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Back then it was an important port city; now it is somewhat reminiscent of San Francisco, and long gone is its “Jewel of the Pacific” title. Valparaiso is a UNESCO World Heritage site for a reason, however, and there’s nowhere better to enjoy warm Chilean hospitality.

Valparaiso is just 90 minutes from Chile’s elegant, currently buzzing capital of Santiago. It is also firmly placed in the 19th century in its colonial architecture, idiosyncratic avenues and sharply dipping streets. Many of these vertiginous slopes can be traversed by funiculars; these rackety, slightly shambolic, steep railways are a delightful way of peering into the local homes and down the charming lanes as you shudder and shake through the city.

This ampitheatre of a city is home to one of Latin America’s most famed poets and authors, Pablo Neruda. His former abode is now a museum, “La Sebastiana”, and a colourful cafe, which fits right into Valparaiso’s tangle of kaleidoscopic roads. Where the owners of a building haven’t drenched it in sunny pastels themselves, the local graffiti artists have stepped up to the plate to make things more interesting. As you perambulate the paths and narrow lanes, admire the stunning imagery, always with the glistening blue of the Pacific waving in the background.

As a day trip from Santiago, Valparaiso makes for an enjoyable excursion, but we recommend giving it more time by staying overnight in one of the two great boutique options. Stay at the delightful Zero or the elegant Casa Higueras in order to taste the city’s evening pleasures and wake up to a stunning Pacific view. In the evening, watch the cascading city lights roll down into the moon dappled ocean, and enjoy a fine fishy meal at a place like the Oda Pacifico, as you sip on some Chilean wine and drink in the view.

Anton Lynch recently returned from fresh research in South America, where he bravely visited some of the continent’s finest hotels, and worked as quality control administrator on several new wine varietals coming to an LCBO near you.


Peer into the local homes and down the charming lanes as you shudder and shake through the city.

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