Valparaiso is extraordinary – steep, spectacular and full of street art and beautiful, colourful houses. Gorgeous paintings emblazon street walls, buildings and pavements and everywhere you look there’s something to admire.
The streets climb from level to level and you need to be fairly fit to get from one to the next. Or you can use one of the incredible funicular lifts, dotted around the city, which whoosh you up and down while you look at the stunning views.
There’s a wonderful choice of cafes, bars and restaurants here as well as interesting places to stay. One of the best is Jardins Kalhari at Calle Pudado 546, which has pretty rooms and a little flowery bower of a terrace where you can read and sunbathe. Patricia the lovely owner serves a wonderful breakfast with fresh fruit and juices, egg dishes and cheese. Her aim is to set you up for the day and make you feel at home in her home. Her warmth and kindness made our stay much easier and nicer.
Valpo, as it’s known, has a faded grandeur, rather than being immaculate and swanky, but this accentuates its allure. It feels real, rather than just somewhere that’s been spruced up for tourists. You can find great value set lunches in its quirky restaurants. They feature delicate, delicious dishes which contrast with the gigantic plates of chicken and chips available in the more basic cafes. Three courses costs about £8 a head and if you don’t eat until 3pm you won’t be hungry again until tomorrow’s hearty breakfast, although an avocado from the corner shop makes a pleasing snack.
Wandering around, stopping at intervals for coffee, drinks and food is enough to keep you entertained. If you want to dig deeper, visit Pablo Neruda’s house, a fascinating place, filled with incredible furniture and artefacts, chosen by the artist.
The audio guide gives lots of information about Neruda’s unique and inspiring life and even if you’re not a fan of the legendary poet, it’s well worth £6 to take the tour and tap into his world for an hour or so.
Valpo is Chile’s jewel and the fact that it’s a little tarnished makes it even more of a treasure. Allow three days there at least, just to appreciate the city and its exceptional art scene. There’s really nowhere else quite like this spectacular, sophisticated, gritty city, which shows off the spirit of the Chilean people and their rich creativity.