Valparaíso, Chile, a two-hour drive from Santiago, is often overlooked as a popular travel spot. I view it as a mix of San Francisco and Barcelona with its brightly-colored houses and buildings covering its steep hillsides overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This large port city has been called a little “San Francisco” with its hilly streets and scenic views of the city and sea. When visiting both Barcelona in May and Valparaíso in July, I noticed the cities are artsy with quirky character and fun to explore by foot.
One of the first things you will notice in Valparaíso is the intricate paintings and graffiti that cover the sides of buildings and staircases. Stunning art seems to be around every corner. The city rocks a bohemian vibe and doesn’t feature typical sightseeing spots but experiences you need to have.
The most important thing to do here is walk around to discover the uniqueness of the city. We even walked from nearby town Viña Del Mar to our hotel in Valparaíso. It was lovely walking along the sidewalk curving along the beach, even through rain. The narrow cobbled streets are packed with artsy shops, quaint cafes and beautiful galleries. It’s easy to wander around the winding roads and find wonderful views of the city. It’s a place that’s meant to be walked. But the hills turn it into a workout, so take a funicular once or twice.
During our two nights, we stayed at Hotel Brighton with a view of the city and sea from our window. We really enjoyed its great location and relaxing atmosphere. If you don’t stay here, it’s worth getting a meal or drink on the hotel’s back deck. It was my favorite view of the city day or night.
We ate a lot of amazing soup and fish on our vacation. Another favorite was a drink that featured fresh fruit, milk and sugar, basically a wonderful light-tasting milkshake. Additionally, we found a chill bar on one of the main streets with light rock music and interesting cocktails and concoctions.
Laid-back Valparaíso is an underrated travel destination. What cities have you found underrated or overrated?