Valparaíso:

The Artist Paradise

Chile Itinerary:

2 Day Guide to Valparaíso

Dates Visited: November 2018

Valparaiso is a small seaside city located about an hour from Santiago. It's known for its graffiti street art and the quirky hipster vibe. Besides the street art, it's actually an important port city due to its location on the coast and close proximity to the capital. In fact, this city was actually founded due to Santiago not having immediate access to the sea.

The hills and winding streets of this city have so many hidden alleyways to explore. Here is the perfect weekend guide for where to stay and what to do, including free and cheap things to do in Valparaiso. It's extremely affordable to travel from Santiago to Valparaiso; a round trip bus ticket costs roughly 6,000 CLP ($9 USD). We got our tickets a couple days beforehand through Turbus and took a bus out of the Pajaritos station in Santiago.

5 Things to do in Valparaíso

Out of all the cheap things to do in Valparaiso, our favorite by far was the walking tour. It took us on a big loop through the old town which gave us a feel for the city on our first day.

The next day we went out again to explore some of the things we missed like riding a historic elevator, taking a personal picture of the 'Happies not Hippies' sign, and looking for more of the fishermen paintings. Read more below about how to spend your weekend in Valpo!

1. Take a Free Walking Tour

One of the best cheap things to do in Valparaiso is take a walking tour. There are a couple different options offered; the 10am and the 3pm tour. Keep in mind these are 'pay what you feel' tours - each is a 3 hour tour given by volunteers. We were told the minimum wage in Chile is 5,000 CLP ($7.50 USD) for 3 hours, so that is just a tip if you don't know what is considered a fair wage.

10am Offbeat Tour: The morning tour is known for taking you to the 'hidden spots' of Valpo and showing you places that only locals know about. They will go over the local politics, food, graffiti art, and the social scene of this artsy city. You'll get to see some of the art studios, the historic jail house, cemeteries, and learn the history behind the street art.

3pm Highlights Tour: Learn about the local culture of Valpo from the local foods to the names of some of the street dogs. Ride one of the famous elevators up to the top of the old town and visit the popular sites of the city while learning about the history behind this port city.

Valparaiso 2 Day Guide: Free Walking Tour
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Valparaiso 2 Day Guide: Street Art Tour
Valparaíso 2 Day Guide: Free Walking Tour
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We went on the 3pm highlights tour on our first day which actually turned out to be a bit of a fusion of both the highlights and the offbeat tour.

Our guide showed us some of the hidden gems of Valpo and got into some of the social/political significance of the artwork. It was a real treat; we even re-walked some of the same route the next day. Be sure to tip your guide if you like it!

Valparaiso 2 Day Guide: Free Walking Tour
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Valparaiso 2 Day Guide: Street Art Tour
Valparaíso 2 Day Guide: Free Walking Tour
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We went on the 3pm highlights tour on our first day which actually turned out to be a bit of a fusion of both the highlights and the offbeat tour.

Our guide showed us some of the hidden gems of Valpo and got into some of the social/political significance of the artwork. It was a real treat; we even re-walked some of the same route the next day. Be sure to tip your guide if you like it!

2. Ride one of the Elevators

One of the first things you will notice about Valpo when you get there is how hilly it is. Walking uphill through the winding roads is an experience in itself so we highly recommend doing that. However, a system of elevators running up the hills of Valparaiso used to make up a functioning public transportation grid, but is now a relic of what it once used to be.

After you've had enough of walking up the hills, one of the best cheap things to do in Valparaiso is ride one of the remaining functioning elevators. You can save yourself some sore legs, and still get a unique view of the city. The cost is roughly 300-400 CLP which is less than $1 USD.

Valparaiso 2 Day Guide: Hill Elevators

3. See the 'Happies not Hippies' sign

Throughout the rest of Chile, Valparaíso is known for being a bit of a hippie town. It's not uncommon to catch a whiff of herb while roaming through the streets. The town has a laid back vibe; quite a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of Santiago just an hour to its east. Nonetheless, they prefer to see themselves as a group of happy people, not just hippies. Hence the famous sign that was at the top of a large hill.

Valparaiso 2 Day Guide: Happies Not Hippies Sign

4. Find all the Fishermen Paintings

Throughout Valparaíso you may notice some dancing fish with a 'Chilote' signature above them. It's not the artist's name but it's where he is from, a small island region of Chile known as Chiloé. The painting below done by Daniel Marcelo Millan is perhaps the most well known in his series.

There are conflicting many interpretations of his work online. However, our guide during the walking tour told us that he is working on one painting per year as part of a social project to depict the changing political climate of Chile.

The painting below features fish with holes in their feet marching in circles. The fish themselves represent fishermen protesting the large-scale commercial fishing ventures that have overrun local fishing operations. The holes in their feet have oil spewing out which represents the environmental destruction brought on by the rapid commercialization.

Valparaiso 2 Day Guide: Street Art Fishermen

5. Take a Boat Tour | Van Tour

After finishing the walking tour, you will most likely end up near the port. Another one of the great cheap things to do in Valparíso is take a boat tour around sunset. Granted, we ended up passing on this and opted for an early dinner.

However, our tour guide said that plenty of the local fishermen are willing to take you on their boat for a small price. If you don't want to do this, then you can opt for the proper tour boats that are a bit larger.

Valparaíso 2 Day Guide: Boat Tour

If you're a fan of #vanlife, then you'll be pleased to see all of the vintage VW vans. Another one of the free things to do in Valpo is seeing how many VW vans you can spot.

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See how this fit into our Chile Itinerary:

See how this fit into our Chile Itinerary:

Where to stay in Valparaiso

From our experience, we like to use Hostel World to check out potential hostels, then check other booking websites like Booking.com to make our reservations. Sometimes we also message hostels directly to get a better price. We also like to use Airbnb to book accommodations if its a better deal than hostels. Clicking on either of the icons will give you a deal with either of the sites, but are affiliate links so we earn a small commission.

Dorm: $15.67+ USD

Private: $38.80+ USD

Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, Spanish/English, Excellent location near the old town, Kitchen, Limited reception hours (key provided for after hours)

The staff at this place are super friendly and accommodating. The manager in charge told us his unique story; he started out staying night-to-night at the hostel but ended up staying for over a month and working there. He's been there for over 2 years! It's always cool to hear what brings people to places and what keeps them there.

Dorms: $7.30+ USD

Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, Self Catering Facilities, Outdoor Terrace, Cafe, Tea/Coffee, Luggage Storage, Free City Tour, Tours/Travel Desk,

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

Dorms: $17.16+ USD

Private: $55.96+ USD

Amenities: Free Wifi, Free Breakfast, Kitchen, Award winning eco-friendly hostel with Recycling and Composting

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

Dorms: $11.69+ USD

Private Rooms: $23.37+ USD

Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, Self-Catering Facilities, Swimming Pool, Cafe, 24 Hr Reception, Tours/Travel Desk

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

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By |2019-05-15T04:39:57-04:00November 15th, 2018|Chile, South America|0 Comments

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