Turistic Information: Viña del Mar and Valparaíso

Please be aware that like in many other big cities, you have to be careful with your belongings, specially cameras and money. Wear a money belt, or cross your purse strap across your chest. Do not wear jewelry if you plan an excursion inside town, and never change money on the street, but do it in the established exchange offices or banks.

A tourism agency - Darwin's Trails - has been selected to show you some of the most attractive places in Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. If you are interested, please contact the agency directly through their web page or at Hotel San Martín until Tuesday, March 3, 15:00 hr. It is probably more enjoyable (and cheaper!) if you can share the trip with other meeting participants. Prices are indicated here.
For Tuesday evening, you may enjoy a night tour in Valparaíso (Spanish version).
The afternoon of Wednesday, March 4, is free. You may choose from:

If you arrive earlier or intend to spend some additional days in Chile following the conference, we recommend some places to visit. These include ski resorts and beaches, vineyards and National Parks.

In Valparaíso

(See map which indicates many of the places mentioned) From Viña del Mar you can take any bus heading to the 'Puerto" or the MetroVal.
  • Muelle Prat (Prat pier).You might consider taking a "cruise" aboard one of the many fishing skiffs and launches that ferry visitors around the Valparaíso harbor for 20 minutes. Just head toward the dock, an eager skipper will find you. Try negotiating the price.
  • Hills and lookouts:
    • Paseo Yugoslavo. Taking the ascensor El Peral will get you to this paseo on Cerro Alegre.
    • Paseo Gervasoni. This is one of the typical walks you will find in the hills of Valparaíso. It is located on Cerro Concepción where you can also visit Café Turri.
    • Casa Mirador de Lukas The museum on Cerro Concepción displays a permanent exhibition of hundreds of illustrations of Renzo Pecchenino, "Lukas", a celebrated cartoonist and satirist.
    • Anglican Church of Saint Paul, also in Cerro Concepción. Built in 1858, this unadorned church was not officially recognized until 1869, when the Chilean government revoked a law banning religions other than Catholicism. The church houses a grand organ donated by the British in 1901 in honor of Queen Victoria.
    • Paseo Atkinson is another pedestrian walkway bordered by antique homes featuring the zinc facades and guillotine windows popular with the British in the early 20th century. The nice 'Brighton' restaurant and hotel is situated here
    • Ascensor Artillería. This elevator is the longest one in Valparaíso. It starts at the bottom of Errázuriz street. and ascends to Cerro Artillería, where the old Naval Academy -now the Naval and Maritime Museum- is located. It shows a nice view of the entire bay.
  • Museo a Cielo Abierto de Valparaíso. This museum located behind the main plaza in Valparaíso, on Cerro Bellavista, displays murals by 17 renowned painters. It consists of a series of closely juxtaposed murals, which form part of a path along the mountainside of the cerro. (Note that this Open Air Museum runs through an interesting but somewhat rough neighborhood, and for that reason might not appeal to everyone)
  • Museo del Mar 'Lord Thomas Cochrane' is located in a large, old colonial-style house built in 1842 by the Englishman Juan Muat, who installed the first observatory in Chile in one of the buildings. The house is built on level ground on the edge of a cliff and from the terrace you can enjoy an exceptional view of the city. There are ship models on permanent display and temporary exhibitions all year round.
  • Congreso Nacional. Head office of the house of representatives.
  • Touring the hills of Valparaíso using Camino Cintura (Waist road) you will find La Sebastiana on Cerro Florida. This was the home of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), Nobel Prize in literature in 1971, who used to spend New Year's eve enjoying the view of Valparaíso and mixing cocktails for his friends. The home originally belonged to the Spaniard Sebastian Collado. On his death, his heirs abandoned the building, which was saved from oblivion by the poet, who refurbished it and made it into one of his residences in 1961. Since 1992 the house functions as a museum.

In Viña del Mar:

(See map which indicates many of the places mentioned here)
  • Downtown and main residences
    • Archaeological and Natural History Museum Francisco Fonck. Built at the beginning of the 20th century to house the wealthy Délano family, this impressive building was eventually acquired by the local Municipal Authorities in 1985 and converted into a museum. There are two main sections to visit: a natural history department dedicated to Chile’s native flora and fauna, and an archaeological department. This department offers a permanent display related to the indigenous peoples of Northern Chile, the Aconcagua region and the Mapuche in the south of the country. You will also find one of the most important collections in the world about Easter Island, including the only genuine Moai statue in the whole of continental Chile. You can admire this moai outside in the museum garden.
    • Castillo Brunet It now belongs to Carabineros de Chile (the uniformed police).
    • Castillo Ross. Designed in Tudor style by the Chilean architect Cruz Montt around 1912. The Arab Union Club resides here.
    • Castillo Wulff. This architectural oddity, built for the nitrate and coal baron Gustavo Adolfo Wulff at the beginning of the twentieth century, seems to be hanging from the cliff face. Waves break on the rocks directly below it.
    • Palacio Carrasco. Alfredo Azancot built this place for the nitrate baron Emilio Carrasco in 1912. Since 1971 it has housed the Vicuña Mackenna library, including historical archives and a cultural centre. In the garden you may find the sculpture "The Defence", which France gave to Chile in homage to the hero of the Iquique Naval Battle, Arturo Prat.
    • Palacio Presidencial. This lavish residence was built in 1929 by the architects Luis Browne and Manuel Valenzuela, and is found in the northern sector of Cerro Castillo. The first president to use it was Mr. Carlos Ibañez del Campo, and today the building still continues receiving the Presidents of Chile. The building itself has an eclectic style with certain neo-medieval touches.
    • Palacio Rioja. This French-style palace was built by Alfredo Azancot for banker Fernando Rioja in 1906. It was once surrounded by ornamental gardens much larger than those found today and has belonged to the local municipal authorities since 1956.
    • Quinta Vergara. A public park with a beautiful residence housing the Municipal Museum of Fine Arts.
  • Casino Municipal is at a walking distance from the conference venue.
  • Sausalito lagoon. This park has an artificial lake used for water sports. Other facilities include beaches, four swimming pools, tennis courts, a jogging track and a shooting club. It is also a legacy of the city's late 19th and early 20th century English residents who founded many sports clubs, schools and other places for recreation.
  • Perú Avenue, parallel to Av. San Martín, is eight blocks long and runs along the ocean. Sunsets are nice from here!
  • Valparaíso Sporting Club. This is one of the city's largest parks and it plays a vital role in the local sporting life. There are facilities for hockey, rugby, tennis, athletics, football and horse riding. It is also home to the Viña del Mar Racecourse. It offers events every Friday, and has held its very own Derby Day which traditionally takes place on the first Sunday of February.

More paseos:

  • Botanical Garden, (see map) Bordering Viña del Mar's industrial zone is this oasis of vegetation, covering an area of 40 hectars with more than 800 species of flora. Originally commissioned by nitrate baron Pascual Baburizza and created by French landscape gardener George Dubois, the park was donated to the Nitrate and Iodine Company. Locally referred to as the Saltpetre Park (Parque Salitre) it serves both an educational and scientific purpose. Thanks to its stony paths, ponds and woodlands it is an excellent place to visit with your family.
  • La Campana National Park, (see map). "We spent the day on the summit, and I never enjoyed one more thoroughly. Chile, bounded by the Andes and the Pacific, was seen as in a map.", wrote the young Charles Darwin in his diary, after spending two days in the range which separates the Quillota and Olmué valleys. Darwin had been travelling around a great part of the central zone and on August 17, 1833, he reached the summit of La Campana together with two guides. The brief excerpt of Darwin´s diary describes well the feeling of this mountain. He continues writing: "The pleasure from the scenery, in itself beautiful, was heightened by the many reflections which arose from the mere view of the grand range, with its lesser parallel ones, and of the broad valley of Quillota directly intersecting the latter. Who can avoid admiring the wonderful force which has upheaved these mountains, and even more so the countless ages which it must have required, to have broken through, removed, and levelled whole masses of them?” ("Voyage of the Beagle".)
  • Ruta del Vino in the Casablanca valley. Casablanca is one of the youngest Chilean viticultural areas. It is located in the coastal 5th region, 80 km NW of Santiago and 40 km SE of Valparaíso. Highway 68 connecting Santiago and Viña del Mar passes through this valley. You can visit Viña Veramonte,Viña Indómita, Viña Morandé and others. All have good restaurants.
  • The coastal road from Reñaca to Concón is 12-km long. You can see the sea lions resting on rocks in front of the Cochoa beach, and visit the Roca Oceánica, a rock formation recently declared a protected area of natural interest.
  • Beaches and villages to the north of Valparaíso: Quintero, Zapallar and Papudo.
  • Beaches and villages to the south of Valparaíso: Algarrobo, Cartagena, San Antonio, Rocas de Santo Domingo. The house of Pablo Neruda is in Isla Negra.
  • Laguna Verde. A small village, mixture of countryside and beach located 15 km from Valparaíso.
  • Ski resorts. The Chilean ski season starts around June/July and generally lasts until September/October. Portillo is at 193 km from Viña del Mar and 150 km from Santiago. Other ski resorts closer to Santiago are Valle Nevado (60 km) and Farellones (36 km).


In Viña del Mar at Las Palmas and Marina Arauco. Valparaíso street between Plaza Vergara and Ecuador street, is also a good place for shopping.