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Street Art in Valpo


If people talk about central Chile, they usually consider the region around Santiago, excluding the capital. The central region is quite diverse. From poor to rich, from moderated climate through the Humboldt current to big jumps in temperature further inland. Within this region, I visited Santa Cruz, a village within many vineyards. Afterward, I stayed in Valparaiso, which the locals shorten by “Valpo”. Viña del Mar is the direct neighbor to Valpo, it feels like one really huge city instead of two separate ones.


Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is mainly known for the many wineries around. Many people come to Santa Cruz as a day-trip from Santiago. If you have a pre-organized tour, this might be the schedule. However, if you are flexible, I highly recommend spending one or more nights in Santa Cruz.


Indeed, Santa Cruz, not San Fernando, the bigger town at the Ruta 5. I stayed longer in Santa Cruz than I initially considered, since the hostel was such a chilled place with a terrace and garden. It was hot during the afternoons, so the dogs of the streets used the tiny creek for a bath to cool down.


Wine Tasting

You may rent bikes to cycle around vineyards and to wineries for tastings. There are great views over the valley. At spots, you cycle through really local tiny villages which the average tourist will never see. I went to two different wineries for tastings and participated in a wine and cider tasting organized in the hostel.


There are plenty of wineries. Fortunately, I got a very well-prepared overview on the different wineries, their tour and tasting options, prices and locations in my hostel. I can highly recommend the tasting tour from Viña MontGras, whereas Viña Viu Manet was expensive for what they offered.

Just keep in mind the weather. Santa Cruz is further inland, so the Humboldt current is not moderating the weather. Nights are rather chilly with approximately 13 °C during summer, while temperatures during the afternoon easily reach above 30 °C. This is why cycling is best during the morning. I preferred to be inside during the hot hours. These temperatures also have an influence on which grapes are planted in the Santa Cruz region, different to other regions like Casablanca, close to Valpo.



Santa Cruz is located in the Colchagua province, a province with plenty of wineries. There are also small wineries of private people who own a few hectares and produce wine literally hand-made. Even though it’s small compared to other towns, it offers a great museum, the museum of Colchagua. The latter is huge! If you buy a ticket, it is valid for 24 hours. This is very useful as you might split the whole content into two days. It obtains an extensive presentation of scientific and cultural history.

There are pottery, weapons, clothes, traditions etc. described from all indigenous folks inhabiting the current regions of Chile, Bolivia, and Peru. Moreover, animal science regarding endemics and fossils as well as climate impact. Beyond the European invasion, pacific war, weapons, former horse-drawn carriages, and a former train, one part caught me. “Estamos bien en el Refugio los 33” – the section on the collapse of a mine in which 33 miners were locked in a Refugio hundreds of meters down.


I don’t really remember information of German media. In this context, I feel that I need to become a little politic. In my impression, the German news focus on awful disasters for a rather short time. As soon as the next disaster happens, the previous one will easily be forgotten. The only exception are disasters either within Germany or which affect us very directly. This approach is very unfortunate. Like this, it is very difficult to get information on what is happening around the world. Moreover, with our “first world” behavior, we cause more problems or social injustices than we are informed about.



When I sat in the hostel one evening, just having dinner, I heard someone reading out a line-up. I got curious and went out following the sound. In front of the stadium, just 3 blocks away, I was curious enough to enter. People have told me to avoid big football matches in South America since the fans are rather aggressive. For the first leagues, this might indeed be true. Santa Cruz is playing in the 2nd league (which cannot be compared to the level of a German 2nd league). The stadium was quite tiny, and the match was rather a family and friends event.

Sure, there were some “active fan” sections, I avoided walking too close to that section. Except for a few seats, you just sit wherever there is space. The match itself was at a rather lower level. And fouls were of a different kind. It seems to be normal to have a couple of red cards within a match. Some players behaved ridiculously childish, like laying down on the grass, not moving, when they were signed to exchange with another player. Drinks, sandwiches, and nuts were sold during the match. I didn’t recognize any bad behaved drunk people.



The city Valparaíso, or by its common name “Valpo”, is one of the view Chilean cities that have not been planned. This means, houses have been built at random places, some new houses half on top of old ones etc. During its first days, Valpo has officially been part of Santiago, as “Santiago Port”. This is why the football club of Valpo is named Santiago instead of Valpo. For sure, it makes sense that Valpo is an individual city, as it is 2hrs away from Santiago.

There are “good” and “bad” quarters within Valpo. Around the bus terminal, I recommend to not show your wallet or phone, it looks rather dodgy. Therefore, I stayed in Hostal Po on Cerro Concepción, where houses and everything look a lot better. There are many (Chilean and Argentinean) people staying in Valpo because for them, Valpo is freedom.


Cerro Concepción & Cerro Alegre

I consider the area of Valpo which has been built on the two hills Concepeción and Alegre as the nicest one. Plenty of graffiti, some crappy random ones for sure, but truly some art as well. If you are good at drawing/painting, people may ask you to draw on their house. You are not allowed to randomly paint or overprint. If you have made yourself a name within Valpo, you might head to the arts scene within Santiago or other capitals to earn more money from it. Only the UNESCO protected houses within the eldest (fishermen’s) quarter may not be painted.

There are some funiculars bringing you from the flat area up the hills. With the free walking tour that I did, we went uphill with one. There are stairs as well, the funiculars are quite cheap though, so no big hole in your pocket if you are too lazy for many stairs. In my opinion, the houses on those two hills were far more beautiful than within the flat area. Actually, the water level has once almost reached the hill but has been pushed out as one fountain visualizes.


The port and flat area

In contrary to Coquimbo and La Serena, the port of Valpo does not cause a poor working class society within Valpo. I have been told to only enter the UNESCO protected port quarter during lunchtime, since the risk for robberies is much higher during other times of the day. At the shore, right at the port, close to Plaza Sotomayor, it is very touristy. I have seen big cruise ships as well as plenty of cargo ships. Many tiny boats float around the harbor area waiting for the tourists to go on a boat trip around Valpo. I haven’t seen many people doing it.

The funicular to reach the Plaza 21 de Mayo unfortunately was out of order, so we went up the normal road, with great viewpoints all along the way to the very top. A girl from the hostel, the guide from the free walking tour and me went up there together and afterward had some drinks in one of the good nightlife streets. I didn’t take anything except for my phone and some cash, which was sufficient. Usually I don’t go out at night, though, we were a group of people from the same hostel including a local, so I trusted into the power of a group.


Viña del Mar

In contrast to Valpo, Viña has a beach, a long one. Similar to Valpo, Viña has a rather flat area at the shore and hills with many houses built on them. In my opinion, the key difference between those two neighbor-cities (without any clear boundary) is: the flat area of Viña is quite huge with many skyscrapers built on it surrounded by parks and a clear separation to the “normal” houses up the hills. Indeed, while Valpo was just built on top of what was there over the years, the flat area of Viña looks rather planned.

The Humboldt current is rather cold, so I didn’t intend to go swimming in Viña. Nevertheless, I walked along the shore and around the touristy center. Viña has many shopping centers and big hotels. It looks as if people have been built in Viña what was not possible to be built in Valpo due to the lack of space.



Since the flat area is rather big and contains the main shopping centers, restaurants and everything a modern city needs and has, I recommend staying in Viña if you are a wheelchair user. From Viña, you could take a taxi that drives you up and down the streets in Valpo for a day.

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