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Live and in Technicolor: Valparaiso is Chile’s colorful cultural capital

Live and in Technicolor: Valparaiso is Chile’s colorful cultural capital

Last Updated on June 12, 2022

Valparaiso is the polar opposite of the nearby capital, Santiago.

valparaiso chileSantiago, even though only a couple of hours away from the magnificent snow-capped peaks of the Andes, is a flat city populated by modern mountains of steel. Massive office buildings and condominium complexes give the center of the 7-million strong city a powerful, global feel. While there is plenty of art and architecture to be seen, from atop San Cristobal hill looking down, Santiago’s color scheme is more a range of sepia tones.

Just 120 kilometers west on the Pacific Ocean, you find almost the opposite in Chile’s cultural capital of Valparaiso, where color explodes along the rows of houses lining rows up the 45 rolling hills of this bohemian city. An alternative streak runs deep in this port city once populated by sailors and adventurers from around the world, most of whom settled here in the 19th century. Today this ingrained counter culture can be seen in the intelligent, creative street art tattooed on the already colorful houses.

valparaiso street art

colorful house valparaiso
street art valparaiso

valparaiso street art templeman street
colorful houses in valparaiso

valparaiso street art house

colorful houses valparaiso chileNot just the houses, but the entire city is bursting with colorful life, from the green trolley buses…

valparaiso trolley bus

…to the boats and ships lining the harbor…

chile valparaisoThese amazing cars hung out to ‘dry’ on the line…

Valparaiso colorful carsSigns on the houses (this one sells delicious alfajores, which are layers of cookies and dulce de leche dipped and bathed in chocolate…)

valparaiso chileEven our feline friends seem to be more colorful…
valparaiso catDoor knobs like this one…

valparaiso doorknoband this little guy?

valparaiso chile

The city’s many, many stairs are often used as canvases, too…
street art stairs valparaiso
colorful stairs in valparaisoAnd we’re not sure what look this guy was going for, but this is his private home…

valparaiso artist houseWe’ll leave you with more images of our favorite street art in Valparaiso…
street art in valparaiso
street art in valparaiso
street art in valparaiso
street art in valparaiso
valparaiso street art
valparaiso street art
valparaiso stairs and funiculars
street art in valparaiso
Valparaiso door with graffiti
valparaiso street art buildings
valparaiso painted doors

Which street art in Valparaiso is your favorite? Share in the comments below…

My Favourite South American Street Art - Indefinite Adventure

Monday 22nd of December 2014

[…] scenes of places I travel. Although we didn’t get to see some of the more famous ones, like Valparaíso in Chile and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, there were plenty of cities and towns we visited during […]

Reflections on 10 Months in South America…and What’s Next? : Indefinite Adventure

Saturday 23rd of November 2013

[…] What for? We love cities, and especially ones that don’t necessarily have lots of big name sights, which is exactly what we’d heard about Santiago. Valparaíso is a coastal city full of funiculars, and I have an unnatural love for funiculars! It also seems to have a really cool street art scene. […]


Saturday 2nd of March 2013

Wow, amazing! Can't wait to see it; hopefully it's still bright and sunny by the time we get there in the autumn.


Monday 4th of March 2013

Thanks, Sam! I hope you'll still have amazing weather when you get there - we sure were lucky with 7 days of sunshine and bright blue skies :)d


Friday 1st of March 2013

I am obsessed with those hanging cars and all the painted stairs! Every time I see photos of Valparaiso I become more convinced that I must see this city.


Friday 1st of March 2013

You have to go one day, Rease - it's our favorite city in chile (so far, at least!) So much color everywhere and we loved the vibe there.

Jam @icoSnap

Thursday 28th of February 2013

This city is indeed very colorful :)


Thursday 28th of February 2013

Yes, so full of color and such a great vibe, too! Loved Valparaiso :)