We start our tour by driving west to the coast, passing through the central wine-producing valley of Casablanca with its fertile farmlands famous for their orchards, citrus groves, grape plantations and wonderful mountain backdrop. The ocean comes into view as we arrive in Valparaiso.
‘Valpo’, as it’s fondly known by locals, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it's easy to see why. Spread out over more than 40 coastal hills, Valpo is a maze of picturesque architecture and vibrant houses, creating one of world’s most eclectic, unique cities. Narrow, winding streets snake through the hills, connected by hidden staircases and ancient elevators which are still in use.
We climb up Cerro Florida and arrive at Neruda’s house "La Sebastiana". This house, just like its twin in Santiago, contains wonderful artifacts and furniture in its original positions. The house overlooks the bay, offering a stunning view of the Pacific - the same view which Neruda enjoyed every New Year’s eve when he looked out at the fireworks. After the museum, we wander around Cerro Concepción and Cerro Alegre which offer the best examples of Valparaiso's unique building style, marveling at the fantastically steep winding streets, lined with small and brightly painted houses, stores, cafes, and local restaurants. It's also the best place to see and soak up the city's prolific and diverse street art. The views of the port are spectacular from up in the hills, and the ocean horizon evokes the kind of enchantment usually reserved for on-screen magic. We make our way back down the hill using one of the iconic "funicular" elevators. At the bottom of the elevator it’s just a short walk to the main square, ‘Sotomayor’, which houses the Monument for the Heroes of the Pacific War and the National Navy headquarters, and is right next door to the historical port neighborhood.
From here, we head to the fashionable neighboring coastal city of Viña del Mar. En route we stop for lunch at a seaside restaurant. In 'Viña ' we admire the famous city ‘flower clock’ and visit the center city main square with its amphitheater hosting the famous Viña del Mar International song festival every summer. The tour ends with the return journey to Santiago and a chance to reflect on the day's colorful sights and poetry!