As we only spent a total of 5 nights in Santiago and Valparaiso I thought I would bunch them together. Although it was a short stay in both cities I think that this was enough time. Both places would be great places to live but as far as tourist attractions you can tick it all off in 5 nights.
Santiago is a big city that is very developed and well organised, transport is frequent and easy to use and you can tell that the city functions much like any other big city in the world.
Valparaiso is a smaller city but still by no means small and it is build all up on the hills from the coast about 2 hours drive from Santiago. It has a large port and amazing ocean views can be seen from pretty much anywhere you are in the city. It is also known for its amazing street art.
Arriving in Santiago from the airport you can catch a bus but you will need to purchase a transport card, this will take you into the main area/main metro stops. There are also airport shuttles which we used and they cost about 15 NZD and drop you right to your accommodation – good for a night time arrival.
Arriving in Valparaiso you can taxi, uber or bus. Would recommend the second two options and the taxis are quite expensive.
WHERE TO STAY:
Santiago – We stayed at CHL Suites and I would recommend it. We actually got upgraded from a dorm room to a suite with our own bathroom and it was a like a luxury hotel so i guess this made our stay extra good. The hostel is in the centre of everything and you can walk almost everywhere, it is clean, modern and has good breakfast for South America (scrambled eggs and brown bread are an option that we jumped on).
Valparaiso – We stayed at Costa Azul B&B which is the cutest little bed and breakfast up on the hill overlooking the whole city. It was a great base for us because of the view and the nice people running it so i would recommend it but just be aware it is a bit out of the central city and you need to bus to get into the action of things.
WHAT TO DO:
In both cities there is a free walking tour that goes twice a day at 10pm and then 3pm. It is 4 hours in each of the cities and they take you around the key areas of the city and show you the sites and places you should not miss. We did this in both Santiago and Valparaiso and it was a great way to see the cities and get our bearings to figure out what we wanted to do with the rest of our time.
The way it works is the tour is free and in English and then at the end you tip them what you can/want to. We usually did about $5NZD each which i think is quite normal.
In Santiago I would recommend hanging out in Bella Vista – good bars, restaurants and clubs in this area. Also this is close to the funicular: Cost $2,600 CP in weekends and $2000 CP in weekdays. You can also walk up if you want.
WHERE TO EAT:
Bella Vista area is the best place to eat, we had dinner here one night and were not disappointed. There is an open air square type area called Patio Bella Vista which has some options but we chose one of the ones behind that on the street.
Mercado central – markets known for fresh seafood, in the middle there is lots of restaurants to choose from serving seafood. We had ceviche and another seafood meal from one of the places just on the outside of the market but I am sure they all have similar meals.
Cafe Del Pinto – Really yum spot for lunch, we shared two of the “menu of the day” which is common in chile for lunch and is an entree, main and dessert. Sharing two between three cost about 15 NZD each which is not cheap but quite standard for Chile restaurants. We had fish with risotto and slow cooked beef with mashed vegetables. Urriola 652, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso
Dulce Pols – Good cute little cafe for coffee, drinks and cakes. Do also have sandwiches and things but is a great place to stop if you are wandering the hills. 642, Almirante Montt 632, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso
Fuente Bavara – Good lunch spot in the centre of town if you are not up on the hills. I had a caesar salad and the girls had burgers which looked amazing. Might need your google translate app here as the menu is in spanish fully. Aníbal Pinto 339-341, Valparaíso, Región de Valparaíso, Chile