Valparaíso: city of street art and squeaky funiculars
As we were going to spend a few days in Santiago we had enough time to do a couple of day trips in the area nearby. After doing a little bit of research we found out that a coastal town, Valparaíso, is one of the spots that shouldn’t be missed.
You don’t have to be a seasoned traveller to get there by public transport. No need to book a tour there. We bought our bus tickets online in advance but in the end it wasn’t really necessary because the bus was half-full. The tickets cost about 27 000 pesos and we had to pick them up at Tur Bus office near Plaza de Armas.
Our bus was scheduled for 8:30 am from Terminal Alameda Santiago. On Sundays the subway didn’t run until later in the morning and so we had to take Uber to get to the Terminal. Luckily Uber works pretty well in Santiago.
The bus headed West along Route 68 and we had about an hour and a half before the bus arrived at Valparaíso Terminal Rodoviario. The weather didn’t look great as we walked down Pedro Montt, passed Plaza Simon Bolívar and carried on to touristic centre.
We were strolling up Almirante Montt and looking for a cafe for breakfast when we accidentally found the first famous photo spot – Piano Staircase. The only problem was a bunch of stray dogs on the top of the stairs waiting for tourists. Luckily they decided to follow a couple who was at the spot before us and we had a free way to the top.
A few minutes from there we found a nice Peregrina Cafe where we had our breakfast and coffee. By the time we left, the weather got much better and we could enjoy blue sky and sunshine.
We were randomly choosing left and right turns and visited a couple of churches until we got to our next spot – Baburizza Palace. An adjacent plaza as well as an area around the palace provided great views of the town, surrounding hills and the coast. The palace serves as a museum of fine arts. We didn’t find the exposition very impressive but the palace itself is a beautiful and interesting building.
After we left the palace we decided to take a ride with one of the famous Valparaíso funiculars. There used to be about 30 funiculars across the city but only 7 of them were working at the time. Right next to the palace is El Peral funicular. For a few pesos we got a short ride which took us down to the Plaza de la Justicia. We definitely recommend trying this iconic way of transportation at least once.
From the bottom funicular station we went to Plaza Sotomayor where we were going to join a free tour of Valparaíso most popular spots. The tour was organised by a group of guides who worked for tips. In general, we found the 3 hours long tour quite nice. Our guide spoke really good English. She told us a little bit about the history of the town and some of the important buildings as well as walked us through the most famous street art locations. As for the first time visitors, it was a good way to easily get to know the town.
When we said goodbye to our guide and the rest of the tour group, we had just the right amount of time to grab a quick dinner before heading back to the bus terminal. We were looking along the streets and eventually went to Cafe Con Cuento. Unfortunately, it was not the best decision as the food was average and a bit pricey. However, it filled our bellies up which came in handy later as we were stuck in a traffic jam on the way back to Santiago.
After arriving in Santiago we headed straight back to our apartment because the next day we were going to have another full day. This time the trip to Cajon del Maipo was on our plan.