Things to do in Valparaiso
In muralist Patricio Peña Oltra's gallery, sift through the works of 36 emerging local artists, stacked in boxes and leaning against the walls.
Everything from the jewelry to the jam to the paintings on the walls is made in Chile. Take home a 22-piece set of cypress-and-alerce (a prized South American spruce) spoons and forks, carved by two sisters from Chiloe Island. A downy baby-alpaca poncho comes from the north.
Steps from the café-lined Plaza Aníbal Pinto, expat owner James Henkel hosts frequent art exhibits and readings in his bookstore, specializing in Latin American politics, literature, and travel essays.
See relics of Chile's maritime heritage: there's a room dedicated to Bernardo O'Higgins, the principal leader in Chile's fight for independence, and founder of the navy; and sections of the Esmeralda, the infamous wooden galleon that stood up to Peru's iron battleships in the War of the Pacific (
Vendors hawk remnants of the city's glory days amid the crooning of tango singers every Sunday. Score flea-market finds (rare Condorito comics depicting Chile's beloved flip-flop–wearing condor) and antiques (like a 1918 stand-up Victrola).
In the 1990's, renowned Chilean masters such as Roberto Matta, Nemesio Antunez, and Roser Bru adorned the exteriors of houses with a series of 20 original murals and created the "open sky" museum. From Ascensor Espiritu Santo, veer to the right and follow the art.
Although showing its age, Pablo Neruda's five-story former residence is packed with tourists—and the Nobel Prize–winning poet's eclectic keepsakes (like a stuffed Venezuelan caro caro bird and Coptic tapestry from Ethiopia).
Latin America's most famous dance has long thrived in Valparaíso; the uninitiated may be satisfied with performances at Bar Cinzano and La Piedra Feliz, but this new club has superior live performances with singers and bandonion (an instrument similar to the accordion).
The city's most talked-about gallery is in a narrow building that resembles the bow of a ship.
Tiny tables, flattering lighting, potent pisco sours (lime juice mixed with grape brandy and foamy egg white), and a friendly, multilingual Dutch owner make for one of the most social pubs in town.
With separate areas for different styles of music and dance, this fantastically cavernous warehouse of a club (it has room for 1,000 people) dominates a disco-filled block of oceanfront Avenida Errazuriz.
After 111 years, porteños of all ages still seek refuge here come nightfall. It's familiar, friendly, and lively, with a long, low bar, a few primitive refrigerators, and creaky crooked floorboards.