Let's be honest, there's no way TV's most dramatic family could survive a trip to this historic city. Nor would they even want to come! Which is a shame, as they're missing out on one of Chile's most famous and interesting cities. Not much has changed since the 19th century, but that's what gives Valparaíso it's charm. The locals can be as salty as the sea their economy depends on, but once you get to know them, you won't want to leave. I'm not sure if the same can be said about the K's .
Valparaíso isn't what you'd call fabulous. There are no glamourous restaurants or VIP only clubs, and no one has plastic surgery. That is what makes this town an oasis for backpackers and adventurers. It's for those who prefer to (or can only afford to) have a more authentic experience. And you'd be better off appearing as such. Pickpockets run rampant in these slanted streets; they'd just love to see Kylie in heels with her Givenchy bag. If you don't know what that is (I certainly didn't), then Valparaíso is the place for you.
The Kardashian sisters certainly wouldn't be caught dead sharing a room, much less sleeping on a bunk bed surrounded by 5 other people. But hostels are the most popular way to stay here; each one has it's own unique personality. Which kicks off our list!
1. Stay in a Sweet Hostel
There are so many amazing places to stay here. I recommend staying in a hostel (or hostal) instead of a hotel. They are great places to meet down to earth people who are always ready to have a good time.
Hostels are great for single travelers or couples. Before you know it, you'll be planning tours together, and bonding over drinking games in the common room.
Some of the best hostels in Valparaíso are:
Hostal Mariposas- For only $20 USD a night, you can stay in this charming house, and enjoy jaw dropping views of the city.
Alabama Monroe Guest House- For a fun and relaxing stay, get out of the bustle of the city to enjoy this quiet paradise.
La Galería- If you're interested in the artistic neighborhoods of Valpo, this is the place to be.
La Casa Piola- This hostel has very affordable dorm rooms and is conveniently located just above several major supermarkets.
Hostal Casa Aventura- You'll enjoy your stay in this colorful hostel with it's charming character and free breakfasts!
La Joya Hostel- Though it's much more modern than the previous hostels listed, it still maintains that community living vibe.
Hostal Acuarela- This eclectic place will fulfill all your bohemian wishes, complete with affordable rates, free breakfasts, and lots of color.
2. Walk Through Pablo Neruda's House
A must see if you're in Valpo! For those of you who don't know, Pablo Neruda was a very famous Chilean poet who had a quirky sense of style. He kept three different homes in central Chile, one in Santiago, and 2 on the coast. Each of them are known for their originality and reflection of his personality.
The one in Valparaíso is named La Sebastiana, and is located on Bellavista Hill, at Calle Ricardo de Ferrari 692. There are audio tours included in the admission price, which is $9.83 USD, or $7,000 Chilean pesos. Make sure to grab one, you'll need it to guide you through the maze of tight hallways and random rooms. The architecture and art pieces all have a story and purpose. The one drawback is that no photos are allowed inside the house (Neruda would no doubt disapprove of selfies), but you are welcome to take photos of the view from the windows.
3. Get Lost on Cerro Alegre
If you're looking for a good place to stretch your legs and explore the city, this is the place to do it. Put your map away for a bit and allow yourself to get lost. There are amazing wall murals everywhere you turn and scenic overlooks lined with craft stalls. You'll probably spend a couple of hours winding through painted streets, so leave your stylish and uncomfortable shoes at home in favor of some broken-in sneakers.
Don't be afraid to makes some doggy friends. There's a surplus of street dogs, but they're all pretty friendly and always in need of a good pet (but don't skimp on the sanitizer afterwards).
If you need to take a break, stop at a café or bar and relax amongst the locals. Try a traditional pisco sour at Bar de Pisco or relax amongst the locals with a coffee at Café de Jardin Valparaíso.
To get to or away from this area, take the historic elevators. I suggest riding the El Peral one to go up the hill and the Reina Victoria to go back down. The hills are pretty steep, and unless you're up for a challenge, these are your easiest methods of transportation. Which brings us to our next must-do item.
4. Ride the Fernicular Elevators
These are fun little transportation boxes that can be found all around the city. The elevators first began being built in 1883 and were completed in 1915. The ferniculars or, ascensores, are a preferred method to going up and down the steep hills and avoiding the never ending stairs that pepper Valparaíso.
There has been a city-wide restoration process for these historic elevators; only 15 of the original 30 are usable today. Make sure to ride at least one of these little cubes of history. After all, they only cost 100 pesos! (Or $1.38)
5. Swim in the World's Largest Swimming Pool
If you're game for a day trip, you could take a dip in the largest swimming pool in the world! At 3,324 feet long with an area of almost 20 acres, you can't pass up the opportunity. This amazing feat is home to the San Alfonso del Mar Resort in Algarrobo, Chile. My earlier statement may not hold true here; I can see Kim's dramatic pool exit now.
The resort is a bit of a trek South along the coast, but is a good way to explore the region a little more. Even though it's a ways outside of Valparaíso, it's an experience you're just too close to miss!
There are several ways to get there:
Taxi - 52 minutes - $27-$35
Uber - 52 minutes - $34-$39
Bus - 1 hour and 56 minutes - $8-$10
6. Explore the Cemetery in Playa Ancha
This might be a strange recommendation, but embrace your spooky side just a bit. Cemeteries aren't usually on the itinerary, but this one has a lot of history. Cementerio 3 Playa Ancha is home to lots of international people who came for the riches connected to this port city when it was booming in the middle of the 19th century.
One of the more interesting aspects of this place are the cunas and corrales; or cribs and corrals. For those who could not afford a mausoleum, small fences were put around the gravesites. They are often decorated with keepsakes and photos of the deceased; some are surprisingly creative.
Be sure to visit the most famous animita (shrines for those who died tragically). It is home to Emile Dubois, a Frenchman and a murderer. He was executed by firing squad for the deaths of local loan sharks. Seen as a "Robin Hood" of his time, there are countless plaques thanking him for his help in alleviating their troubles. You may see people at the site with offerings for him to this day.
7. Take a Walking Tour
With so much history hidden here, a walking tour is a must. Though keep the hills and steps in mind; these are more like walking hikes; once again it's a day to leave the heels at the hostel. There is a reputable company called "Tours for Tips" and they have 3 great tour options:
Valparaíso Highlights - -Meet in Plaza Sotomayor at 3pm
Valparaíso Offbeat - Meet in Plaza Sotomayor at 10am
Valparaíso: Neruda's Perspective - Meet at La Sebastiana at 3pm
Each of them talks about different aspects of the city. The first keeps it more traditional with popular sights such as the ferniculars. The second tour focuses on things that only locals will know like where the oldest bar in the port is and what the graffiti symbolizes. The third tour will teach you everything you've ever wanted to know about Pablo Neruda's life.
These tours are "pay as you feel "which means the better the guide does, the more they make. The average suggested tip is anywhere from 5,000-10,000 pesos. Do keep in mind that these tours last about 2-3 hours. When looking for your guide, keep an eye out for a red and white striped shirt; that'll be your Wally!
Valparaíso is not for the shallow or dainty. This isn't the place for you if you have more pairs of heels than sneakers or if you prefer to stay inside. This gritty and vibrant city is meant to be explored. It might test your endurance a little, but I guarantee you won't want to leave by the time your trip is over.