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Valparaíso: Crown of Chile

By Steven Bodzin

Jan 12, 2012

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Photo by Roberto Ruiz

The hilly port city of Valparaíso has a lot to offer, but these are three can't-miss highlights.

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Valparaíso, Chile’s main port city, rises from the water into steep hills laced with staircases and winding streets. Generations of poets, mariners, and adventurers have passed through. While the city has some of Chile’s best dining, the streets retain a Bohemian vibe. In the course of a weekend, visitors can stay at a high-ceilinged bed-and-breakfast, ride 19th- century funiculars up and down coastal bluffs, travel back in time at Pablo Neruda’s home, and relax over local microbrews. Just watch out for drunken sailors—Valparaíso’s port still welcomes vessels daily.

Pablo Neruda’s House

Pablo Neruda’s House

The poet Pablo Neruda redefined the city with his Ode to Valparaíso, calling it “the patched bow of a small courageous ship.” Today, visitors can tour his home, known as La Sebastiana. The building is now a museum with one of the city’s finest gift shops. 

Los Porteños Restaurant

Los Porteños Restaurant

Chile’s 4,000-mile coastline provides a bounty of seafood. At Los Porteños, try pastel de jaiba, crab served in a casserole with bread crumbs and cream.

Mastodonte Restaurant

Mastodonte Restaurant

Mingle with the locals at Mastodonte, a zany, safari- and Stone Age–themed restaurant near Plaza Aníbal Pinto. Order the chorrillana, a rib-filling plate of fries smothered in beef, cheese, onion, and fried egg.

>> Next: The AFAR Guide to Chile

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