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Valparaíso and The Central Coast

The Central Coast is a rare thing: both a popular tourist destination and an incredibly authentic Chilean experience. The capital of the region, and Chile's principle port, Valparaíso--known lovingly as Valpo--is a rich labyrinth of brightly-colored, expertly-graffitied houses that climb the steep cerros surrounding the bay. Instead of planning the city, it was allowed to grow like a coral reef—maybe one of the best descriptions of a place that really must be experienced on foot, at a leisurely and curious pace. Valpo was named Chile's “Arts Capital” in 2003, owing to its recently surging community of students, artists, writers and immigrants, and its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just north along the coastal highway (a beautiful drive in itself) is the more clean-cut beach town of Viña del Mar, where both Chileans and tourists go to relax for the day or weekend in the sun and sand. It's a common destination for Chilean students, who fill up the beachfront hotels for the summer concerts held there (some of which are remembered years later, à la Woodstock). Viña is the glitz to Valpo's grit; both are truly Chilean, but in very different ways—fitting for a country that considers itself a land of contrasts.

Aconcagua Valley, Around Viña del Mar,







By Kyle Adams
Kyle just graduated Syracuse University with degrees in magazine journalism and anthropology. After his summer with V!VA, he'll be starting Peace...
19 Aug 2009

Things to do in Valparaíso and The Central Coast

Mercado Puerto

123985Located in a time-worn building at the heart of Valparaíso's Old Town is the city market. Here you'll find a smattering of produce; vendors sell basic fruits and vegetables alongside some more ...
Market
Parte Antigua, Valparaíso , Chile

Casa Mirador de Lukas

123989This small gallery has an upper-crust air to it, with its dainty outdoor café and beautiful vista. Inside you'll find several rooms devoted to the artwork of the beloved Valparaíso-raised ...
Gallery
Cerro Concepción, Valparaíso , Chile

La Sebastiana

123984La Sebastiana is a perfect testament to Neruda’s love for objects and gives lovers of Neruda special insight into his poetry. Handpicked items from around the world fill this house, which was ...
Museum
Cerro Bellavista, Valparaíso , Chile

Bicentennial Walking Tours

123975One of the biggest draws of the city of Valparaíso is the delightful madness of its design. For this reason, walks around the city will likely be the highlight of the trip. Though some like the idea ...
City Walk
Valparaíso , Chile

Museo de Historia Natural de Valparaíso

123991This small museum, located inside the imposing Palacio Lyon, is the second oldest in Chile, first established in 1878 by Don Eduardo de la Barra. Inside you’ll find a comprehensive—though ...
Museum
Valparaíso , Chile

Museo a Cielo Abierto

123995Though marketed as the centerpiece of Valparaíso's visual art obsession, the Museo a Cielo Abierto is more typical of Valparaíso artwork than it is quintessential. The “museum” isn't really a ...
Gallery
Cerro Bellavista, Valparaíso , Chile

Parque Cultural Ex-Cárcel

123998The ex-prison on top of Cerro Cárcel is perhaps one of the most characteristic sites in the city. Only recently did the space shift from being a place of confinement to being one of liberal ...
Historical Building
Cerro Cárcel , Valparaíso , Chile

Isla Negra

126002Tour guides at Pablo Neruda’s Isla Negra home will claim that, of his many houses, this home was the place that most embodied the poet’s spirit. Neruda’s “Isla Negra” home is not on an ...
Museum
Valparaíso , Chile

Muelle Prat

123986A walk down to Prat Harbor gives you a sense of what makes the city of Valparaíso tick: huge barges move cargo holds from shipyards around the world to and fro, and hoards of small fishing boats ...
City Plaza
Parte Antigua, Valparaíso , Chile

Feria de Verduras

On Wednesdays and Saturdays, a huge outdoor farmer's market of fruits and vegetables opens early in the morning to sell all kinds of local produce dirt-cheap. Here you can get a kilo of kiwi for CLP ...
Market
Congreso Nacional, Valparaíso , Chile

Beaches

Vacationers from around South America and the world flock to Viña beaches during summer months (late December to late March). Put on a bathing suit and soak up rays on one of the many Viña beaches, ...
Beach
Viña del Mar, Chile
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