8 Reasons You Should Go to Valparaiso
Featured destinations: Chile
Published 09 January 2017
Valparaiso. A tumbling, chaotic mess of art, colour and music hanging on to the side of Chile’s dramatic coast. Its decay is poetic, its wonder is in the mess and charm hides in the most unexpected corners. It’s so close to Santiago you’d be a fool to miss this affordably trendy, hippy town whose vibrant heart is a beating drum-circle behind a funicular railway station. Here are eight reasons to go to Valpo, stat.
Street art, Valparaiso image: Lauren Williams
Valpo is covered from top to toe in bright, popping street art. Some of it is politically inspired, some is rooted in the city’s music scene, some is just downright weird, but all of it is legal. Street art is, in fact, encouraged by the city’s authorities and paint is provided free of charge to anyone who wants to express themselves on the walls and stairways of town. The only rule is that artists must gain permission from whoever owns the building before painting all over it. The result is a boho, relaxed town with an ever-changing scenery.
Cafe, Valparaiso image: Lauren Williams
Ain’t no boho town without a kitsch nightlife to go with it. From converted train carriages come-cocktail-bar to murky jazz clubs with a sultry double bass player making love to strings in a dank corner, there’s a boozy tavern to suit every hipster, beatnik and vagabond. My favourite dive-bar I found myself in was one that only opened, between sheets of corrugated iron, when all other bars had shut. Graffiti smeared the walls and only beer was sold until that evening’s stash ran out, or the police shut it down for being too loud.
Valparaiso street view
Just opposite the apartment we rented for three nights in the heart of Valpo was a kind of square, and in said square popped up an open mic afternoon where locals and tourists alike could all get up to sing a song, play some guitar, do some dancing or recite poetry to the crowd. Every single person was welcome and every single person was cheered with great enthusiasm. If that doesn’t encapsulate the spirit of Valparaiso, I’m not sure what does.
View of Valparaiso and the ocean
Valpo is a city that goes up and up and up until it touches the sky. Because of this, there are countless bars, bistros and cafes which cling precariously onto the edge of nothing, overlooking the city falling away beneath them to the sea. With the ocean breeze cooling your sunburnt skin, a pisco sour, tea or beer in your hand, there is no better way to spend a lazy hour in this stunning Chilean town. At night, these hills light up and twinkle like stars.
Funicular railway, Valparaiso
Because of Valpo’s steep hills the city has loads of little funicular railways to help get you around, and I must say, this is maybe the most fun way to travel around a city in the whole world. They’ll set you back between 50p and £1 a pop, but when they save your lungs and deposit you at amazing viewpoints, who on earth cares?Lauren and her boyfriend in Valparaiso
Spontaneous street parties
You could be on your way home, slightly bedraggled from a few too many bevvies and suddenly find yourself dancing with a tambourine man down a staircase painted to look like piano keys, with a whole host of salsa dancers, guitar players and singers prancing down behind you. No, you haven’t taken any hallucinogens and no, you are not in Alice in Wonderland, you my friend have found yourself victim to one of Valpo’s famous street parties. They can happen any time after 11, anywhere in the city and carry on until the small hours. Watch your pockets, a boozed up gringo is a pickpocket’s dream. Wine in Chile
Wine in Chile
In a magical place, far far away, wine flows in the streets and is as cheap as chips! Yes, the stories are true, wine in Valpo is cheaper than a bottle of water. So go forth, buy litres of smooth, local Carmenere and slosh it down with that gorgeous view for good measure. Valparaiso's New Year fireworks 2015
Valparaiso's New Year fireworks 2015
New Year’s Eve
If you happen to be in Chile over New Year, Valparaiso has rapidly gained the reputation of being the best place to be to bring in the next turn of the sun. Not only do the residents know how to party, hard, but the fireworks display over the harbour is something to be admired. Thanks to Valpo’s higgledy-piggledy positioning, you’ll have a great view of the show from wherever you are perched.
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