Viña del Mar, Chile: The Complete Guide
Viña del Mar, translated as "Vineyard by the sea", brims with flowers, beaches, seafood, and unique places.
Although it is the fourth largest city in Chile, it seems much smaller and somehow more spacious than neighboring Valparaíso.
Walkthrough their neighborhoods and explore their manicured gardens. Soak up the sun on your choice of golden, white, or black sand beaches.
Have lunch with fresh fish and white wine from the Casablanca Valley.
From the local castle, watch mesmerized as the waves crash beneath you under the glass floor. Go to a club and party until dawn. Viña lets you go at any pace, so move as fast or as slow as you want here.
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Source: Wonderliv Travel
Discover The Best Things to do in Viña del Mar
Viña del Mar has some of the best beaches in all of Chile. Expect warm sunny sand, but cold water due to the Humboldt Current.
Sunbathing and relaxing are the main activities, especially at Playa Reñaca, a glamorous beach to see and be seen. A bit far from the town of Concón, Playa Negra offers fewer crowds and black sand.
For those who wish to stay in Viña, Playa Caleta Abarca has plenty of space, surrounding gardens, and the advantage of being only a 15-minute walk from the city center.
Be cautious if you want to take a dip: lethal undercurrents have occurred at Playa Los Lilenes and Playa Los Marineros. Inlet-protected beaches are generally less risky for swimming.
In addition to its beaches, Viña is also known for its vibrant nightlife.
Casino Municipal is one of the most famous casinos in the country and is also home to Ovo, a popular club that hosts theme parties and rocks until dawn while showering revelers in confetti. For electronic music, live bands, and three dance floors, head to Café Journal.
Chile's largest gay club, Club Divino, is the place to see drag queens and go-go dancers.
Other sites and activities worth visiting are as follows
- Wulf Castle: Gustav Wulff, a German merchant, built this stone castle as a home in the early 20th century.
Admission is free, and from the tower of Castillo Wulff, the views of Viña are breathtaking, equally rivaled by views of waves crashing under the castle's glass-bottom bridge.
Spend a lazy afternoon here learning about the eccentric owner, watching pelicans lounging on nearby rocky outcrops, and enjoying the sounds of the ocean.
- Flower Clock: This GPS-controlled flower clock blooms all year round and was built to celebrate Viña, which hosted the 1962 World Cup.
Made of white metal 2.5 to 3 meters long. Every 15 minutes you can listen to the sound of the clock and also play seasonal music.
Open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, see it in the afternoon, when the sun gives a slight glow to its red and pink flowers.
Located on Caleta Abarca Beach, the view is free and illuminated at night.
- Festivals: Viña has the largest music festival in Latin America, the Viña del Mar International Song Festival (Viña del Mar International Song Festival).
Every summer, the Quinta Vergara Amphitheater hosts a festival that brings together big names from pop, rock, reggaeton, salsa, folk, and more.
Singing contests are also held, showing emerging talent. Viña annually hosts in spring the Viña del Mar International Film Festival (Viña del Mar International Film Festival), which brings together talented filmmakers from all over Latin America.
New Year's Eve is one of the best times to literally see Viña shine, as the country's largest fireworks display starts from its coast and from Valparaíso.
Enjoy the hustle and bustle of looking through the crowds or stay home and see from any elevated oceanfront hotel.
Where to stay in Viña del Mar
Stay on the beach or as close as possible. After all, that is why most people come to Viña.
While Viña's reputation for luxury may make you think that budget options are few and far between, there are definitely some low- to mid-cost hostels and guesthouses.
However, book early if you plan to come in the summer months of December to February.
The best places to stay include the area around the Municipal Casino, Reñaca Bajo (Reñaca's lower district) and Playa Caleta Abarca.
The Municipal Casino area has some of the best restaurants, bars, and clubs in the city.
The beach and the subway are just a few blocks away, and the area offers affordable and luxury accommodations.
The lower district of Reñaca has easy access to one of the best beaches in the region, a less touristy environment, and excellent gastronomic options.
Prices are higher than in the city center. One option near downtown with panoramic ocean views and access to the beach when exiting is the Sheraton at Playa Cleta Abarca.
Going out towards the sea and not near any other building, expect a peaceful night's sleep here. Also, it is a short trip to Valparaíso from here, as it is on the outskirts of the city.
Where to eat in Viña del Mar
Locally produced wine and fresh fish and seafood are Viña's food par excellence.
However, you can also opt for Chilean fast food, such as empanadas (tasty meats or vegetables wrapped in bread) or complete (fully loaded sausages). Calle Valparaíso has many affordable options, while to the north Estero Marga Marga is a street known for its excellent restaurants.
If you want to buy super fresh seafood straight from the fishermen, consider taking a short trip to nearby Valparaíso to visit the main fish market, Caleta Portales.
Viña has a variety of international food options including Italian, Mexican, Austrian, and Japanese restaurants. Vegetarians and vegans have plenty of options too, and the healthy Green Lab restaurant even has macrobiotic dishes on its menu.
Some of Viña del Mar's food and drink specialties include:
- Fresh fish: opt for reinata (palometa) or hake (hake) when trying your first fish in town.
Both are caught daily off the coast and can be enjoyed in most seafood restaurants. Soft and mushy, the pomfret is softer than the hake.
Although tender, the pomfret is firm enough to be ideal for roasting, while the hake is often roasted or poached.
- Machas a la Parmigiana: Created by an Italian immigrant in Viña del Mar in the 1950s, Machas a la ParmigianaI is a dish of roasted clams, white wine, cream, and Parmesan cheese.
Considered a classic Chilean meal, this lemon and garlic dish is a must.
- White Wine: The cool vineyards of the Casablanca Valley are just a 40-minute drive away and are an ideal day trip if you want to sample some of the best white wines in the country.
For those who can only try one glass in Viña, many restaurants in the city offer sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and pinot noir from the neighboring valley.
You can also stop by La Vinoteca near the city center and buy some bottles to do your own tasting.
- Alfajors: Viña has several bakeries and chocolate shops, and this is the most popular order for most Chileans when they go to one.
An alfajor is a soft sugar cookie sandwich with dulce de leche (sweetened milk, heated until it undergoes a Maillard reaction, giving it a caramel flavor) in the middle.
At Viña, people like to cover them with melted chocolate, let the chocolate form a caramel shell, and eat it once it has cooled down.
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