Around every corner of Chile’s most unique and artistic city, you are bound to find something interesting or intriguing. Thankfully, all of this wonderment can be explored by foot. So, here’s our own take on walking Valparaiso.
The hills are steep and filled with colorful houses squished together like the favelas in Brazil, the air is salty and the bay of the Pacific Ocean, visible. The energy is unmistakable. This is a city with street culture. Its rebellious graffiti artists who claim their territory with a spray can one blank surface at a time are the heart of this energy and the historical architecture, the port to the sea, and the fast-speaking street vendors give it definition. To walk Valparaíso is to experience this sensory medley.
Street Art and Walking Tours
The street art of Valparaíso is not something that one needs to seek out. Some of the best discoveries are made by accident. The graffiti artists range from goofy teenagers signing their name on a wall, to highly respected and world famous artists like Xavier Prou aka Blek le Rat, father of stencil graffiti.
While street art is highly accessible in Valparaiso, a walking tour can illuminate the history, the attitude, and the messages in a way that will enhance your experience and make you feel like a budding graffiti expert. A walking graffiti tour meets at Plaza Anibel Pinto in front of the Neptune statue at 10:30AM and 3:30PM every day and is tip based.
A more general walking tour of the city is offered and also tip based. The tour creates a three hour loop around the city, making its first stop at the port. Come back later to the port for a forty minute boat ride for US$6 around the bay. The boat ride includes a stop to get you up close and personal with the sea lions. Get on the boat around 6PM to catch the sunset and the city lights from the water. The general walking tour includes a free ride on the ascensor (elevator) up one of the many hills with a panoramic view of the city. The ascensors are not only a tourist attraction, but are also a legitimate form of public transportation for locals, and, along with many parts of the city, are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Valparaíso. The general walking tour meets every day in Plaza Sotomayor at 10AM and 3PM.
A walk through the Saturday afternoon market in the center of Valparaíso should include a stop at the mote stand. Mote is a sweet, syrupy tea filled with small, whole peaches (pit included!) and a chewy cereal coats the bottom, a refreshing chileno drink for a hot day.
Other foods to try while walking Valparaíso are:
- a completo: a hot dog stuffed with guacamole, tomato, cabbage, onion, and mayo, a true challenge to fit in your mouth with all those toppings
- chorrillana: a heart attack salad including beef, chorizo, sausage, scrambled egg, fries, and sometimes topped with cheese
- a large empanada, any flavor will do
- seafood, such as ceviche near the port
- and last but not least a terremoto (earthquake) which includes wine, ice cream, and hard liquors which vary depending on the flavor you choose