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Libertine and labyrinthine, the bright and colourful homes of Valparaiso tumble down a series of hills facing the Pacific Ocean. A World Heritage Site, the city has long inspired painters and poets from all around the world, who flock to her narrow winding streets and fishing wharves for her wild airs and lack of pretension. A vibrant and quirky place, she is the ideal destination for young people looking for an idiosyncratic experience or couples on a romantic break. With her creaky historic elevator-cars running up and down her hills, erratic stairways, crumbling mansions, ecstatic street art and non-stop nightlife, she is a city of soul and colour. Check out our collection of the best places to stay in Valparaiso to find out more.
Valparaiso is married to the sea. Her Naval Museum charts the story well, particularly the victories and defeats of the Chilean navy over the past few centuries - a navy whose chief headquarters lies in Valparaiso. Standing at the port and the fishing wharves, you get a real taste of marine life: sailors dockworkers and prostitutes congregate there, their population forever in flux and spasm, seafood markets abound and in the early hours of morning, you can see the fishermen hauling their catch-of-the-day from the wharves to the restaurants.
The city has few historic sites to visit, but while this is usually a sign of a marked lack of culture, it is surely a blessing in Valparaiso. The whole city is really an open-air art gallery, featuring some of the finest street murals in South America - especially in places like Cerro Bellavista and Cerro Polanco - not to mention the fact that the houses, stretching across her many hills, are a rainbow of colour. It is a city best explored by getting utterly lost. Stairways snaking around dilapidated mansions, down alleyways decked with charmingly shabby restaurants, secluded art galleries and cute cafes. If you're hungry, be sure to wander around Cerro Alegre and Cerro Concepcion, where some amazing new restaurants have opened in recent years.
You can't go to Valparaiso without plonking yourself in an Ascensores - a rickety old wooden tram-like car - that runs up and down the steep hillsides. It is the perfect way to see the city in all its gritty glory: up on the Mirador del Cerro Artilleria, you gain a spellbinding panoramic view of the city and coastline. Another way of exploring the city is by booking a guided tour and your first port-of-call should be The German Pirate, a treasured local institution, a man - you've guessed it - of German extraction who has lived in Valparaiso for many years, knows everyone and everything and is a fountain of knowledge for all things related to the city.
Not to miss
- Try some traditional street food, Chorrillana, fries topped with strips of steak, fried onion and fried eggs.
- Immerse yourself in local history at the Naval Museum!
- Head out to La Matriz Church, originally built in the 16th century and ransacked by Sir Francis Drake. It has a bloodthirsty and chaotic history.
- Check out the street murals on Cerro Bellavista and Cerro Polanco!
- Enjoy the stunning panoramic views of the city atop the Mirador del Cerro Artilleria.
- Take a guided tour around the city with The German Pirate!
- Get on one of the Ascensores, the rickety old wooden trams that go up and down the hills.
- Visit the seafood market down by the port!
Valparaiso is a vibrant city with a Bohemian air, an inspiration for poets and artists alike, featuring some of the finest street art in all of Latin America. Whether you're partying into the early hours, riding an Ascensores or eating Chorrillana while watching the fishermen drag their wares to market, you will fall in love with this fantastic city. Our collection of the best places to stay in Valparaiso will ensure that you do.
The best places to stay in Valparaiso
- Palacio Astoreca: a beautiful red historic house offering chic rooms with parquet flooring and lovely wallpaper, a pampering spa and a wonderful restaurant. Ideal for couples looking for intimacy.
- Zero Hotel: with epic views of the Bay and in a highly central location, this hotel offers cool contemporary rooms and wide, flowered terraces. Great for unwinding.
- Casa Higueras: a great hilltop mansion boasting superb views of the city and sea, offering chic rooms with antique furniture, an infinity pool, spoiling spa and gourmet restaurant. Pure luxury.
Value for money
- Fauna Hotel: a trendy eco-hotel with an industrial decor, perched on a hill with marvellous views. The restaurant is sumptous and the wide open terrace is the perfect place to relax with a drink. Great value for money.
- Cirilo Armstrong Hotel: a cool and contemporary hotel offering spacious suites designed with plenty of wood and glass. Indulgent breakfasts. Bike hire is available. Ideal base for exploring the city.
For an apartment or villa
- Our partner Booking.com has a wide range of villas and apartments in the nearby area.
- Fly to Santiago and get a bus to Valparaiso from the terminal, the journey taking 2 hours max.
- If you want to rent a car, contact our partner Rentalcars.
- The best time to go is during the winter months, when the temperature averages at around 19 degrees.
Still not sure?
Best Hotels in Valparaiso
Fauna Hotel 16 rooms from £83Valparaiso (Cerro Alegre)
A contemporary eco hotel well located in Cerro Alegre Hill. Slick design throughout sees wood, metal and brick mixing to create a trendy industrial like feel. An international restaurant boasts a large terrace with epic views. Walking distance from many of the city's main attractions. City chic.City Style - A trendy eco hotel in the heart of the UNESCO area of Alegre Hill.Sights nearby - Be sure not to miss the Cerro Alegre (mythical mountain) and watch as various artist create everything from poetry to music.Views - Great views from hotel
Cirilo Armstrong Hotel 11 rooms from £97Valparaiso
An architecturally beautiful building in Valparaíso's UNESCO heritage area. Comprised of just 11 suites with clean contemporary design, plenty of glass and natural materials used. Find indulgent breakfasts served and quiet spots designed to sit with a glass of wine. A lovely tranquil city base.Local exploring - Well located within walking distance of Concepción Hill and Alegre Hill.Sights nearby - Wander around the surrounding area, marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and marvel at the churches and old houses.Views - Great views from hotel
Casa Galos 15 rooms from £146Valparaiso (2370949)
A boutique property boasting one of the finest locations in Valparaíso. Stunning light rooms use plenty of natural materials giving a rural feel against the city views. Feast on indulgent breakfasts and step out of the property into the UNESCO heritage site of Alegre Hill. A fabulous city base.Local exploring - Located in the UNESCO heritage site of Valparaiso’s Alegre Hill, there's plenty of sight's within walking distance.Sights nearby - Wander down to San Luis Square just 100m from the property.Designer - Uniquely designed interiors.Views - Great views from hotel
Palacio Astoreca 23 rooms from £154Valparaiso
A chic boutique hotel located in the heart of Valparaiso. A historic building, lovingly converted. Find smart rooms with parquet floors, feature wallpaper and the best have small terraces boasting spectacular city views. A contemporary spa and fine-dining restaurant make this a superb stay.Local exploring - Located in the historical city centre in Valparaiso and with many of its major sights within walking distance.Spa breaks - A glorious contemporary spa (all black slate and verticle gardens) with an extensive treatment list.Sights nearby - Walking distance from the impressive Barburizza Palace.Romantic - Good for couples.
Casadoca Hotel Boutique 6 rooms from £160Valparaiso (Concón)
Casadoca Hotel is set in a refurbished Mediterranean-style house, on the stunning coast of Concón. This boutique accommodation features goose-down pillows and spectacular sea views. Unwind in style with the sauna, jacuzzi and massage services! A quiet and friendly coastal retreat.Beach Life - Casadoca Hotel Boutique is located just a minute from the beach, spend your days lounging on this picturesque coast.Romantic Break - Great accommodation, a quiet atmosphere and the beach on your doorstep-the perfect choice for a romantic getawayTotal relaxation - Feel a million miles away from all your worries at this peaceful coastal spotSights nearby - Be sure to see Las Sirenas Square, the Bosques de Montemar and the impressive Concón Sand Dunes
Zero Hotel 9 rooms from £230Valparaiso
A charming converted town house with epic views of Valparaíso bay. Quiet bougainvillaea filled terraces make for the perfect place to completely unwind. Rooms keep their original charm with wooden floors and sash windows. With easy access to the town's attractions this is a winning choice.Local exploring - The perfect tranquil retreat to return to after a day exploring the region.Sights nearby - Visit the homes of Pablo Neruda, Chile's celebrated Nobel prize-winning poet.Views - Great views from hotelTraditionalRecommended by - I Escape
Casa Higueras 20 rooms from £246Valparaiso (Cerro Alegre)
An impressive hillside mansion now turned boutique hotel. Chic rooms feature parquet flooring, antique furniture and lovely city views. A smart infinity pool and spa will meet all pampering requirements. An atmospheric restaurant serves international fare, specialising in seafood. Superb.Local exploring - Boasting fantastic city views and with easy access to the main attractions this is a winning spot.Restrictions on children - Children over 12 years old are welcome.Views - Great views from hotelRomantic - Good for couples.Recommended by - I Escape