the Santiaguillo boat in 1536. Valparaiso was considered the natural port of the newly founded city of Santiago, and its foundation was held on September 3, 1544.
During the colonial era it suffered the siege and looting of English pirates such as Francis Drake, a situation that persisted until after the independence of Chile. In this time, Valparaíso became an important trading port, where U.S. and European immigrants arrived, which gave the city a modern feel, set in the time of the Industrial Revolution.
This is the reason why in Valparaiso homes and neighborhoods were built on the hills to provide housing for the many people who arrived to the port. This led to discontent among the citizens and dock workers, in the early twentieth century, which ultimately caused the expansion work of the ports, where places like Muelle Barón (Pier Baron) were built.
Currently Valparaíso is considered a World Heritage Site because of its Old Towns, where you can find buildings of English colonial architecture, scenic elevators, beautiful viewpoints and some hills. It is also home to the legislative power of the country where the National Congress, Customs Service, Ministry of Culture, National Fisheries and Aquaculture Services and the headquarters of the Chilean Navy are.
Viña del Mar for its part, was used by the Spaniards as farmland, being famous the Viña de la Mar, a vineyard that was destroyed by a storm in 1827. In the early nineteenth century some lands were sold and leased for small parcels or country homes, which began with the development of its land.
However, it was not until 1855 with the opening of the railroad that connected Santiago to Valparaiso, which began the development of Viña del Mar. This became a separate municipality of Valparaiso in 1874 and the first buildings were made around the railway station.
The town became known for its industries such as shipyards and arsenals, where iron bridges were built for the transportation of the railway line from Santiago to the south of Chile, and the Muelle Vergara.
It was after an intense earthquake in Valparaiso in 1906, leaving large areas with damage, that the wealthier families moved their homes to Viña del Mar, building small mansions like Palacio Rioja and el Castillo Wuff (Rioja Palace and Castle Wuff). This made Viña del Mar a high class place to live, especially in zone around the railway.
In the 20s, Cerro Castillo Presidential Palace and the Municipal Theatre were built, al well as the inauguration of the Casino Municipal. Another important building that was built at that time was the Hotel O'Higgins.
Viña del Mar today counts with major hotel chains, excellent services and is considered the best city to live in Chile. It currently connects with Valparaiso through the MERVAL, a train that allows you to tour both cities and travel destinations in less time.
Where to go
Cerro Barón: (Baron Hill)
In this hill you can find the famous church of San Francisco, reason to why Valparaiso was also known as "Pancho." It also has the Baron elevator and a fort whcih was built to protect the city from attacks by pirates. It was an area of Italian immigrants who came to establish their businesses in this place.
Cerro Concepción: (Concepcion Hill)
This hill has a historical and mythological past. In its territory the Fort La Concepción was installed to defend the city from attacks by pirates, and on its slopes the "Cueva del Chivato " was believed to be found which was a cave where a human being in the shape of a goat which was believed to be the devil lived, terrorizing the population in those days.
It was the place of establishment of the German colony when it arrived to the port. They designed a plot with beautiful gardens, panoramic viewpoints towards the bay and elegant mansions. It also has the trips of Atkinson and Gervasoni, and the churches Anglica Saint Paul and the Lutheran Church of Valparaiso. It also has two lifts, the Concepcion and the Reina Victoria (Queen Victoria).
Because of the beauty of its buildings and tours, there are currently many restaurants and hotels in place.
Cerro Alegre: (Alegre Hill)
It neighbors Cerro Concepción and was the area where the British immigrants who came to Valparaiso settled. It was named after the colorful gardens that adorned their homes.
Among its attractions are the Paseo Yugoslavo, the Palace Baburizza which currently corresponds to the Museum of Fine Arts and the El Peral lift.
Plaza Victoria: (Victoria Square)
It is located in the downtown of Valparaiso and has attractions such as a wrought iron fountain brought from France. It also has beautiful gardens and other sculptures. Exhibitions and street performers are also a big part of this place.
Plaza Aníbal Pinto: (Anibal Pinto Square)
It is considered a Typical Area of Valparaiso by the National Monuments Council and brings together traditional buildings in its narrow streets. It has a fountain known as the Fountain of Neptune, which is the point of ascent to the hills Alegre and Concepcion.
Paseo 21 de Mayo:
It is one of the most beautiful vantage points of the city, and accessed through the Artillería lift. It is the favorite place of the locals and visitors to watch the New Year show in the Sea which is held every year in front of the bay.
Muelle Prat: (Prat Pier)
It is opposite the Port Authority and the tower of the Superintendent of Customs. From here you can see all the economic activity of the port, which stretches 1,000 meters in length and has spaces protected for boats if there is bad weather.
Plaza Sotomayor: (Sotomayor Square)
It is also considered a Typical Area of Protection of Valparaiso and is located opposite Muelle Prat and Estación Puerto de Ferrocarriles. It features the Monument to the Heroes of Iquique, known as the Monumento a la Marina Nacional (National Marine Monument). In its surroundings we find the First Naval Zone, the Fire Company, Correos de Chile, Puerto de Ferrocarriles del Estado, Capitanía de Puerto y Aduana (Customs and Port Captain).
Paseo Muelle Barón:
In this area the port and the city join together and allow you to see a panoramic view of Valparaiso, its buildings and its bay.
Museo de Historia Natural: (Museum of Natural History)
It has an interesting collection of more than 100,000 pieces, organized in Natural Sciences, Archaeology, Heritage and Libraries. It can be visited from Monday to Sunday.
Museo de Bellas Artes de Valparaíso: (Museum of Fine Arts of Valparaiso)
It is located in the Paseo Yugoslavo del Cerro Alegre aand it is considered a National Monument. It has collections of paintings of Chilean and European exponents. It is located in the Baburizza Palace.
Iglesia Catedral de Valparaíso: (Cathedral of Valparaiso)
This Gothic style building with several religious images is one of the most important churches in the city. It has been repaired several times (having suffered from several earthquakes), which come close to the original structure.
Iglesia de San Francisco: (Church of San Francisco)
t is an icon of the port of Valparaiso, located on Baron Hill. Its tower was seen by sailors who came to the bay and gave the city the name "Pancho". It is believed that this also happened because of the climate similarity between the city of San Francisco in the United States and Valparaiso
It is currently under reconstruction.
Laguna Verde: (Verde Lagoon)
It is a beautiful beach located in the Quebrada Verde Road, where there are services for tourists and restaurants to enjoy the cuisine of the area.
Congreso Nacional: (National Congress)
This building is located in the neighborhood of El Almendral and is the seat of the legislative power in Chile, consisting of a Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. It was opened in 1990 and has a modern and functional architectural design.
Viña del Mar:
Avenida Perú: (Peru Avenue)
It is a beautiful waterfront that runs throughout the city, and connects the beaches Acapulco and Estero.
It has beautiful gardens as well as home to the Museum of Fine Arts and the stage of the Festival de Viña del Mar, which is held every year in February.
Palacio Rioja: (Rioja Palace)
This National Monument is a beautiful French-style mansion that currently serves as an Environmental Museum. It features an outdoor theater, tennis courts, parks, a swimming pool and stables.
It is a building built in an art deco style, with arcades, restaurants and entertainment.
It is one of the most famous beaches of Viña del Mar. It is a popular meeting place with vibrant nightlife and counts with bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Also here you can enjoy the fireworks show that takes place in Valparaiso for the New Year.
It is a quieter area located 3 kilometers north of Reñaca. Here you can enjoy the seafood and family-style beach with calm waters.
nown as the "Gourmet Capital of Chile", because of the many restaurants located on the coastal edge of the zone. It is located 17 kilometers north of Viña del Mar which can be travelled through a nice waterfront road where you can also go biking, hiking, running, among other things.
In addition to the beautiful beaches: Amarilla, Negra and La Boca, it features natural surrounding areas such as the Santuario de la Naturaleza Dunas de Concón and the Humedal del Río Aconcagua, where you can observe native flora and fauna of the region.
Another attraction is the Roca Oceánica, a natural viewpoint where you can observe the ocean and enjoy beautiful sunsets.
Mirador de los Lobos Marinos:
From this viewpoint you can see the sea lions that inhabit the area.
Museo de la Cultura del Mar:
It is known as the Castillo Wulff, a house of 2 floors with a tower, which offers a collection of maritime items such as rudders and more.
Valparaíso and Viña del Mar are located at a distance of 6 kilometers, so you can visit all of its attractions in the same day.
If we start from Valparaiso we can begin from the Muelle Prat, opposite the Capitanía de Puerto, where we can enjoy the dynamic activity of the port and a full view of the bay. Here you can take boat rides and watch the visiting ships that visit the coastline.
In the Muelle Prat there are craft stands where you can buy souvenirs and restaurants where you can sample products from the sea such as fish and seafood.
Valparaiso is considered a World Heritage Site for its History that we find as we climb its beautiful hills, either in one of the lifts that is still in operation such as the Artilleria, the Concepcion, El Peral, the Baron lift, Reina Victoria and Mariposas among others.
Another transportation attraction in Valparaiso is its trolleybuses and they are considered "rolling museums”. These buses move by electricity from the cable lines and are a traditional symbol of the city.
Among the things you can't miss are the Cerro Concepción ofValparaiso, where the Paseo Gervasoni and viewpoint of Paseo Atkinson are found. Also, in Cerro Alegre we find the Baburizza Palace, the Museum of Fine Arts of Valparaiso, Paseo Americano and Plaza Sotomayor (Sotomayor Square), which offers a beautiful view of the bay and is a favorite place to tourists and locals to observe the fireworks display during the New Year.
In the Cerro Playa Ancha we can visit the Paseo 21 de Mayo, which is accessed via the Artilleros lift. It has a panoramic viewpoint, large trees and seats for relaxing so you can appreciate the landscape of the harbor and the hills.
Other attractions that are worth seeing is Paseo Rubén Darío, which extends from Caleta El Membrillo to Carvallo Beach, where there is a small park overlooking the sea. The Paseo Carvallo is its continuation and gets to the Torpederas beach. It is an area of rocks and you can enjoy the waves crashing against the rocks as well as the beautiful sunsets.
The coastal walk Juan de Saavedra is found next to Caleta de Pescadores and Portales Beach. You can take walks and tours, plus activities such as sport fishing.
Each of these areas of Valparaiso is full of culture and tradition which can be seen in its murals, art shows, hotels and monuments. The Cosona Sebastiana del poeta Pablo Neruda (House of Pablo Neruda) which has been converted into a house museum and is an example of the identity of this port, which has always been a meeting point for artists and bohemian life as well as writers, musicians and poets.
Viña del Mar on the other hand is one of the most famous places in the country and abroad. It is a favorite place for foreign and local visitors to visit every summer and enjoy its beautiful beaches and touristic activities it has to offer.
Among its most famous beaches are Reñaca with an active nightlife and many restaurants, pubs, cafes and nightclubs. Cochoa and Concon beaches also offers beautiful scenery, a friendly atmosphere and delicious cuisine, but a feeling of a family atmosphere.
Viña del Mar has a beautiful coastline which connects Valparaíso, and where beautiful sunsets can be observed as well as hiking, running or biking. At the junction between the two cities youcan also see the Reloj de Flores (flower clock), located on the hillside of Castillo hill and facing Caleta Abarca. The mechanism that tells the time works perfectly and in the flowers you can observe the day and month of the year.
In the town we find a great number of hotels and other buildings like the Casino Municipal, the Hotel O'Higgins, Castillo Wulff, that corresponds to the headquarters of the Unidad de Patrimonio de la Municipalidad de Viña del Mar (Heritage Unit of the Municipality of Viña del Mar), and the Palacio Presidencial Cerro Lo Castillo (The Presidential Palace Cerro Lo Castillo).
Viña del Mar also offers natural areas such as the Santuario Natural Campo Dunar de Concón and el Humedal de Aconcagua. In both sectors you can observe the flora and fauna of the area, including sea lions, which are also seen in the Lobos Marinos viewpoint, in the northern part of the city.
In Valparaiso and Vina del Mar we can find money exchange offices and ATMs, as well as major shopping centers. Most shops, restaurants and hotels accept credit cards.
Both cities have good transportation connections. Minibuses, taxis and colectivos allow you to move through the different neighborhoods and attractions in both cities. Valparaiso has its particular trolleybuses, which were used in the 50s and still transport people on the roads using power lines.
In addition, Valparaiso and Viña del Mar are connected by MERVAL, the subway service of Valparaiso, which has stations in all major sectors of the region.
To get to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar there are interprovincial buses from most cities. From Santiago, the distance is approximately 115 kilometers. From Mendoza, in Argentina, it is approximately 210 miles by land.
By plane, you must first get to the International Airport of Santiago Arturo Merino Benitez, then travel the distance to Valparaiso.
The telephone code of Viña del Mar and Valparaiso is 32. To call from abroad, you must first dial the international code of Chile, which is 56, then the code of the 5th region, 32 and finally the telephone number.
Where and what to eat
Valparaíso and Viña del Mar are highlighter because of for their restaurants and their delicious preparations especially with fish and other types of seafood. Also traditional are the empanadas that can be stuffed with cheese accompanied by some seafood like oysters, shrimp and crab among others, and are eaten as a beachfront snack.
In addition to this, there are all kinds of international restaurants in its most famous areas such as the Alegre and Concepcion Hills in Valparaiso, in the main streets of Viña del Mar and in the famous restaurants of Concon.
One of the most traditional places to eat is the Mercado Puerto, where you can enjoy the most traditional Chilean cuisine with dishes such as cazuelas, the famous conger chowder of Pablo Neruda, fried fish, pailas marinas, porotos con riendas (beans) and all kinds of meats whether cooked in a soup or on the grill. All this accompanied by a Chilean wine .
One of the most traditional dishes of Valparaiso is the chorrillana prepared with french fries, fried egg, fried meat and fried onions, and it is all put a big dish for all to share, especially at nights and parties.
Since these cities have a great deal of tourism, Viña del Mar and Valparaíso can have a complete gourmet with traditional flavors and foreign cuisines, among them Thai, Italian, French and many other flavors.