This beautiful port city has an edgy personality that will leave you wanting more! We honestly didn’t want to leave. The city felt alive, especially in the Street Art District. You won’t regret taking a trip to”valpo!”
Getting to Valparaiso
There are many ways to get to Valparaiso from Santiago including flying, private tours, renting a car or going by bus. The cheapest method is to take a bus – that’s what we did. You can buy tickets and board buses to Valparaiso at Terminal Alameda located at Universidad de Santiago metro station or at Terminal Pajaritos at the Pajaritos metro station. Both are on the same metro line (Line 1 – Red line). We took the metro from our apartment down to Parajito and bought our tickets there. You’ll have several operators to choose from giving you plenty of flexibility. The prices range depending on the type of bus. We rode in older buses and paid $8 USD each way.
The bus service will terminate at the Terminal de Buses in Valparaiso. I’m not sure if it was because of the time of year (New Year’s Day), but the terminal was a madhouse! It was a bit confusing and stressful while we got our bearings and understood what to do. There’s not much to do around the terminal. To get to the Street Art District, Plaza Sotomayor, the port, etc., you’ll need to take a cab, ride the metro, or walk (35 min).
Once you’re at the port you can walk around a bit and visit Plaza Sotomayor. We didn’t spend much time here.
From the plaza you can walk to the Funicular Station (they call it ascensor) and ride it up to the Street Art District. The city has 7 active funicular railways. They provide some of the best views of Valparaiso. The easiest to get to from Plaza Sotomayor is Ascensor Concepcion. From the plaza, walk south on Prat. The entrance to the funicular is just before Prat and Cochrane streets meet. If you’ve gotten to this point you’ve just missed it. The entrance is a small opening between two buildings. We walked past it until we realized our mistake.
Street Art District
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Valparaiso’s Street Art District is the main attraction. The entire area is covered in beautiful art that gives the district a vibrant and colorful personality. The vibe is very artsy/easy going. There’s lots of small restaurants, bars, hostels, and shops. The steep hills and winding roads adds to the district’s charm. Unfortunately, we only had a few hours to spend there, but we want to return and spend several nights here. We really loved it.
This was the only place in South America where, at times, we truly felt concerned for our personal safety. The area around the bus terminal was particularly sketchy. I don’t suggest taking long strolls around the terminal after sunset. Another area of concern is Plaza Sotomayor. We were warned by several locals to avoid the area at night and to head back to the bus terminal before nightfall. One local told me he doesn’t venture out in those areas at night for fear of being mugged himself. Once we were in the Street Art District, however, we felt completely safe. It really was like night and day.
But don’t let this keep you from visiting Valparaiso! It really comes down to being a savvy traveler. We always try to be aware of potential problems, especially people following us. You want to be aware of your surroundings without looking like a paranoid tourist. When we do notice someone following us we simply make sure he knows we’ve spotted him as we duck into a store or restaurant. Kinda like a “Yup, I see you following me.” They don’t know if you’re going in to buy a snack or report them, so 99% of the time they keep moving.
Overall we had a great experience in Valparaiso. It’s a great place to visit.