Vina del Mar
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There's beyond frequent coach bus service between Santiago and Viña. Numerous operators, abundant seating, about a 90 minute ride for approx 3000-4000 pesos one way. In holidays, however, the prices can go up twice or thrice the normal standard.
The buses depart from Santiago at Pajaritos or Universidad de Santiago Station, both parts of Line 1 of the Metro. It's recommendable to do it from Pajaritos Station if you want to avoid the stop over from Universidad de Santiago and the ride within the City, which is especially desirable if you come directly from the Airport - but you have to be in Pajaritos right on time since the bus will stop for less than 20 minutes and you may buy a ticket one minute, then have to hop aboard at the following. The 2 main lines that travel to Viña del Mar are Turbus and Pullman Bus.
The bus will drop you at Viña del Mar Station, which is 3 blocks east of DownTown and the Plaza de Armas (Central Square). Taxis are available at this point, but if you want to save some money, walk east to Plaza de Viña, and ask for transportation to your destination.
If you come from Santiago, there may be a shortage of coach bus tickets sometimes, specially in national holidays and summer vacation. In that case, take a coach bus to the city of Quilpue and then take a taxi or the Merval metro.
Merval has frequent service to/from Valparaiso and from/to other destinations in the country side of Viña del Mar such as: Quilpue, Villa Alemana and Limache. For using Metro/Train Services you have to purchased a Metro/Train Card, available at the Kiosk in the Stations. Once you get the card you have to slide it when you get in and when you get out to station (destination), there is not flat rate, each route has a different price. In Vina del Mar you will find 5 Stations. From Valparaiso to the Country Side are: Recreo (main residential area), Ecuador (Southern DownTown), DOWNTOWN close to Quinta Vergara, Hospital Station and El Salto (Industrial area)
Valparaiso Metro (Merval) is a good way to go to Valparaiso downtown, or move around Greater Valparaiso. Fares are comparable to buses. It's a great transportation method for tourists as it's clean, fast and safe. Adult fares range from 204 pesos and 1080 pesos depending on the time of day and the distance travelled. Please keep in mind that there is only one metro line, and it doesn't serve coastal sectors north Recreo. You'll need an RFID card to use metro, which can be recharged at each station as many times as needed.
There are also shared taxi cabs called Colectivos, that run routes throughout the city charge around 500 pesos (arround 1 US Dollar) for a ride. They are quicker and more comfortable than bus.
Regular Taxicabs are more expensive, but are useful if you are in a hurry. Keep in mind that taxis in Viña have one of the most expensive fees in the country, as it's a tourist destination. Also some drivers are know for trying to cheat foreigners not using or displaying taximeters, or even multiplying it's value by 10. This doesn't mean all drivers are dishonest, as most of them are helpful and friendly with tourists. Just be advised.
Colloqualy called Micro, it's the most popular public transportation method in the city. Buses vary their fare from 350 pesos to 450 pesos depending on the distance. Fares are published in the front window of the bus, and display Plan (Local) and Cerro fees. Plan is the way locals refer to the flat areas of the city, essentially the downtown area. The Regional Public Transport guide for Viña del Mar (2014) is published here. It is recomended you carry cash to pay the exact amount of the fare as bus drivers are known for not giving change back, unless you insist.
- La Quinta Vergara - a beautiful garden with trees from China and Canada for example. In the same place the Festival de Viña takes places every year in the last week of February.
- Plaza del Reloj/Parque Reloj de Flores - near the beaches there is a clock where the numbers are made of flowers.
- Near the beaches the hotel Miramar is located and if you continue to walk you can see Castillo Wulf, an old castle built by German immigrants and for the locals the famously Paseo Arabe. But if you ask any of the locals why it's famous, surprisingly few can answer the question.
- Near the north end of the beach there is an open air museum of naval artillery. Avoid taking pictures without asking permission from staff.
- Museo Artequin en Viña del Mar, Alcalde Prieto Nieto 500, Parque Potrerillos, ☎ +56 32 297 3637, . A museum of reproductions of representative works from Western artists, which through an interactive educational methodology, aims to boost the interest in art and creativity in visitors. edit
- Fonck Museum. (Museo Fonck), 4 norte #784 (corner 1 oriente), ☎ 56 (32) 2686753, . 10:00 - 18:00. The Museum of Archaeology and History Francisco Fonck founded in 1937, it’s a varied and complete museum that’s shows objects of the native villages from Chile: Emphasizing his great cultures collection Such as Rapanui, atacameños, Diaguitas and Mapuches. In addition of a wide collection of Peruvian pre-Columbian jars. In the area of natural sciences there is a complete sample of arthropods and animals of different zones of the country. adults $ 2.000 CLP, Children $ 300 CLP. (-33.01981,-71.55009) edit
Spend time on the numerous beaches found along the coast. They are quite pretty but not very friendly for swimming.
- Enjoy del Mar, . is a resort located close to the city center. At Enjoy del Mar you can spend sometime in their casino, eat at one of their restaurants while enjoying a fantastic view of the South Pacific and you can also treat yourself to some spa treatments. There is also a night club on the resort which is open for everyone but they do charge a cover charge and you have to dress smart. edit
- The Festival de la Cancion, . is held on the third week of February and it has been held every year since 1960. Good international artists are invited and there is a great atmosphere during the shows. The festival is held on the grounds of La Quinta Vergara which can accommodate several thousand of visitors but be sure to get your ticket some time in advance as the festival is very popular. La Quinta Vergara is a couple of blocks away from the the city centre and any local will be able to help you with directions. edit
The local football team Everton de Viña play their home matches in Estadio Sausalito. The fans are really passionate about their team and less problems are reported from Evertons matches than from the bigger clubs of Colo-Colo and Universidad de Chile. A ticket can cost 3.500 pesos or more if bigger teams will play.
Mall Marina Arauco is the biggest mall of the city, and it's also the main shopping destination. It's connected to the Espacio Urbano shopping mall, and the Boulevard Marina shopping mall by bridges. Fast fashion brands like Gap, Zara and Adolfo Dominguez have stores in this mall, and shopping in Viña del Mar is one of the main attractions for tourists and locals alike. A hidden gem of this shopping mall is the Marina Design floor, where there are great independent designer stores that carry great and unique stuff. Not for the budget conscious buyer.
Muelle Vergara is a great place where you can buy some souvenirs and exclusive items, you'll probably won't find anywhere else. Keep in mind you must carry cash as they don't take credit cards. Don't be shy to haggle.
Viña downtown is famous by its shopping galleries, that take up entire blocks and are hidden from the person that only goes by sidewalks. You may need an entire day to visit all these stores.
A very popular treat in Viña del Mar is the alfajor, a typical argentinean/uruguayan type of cookie that is also popular in Chile and specially in Viña. They can be purchased in several small pastry shops around the downtown area. Usually, alfajores are filled with caramel, manjar/dulce de leche (sweet milk confectionery), fruit jam (preferently berries), or other sweets and then covered in chocolate. They are a delight for the visitor. Boxes with large quantities make memorable souvenirs, if they make it home.
An excellent seafood restaurant, located in Camino Costero, is "La Gatita" ("The Kitten"). It specialises in such typical dishes as Machas a la parmesana y Reineta (Clams with cheese plus fried Reineta - a local fish).
Los Roldán is an artisanal empanada shop (located at 4 poniente, 6 norte) with over twenty different types of empanadas to choose from, including vegetarian options and dessert empanadas. Made by hand as you order them, cheap and tasty. It is not an inside sit-down restaurant - there is an outdoor patio where you can eat, or take it to go and sit on the beach a few blocks away.
- Cafe Journal is a traveller favorite and the best pub in Vina. Two floors, multiple bars and good beer on tap. Located at the corner of Agua St. and Alvarez.
Good and cheap accommodation is available throughout the city in residenciales (the local B & B). Early reservations are highly recommended during the summer months when the city gets flooded with holiday makers from Argentina and Santiago.
- Posada Bellamare Renaca Inn, Bellavista 740 Renaca, . (-32.963532,-71.545434) edit
- Che Lagarto Viña del Mar, Diego Portales 131, ☎ +56 (32) 262-5759, . Surrounded by beautiful resorts and parks lied Che Lagarto Hostel Viña del Mar. Cultural exchange, comfort and good vibes in Viña del Mar. edit
- Hotel Cap Ducal, Avda. Marina 51, ☎ 56 - 32 - 2626655, . Rather nice and traditional hotel with an excellent location - almost directly in the sea itself! Beautiful views, of course. It also has a good restaurant/bar on the first floor. Good option for those who can afford to spend some more. From $120 USD (standard rooms, whether single or double) to $180 USD (suite). edit
- Residencial Jaguar Hostal, Calle Dos Poniente 333, Casa 12, ☎ +56 997 27 9219, . Beautiful hostal with good free breakfast including bread, butter, jam, coffee, tea, fresh scrambled eggs. Clean bathrooms with hot water, large lockers with shelves that can fit a whole pack, and located only a few blocks from the beach. 4-bed dorm $16, privates available. edit
- Avoid walking in the parks alone when it's dark, use your common sense to avoid danger.
- Viña del Mar has a big problem with street dogs and many of these unfortunate pooches are born in the streets which means that they carry diseases. Avoid touching or giving them food. It can cause you more trouble.
- Stay alert, fraud is a most common criminal offense against the tourist. Avoid unofficial currency.
- If you get in trouble, ask for help to the police, called "Carabineros de Chile". They wear green uniforms and are very efficient and trustworthy. Don't even think to bribe them or you will go to jail. They are very proud of their creed, and bribing is a serious offense to them.
- There are some guards at the beaches but from March to November the beach season is officially over.
- Stay near the beach when swimming, most of the people who drown are those who can actually swim. Many of them go out too far and understimate the power of the waves in the area.
- Bathing during off-season from March to November is not forbidden, but you're doing it at your own risk. Authorities won't take responsibility if something happens to you or any related.
If you want to use a toilet there are some public ones on the streets and near the beaches but also in restaurants. They charge a fee but most of them are dirty. If you can, ask the staff in the casino if you can use the toilet. Being a foreign tourist will make it easier.