Once a disgraced port town almost put out of business by the Panama Canal, hilly Valparaiso has recreated itself has an edgy Chilean tourist destination with a mix of cafes, maze-like streets, busy markets, diverse nightlife, and nearby resort beaches. This city is a must-visit for central Chile.
Chance Of Hooking Up Rating: 3 out of 5 ?
You can’t leave Valparaiso without relaxing at a couple cafes. Chile does not fully understand the concept of a cappuccino but two cafes get it right: Cafe del Poeta at Plaza Anibal Pinto and Urriola Cafe Delicatessan one block down the hill on the right from Casa Adventura (see below). Cafe del Poeta serves great cakes with the highlight being their incredible Torta Panqueque Manjar while Urriola Cafe has gigantic latte’s with a cinnamon stick (or I think it’s cinnamon), served by a friendly owner who likes practicing her English.
One of Pablo Neruda’s houses is located about 15 minutes north of center. He is the famous poet portrayed in the well-made Italian movie Il Postino. The tour of his house was quite pleasant with the English printout.
The city has 15 ascensors, mini-funiculars that climb hills to save you from burning calories. The best view can be seen on the top of Ascensor Artilleria near the port.
Grab a northbound bus on the street closest to the water to visit Viña del Mar, the cleaner but more boring version of Valparaiso. The real highlight is the nice beach, which during summer is stocked with girls in bikinis. Take a 10 minute bus to the next beach north (Reñaca) and walk towards the giant rock to view a sleepy sea lion colony. If you have trouble finding it just ask for the “lobos del mar.” The white streaks covering the rock is pelican shit.
From Plaza Anibal Pinto walk towards the ocean for a small strip of bars and clubs. Standouts are Club Duff positioned in the middle and El Huevo right behind the gigantic Express Lider supermarket. Both gigantic clubs pack up on the weekend, but Club Duff has more attractive, younger girls and a vibe better suited for pick-up. El Huevo seemed to have people more concerned with listening to music. If I had more time I would try a night in Viña del Mar.
Casa Adventura (Pasaje Galvez 11 on Cerro Concepcion)
$14/night for dorm room. This is one of the best hostels I’ve stayed at, and for one reason: everyone hangs out at the central common area at night to eat and drink. While the people who stay here aren’t party animals, you are bound to meet some interesting people. Nice kitchen and centrally located within walking distance to the club strip. The friendly German owner will sit and chat with you at breakfast.
Other Cities In Chile
If you're only going to visit only Chile then I recommend you get this guide, which is far more detailed than the continental guide above, with options that cater to a range of budgets instead of only the shoestring backpacking crowd. Also it gives more respectable treatment to small cities and towns that the larger guide breezes over with a paragraph or two.
South America On A Shoestring Guidebook
This is the guidebook that I used in my six month trip in South America. The maps are excellent, the information is complete and thorough, and the reviews are accurate, which is why it's often called "the bible" by many travelers. The only problem is that everyone else has this book so if you are the type of person that wants to hit the isolated small towns you will be disappointed. My advice is to use this book for its maps and information on getting from city to city, but talk to the locals and other travelers for those isolated gems that Lonely Planet for some reason didn't find worthy to include.
Spanish For Beginners
My copy of this book is so beat up and weathered it's disintegrating before my eyes. I took it with me to South America because I loved how it was organized in a logical way that kept me motivated to keep studying. Lessons start short and easy and increase in complexity as you tackle frustrating readings that help take you to the next level. The only downside of this book is that it was originally published in 1957 so some of the vocabulary is very dated. Still, you'll be hard-pressed to find a modern equivalent of this book whose teachings approach the same quality. Last time I checked you can grab a used copy from Amazon for less than a dollar.
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