Day Trip to Diverse Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, Chile

June, 2011

Fancy a detour from Santiago’s swirling-paced streets? Take a little day trip until you land in Chile’s diverse Valparaíso and on to the popular resort city of Viña del Mar.

Although only a short distance of a kilometre and a half apart, Valparaíso and Viña del Mar are surprisingly opposing and differ vastly.Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, Chile, South America


Buses from Santiago’s Central bus station to Valparaíso run every twenty minutes.

An easy Turbus trip of around two hours from Santiago, along Ruta 68 and the picturesque Curacavi valley, lands you in the port city of Valparaíso.

Once in Valparaíso, getting around by public transport is easy using a public bus, trolleybus, funiculars, collectivos, or a private taxi. I prefer my feet as you do see so much more.

If you feel like exploring more, then from Valparaíso take a leisurely walk to relax by the sea at Viña del Mar.

Valparaíso, Chile, South America
Colourful hills


Known as the port and parliament city, and surrounded by 40 historical cerros (hills), climb up any one of these and you will be greeted with 360-degree expansive views of the port, and the colourful city below.

Valparaíso, Chile, South America
Port glimpses

Once serviced across the city by 26 funiculars, sadly, only 8 are still in use and they do make for interesting photo opportunities, as does the colours around the city.

Valparaíso, Chile, South America
A bygone era

Enchanting Valparaíso’s historic quarter is declared a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lined with colourful buildings from the late 19th-century, endows a great example of Latin America’s urban and architectural development during this period.

Valparaíso, Chile, South America
Colourful streets

Valparaíso is a city of contrasts. Modernity fuses with a bygone era and quirky dilapidated buildings to create a conglomerate of moods and disparity when moving through these contrasts.

Valparaíso, Chile, South America
Home with a view

…although even the rundown buildings are colourful and thought-provoking.

Valparaíso, Chile, South America
Residential meets commercial

Plaza Sotomayor

Following several name changes during the 1800s, the plaza’s final name was after the politician and lawyer: Rafael Sotomayor.

A meeting favourite, where locals and students sit and enjoy conversations, art, playing music, and just being Chilean, the plaza’s centrepiece however, holds a stark reminder of the fallen.

Monumento a los Héroes de Iquique

Standing still whilst cars whizz chaotically around Plaza Sotomayor, is the impressive subterranean mausoleum monument centrepiece, Héroes de Iquique.

Dedicated to the fallen Chilean sailors during the Battle of Iquique and the Battle of Punta Gruesa, the monument is a fitting tribute to Chile’s naval martyrs with sailors on guard.

Valparaíso, Chile, South America
Héroes de Iquique

Armada de Chile

Declared a historic monument of Chile back in 1979, this French neoclassical building is maintained in refreshing pristine condition.

Also known as the building of the Commander in Chief of the Chilean Navy and the Intendancy Building of Valparaíso, this is not the original building that once graced this square back in 1831.

Valparaíso, Chile, South America
Standing proud

With successive winter floods and tremors, the original building’s foundations developed issues. And so, that building was replaced with this pastel-painted charming building, which was inaugurated in 1910.

Valparaíso, Chile, South America
Guarding but helpful

Valparaíso streets

Throughout Chile, political messages are demonstrated with locals taking to the streets in peaceful protests or signs draped from buildings; and Valparaíso is no different. A subtle hint that all are not happy in Chile.

Valparaíso, Chile, South America

A tiny glimpse into Valpo street life, sets the alluring scene around the city.

Valparaíso, Chile, South America
Sweets anyone?

Everything is sold on the streets in the hope of making a few pesos. Typically, women sell their home-made savouries and sweets. I urge you to try some street food as this is an excellent and cheap way to experience delicious Chilean local delights, at a fraction of restaurant prices.

Valparaíso, Chile, South America
Neighbourhood stall

People-watching is a favourite pastime, especially when on the road and Valparaíso provides many memorable street scenes to capture.

Valparaíso, Chile, South America
Watching and waiting…

Viña del Mar

Known also as the Garden City for its gardens and parks, each year, a flow of both international and national tourists arrive at Viña del Mar (Vineyard of the Sea). Mainly for a taste of the city’s hotels, resorts, assorted entertainment venues, and many beaches, as Viña is less expensive than other South American resort cities.

Welcoming flower clock

One of the city’s largest green areas the Quinta Vergara also holds an amphitheatre to explore.

Dating back to only the 1870s and following numerous earthquakes that destroyed most of the city’s old areas, only several 19th-century buildings still remain. Discover this elegant architecture along Avenida Libertad, Quinta Vergara, and Quillota Street.

Many high-rise buildings now carve out a new panorama along the seafront, lining its shores with apartments and hotels, to accommodate the eager tourist. Jutting proudly out of Viña’s seaside cliffs, Castillo Wulff seems slightly out-of-place for this modern seafront, although provides an example of Germanic architecture.

Reñaca, Viña del Mar, Chile, South America
Beach near Reñaca

Native inhabitants of the area, the Changos knew the valley where Viña del Mar was founded as the Pueco Valley, and understandably, these inhabitants were dedicated to fishing.

Viña del Mar, Chile, South America
Sea bounty

The extensive waterfront is striking and apart from numerous surfers craving the sea, you may even be lucky enough to catch glimpses of basking sea lions.

Lazing the day away on timeworn-streaked rocks, these beautiful creatures drift in and out of the cold Pacific water, oblivious to bystanders.

sea lions, Viña del Mar, Chile, South America
Relaxing residents

Lucky enough to have watched sea lions not long ago during a half-day sail in the Argentinian Beagle Channel whilst visiting Ushuaia, I couldn’t get close to these guys today – they are wonderful to watch.

Take another walk up Cerro Castillo to catch an ever-changing perspective in the late afternoon with the fading light.

Viña del Mar, Chile, South America
Gorgeous vistas

Original Moai

Far-removed from its home, this original Moai (Easter Island Statue) stands guard majestically outside of the Corporacion Museo de Arqueologia e Historia Francisco Fonck.

Hewn from solid volcanic rock by the Rapu Nui people on Easter Island between the years 1250 and 1500, this statue stands at 2.81 metres and impressive.

Moai, Viña del Mar, Chile, South America
Far from home…

Oddly placed in the middle of Avenida Peru, one can only imagine that this was an original taxi stand once – now recycled into a cleaner’s cupboard.

Viña del Mar, Chile, South America
Makeshift cleaner’s closet

I would have preferred to spend a couple of nights between the two cities as one day isn’t really enough.

Back to Santiago

Return buses from the Viña del Mar bus terminal (Avenida Valparaiso 1055), run every 10 to 15 minutes to Santiago.

Although if you decide to stroll back to Valparaíso and catch a bus from Terminal Rodoviário de Valparaíso (Avenida Pedro Montt), these also run every 15 minutes.

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images. More posts on Chile at Image Earth Travel.

Valparaiso, Chile, South America

75 responses to “Day Trip to Diverse Valparaíso and Viña del Mar, Chile”

  1. equinoxio21 Avatar

    Thanks for the trip back down Memory Lane…

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you, it’s an old post in the old editor and I should really re-do these old ones but you know how it is with time. 😉
      Thanks for reading.

      1. equinoxio21 Avatar

        I know about Time. Don’t bother to re-do them. Fine as they are…

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Yeah, it’s only because WP changed its editor and this mucked up all my formatting. In IT: “if it ain’t broke, don’t touch!” but if only all the tech companies would stick to this philosophy, guess this doesn’t make any money. It’s also “publish or perish”.

      3. equinoxio21 Avatar

        I know, I know… My own version is “if it works don’t fix it”. Problem is Computer departments get paid, they receive a salary, so some feel compelled to “fix it”… tsss. And yes, it is a version of P or P.

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        That’s exactly right! But, in fixing something, they sometimes make it worse.

      5. equinoxio21 Avatar


  2. James Cormack Avatar
    James Cormack

    Hello, folks. My name is Jimmy from near Glasgow in Scotland. I’m going to Chile at Christmas and New Year as I love Latin America, the culture, the food, the music and of course, the weather. I have lived in Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia and Argentina. Talking about pensions: the lowest pensions are here in the UK (only £140 a week) and only then from the age of 66; I am 62. Anyone who wants to know anything about Scotland please ask me. Until then, hasta luego (see u later)

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Jimmy, have a great trip! Cheers, Nilla

  3. a world of destinations Avatar

    Great work of photography!! I used to live in Viña del Mar for a while, I loved it!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Many thanks for your feedback! They’re both lovely towns. For how long did you live in Viña del Mar?

      1. a world of destinations Avatar

        You’re welcome. I was living there for 6 months because I did an exchange semester at the Universidad Viña del Mar. Had an amazing time there 🙂

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Wow, that would have been wonderful – bet your Spanish is great then! 🙂

  4. fakeflamenco Avatar

    You captured the essence of Viña and Valparaíso! The man in the kiosk selling a bit of everything is my favorite.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you. 🙂 They’re both great side-trips from Santiago.
      Yes, he looked a little grumpy but loved his expressive face – like he’d been in his little kiosk too long.

  5. KD Avatar

    I never really had Chile on my bucket list but the more posts I read from folks’ travels there, the higher it climbs up my list! Lol. Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos and details.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi, Chile is amazing. If you decide to visit, you must see the Southern Patagonian Fjords – spectacular!

      1. KD Avatar

        Oh yes. It was the posts on Patagonia that first stirred my interest in Chile!

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ah right, I’m glad. Patagonia is incredibly beautiful!

      3. KD Avatar

        It is!!! Can’t wait to see it in person one day 🙂

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        You’ll love it and don’t take the road, but time it so you can do that boat trip. 🙂

      5. KD Avatar

        Thanks for the tip!

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        You are very welcome and I’m happy to help.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Many thanks for the reblog. 🙂

  6. meerehre Avatar

    So stunning fotos, it was a great dream for me to go Valparaiso, and you brought it to me! 🌊👍🏼

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you! I’m glad you could relive your trip through my post and photos. 🙂

  7. Laleh Chini Avatar

    Thanks for following dear.❤️

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      My pleasure and look forward to reading more of your posts.

      1. Laleh Chini Avatar

        Awesome ❤️

  8. gillmorris Avatar

    Both places look interesting and I love all the colorful buildings. As always your photos really capture the atmosphere of the places and the people Nilla.. I love going to these cities with you 🙂 x

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Gill – very kind of you and happy that I can take you along the journey with me and show you a few interesting places! 🙂 x

  9. idjourneys Avatar

    Chile is a stunning country! I notice the huge diferences between places. I enjoy your post! Good luck!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you and glad you enjoyed the post!
      Yes Chile certainly is stunning and very diverse – sometimes confronting, but that’s travelling.

  10. Travel Love Kai Avatar

    Enjoyable post. Your photography is stunning. We’ve been considering a trip to Chili this post is inspiring me even more to take the time to check it out.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you.
      I have more posts on Chile if you’d like to read at some point and hope they inspire you even further to travel there…

      1. Travel Love Kai Avatar

        I’ll be sure to check them out thank you,

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Cool, hope you glean some tips. 🙂

  11. Valerie Cullers Avatar

    I just nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award because you bring Sunshine into peoples’ lives with your beautiful travel posts!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hey Valerie, that’s very kind of you.
      It may take me several weeks to get around to writing a response. Thanks again for the nomination.

      1. Valerie Cullers Avatar

        It took me several weeks to write the post, so don’t worry!

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Thank you!

  12. ellenbest24 Avatar

    Probably a sinister one as It isn’t my usual write and he has a look. 😉

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ha, ha, I know exactly what you mean – I was thinking the same Ellen, but it’s also a sad face at the same time. 😉

      1. ellenbest24 Avatar

        Sad is too easy though … unfortunately we can all tap into a past sad😣 sinister is a challenge.

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Very true, so let me know when you write that story. 😉

      3. ellenbest24 Avatar

        I will need to borrow your picture when I do. 🤗

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        That’s cool as long as you credit my photo. I had another blogger use a different photo she wanted to write about. 🙂 That photo does conjure up a lot of imagination, but then again, street photography always does.

      5. ellenbest24 Avatar

        I wouldn’t use any without permission and giving credit. That is abominable. My street photo’s do not look like yours. Example, eight ducklings hatched and waddle up the stream and come into my garden. So far I have shot a foot, several back ends and a pigeons wing. They will be food before I catch a decent one hahaha!

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        That made laugh hard – thank you!

        If you ever find yourself in southern Italy, we can go on a photo shoot together for the day, then drink Espresso or have an Aperitivo. 😉

        Ive always loved street photography as it documents a snippet of time, which I hope will be used in the future. I started taking photos at around 10 years’ old, so I’ve had a lot of time to practice!

      7. ellenbest24 Avatar

        Practice does not make perfection… I should know 😂😃😄 Be careful because we have motorhome and will travel 😂

      8. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        What can I say?

        You lucky people, we sold Reg (our MH) last year. One of the reasons was there isn’t anywhere to park/store Reg where we live. After storing Reg in Somerset for the previous year, decided it was a waste of a MH and money 🙁

      9. ellenbest24 Avatar

        We debated, as I have been am unwell and Hub got a bit worried to take me away. But I have come a long way in a year and he bought electric bikes so I don’t get exhausted. I can’t wait to go back to Italy.

      10. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Sorry to hear you haven’t been well – life has a habit of throwing hurdles our way. Electric bikes sound fabulous.

        Let me know if you decide and if you come down this far as we have all the best and cheapest food (and wine) down here in the Sud. 😉

      11. ellenbest24 Avatar

        Okay I will hold you to that. X thank you.

      12. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I’m sure you will.
        A dopo x

  13. LuLu B - Calabrisella Mia Avatar

    I love the colourful houses. They are vibrant, even the ones that are a bit more run down! Your photos did an incredible job of showcasing the contrasts of this place….it makes for a very interesting place!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thanks Lulu!
      Yes, for me, sometimes the ones that are rundown are much more interesting than the ones in pristine condition. Glad I could bring a little of Chile into your day. 🙂

  14. ellenbest24 Avatar

    What a wonderful travelog. Your photo’s are superb, the coloured homes nestled on hillsides so reminds me of an area we love in Italy Liguria.
    I have to say if the sweet seller was my shot … a story using him as a prompt would be penned in a very different way. Haha! I look forward to visiting more. .

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for your kind feedback. I have many more years of travelling to upload yet so stay tuned to the adventure!
      I haven’t been to Liguria yet but should go as I’m currently in Italy.
      I’m intrigued now, what would your story be?

  15. the eternal traveller Avatar

    Very interesting to see beyond the main areas and see the real city. We enjoy bus travel, as it’s a nice way to see everything and being higher gives a great view.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Yes, I always like to venture out of the cities.
      Apart from on foot, then bus or train are great ways to reach destinations. No shortage of hills in Valparaíso. 🙂

  16. Valerie Cullers Avatar

    Loved taking another trip with you! Thanks for the neat pictures and the getting the “feel” of the place!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Glad you enjoyed the post Valerie. Thank you for your great feedback! 🙂

  17. Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] Avatar

    I think the countryside and seaside would be the places to visit than the cities over there. Not very inviting, and the conditions people have to live in are hard to witness. Though many no different way of living, so who am I to say it’s hard living!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Agree, the smaller towns are more personal rather than cities but that can be said for most cities in many countries.

      It’s when you see the homeless in the middle of winter (or summer) sleeping on the footpaths or in small alcoves, which you have to stop and ask, is this a hard way to live? Some countries just have too many of these scenes and it appears to be growing.

      1. Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] Avatar

        Even downunder!! It has definitely increased as I can not remember seeing so many 30 years ago! Or did families and communities look after their own without question?

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Yes, sadly, even in Oz, although people around the world don’t see this image of Australia at all – guess it’s the way our country is sold as still being ‘The Lucky Country’.

        Possibly this was part of us not seeing more years’ ago, but I’m not convinced and think it has been steadily growing over the last 30 years, at least that’s what I’ve witnessed in Oz. Cities are where you see homelessness the most.

      3. Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] Avatar

        Totally agree with you Nilla! Yes, NZ is seen as the perfect little place away from the rest of the world. Though it isn’t quite as perfect as it seems. Compared to many it is so expensive!!

      4. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        I haven’t been to NZ since 1985, when we did a drive/hotel package for 2 weeks in the south island, then hitched for another week in the north island.
        Found it quite expensive back then so can only image what it’s like now.

        Australia is becoming so expensive that retirees are now moving to SE Asia as their Super/Pension goes further. But our illustrious government is pulling them back and only ‘allowing’ retirees receiving the pension a 6-week break out of the country. Nothing like Dictatorship masked as Democracy.

      5. Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] Avatar

        We are looking into various rules and regulations regarding travel when we are old aged pensioners, which is not too damned far away!! Though we won’t be classing ourselves as ‘old’! I think at this stage when receiving the pension we can only travel for 6 months. Thoughts of retiring to Australia may not be on the cards due to restrictions though anything can change in 4 years!!

      6. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Ha, ha, think young. Yes, anything can change and hope it will be for the better.

        I think Australia will get rid of the pension in coming years. The pollies are selling the pension as not a right after working 40+ years (longer now) and paying exorbitant taxes, but as a “burden on society” – it’s evil. Our country is no longer interested in looking after its citizens, whilst at work or afterwards; all about the mighty dollar.

        Haven’t our countries changed incredibly that we now need to think about which is the best country to retire in, to be able to survive on a pension as our own countries are too expensive? Perhaps the system is broken…

      7. Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2] Avatar

        I think you hit the nail on the head, that we expect to get a pension. We have saved to help living on the pension. With so many of us living longer and being baby boomers it will be hard to finance in the coming years. Scary.

      8. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        True but governments also need to stop squandering the public purse and to also reign in their entitlements. If it’s good for the Australian public, then why isn’t it good for our politicians? One rule for all (in our dreams).

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