I grew up about 40 minutes away from Valparaiso, Indiana, a flat, colorless town in northwestern Indiana. This is not a story about that town.
Color is the first thing that strikes anyone who visits Valparaiso, and rightfully so. The entire city, from the houses to the street lights to the staircases, is painted in vibrant colors.
Putting the Fun in Funicular
The second striking thing about Valparaiso is how hilly the city is. There are staircase alleys all over the city taking walkers up and down the many hills yet constantly avoiding even a single boring view. If staircases aren’t your thing, there are world-famous funiculars (or lifts or elevators) that take visitors and locals alike up and down nearly every hill in the city. Despite being mobile saunas they really were pretty fun!
It’s Street Art, not Graffiti
One of the reasons that there is never a bad view in Valparaiso is the street art. It’s everywhere, it’s creative, it’s colorful, and it’s impressive. Ranging from whimsical to vulgar to comedic to just plain artistic, the street art kept us entertained at almost literally every turn.
Some of the street art was functional, like the ants spray painted by the local art students throughout the city that visitors can follow to all of the popular tourist spots:
Oh, and There Are Great Ocean Views, Too
The killer ocean views are almost an afterthought, but they are the other reason that no walk up or down a hill is boring. Valparaiso is a major port city after all. The city offers many official lookout points at the top of the various hills, but there are beautiful views all over the place.
Intimidating-looking war ships docked near the port
View of Valparaiso looking north toward Viña del Mar
You can look back up the hills, too
A Weekend Well Spent
We spent about three days wandering the city and found it to be a vibrant, interesting, creative, and energetic place. Although we heard reports of Valparaiso as a dirty and dodgy place, we found those reports to be entirely exaggerated. We found wonderful seafood, welcoming cafés, friendly priests/impromptu tour guides, and not even a whiff of danger (although we did find plenty of whiffs of urine…). This seems like the kind of city that anyone – local or visitor – can keep discovering every day, as the street art is constantly changing and there seem to be an endless network of alleys and staircases leading you somewhere you have never been before. It was a wonderful city and well worth a visit!
To see more of our pictures, click below!