Founded in 1536 this town has many nicknames including “Little San Francisco” and “The Jewel of the Pacific”. Besides Santiago, Valparaíso is the largest metropolitan area in all of Chile with around 280,000 people calling this coastal town their home. In 2003 Valparaíso was declared a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Site and after travelling here, it’s easy to understand why. ‘Valpo’ has a unique layout of cobbled streets and narrow alleyways. Using google maps I was astounded that my route was correct when the directions led me to a sidewalk-wide set of 100 stairs leading down a steep cliff. Walking down an average street in Valparaíso you will find art everywhere, graffiti and street art are literally on every wall and sometimes even on the sidewalks. There are many cats to pet and street musicians to overhear.
When travelling to Valparaíso I would recommend going to a vegan restaurant called, La Chuchoca that has no set menu or set prices. While there the 3-course lunch of the day was grits with hidden root veggies, grilled lentil burgers and a mystery chocolate dessert. So delicious! I would also recommend going on a stroll down the boardwalk. There are kayaks for rent down by the water, as well with super cheap pricing. I paid 5,000 Chilean Pesos (about 7 US dollars) to rent a kayak for 2 hours. While paddling around I explored underneath the dock and found sea anemones, starfish, and crabs resting inside their shells on the pillions of the large dock. As I paddled away I waved back at the people on the dock and made my way over to the sea lions resting on their favorite spot, an abandoned island dock. The Spanish word for sea lions is directly translated as ’sea wolves’. They are huge predators, but they were also very cute! I was thrilled/terrified when one began swimming around my kayak. Valpo was amazing and I want to return very soon!