Valparaiso Chile: Home to Amazing Street Art

Valparaiso, Chile (or Valpo as the locals call it) is about a ninety-minute drive west of Santiago and is the second largest city in Chile.  It’s a coastal city with a lot of history and is nestled in the hills overlooking Chile’s first major port.

If you’re visiting Chile, make sure to carve out ample time for Valparaiso, especially to explore its street art scene. The history of street art here is fascinating, born out of necessity during the Pinochet dictatorship as a safe form of protest.

Street art has exploded in popularity in Valpo, with both local and international artists leaving their mark all over this hilly and picturesque city. Walking around, you’ll encounter an eclectic mix of styles—from human characters, societal issues, cubism, and graffiti style—all over the city’s walls, buildings, and storefronts.

Visiting Valpraiso Chile with kids - it's got great small town vibes

Valparaiso reminded me a bit of San Francisco – it’s filled with hills and valleys. But there’s a twist—it’s as if the 90s never left, and instead of drab grey, the color was turned up to 10. Picture wareshouses, lofts, steep streets, alt-rock vibes, but minus the tech startups. This city has kept its bohemian spirit alive and kicking.

It’s a place brimming with local events, art exhibits, and an abundance of spots to enjoy a live show without breaking the bank. And the street art? It’s everywhere, adding a vibrant layer to the city’s gritty charm. It’s easy to lose track of time in Valparaiso and before you know it, you’ve stayed far longer than planned.

Valparaíso, Chile - amazing street art

 

Valparaiso has embraced the street art culture wholeheartedly. Businesses and homeowners face a choice: resist and suffer the eyesore of unsightly tags or collaborate with a muralist to transform their walls into works of art. This open-minded approach has turned Valparaiso into a sprawling canvas for spray can art, making the city a haven for enthusiasts.

the street art in Valpraiso is amazing and the kids really enjoyed itStreet art is used here as a form of expression, both politically and socially, and wherever you turn in Valparaiso you see street art.  On the walls, doors, buildings, bus stops and even on the buses. Each piece tells a story, adding layers of meaning and beauty to the urban landscape.

Where to Find Street Art: in ValparaisoValparaíso, Chile fun street art with the family

Street art is legal in Valpo.  In fact, it is actually encouraged by city officials as they provide paint free of charge to anyone who wants to express themselves on the walls in the city. The only caveat is that artists must be granted permission from whomever owns the building before painting all over it.  This is in contrast to Bristol, where Banksy was born. Banksy has had some of his famous pieces of artwork painted over by the city since they consider it vandalism.Valpo street art - striking similarities to Banksy street art

For those enchanted by Valparaiso’s street art, I recommend following these talented artists on Instagram to keep up with their latest creations. And if you’re planning a visit, there are street art tours that offer a deeper dive into the city’s vibrant art scene, revealing stories and insights behind the murals that you might otherwise miss. Valparaiso is a testament to the power of art in transforming spaces and communities, making it a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the soul of the city.

8 Reasons You Should Go to Valparaiso, Chile with kidsI personally LOVE street art, and as we explored each winding street, we were presented with a cooler, more vibrant piece of street art.  The hip and artsy boho vibe of the city simply draws you in, and we explored every single boutique and every single street.The Manchester United shirt doesn't look very bright compared to this street art

Every street corner is like a page from a comic book, splashed with lots of bright colors. There was this huge wall painting that looked like a parade of musicians and cool characters, all drawn in big, brave lines. Bright yellows, purples, and greens jumped out from the wall, and each painted person seemed like they had their own secret story about this awesome town by the sea.

Valparaíso, Chile with the family to see street art

The kids were mesmerized at times, looking at all this art just out in the open. It felt like the whole world could be one big art piece.

Find Street Art in Valparaiso
Where’s Waldo?!

Since Valpo is built in the hills, there are endless bars, bistros and cafes, clinging precariously to the cliffs edge. We all loved how bright and happy the city felt. Granted we were there in the summer, but as we ate fresh seafood overlooking the water, we were all extremely happy.

Family lunch in Valparaiso

Valparaiso, Chile: Hidden Gems and Insider Secrets

In Valparaiso, the top attraction is free — simply walking around and seeing the street art come alive. But, here are some other things to do when visiting Valparaiso with kids:

  1. Ascensor Reina Victoria – Because of it’s steep hills, Valparaiso is famous for its funiculars. The Ascensor Reina Victoria is not just a mode of transport but a journey back in time. This brightly painted lift will whisk you and your little explorers up to a viewpoint where the sprawling canvas of Valparaiso street art unfolds below. The kids will love the ride, and you’ll appreciate the stunning photo opportunities.
  2. La Sebastiana – Pablo Neruda’s house-turned-museum is a lesser-known spot that’s perfect for igniting the imagination. Let the kids marvel at the quirky collections and enjoy the stories of this Nobel Prize-winning poet. It’s a great way to sprinkle a dash of history into your Valparaiso visit.
  3. Paseo 21 de Mayo – Tucked away from the main tourist circuit, this walkway offers panoramic views of the city and its vibrant port. It’s a peaceful spot to enjoy an ice cream, let the kids run free, and soak up the local atmosphere while surrounded by stunning street murals.
  4. Playa Ancha’s Naval and Maritime Museum – A hidden gem where kids can learn about Chile’s naval history through interactive exhibits. It’s a nice break from the urban art scene and a chance to engage with Valparaiso’s maritime heritage.
  5. Cerro Concepción and Cerro Alegre – While these hills are known for their street art, the real secret lies in exploring them early in the morning when the streets are quiet, and the murals are unobstructed by traffic. It’s like having a private gallery viewing, with fresher air and cooler temperatures.

In Valparaiso, the streets are a playground of art, and the city is a living storybook that will colour your kids’ favorite travel memories.

Have you ever checked out the street art in Valparaiso, Chile?

London has Banksy, Valpo has so many different artists. Which city has your favorite street art?

Let me know in the comments below!

About The Author

Samantha

I’m a travel and health writer, digital brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising an active family, life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.

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