Situated on the coast of the Pacific ocean, Vina del mar popularly know as the garden city, is the summer capital of Chile. This charming resort town maintains an unexpected tranquility amidst it’s ever buzzing nightlife. Although being a sister city of Valparaiso, it has established it’s own charm. Vina del mar is popular for it’s festivals during the summers, but there is more to be experienced in this fascinating beach town. Here are some incredible ways to experience Vina del mar.
Hit the beach at Renaca
Playa de Renaca is a beautiful beach set in a palm-fringed ocean front, with rugged coastal scenery and pretty colorful houses crowning the cliff, which is a sight to behold. Renaca is an entirely different place during the summers and the winters. Summers are buzzing with young crowd, music, food, festivals and lots of beach activities. However, the time we went around the end of winter, we experienced it to be very peaceful and serene.
Spend a quiet afternoon strolling or reading at the beach and as evening sets in, catch a sea-view table at the oceanic hotel’s restaurant situated on the rugged coast and watch the sky turn a hue of pink and orange, as a cruise ship can be seen in the distance leaving the port of Valparaiso.
Take an evening stroll at Avenida Peru
A favorite stroll for visitors to the city and locals during the weekends, Avenida peru is a seafront promenade lined with stalls selling handicrafts, woolens, street food carts selling freshly fried empanadas, chocolate coated fruits, sopaipillas and cuchuflíes. Being very close to the rocks, the ocean keeps breaking in and splashing as the whistling wind fills the place with it’s sweet smell. And if leisure walks don’t charm you, there is a casino nearby housed in a pretty building and sea-facing restaurants serving some of Chile’s best seafood dishes.
If you are in Viña, it is worth spending a relaxing evening strolling this avenue and devouring a freshly fried empanada de queso, with views of the spectacular ocean and the Wulff castle in the backdrop.
Go sand boarding at Dunas de con con
Forget the beach; Vina del mar has its very own dune fields. Known as Dunas de con con, these dunes formed by vast processes of modeling wind are one of Vina del mar’s must-dos. Situated far up north of the city, these dunes offer spectacular views of the pacific ocean. Take a micro from the city center going towards con con and you will spot the dunes on your left. A short trek up the dunes, and you are surrounded by high rise apartments of con con and the gleaming ocean which is a treat to the eyes.
The way up is a great work out, and the way down is a lot of fun. You can just slide down or hire one of the sand boards if you are in for some adventure. Take a book with you if you want to spend some quiet time, the tranquility of this place is infectious.
Tip: Wear a good pair of walking shoes and carry sun screen.
Shop and eat at Calle Valparaiso
Right in the heart of Vina del mar lies the bustling Calle Valparaiso, a social, commercial and financial hub. Through the years, this avenue has transformed into a one stop shopping and eating destination. During weekends and holidays the street is lined with vendors selling everything from artifacts, wooden crafts, copper trinkets, clothes and souvenirs. The street is a big mix of bakeries, bookstores, clothing stores and the famous shopping galleries like the Galeria Cristal that has a variety of stores. Drop in at the Artesania to buy locally produced goods and souvenirs to take back home.
There is no dearth of cafes and restaurants around where you can grab a bite and resume your shopping. There are street stalls selling popular Chilean snacks like empanadas, sopaipillas, completos, churros, local pastries and mote con huesillo, a traditional Chilean drink made of peaches.
Watch the sun go down at Mirador cochoa
They say two sunsets are never the same and this saying holds true when it comes to sunsets in Vina del mar. Every evening as the sun goes down, it’s like the clouds and the ocean are having a party and a few minutes later the sky puts on a enthralling show. And more so, standing at the Mirador Cochoa watching sea lions and pelicans on the rocks near the shore, with the orange hue reflecting on the breaking waves under the setting sun is spellbinding.
Sit back and and take the time to watch the magic of nature unravel. And with the cold, crisp air against your face and the glittering skyline of Valparaiso in the backdrop this sunset will be hard to forget.
Have you visited Viña del Mar? What did you like the most about it?
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