We took an hour and a half long bus from Santiago to Viña del Mar for 4 days. We met lots of people who just did day trips to Viña or Valparaiso (Valpo as it known by the locals), but it’s worth it to stay there for a few days! These three towns are pretty close together and the buses are super easy to figure out throughout the coast (Viña is between Valpo and Concón). We stayed in Viña the whole time because Valpo is known for pick pocketing, although I think it is cheaper to stay there and it’s really beautiful. Valpo is known for its street art, Viña for the beaches, and Concón for the huge natural sand dunes. Valparaiso also has a more lively nightlife compared to the other cities so picking city is really dependant on what your flavour is.
Hostel: Street Garden Hostel (Viña)
Location is close to the beach, free breakfast, small locker storage for valuables, they’ll keep your stuff here all day if you need, grocery store and restaurants close by, felt pretty safe the whole time and met some awesome people (of course). The staff was incredible as well, one guy even drew us a map of what to do/see in Valpo as well as areas to avoid.
The city buses are super easy to use and really inexpensive. We stayed in Viña the whole time and did day trips into Valpo and Concón. For the 20 minute bus rides, it was 400pesos each (which is about $0.80). There are bus stops on the streets, but you can also just stand on the side of the road and flag them down. Then push the button to get off, and they’ll stop literally anywhere. The buses are a bit rocky but a really good way to get around. The hostel had bikes that you could rent for 700 pesos for the day but we didn’t do that while we were there. There’s a metro too but we didn’t use it.
Our hostel had happy hour after 9 where you could get 1.2 L of beer for about $4, that was taken full advantage of. We also tried a peach and barley drink (Mote con Huesillo) that’s popular in Chile. It’s definitely a different flavour so get a small one and then get more if you like it! They’re sold along the beach in Viña but I think you can find them almost anywhere.
Completo Italiano is a hot dog with a ton of tomatoes, avocado and mayonnaise on it. They are absolutely everywhere down here, we just happened to try it in Viña.
Seafood is also pretty popular along the coast with most restaurants boasting pretty elaborate menus of various seafood meals. They can get a bit expensive and we were told in the hostel that even Chileans don’t eat that much seafood, its more of a once a week kind of meal.
Concón has empanada stands everywhere with every combination you can imagine.
Things to Do:
Viña: spent most of our time walking around the city and at the beach.
Valpo: went there for a day trip and followed a route that a guy at our hostel recommended to us. We got to see a lot of things (like the street art) used the funiculars, which are elevators that bring you 100m or so up the mountain to a lookout point. They cost 100pesos to get on ($0.20). It was good that we were following a recommended route, as parts of Valpo are dangerous. If you start walking towards them, the locals will tell you to turn around. Also, you can tell that they look sketchy so just use your head.
Concón: this place has some really cool sand dunes that you can explore! You can see them from Valpo and Viña (they just look like two huge dunes but there’s actually a bunch of them). You can just hop on any bus that says Concón on it and get off once you see the dunes. We went too early in the day, but it’s also possible to rent a sandboard from people at the base of the dunes and slide down them if you’re in the right season for it. Apparently people usually show up to rent the boards out around 2:30 and it’s 1000pesos for an hour. Otherwise just going to explore them is pretty cool! They’re natural so it makes it a bit more special.
If you’re looking to surf, we did see people sitting in the water closer to Concón. The beach right outside our hostel wasn’t great for surfing just because the waves broke too close to shore. I’m not sure if you can rent boards or not because we didn’t have time to look into it but it would be worth it to look up if you’re wanting to surf! Otherwise we met some people who went north to surf.
ITS COLDER IN VIÑA THAN SANTIAGO!!! Don’t pull a Kyle and only bring one t-shirt, two pinnies, and a bathing suit. You will need a sweater and pants. Trust us, it gets chilly at night and in the morning. And don’t make a smart ass comment about never being cold because you’re Canadian. It will come back to haunt you.