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Scenic Valparaíso, Chile’s single most interesting city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its vernacular architecture, its intricate hills neighborhoods and their charming funiculars, its historic links to the California Gold Rush and the opening of the Pacific. Ironically, the later opening of the Panama Canal left it semi-abandoned but, in a sense, also preserved it. Valparaiso is also a cultural center for its museums, including the home of Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, and many performing arts venues associated with its universities. At the same time, it’s impossible to disassociate “Valpo” from neighboring Viña del Mar, the ...

Scenic Valparaíso, Chile’s single most interesting city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its vernacular architecture, its intricate hills neighborhoods and their charming funiculars, its historic links to the California Gold Rush and the opening of the Pacific. Ironically, the later opening of the Panama Canal left it semi-abandoned but, in a sense, also preserved it. Valparaiso is also a cultural center for its museums, including the home of Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, and many performing arts venues associated with its universities. At the same time, it’s impossible to disassociate “Valpo” from neighboring Viña del Mar, the “Garden City” that’s the traditional summer and weekend getaway for citizens of the Chilean capital of Santiago, and from a scenic coastline that resembles Big Sur. Barely half an hour from the city, in the coast range foothills, the Casablanca Valley is one of Chile’s most important wine regions, particularly notable for Sauvignon Blanc and other whites. Both the city and the valley have some of Chile’s most distinctive inns and restaurants.

Wayne Bernhardson
About the Expert

Wayne Bernhardson is the author of Moon Handbooks to Argentina, Buenos Aires (including coastal Uruguay), Chile (including Easter Island), and Patagonia (including the Falkland Islands).

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Wayne Bernhardson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: West Central Chile. One of the country's most important seaports and an increasing cultural center.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Chilean Peso
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Like San Francisco, Valparaíso has cool, foggy summers, but the fall months of March and April are ideal. That's also wine harvest season, perfect for excursions to the Casablanca Valley, but Valpo's cultural activities take place all year.