iStock/Jekaterina Sahmanova
iStock/Jekaterina Sahmanova

Valparaiso, a bohemian city by the coast

4 minutes to read

Not many cities are as colorful and full of life as Valparaiso. Loved by Chileans and travelers alike, while there you get a sense of bohemia in every step you take. Inspiration for poets, musicians, and artists in general, visiting the city is just a must! Hills, endless stairs, colorful houses, and amazing views are waiting for you.  

Valparaiso hills and elevators

Some of the most scenic and iconic places of Valparaiso are its hills, and there are a lot of them in the city- all different from each other. Since there are too many to fit them in this story, I will tell you about the most visited and colorful ones.

© istock/inacioluc
© istock/inacioluc

Cerro Alegre, the hill of hapiness

Cerro Alegre means “happy hill” and is precisely how you’ll feel when you’re there. Get to this hill on foot while enjoying the street art or use one of the iconic elevators of Valparaiso; either way, the view is excellent. If you decide to get there by using an elevator, go to the “Reina Victoria.” The first thing you’ll see is “Lukas Square,” where you´ll have a fantastic view of the harbor and the Museo Mirador Lukas, a museum dedicated to the art of Chilean artist Lukas (Renzo Pecchenino). Once you are there, walk and pay attention to the murals. They are beautiful and filled with social messages. Also, we dare you to find the famous red door and take a picture with it!! Another thing you can’t miss in this hill is the “Paseo Dimalow,” a street with many options to eat and to see local art. Search for the wooden bridge and see Valparaiso and its heights!

Paseo Dimalow
Paseo Dimalow
Paseo Dimalow, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso, Chile
Museo Mirador Lukas
Museo Mirador Lukas
Paseo Gervasoni 448, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso, Chile
Lukas Square
Lukas Square
Paseo Gervasoni, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso, Chile
Cerro Alegre
Cerro Alegre
Urriola 678, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso, Chile
© istock/diegograndi
© istock/diegograndi

Cerro Concepción

Get here with the help of the "Concepcion Elevator." Getting off, you’ll find the “Paseo Gervasoni,” a beautiful cobblestoned street on the hills. A beautiful view and a lot of artists and artisans will greet you here. As you walk by this hill, make sure you go and visit the Lutheran Church “de la Santa Cruz,” an icon of the hill and Valparaiso’s skyline. It was the first Lutheran church built in South America with a bell-tower. Also, make sure you find the famous “Piano stairs,” which is exactly what you read; a long staircase with its steps painted like piano keys (hint and fun fact, it is located in “Beethoven Street”).

Piano Stairs,  Valparaíso
Piano Stairs, Valparaíso
Beethoven 302, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso, Chile
Lutheran Church of la Santa Cruz
Lutheran Church of la Santa Cruz
Abtao 689 Cerro Concepción, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso, Chile
Cerro Concepción
Cerro Concepción
Cerro Concepción - Abtao 675, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso, Chile
© istock/nonimatge
© istock/nonimatge

Cerro Bellavista, an open-air museum

Once again, to get here, you can take an elevator, the “Espiritu Santo” (Holy Spirit), or simply go on foot. The amazing thing about this hill is it is an the Open-Air Museum! A place of art display in the streets, currently composed of 20 murals of many well-known artists, among them, Roberto Matta. Sadly, since the works are outdoors, they have deteriorated because of the weather and people scribbling over them. Still, the murals have been restored and are taken care of, so you can see them on your next visit!

© Wikimedia/Roferbia
© Wikimedia/Roferbia
Museo a Cielo Abierto, Valparaíso
Museo a Cielo Abierto, Valparaíso
Labruyere 284, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso, Chile

City of culture and arts

Art and culture are everywhere in Valparaiso, most notably in the streets. Street art is a must-see in Valparaiso, and it gives you a portrait of what is going on in the city and the country. Beware! Street art is more than a piece of art in a wall. Most murals have a social message in them, so behind those beautiful colors and technics lies a world of protests, injustice, and support to modern issues. When it comes to museums, you can visit La Sebastiana, one of Pablo Neruda’s homes turned into a museum. Neruda was a Chilean poet, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Besides that, the poet was well known for his eccentric style of house decorating. In fact, La Sebastiana is shaped like a small ship in the middle of  “Cerro Florida” and has an endless view of the ocean. It is the perfect place to appreciate Neruda more closely. 

© instagram/Olazn0g.ph
© instagram/Olazn0g.ph
© instagram/Olazn0g.ph
© instagram/Olazn0g.ph
La Sebastiana
La Sebastiana
Ricardo de Ferrari 692, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso, Chile
© Flickr/Dan Lundberg
© Flickr/Dan Lundberg

Night life in Valparaiso

Valparaiso is well known for its nightlife; there’s a bar or club for every taste! We start with Subida Ecuador, a classic hotspot for the party addicts. It marks the place where everything usually begins. It is filled with bars that sell super cheap drinks and is definitely a good place to have fun. If you are a "bar type" of person, I highly recommend “Bar Pajarito,” which is one of the most traditional and ancient bars in Valparaiso. It was founded in 1893 and still preserves its bohemian vibe. While there, I recommend you ask for a “Terremoto,” a classic Chilean drink, or maybe a “Borgoña.” As a heads up, both drinks are sweet and strong, so beware! I know what you are thinking! What if I want to go clubbing? Don’t worry; there are plenty of options for that as well. Get to Errazuriz Avenue, walk along and see what it has to offer. Trust me. It has everything from Salsa clubs to dancehall places! Finally, I recommend you go in groups (the more, the merrier!) and be careful with your belongings. It is not a dangerous place, but as in any other party place, your cellphone or camera easily could get lost.

Bar Pajarito, Valparaíso
Bar Pajarito, Valparaíso
Salvador Donoso 1433, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso, Chile
© facebook/Bar Pajarito
© facebook/Bar Pajarito

Valparaiso is not a place you can describe with words. The traveler is the one who has to walk through the city and feel it, smell and look at the endless ocean, and appreciate its colors. This article sort of describes what Valparaiso is, but hopefully, it will inspire you to visit the city! 


The author

Francisca Pizarro

Francisca Pizarro

Hi, I am Francisca. From the north of Chile and south of the world, obsessed with natural landscapes and museums, I will take you through Chile as if you were a local, hoping you fall in love with this country as much as I am.

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