Is Chile (Valparaiso and Santiago) worth a visit?
If you search on the internet about Chile, you will surely hear wonders about it: an European vibe, great wine, modern infrastructures and natural wonders such as the Atacama Desert, Tierra del Fuego, Easter Island or the Patagonia Glaciers. It is also the safest country in South America, so you do not need to be with that extra caution as if you were anywhere within this continent.
What you usually do not hear about is how Chile is in terms of fun and women, as most of the guys label it already beforehand as a bad choice. Considering the outcome a guy can have while rolling in Latin America, there are much better and obvious choices such as Brazil, Colombia or Mexico. And we can understand why, as these countries are in theory a guarantee of having nice parties and hot, attractive women. Furthermore, Chile is not even cheap according to South American standards (after the current Brazil, it is the most expensive country in the continent), so why bother about visiting it with hope of some good, old debauchery?
Well, the answer is not so obvious and again it depends on your personal tastes. In this article I am going to give you a detailed report about the two cities I visited, Valparaiso and Santiago, in order that you draw your own conclusions:
This seaport city is located 120km northwest of Santiago and its metropolitan area is the second largest in the country, after greater Santiago. In this report I am also considering Viña del Mar and Reñaca, two beach towns next to Valparaíso.
Logistics and things to see
Valparaiso has in theory the perfect landscape to be one of the most pleasant cities one can think of: colorful houses spread across several hills, with the sea down below and an endless horizon in front. However, maybe because there was never a real territorial planning, the city somehow looks ugly and it has a strange vibe. Call me snooty or whatever you want, but the fact that this town is a liberal shit hole – filled with squatters with dogs and leftists whose only action is to drink beer on the streets – does not help either.
Nevertheless, the city still has many points of interest, which surely deserve a visit. Starting with its most famous square, Plaza Sotomayor, with its monument dedicated to the Héroes de Iquique. Close to it, there is another square called plaza de la Justicia, where you can find the Palace of the courts of Justice. But Valparaiso is not famous by its plain area, rather by its hills, whose town’s main attraction are its funicular railways (there are around 30). And here I can recommend two:
The first one, El Peral, which leads to the amazing Paseo Yugoslavo (where I spent the New Year’s Eve, with a privileged view over the bay and fireworks), where you can also find the nice Museum of Fine Arts. The second one, Concepcion (unfortunately it is still closed due to restoration), which is the oldest funicular in town – which dates back to 1883 – and leads to Paseo Gervasoni, famous for its narrow streets with graffiti and also a beautiful view.
Last but surely not least, it is time to talk about La Sebastiana, one of the three houses where the poet, diplomat and politician Pablo de Neruda lived in Chile (the other two are in Santiago, named La Chascona, and in Isla Negra). I do not care whether you have read any of his poems or whether you even know who he was but I can promise you something: that you will see a house set in an ingenious way, a proof that Pablo de Neruda was much more than a common mortal.
Concerning the accommodation, I recommend you to stay around Bellavista, as here you will have most of the night clubs (more on that later), restaurants and supermarkets and also easy access to transportation. And talking about that, there are these buses which you can take at Avenue Errázuriz and will take you to other nearby towns, such as Viña del Mar (the trip lasts around 15 minutes and costs 1€).
And if Valparaíso is brass, Viña del Mar is gold, in terms of not only appearance but also money. You can clearly notice the difference between the two cities (it looks like a game, as if Valparaiso were hell and Viña del Mar were heaven), as the latter is organized, with nice beaches and whose people have also a normal look. But this comes, naturally, with a price, as renting an apartment here is perhaps double the price than in Valparaíso. And last we have Reñaca, which is a smaller Viña, filled with Argentinian tourists (at least in the summer time), including big groups and families. I would say it deserves a visit – especially if you are under 22 and like teenager parties – for one day but, more than that, I would clearly skip it.
If there is a thing Chileans are not good at is about producing women. It is not a myth: the typical Chilean girl is small, ugly and, worse, not that feminine, as the country also embraces a little bit this European, hipster culture. I did not see a girl above 7 in Valparaiso, except in two cases: one was one of these rich girls, a phenomenon which is quite common in Latin America (the best girls are reserved to the high tier circles), and the other one was…a German girl, whom I approached in the gym. The situation changed a lot in Viña del Mar, but most of the hotties I saw were either Argentinian or rich girls from Santiago, a fact which hampers any kind of analysis. So focusing on the local talent, I would say that after a couple of months living there, I would be lowering my standards to dangerous levels.
But not everything is negative, as Chilean people have a very nice attitude in general. They may not have the same joy as of a Brazilian nor the same flame as a Colombian but I see this as a tremendous advantage. That might sound strange if you are not into Latin culture but, the more one is expressive and flashy, the more that person tends to be flakey. And the fact that Chileans are seen as cold and reserved, according to the continent’s standards, means in practical terms that have a good mixture of fun and reliability. And regarding the girls I approached, none of them blew me off! Even if in the end some were not that interested, at least they politely gave me signals which made me end the interaction easily.
Night life and Party level
Before coming to Valparaiso, I had heard wonderful things about its new year’s evening, a celebration in which everyone goes crazy, turning the city into a programmed chaos. So with this in mind, I decided to book a long weekend starting on Thursday – the New Year’s Eve would be on Sunday night – since I strongly believed that Valparaiso would have the perfect spirit to party hard until the new year to come.
On Thursday, because we had arrived on that exact day from Europe, we just went out to check the atmosphere and go for a couple of beers. And even if we went to a couple of bars near the Plaza Anibal Pinto, I could immediately notice what Valparaiso was all about a bunch of leftist Bohemians who like to get wasted, in a city with zero class and whose “ugliness” is somehow praised. It is also not a coincidence that the place is filled with stray dogs, a clear signal that some extra cents to enjoy that beer now are way more important than thinking about your tomorrow.
After some online research, on Friday my friend and I decided to club OVO, located in the casino of Viña del Mar. When we arrived, we first went to the bar of the casino, which has also a dance floor nearby and whose clientele is naturally older people. Even so, you can still spot some cute faces, but whose intentions are eventually to trick some old, thirsty guy into sponsoring them. After a while of not seeing any good chance or group of girls to approach – I must admit that I was still feeling “rusty”, without that fluidity for starting a conversation with strangers – we went up to enter the club. As we were getting in, we saw lots of good-looking youngsters, whose best girls were all paired with a guy. That should already have given us an indicator of how our night would end but one rarely takes the right decisions when going out when the sun is down. The atmosphere was good, and also the Latin music, but in the end we just left with the impression that OVO is one of these places in which you will always go home empty-handed, unless you are either inserted in a good group or you are a local famous guy.
On Saturday, we decided to go Reñaca, to check a sunset party at Club O, since we had been put in the guest list by the lady who was renting us the flat in Valparaíso. The sun was shining and our mood was also synchronized with it, so nothing better to go to a party filled with…Argentinian youngsters. If I tell you that the older guy after me was eventually 10 years younger than me, than you can imagine how we were feeling like fish out of water. We left one hour after entering the place.
Later, it was time to hit hard the nightlife of Valparaiso, more specifically where most of the action takes place, the neighborhood of Bellavista. After a disappointing visit to what was once the most famous club in the city – El Huevo, a huge space with different rooms but which is now in dire straits – we tried to enter what is now the hottest club around here: Terraza Bellavista. And indeed, judging by its (long) queue, it is where the (few) local attractive girls go to, but we were simply not in the mood to lose about one hour to get in.
While wandering around and looking for other options, we eventually got approached by a girl promoter, who got us in for free in the club Karma. And here there were three things worth telling: First, being 1.81 meter, I looked around the main dance floor and realized that I was the tallest person in the club! Never in my life had I had a similar feeling; second, the club is packed with youngsters, who are mostly guys, so your opportunities of meeting chicks are almost none; finally, I must say that very rarely I have been in a club in which people had some much fun! The Dj, the animator, the crowd, everyone was shouting and dancing, a reality which (sadly) you do not see so often nowadays. After a couple of hours, I approached one girl, collected her number (which led nowhere on the day after) and left with my friend Luís, who was tired of being in that place. And that was our last night of 2017, with no relevant incidents to be worth telling to our grandchildren.
And now time to talk about the climax, the last night of the year, the reason why I went to Valparaíso. After having a nice dinner at home, we headed around 10:30 pm to Paseo Yugoslavo, one of the best places to watch the fireworks and welcome the New Year. The square was full, also with a dj in a middle and the atmosphere was quite good, with a mixture of Chileans and foreigners which I had not seen until then. We sang a lot, we jumped, we danced and also approached a couple of groups, with most of the people being genuinely nice (that is the power of alcohol and everyone’s celebrating the same thing). Around 1:00 am it was time to go down to Plaza Sotomayor, to enjoy a little bit the live concert of a national band which was playing in the main stage, driving all the spectators crazy.
Later, at 2:00 am, Luís and I decided to go for some club action which was, by the way, the worst decision we could have taken on that night (the only interesting part was on the way to the club, where I met a very attractive 7 whom I met on the day after and ending making out with): first, back in the club Karma, which was packed with teenagers, and then to the club Join Vito, which had actually a very nice set up and also a live band playing, but whose clientele had an average above 50! Two hours and some dozens of euros wasted after, it was time to go back to the basics: to hit the streets, a last hope for a New Year’s Eve bang. I was on fire and with this rare “I do not really give a fuck about being rejected” attitude, approaching whomever I was finding attractive, regardless of whether these girls were alone, with their friends or even with a boyfriend. And as the fortune favors the bold, around 5:00 am I hit jackpot: two 6s bit my opener and we managed to take them home for an “after party”. I could not seal the deal but my friend got lucky with his girl, so in the end there was a happy house in the middle of this strange coastal city.
And now it is time to talk about the capital of the country, a city embedded in Chilean central valley. This means that, whenever you will be located at, you will always be able to gaze at this amazing set of mountains in the background.
Logistics and things to see
If in Valparaiso I have recommended you to stay in the neighborhood Bellavista, in Santiago you should book your accommodation in…Bellavista (more specifically, if you want an excellent apartment, with an outside swimming-pool, a great view and an unbeatable price, then I strongly recommend Ollagua Apartments – Dardignac 28, Recoleta 8420525 Santiago). Do not ask me why, but it seems that all the bohemian areas in the Chilean cities are called Bellavista – or maybe it is just a hell of a coincidence! However, contrary to the one of the coastal city, this neighborhood in Santiago is actually clean, stylish and has plenty of places to eat and to have fun (more on that later). In addition, it is also perfect located – just a 15 minutes’ walk will put you in the city center – and also has its own attractions.
And talking about more similarities with Valparaiso, Santiago has also a house which belonged to Pablo Neruda, located in the heart of Bellavista. La Chascona was where Neruda lived with his wife Matilde and that is where the name comes from: La Chascona is a Quechuan word which in Spanish means enmarañado or despeinado, which in English can be translated to disheveled or tangled, and it was an obvious reference to the hair of Madame Urrutia. This house is another proof of how Neruda was a zealous collector of objects from over the world, giving each one of his houses a unique personality.
Leaving the house, the next obligatory step was to take the Bellavista Funicular (unfortunately it was out-of-order, so we needed to take a replacement bus) which will take you directly to the Cerro San Cristóbal. I usually do not like that much to visit touristic spots, where everyone needs to go to, but this place has something enthralling. Being for the stunning 360° view over the city, for the statue of La Virgen, for different crosses of Christ or for the memorial for Pope John Paul II, this hill has plenty to see and will be a certainty of time well spent.
From there, we took the teleférico de Santiago which will took us very close to Sky Costanera, the highest building in South America. With a height of 300 meters and a 360° viewpoint on the top, it is the perfect “artificial” location to enjoy another amazing view of Santiago.
This would already be enough to turn the capital of Chile into a very interesting city to visit, but there is more, especially if you go to the original center of Santiago. Starting in the great Plaza de Armas, one can immediately spot two obligatory stopping points: the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Sacred Art Museum. The former is a majestic example of neoclassical architecture, the latter a must in terms of religious artifacts, whose highlights are the Jesuit’s gold relics and silverware and a beautiful courtyard, which takes us back to the colonial times. In addition, if you want to have a brief, but very detailed trip through the history of Chile, then check the National Museum of History, located on the left of the cathedral.
Just to finish an already long list of places to see and visit, make sure you also visit Palacio de la Moneda, basically the presidential palace of Chile. In my opinion, it is worth for basically two things: first, the amazing sculptures in the courtyard and second, the changing of the guard ceremony, which takes place at 11:00 am on the weekends. Last but surely not least, take a long walk to the Mercado Central, where you can taste the best fresh fish in the whole city!
Have I told you before that Chilean women are not on the top of in the list in terms of beauty, haven’t I? So guess what the big difference between Santiago and Valparaíso is? Well, since there are many more people in the capital of the country, there are consequently many more ugly girls! It sounds like a truism, but it is as simple and plain as that.
But let us go by parts…first of all, I must say that I only wandered around two areas: the historic center and Bellavista. The first is filled with some tourists but mostly with the (hard-)working class, which also means people with low means; the latter is filled also with some tourists but mostly with young students, which also means young people who cannot afford almost anything. In addition, you also have international students, but who came generally from Peru or Bolivia, countries which are not well-known for their female beauty either. So summing up the whole package, this leaves us with very few local attractive women, very few expatriated girls and some attractive tourist ladies, who come either from Brazil or Argentina.
If you want premium girls, you have to keep going east. First Providencia, considered the perfect neighborhood for a middle-class family to live, where you have many restaurants and green areas; then, you will arrive in Las Condes, with its big houses and majestic villas, also where most of the major companies’ offices are located, as well as the best hotels. And keep moving east, until you reach the cream of the crop called Vitacura, an exclusive residential area, reserved just for the rich people who want their tranquility in their confined space.
And again, even if Chile is a little bit different from other Latin countries, here the same formula applies: you will find the best girls within the top-tier social circles. And that means, obviously, the richest areas of the town.
Night life and Party level
And now it is time to talk about the part which most surprised me in Chile. Before coming to Santiago, I had not heard anything special about how it would be to go out in the capital. In addition, since I would be there from a Tuesday until a Friday, I thought that it would be the perfect occasion to give some rest to my liver. But after three days of some good old school party, I can say without any doubts that Santiago is one of the top three cities I have ever been in terms of having fun when the sun goes down. And by Santiago I mean specifically the neighborhood Bellavista, with a perfect set-up and logistics which eventually beats another Latin city which I have considered also a must: Medellin.
The core of the party takes place in the main street called Pío Nono, to a shorter extent in the parallel street to the left called Ernesto Pinto Lagarrigue and also in some perpendicular streets such as Dardignac, Antonia López de Bello and Santa Filomena. Basically, we are talking about a “rectangle of fun”, which also includes patio Bellavista, a fancy courtyard filled with restaurants and bars, for the ones who prefer something more chill and quiet.
On Tuesday, after arriving home, we were surprised how the whole neighborhood of Bellavista was being loud, with the music playing all time and people screaming and apparently having some fun. We initially thought that there was some special event or concert but, when we came downstairs and hit the street, we realized that the party was on and happening with no specific reason whatsoever.
Wandering around, we met a cool promoter called Johnny, who gave us some tips on where to go. First, we checked Patio Bellavista which, as said before, it is quite pleasant to go out with a girl or for a chat with some friends, but not the place to be if you are looking for some fun. We left, made the whole Pío Nono direction north, turned left into Sta Filomena and entered the bar Boston.
Inside, everyone was sitting down in groups, drinking and singing all the songs (either Reggaeton or Vallenato), which were also playing very loud . The crowd was basically teenagers and the talent was low but, after a while, we spotted a table with two girls and one (gay) guy, whose one of the ladies seemed quite attractive. Even so, we asked for two mojitos (by the way, the best one I drunk in whole Latin America) and kept our aloofness.
Half an hour later, we left the bar but, for our total surprise, the unattractive girl from this table came after us and intercepted us on the street “Hey I have made a bet with my friend that I would talk to you and here I am. Would you mind if we go out with you?”. That was so honest and direct that I just said “Ok, call your friend”. And the moment she came out, the 7 inside the bar was now a 4/4,5 when the light was hitting on her. My friend and I had this shocked silent reaction but, as the girls were having a very cool attitude, we decided to take them to the bar Johnny had promoted us before (I cannot recall its name).
There, we drank beer, we danced the whole reggaeton repertoire and had some girls looking at us like kings, as we were having real fun. Around 3:00 am, I had a moment of clarity and thought: “well, there are not really any hot woman around, so let us play the solidarity move” and I asked my friend Luís whether we would take our girls home, something which he agreed. In the end he got some action and I, again, did not – my girl was coming with this conversation “ah you only want sex” so after two attempts I totally lost my patience and went to sleep – but, considering the quality of my Peruvian girl, it was actually a saving act from my guardian angel.
On Wednesday, we took the whole day to see some of the beautiful touristic attractions Santiago has to offer but, when the evening came, it was time to plan another night of raw fun, as the previous one had given us very good expectations. I had read a lot about a huge student party called Miercoles Po’, which takes place in different places and more or less once per month, but unfortunately there was none programmed for that day.
We had some “heating” at home with some wine and vodka and then went to the streets in this warrior mode, ready to make some damage. We wandered around and noticed the same tendency: bars with loud music, promoters and many unattractive girls. But this time there was also a plus: more men than in the previous night. Without letting us affecting by the circumstances, we went to Boston to ask for two mojitos, as you should not mess with a winning formula.
But since the bar was even worse than the previous day, we decided to do something different (well not for me, more to my friend Luís) and went to a salsa bar called Maestra Vida, a classic salsoteca with live music everyday. The concerts started five minutes after we entered: first, a guy from Buenos Aires singing solo, just with his guitar and an amazing voice; then, a band consisting of three local women, with their tribal clothes and colours, singing/screaming and playing very well a set of varied instruments. From salsa it had almost nothing but it turned out to be a very special night, where we put alcohol and girls aside and gave our brains something different.
We left the bar around 02:00 am and still checked Club 57 and the club next to it, but they were more empty than a wallet after a Black Friday, so it was time to say uncle and to go home for a nice sleeping night.
Even if we were with the awareness of what had happened on Wednesday, Thurday was still a night to bet all of our chips, as we wanted to leave Chile with a very good last memory – and I also wanted to try to get the Chilean flag, as I had been only hitting the post until then. So we went almost everywhere possible: first checked the bar Ohio University, a place with a large screen but no style whatsoever, the typical student shit hole. Then it was time to hit Boston again, to have our beloved mojito, to then check perhaps the most famous bar in Bellavista (which had been closed until this day): Bar Constituición. We entered for free and then we understood why, since it was almost empty. We got our stamp – to eventually get in later – and headed to check other locations, until we found the most packed club, another bar warehouse style in Pío Nono which I can not also recall the name.
Among hundreds of people, there were just a couple of attractive girls (who were obviously already paired with a guy) so after we finished our one-liter beer, we went to the streets again, to try some street game. But not even that was possible, due to the high number of both unattractive females and males around. We still checked another famous club, Chocolate, and another one close to it, I believe it was called Remolienda, but none of them looked promising, judging by the queue of people who were getting in. And because this night trek almost drained our energy levels, we decided to head home, with this feeling that we had been in a place whose people simply did not match its great logistics.
First of all, since not everything in life is about women – far from that – I strongly recommend you to go Chile and, of course, not just to visit these two cities. As said before, this country is a natural wonder, and exploring the Atacama desert, Patagonia or the Easter Island will surely leave a stamp on your life, as such adventures and experiences remind us how insignificant we are in the whole picture of the mother earth.
On the other hand, you might have very limited time or simply be more inclined to go to such countries as Brazil, Colombia or Mexico. Even so I recommend you to do a stop over of a couple of days in Santiago or, if possible, a week, in order that you can also go to Valparaíso, as both cities are clearly worth visiting and also relatively good to have fun (especially Santiago).
Regarding Valparaíso, I would say that you would be better staying in Viña del Mar and just visiting the former for a couple of days. It is true that Viña can be much more expensive than the Neruda’s Pacific Paradise but, in my honest opinion, it is worth the extra money. Not only you have great beaches nearby but also a much more pleasant atmosphere, which includes some attractive women (mostly Santiago or Mendoza tourists, but who cares?) who are almost a mirage in Valparaiso.
Concerning Santiago, there were many things that I could not see and also many night places that I did not go. For instance, in Bellavista, I did not check Club La Feria (arguably the most famous club in this neighborhood), as it would only be open on the weekend. In addition, I was also there during the week, which naturally limits one’s options in terms of having fun. Furthermore, I also know that If I had gone to Vitacura, the chic area of the capital, or even to Providencia, I would have seen better women and more stylish clubs. But still, I would have not changed an inch and would still have preferred to stay in Bellavista. It might not be the holy grail in terms of women but, considering you are coming here for a short period of time and as a tourist, it is surely the only area which is worth staying at.