City Guide: Valparaíso and Viña del Mar

During our visit to Santiago de Chile, we decided to go on a day trip to Valparaíso. The city, which is a major seaport, is about 120 kilometres away from Santiago.

It took us about one and a half to two hours by coach to get to Valparaíso. In 2003, the historic part of Valparaíso was named a World Heritage Site.

Plaza Victoria

Plaza Victoria is a Chilenean victory square with statues and a fountain.

Lots of people hang out around here and small stalls can be found here as well.

Catedral de Valparaíso

This cathedral, which is also known as St. James Cathedral can be found towards the east of Plaza Victoria. It was built between 1910 and 1950 in a predominantly Gothic style.

Catedral de Valparaíso

Catedral de Valparaíso

It has since been restored due to two earthquakes hitting the city in 1971 and 1985.

Arco Británico

The Arco Británico is a monument located on the Avenida de Brasil, which runs parallel to the coast line.

Valparaiso Arco Británico 2

Valparaiso Arco Británico

It was a gift to the town in 1910 to mark the centenary of the Independence of Chile.

Plaza Sotomayor

One of the central places in Valparaíso is the Sotomayor Square. The square is of historic importance and has undergone a number of name changes in the process. Furthermore it consists of buildings from different time periods.

Its major attraction is the monument, in the centre of the square, which honours the Chilean sailors who lost their lives in the Battle of Iquique and the Battle of Punta Gruesa. You can also find the Intendencia de Valparaíso building here, which is where the Chilean Navy has its headquarters. Nearby, you find the port as well as the western end of the Metro.

Ascensor Artilleria

The ascensor artilleria is one of 16 lifts in Valparaíso. It takes you from the Cerro Artilleria up to the Plaza 21 de Mayo. From here you can enjoy a great view of the port as well as the colourful hillside of Valparaíso.

At the top you can also find some small and lovely souvenir shops, a restaurant and café as well as the museum of the Chilenean Navy.

Visiting Viña del Mar

From Valparaíso we decided to take the metro to Viña del Mar, as a friend of mine lives and studies there. After passing the flower clock, we walked towards the beach. While walking along the coast we came across the Castillo Wulff, Castillo Brunet and Cap Ducal.

From the Muelle Vergara you can enjoy a great view of the coastline. From there on we walked towards the inner city of Viña del Mar. In front of the Museo Fonck you can find one of the Moai’s of the Easter Island.

Our overall impression of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar

Both of these sea towns are really beautiful. While Valparaíso has more historically interesting sites, it is also the less safe place to go to. We were advised to not take the camera, but did so anyways, and only felt a bit weird in one of the more local areas. In contrast, Viña del Mar is more of residential area for those better off. Security didn’t seem to be an issue, and the seaside was absolutely gorgeous. If you have even more time, there are two more sea towns you can visit on your trip: Renaca and Concón. These cities are all well connected but can also be reached by walking, if you don’t mind the little hike.


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