A short bus ride away from the capital of Santiago is two pleasant coastal towns – Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. Both are completely different in every way despite them being only 20 mins apart.
Valparaiso is a harbour town built into the hillsides and filled with multi-coloured houses and loads of graffiti. The city looks beautiful from a distance, but up close the grunge and grime of the city may not appeal to every tourist. For a photographer, it was a dream of intricate and interesting things to capture.
Beyond just wandering around and marvelling at the bizarre houses, there isn’t a lot to hold your interest longer than a few days. Kitschy souvenir shops and delicious seafood restaurants fill the town, but be careful which streets you wander down, especially at night.
Only a few trains stop down is the town of Vina del Mar, a posh and clean beach town that holds a stark contrast to Valparaiso. We only spent an afternoon in Vina, but managed to find an excellent artisans market and spent time visiting a few beautiful historic mansions. The beach was packed solid and quite lively.
It’s hard to pick which one would appeal most to different travellers, so I would recommend stopping at both. Being only 30 mins apart make it easy to see the diverse and interesting coast of Chile in an easy weekend trip from the capital.