Valparaiso’s amazing StreetArt on this self-guided walk

Recently our friend, Pete from Sydney, joined us for a 9-day visit in Chile . Since he’s also interested in street art, we decided to take him to Valparaíso, one of our favourite cities. But street art is only part of what makes Valpo (as the locals call it) so special. Somehow it’s just one of those cities in the world which you have to love – for its eclectic mix of old and new, its vibrant downtown and steep, sleepy hillsides, its unique funiculars, and its abundance of “almost fallen down, but not quite” structures…

We’ve published several StreetArt galleries from Valparaiso before and have been back a couple of times since. You see: this city has a hold on us! But I had a number of very nice surprises this time when I discovered new art work in places we had visited late last year.

StreetArt in Valparaiso - even the rubbish trucks all have graffiti art on the sides :D

StreetArt in Valparaiso – even the rubbish trucks all have graffiti art on the sides :D

This post will be slightly different from my previous ones as I concentrate on one area only, which you can explore on foot. It’s an easy walk, with stunning vistas on a clear day, no climbing, only some steep downhill sections (which can be hard on the old knees too – but I promise, you’ll be distracted!). If you want to take your time with photographs, then plan on at least 1½ to 2 hours, allowing for a short rest along the way. Late morning is probably the best time for this tour, as many walls face east or are otherwise shaded in the afternoon (as you can see from my photos).

Google map excerpt of our StreetArt walk. The line marks our route, orange are real "hot spots", the green parts offer more street art.

Google map excerpt of our StreetArt walk. The line marks our route, orange are real “hot spots”, the green parts offer more street art.

After Santiago we were all a little on the slow side, so I suggested we be lazy and share a taxi up the hill to one of my favourite street art galleries along Avenida Alemania. The taxi cost us roughly $5 – not a bad deal considering how steep it is to get up to Monte Alegre.

Take your time, be curious, look for hidden things, and enjoy yourself!

Once you arrive, make sure that you first walk around the small, triangular plaza and explore its side streets (eg Monte Alegre a little downhill) where you will find some outstanding murals! If you’re hungry, we recommend La Cocó Sangucheria Artesanal for their sumptuous vegetarian sandwiches.

Next, cross the bridge from where you can see a row of houses on the hill, almost every one set on top of its own retaining wall with colourful street art. It was here that I first discovered several art pieces which had not been there eight months before.

Valpo StreetArt on retaining walls along Calle Alemania. These walls extend much further and seem to all get slowly covered with street art. I discovered several pieces which had been added over the last 8 months.

Valpo StreetArt on retaining walls along Calle Alemania. These walls extend much further and seem to all get slowly covered with street art. I discovered several pieces which had been added over the last 8 months.

Follow Avenida Alemania to the left (roughly north) as it winds along the hill. In several places it affords some stunning views across rusty tin roofs, out to the harbour of Valparaiso. And don’t forget to peek through gates or photograph some of the classic corrugated iron facades – all part of this unique city.

New StreetArt works along Avenida Alemania

Others are featured in our previous gallery, linked above.

Once you reach Cerro Abajo with its small park, just past the Liceo Pedro Montt, it’s time to go downhill along Calle Cumming. But don’t miss the colourful art works below the park, down from the retaining wall. Cerro Abajo is the hill from where, once a year, fearless (or stupid?) mountain bikers race down the steep streets towards the city centre; this has become a famous event.

You’ll walk past Parque Cultural de Valparaíso (free access) in the converted old prison of the city. Next you’ll reach Cementerio #2 (main gates are unfortunately locked), where you keep to the right, downhill towards Calle Ecuador. Along this stretch you find a row of houses, each with art in very different styles.

Valparaiso StreetArt: 4 adjoining walls covered in murals of very different styles - see my individual photos.

Valparaiso StreetArt: how is this for variety? 4 adjoining walls covered in murals of very different styles – see my individual photos.

Further down along Ecuador it’s worthwhile to scout some of the side streets for more wall art. The lower section of Ecuador is where some of Valpo’s night life happens. You might even decide to stop here and have drink or a bite to eat. This is anyhow where our walk ends. When the bars and restaurants are closed their roller doors usually provide just another “canvas” for street art.

Only a fraction of the StreetArt we discovered going downhill from Cerro Abajo.

The part of town described in this article is not covered by any of Valpo’s city tours. We published another gallery of 23 StreetArt photos which we took during our guided walking tour around Valparaíso. Plus previously we have published two other street art galleries from Valparaíso: this gallery and this gallery – all together around 100 photos!

This walking tour should give a good cross section of street art styles found in Valparaíso. If you would like to learn more about various styles of street art and graffiti I highly recommend this page by a small business in Valpo – they run street art tours in town. The part of town, which our tour covers, is quite safe. To see street art in outlaying suburbs (which can be a bit rough), and learn more about various styles and artists, you might want to join a group tour through the business linked above (we haven’t been on any of their tours, so we have no personal experience).

Which piece of wall art do you like the best? Please tell us in the ‘comments’ below!
For StreetArt Galleries from other parts of South America please visit our dedicated category with all posts.


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32 Responses

  1. I’m in Valpo right now for 3 weeks and have become totally obsessed with hunting street art. I found your post after a google search. I haven’t been to Alemania or Ecuador and I’m excited to check it out!! Thanks for the tips!

  2. Kaylene says:

    Love the photos! I went to Valparaiso for the first time in July. The street art is really incredible, and it’s such a cool city to discover on foot!

    • Juergen says:

      Yes, I agree, we returned several times within the same year. Sometimes it was on our way, other times a little out of the way, but always worth a return visit. Every corner you turn you can discover something quirky.

  3. I’ve never been to Chile but this post definitely inspires me to want to visit. I’ll be adding Valpo to our travel wishlist!

    • Juergen says:

      Glad to read, Jennifer! Valparaiso certainly deserves a visit – as I wrote: we find ourselves coming back to this unique cite!

  4. The street art is one of the things that have always attracted me about Valparaiso. I just love how complex and vibrant the works are in there. It is good to know that the scene is constantly changing. Can’t believe even the garbage truck is painted! I liked that one!

  5. Thanks for the great tips on finding Street Art in Valparaiso! We are heading there for New Year’s this year and will certainly add your suggested walking tour to our itinerary to find these beautiful works of art as well! Happy to hear about your love for the city and we can’t wait to experience it as well!

    • Juergen says:

      Really pleased that one of our posts will become part of an itinerary. If you’re more energetic there are more street art pieces along Avenida Alemania (which is, by Valparaiso standards, very level), but Calle Ecuador is a good one to get back down into the center of town. Or walk a bit more the side streets of Calle Cumming, specially near the cemetery.
      I don’t know if you come back to read follow-up comments – a couple of extra tips from me:
      I would probably spend more time in and around Valparaiso than in Santiago, or spread my time evenly between the two. We have another post on our blog, which gives an itinerary suggestion for one week in & around Santiago ; it includes Valparaiso and Isla Negra, the quirky house of Pablo Neruda (now a museum).

  6. Vlad says:

    Amazing street art! I love the one with the two musicians, it’s so colorful.

    • Juergen says:

      Sometimes it’s almost too difficult to decide which one is the best, made even harder by the fact that there are so many styles of street art. The two girls are certainly in my list of favorites.

  7. Anne says:

    I like the face on the retaining wall the best. Looks like an amazing place

    • Juergen says:

      You mean the 3D street art with the cone as a nose? Yes, that one is certainly rather unique. I was concentrating on the wall opposite, which has some amazing murals (not featured in this post but in a previous one) and only by sheer luck turned around and noticed it… That’s why you have to take your time!

  8. Lyndall says:

    I’ve never been to Chile, but Valparaiso looks so interesting. The street art is incredible – so much talent on show.

    • Juergen says:

      As I wrote in our post: Valparaiso is “one of those cities in the world which you have to love”! It’s unique in many ways.

  9. Wow! It looks like Valparaiso has more than its share of talented artists, judging by the variety of street art!

    • Juergen says:

      Rachel, it’s actually going much further than that: there are now dozens of world renowned international street artist coming to work in Valparaiso. Others have earned here international recognition, like INTI , who originates from Valparaiso and works now almost as much in Europe as in Chile!

  10. I’m not very fond of surrealistic art (Dali creeps me out), so I don’t really have a favorite piece among the street art murals you photographed. However, I’ve heard that Valparaiso is really worth a visit which you have confirmed. Next time. My hometown, Philadelphia is also a city of murals, believe it or not. Maybe someday we’ll get to share them with you and Yasha.

  11. What a wonderful photo essay. I would love to check out VALPO and all the amazing art. What kind of camera did you use??

    • Juergen says:

      Thank you, Vicky! The majority of these street art photos were taken with an Olympus OM-D M10, my new four-thirds camera (sorry: you’d have to look up what this means – too long to elaborate). But often I carry only our really old Nikon S10 (bought in 2006!) with me, which is a bit banged up and scratched by now (so no great loss if stolen), but still takes very good photos. The advantage of the Nikon: I know it by heart, I often use a lot of manual settings, whereas the with Olympus I’m still learning. What to take from this: don’t go travelling with a brand new camera, experiment with it before you go!

  12. Donna Janke says:

    What an amazing collection of street art in Valparaíso. Some very talented artists. Your advice to take time and look for hidden things applies to a lot of situations, not just looking for street art in Valpo.

    • Juergen says:

      Donna, that’s why we like the concept of “slow travel”. Apart from looking for hidden street art I’m also known to peek into almost every open courtyard I see along the way. I first learned this in Italy…

  13. What fun – I love strolls in a new city where you can’t wait to discover what’s around each corner and Valparaiso seems to offer that plus some good places to eat. The street art on Calle Ecuador had so much energy and I had to really look at the photo of the women standing in front of the graffiti who seemed to be a part of the design – interactive art!

    • Juergen says:

      Yes, these two women were perfectly blending into the graffiti behind them. I’m somebody, who’s often ‘shy’ about photographing people, but there I ‘had to’.

  14. I think I like the man with the 12 on his head, Padre Nueutro the best, I hope I wrote that correctly. I am a huge fan of street art.

    • Juergen says:

      Yes, it very much reminded me of famous surrealistic paintings. Will you believe: our friend Pete didn’t even stop for this one! This was part of street art ‘triptychon’, with some distance between the walls of identical size. But since Pete and my wife were so far ahead, and the other 2 murals were blocked in by parked cars, this is the only photo have.

  15. Nancie says:

    I love street art, and this is awesome. I can see myself spending double the time that you recommend. Impossible to pick a favorite.

    • Juergen says:

      I confess we spent almost twice the time! But two hours would be realistic for this walk and to photograph all major street art. You just can’t skip into all the side lanes like we did.

  16. Valparaiso is one of those magical places which calls you back after you leave. We have only been there once but I have a real need to go back. A big part of its attraction is the street art.

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