Traveling through Chile will always require a visit to the Capital city of Santiago and since it is the only international airport in the country. If you want to see the city, I would recommend taking the half day tour. I would highly recommend setting aside a 2nd day in the city for the full day tour to Valparaiso. This port town is only a 90 minute drive away from Santiago but a shared tour will take longer due to pick up time. People staying near the airport will be picked up last and have a shorter travel time.
This tour also includes two other stops, one is the neighboring beach city of Vina del Mar. This is a beautiful beach city filled with ocean front hotels and a top vacation destination for Chileans. The first stop in Vina del Mar is at a museum which has an authentic moai from Rapa Nui/Easter Island.
The moai is actually the reason for this stop as we do not enter the museum at all. Since I already toured Rapa Nui, It didn’t have the same effect on me as it did with the rest of my tour mates.
The next stop was the beach were we could see Valparaiso on one side and the beaches of Vina del Mar on the other. The water was too cold for me to even put my feet in the water so we just enjoyed the view of this wonderful spot.
We made another short drive to the local fish market where we were able to experience it with a walk through the market. The smells, the sounds and the visually stimulations were all taken in first hand.
This was also a big draw for the large sea lions fighting for scraps from the fisherman.
We now made our way through the main streets of Valparaiso were we could see some of the historic buildings of the city. Valparaiso is a port city and has no beaches within its boundaries. What it does have are hills and thousands and thousands of steps. The city was once a vital stop for ships who sailed from the Atlantic to the Pacific but lost that importance once the Panama Canal was opened.
What it is known for now is its wonderful neighborhood of multi-colored buildings, some covered with beautiful graffiti art. So beautiful that UNESCO designated this neighborhood as a world heritage site. I had always had the opinion that graffiti was not a form of art but a form of vandalism. After walking through these streets, I have to say that I changed my mind and agree with the general consensus that these murals are a form of art. The artist have to have permission of the building owner before they can work on the walls and if they work on public property like the sidewalks or the many staircases they have to have a permit from the city.
The neighborhood has become a Mecca for Instagramers looking for beautiful back drops to add to their content. The streets are an explosion of color and a must do when you’re in Chile. Bring your walking shoes as the hillsides can be grueling depending on how much of the area you plan on seeing. The tour included a stop at a restaurant with a wonderful hillside view of the city.
We made our way out of Valparaiso and our tour made its final stop at one of the hundreds of wineries in the area. This would be a mini-wine tasting stop. If I didn’t have to travel again the next day, purchasing one of these bottles of wine would have definitely happened.
Chile has some amazing landscapes but I wouldn’t pass up the chance to see the beautiful city of Valparaiso. I highly recommend it if you spend time in the Santiago area. It’s a wonderful change of scenery from the typical cityscape. The city of Vina del Mar wouldn’t be a bad destination as well if you are looking for a beachside resort.