Once the most important port in all of South America—full of globe-trotting European residents and their riches—this city long served as the Continent’s glamorous link to the rest of the world. When the Panama Canal opened in 1914, Valparaíso lost its status as an international power but retained the air of its regal past. Locals (known as porteños)— an incongruous mix of artists, sailors, and students—still gather at the same century-old bars, and Edwardian villas and Art Nouveau palaces balance on hilltops. Citywide restoration efforts are now rescuing crumbling landmarks; historic houses are being transformed into sophisticated restaurants; and notable galleries are heralding the work of native talent.
Strolling through the Museo a Cielo Abierto, an “open sky” museum composed of 20 murals painted on the exteriors of houses.
Reserving a table at the 100-plus-year-old Bar Cinzano for a night filled with sangria, calugas de pescado (morsels of fried fish), and live tango.
Scoring flea-market finds (rare Condorito comics depicting Chile's beloved flip-flop–wearing condor) and antiques (like a 1918 stand-up Victrola) at the Antiques and Book Market.