The Central Coast

We’ve compiled the best of the best in The Central Coast - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Casa-Museo Isla Negra

    Perched on a bluff overlooking the sea, this house is a shrine to the life, work, and many passions of the Chilean poet and Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda. Throughout the house, you'll find displays of treasures—from bottles and maps to seashells and a narwhal tusk—he collected over the course of his remarkable life. Although he spent much time living and traveling abroad, Neruda made Isla Negra his primary residence later in life. He wrote his memoirs from the upstairs bedroom to the sound of the crashing waves and dictated the final pages to his wife there before departing for the Santiago hospital where he died (supposedly of cancer, though rumors abound that he was actually poisoned). Neruda and his wife are buried in the prow-shaped tomb area behind the house. Just before Neruda's death in 1973, a military coup put Augusto Pinochet in command of Chile. He closed off Neruda's home and denied all access, but Neruda devotees still chiseled their tributes into the wooden gates surrounding the property. In 1989 the Neruda Foundation, started by his widow, restored the house and opened it as a museum. Here his collections are displayed as they were while he lived. The living room contains—among numerous other oddities—a lapis lazuli and quartz fireplace and a number of figureheads from ships hanging from the ceiling and walls. You can visit the museum with an audio guided tour, available in English, Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese (included in the admission price) that describes Neruda's many obsessions, from the positioning of guests at the dinner table to the east–west alignment of his bed. Objects had a spiritual and symbolic life for the poet, which the tour makes evident. Reservations are not required for the tour, but space is filled on a first-come, first-served basis, so plan on coming early and be prepared for a long wait during the busy summer months.

    Poeta Neruda s/n, Isla Negra, Valparaíso, Chile

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 7000 pesos, Closed Mon.
  • 2. Cerro Concepción

    Either walk up from Plaza Aníbal Pinto or ride the Ascensor Concepción (due to reopen in 2024) to one of the most popular of Valparaíso's famous cerros (hills). The greatest attraction is the view, which is best appreciated from Paseo Gervasoni, a wide promenade to the right when you exit the ascensor, and Paseo Atkinson, one block to the east. Over the balustrades that line the promenades are amazing vistas of the city and bay. Nearly as fascinating are the narrow streets above them, some of which are quite steep. Continue uphill to Cerro Alegre, which has a bit of a bohemian flair.

    Esmeralda 916, Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile
  • 3. Emiliana Organic Vineyards

    Emiliana is the world's largest organic winery, and it preaches its green ethos all across this stunning property, where chickens help with pest control and alpacas mow the lawn. Emiliana also produced the first biodynamic wine in Latin America, and you can try it on a tour or tasting. Stop by as well for organic picnics and a chance to mix your own wine blends.

    Ruta 68, km 60.7, Casablanca, Valparaíso, Chile
  • 4. La Sebastiana

    Tired of the frenetic pace of Santiago, poet Pablo Neruda longed for a calmer place overlooking the sea, and he found it here in the house that Spanish architect Sebastián Collado began building for himself but never finished. Neruda bought it with friends in 1959 and restored the upper floors in his own eclectic style, complete with curving walls, narrow winding stairways, and a tower. The view from the house is spectacular, but the real reason to visit is to see Neruda's extravagant collection of thousands of diverse objects. The house is a shrine to his many cherished belongings, including a beautiful orangish-pink stuffed bird he brought back from Venezuela, a carousel horse, and the pink-and-yellow barroom stuffed with kitsch.

    Ferrari 692, Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 7000 pesos, Closed Mon.
  • 5. Mantagua Wetlands at Posada del Parque

    One of Chile's most important wetlands lies along the northern bank of the Aconcagua River, and a good place to explore it—especially for bird-watchers and photographers—is the Posada del Parque, 5 km (3 miles) north of Concón. This family-run lodge works hard to protect and educate visitors about the wetlands and offers guided or independent bird-watching, nature hikes, and kayaking, as well as simple but delicious home-cooked meals and a few very nice rooms to stay overnight.

    Camino Concón-Quintero Km 5 (Ruta F30E), Concón, Valparaíso, Chile
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  • 6. Museo de Arqueológico e Historia Francisco Fonck

    A 500-year-old stone moai (a carved stone head) brought from Easter Island guards the entrance to this archaeological museum. The most interesting exhibits are the finds from Easter Island, which indigenous people call Rapa Nui, such as wood tablets displaying ancient hieroglyphics. The museum, named for groundbreaking archaeologist Francisco Fonck—a native of Viña del Mar—also has an extensive library of documents relating to the island. Other fun but freaky exhibits include shrunken heads, insects, and all sorts of stuffed birds and animals.

    4 Norte 784, Viña del Mar, Valparaíso, Chile

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 3000 pesos
  • 7. Museo de Bellas Artes

    Cerro Alegre

    The art nouveau Palacio Baburizza, built in 1916, houses the city's fine-arts museum. Former owner Pascual Baburizza donated this large collection of European paintings to the city. The fanciful decorative exterior is reminiscent of the style of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí—note the bronze children dancing around the portico. The paintings and the impressive mansion itself take you on a historical journey through Chile's past. Fans of contemporary art should check out the free temporary exhibitions in the basement.

    Paseo Yugoslavo 176, Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 2000 pesos, 4000 pesos for foreigners with audio guide included, Closed Mon.
  • 8. Playa El Canelo

    Algarrobo's prettiest beach is Playa El Canelo, located in a secluded cove south of town. It's actually two beaches in one, divided only by a small outcrop of rocks. The idyllic spot with fine yellow sand, calm blue-green water, and a backdrop of pines is blissfully quiet most of the year, but gets very crowded in January and February. From Algarrobo, follow Avenida Santa Teresita south to Avenida El Canelo and the pine forest of Parque Canelo, or from the main coastal road, take Bahía Mansa to Valle Verde. Because it's in a fairly tight cove, it's a great place for swimming, but other activities include boat rides, zip lines, body boarding, and walking the trails along the upper cliffs. Amenities: food and drink; parking (fee). Best for: sunset; surfing; swimming.

    Algarrobo, Valparaíso, Chile
  • 9. Playa El Sol

    Just north of the rock wall along Avenida Peru and flanked by the old Muelle Vergara is a stretch of sand that draws hordes of people from December through March. This is Viña del Mar's main beach, and it goes by many names the longer you walk: Acapulco, Blanca, Los Cañones, Marineros. It's great for swimming and people-watching as well as for exploring the artisan fair nearby. Amenities: food and drink; parking; showers; toilets. Best for: sunset; walking.

    San Martín 1130, Viña del Mar, Valparaíso, Chile
  • 10. Playa Ritoque

    Just north of the Mantagua Wetlands, a long stretch of enormous dunes and golden sands hugs the coastline for 7 km (4 miles) up to the small hamlet of Ritoque. Much of this beautiful beach is too open for safe swimming, though ideal for strolling, sunbathing, fishing, and in some areas, surfing. Watch out for all-terrain vehicles and the occasional horse cruising along the more secluded sections. To swim, head to the small cove in front of Ritoque where there are restaurants, kiosks, and a hotel. Amenities: food and drink; parking. Best for: solitude; sunset; surfing; walking.

    Concón, Valparaíso, Chile
  • 11. Playa Zapallar

    Zapallar's raison d'être is a crescent of golden sand kissed by blue-green waters, with a giant boulder plopped in the middle. Cropped at each end by rocky points and backed by large pines and rambling flower gardens, it's arguably the loveliest beach on the Central Coast. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: snorkeling; sunset; swimming.

    Zapallar, Valparaíso, Chile
  • 12. Ascensor El Peral

    Cerro Alegre

    In Valparaíso, riding one of the city's 30 ascensores (funiculars) is a must. El Peral, built in 1902 and now a national monument, is one of the five currently operating (another five are under repair). For just 100 pesos, it runs a very steep 52 meters (172 feet) from the Palacio de Justicia (court house) on the northeastern side of Plaza Sotomayor, up to the gorgeous Paseo Yugoslavo on Cerro Alegre, where the Palacio Baburizza houses a fine arts museum.

    Plaza Sotomayor, Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 100 pesos
  • 13. Ascensor Reina Victoria

    Cerro Alegre

    This steep 40-meter (131-foot) funicular, built in 1902 and named for Queen Victoria of England, who died a year earlier, connects Avenida Elías near Plaza Aníbal Pinto with the very popular Cerro Alegre. Once atop the hill, you'll come out to a small plaza where you can swoosh down a small metallic slide if your inner child so desires.

    Elías, Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 100 pesos
  • 14. Caleta de Zapallar

    At the south end of Playa Zapallar is a rocky point that holds Caleta de Zapallar, where local fisherfolk unload their boats, sell their catch, and settle in for games of dominoes. The view of the beach from the caleta is simply gorgeous. On the other side of the point, a stunning trail leads over the rocks to rugged but equally impressive views.

    Zapallar, Valparaíso, Chile
  • 15. Casa Valle Viñamar

    For those who like their wines cold and bubbly, look no further than this espumante (sparkling wine) specialist, which offers tastings in a stunning pearly-white mansion on a hill overlooking the valley. The winery also houses one of Casablanca's most renowned restaurants, Macerado, which pairs local wines with local produce.

    Camino interior Nuevo Mundo s/n, Casablanca, Valparaíso, Chile
  • 16. Casas del Bosque

    Nestled among rolling vine-covered hills just outside the town of Casablanca, Casas del Bosque offers tastings and tours as well as creative options such as biking through the vineyard, being a winemaker for a day, cooking classes, and more. During March and April, the main harvest months, you can learn even more about the production process with the chance to pick your grapes and take them for selection and pressing. Like many wineries in the valley, Casas del Bosque has its own restaurant, Tanino.

    Centro Ex Fundo Santa Rosa, Casablanca, Valparaíso, Chile

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tours from 12500 pesos
  • 17. Casino Viña del Mar

    Built in 1930 in a neoclassical style that wouldn't be out of place in a James Bond movie, Chile's oldest casino has a restaurant, bar, and cabaret, as well as roulette, blackjack, and 1,500 slot machines. It's open nightly until the wee hours of the morning most of the year. There's a 3,500-peso cover charge, and keep in mind that people dress up to play here, especially in the evening.

    Av. San Martín 199, Viña del Mar, Valparaíso, Chile
  • 18. Club de Yates Algarrobo

    This private yacht club next to Playa San Pedro organizes and participates in numerous regattas throughout the year. It also has sailing classes and a lively clubhouse.

    Carlos Alessandri 2447, Algarrobo, Valparaíso, Chile
  • 19. El Quisco

    South of Algarrobo, El Quisco is a long beach of pale sand guarded on either end by stone jetties. In the middle of the beach is a boulder with a 15-foot-high, six-pronged cactus sculpture perched atop it. South of the beach is the blue-and-yellow cove, where boats anchored offshore create a picturesque composition. Easily reached by all forms of transportation, the beach is packed on sunny summer days, when tourists outnumber quisqueños (locals) about 10 to 1. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: sunset; swimming; walking.

    Algarrobo, Valparaíso, Chile
  • 20. Galería Municipal de Arte

    This crypt in the basement of the Palacio Lyon hosts temporary exhibits by top-caliber Chilean artists that are displayed on stone walls under a series of brick arches. It's easy to miss the entrance, which is on Calle Condell just beyond the Museo de Historia Natural de Valparaíso.

    Condell 1550, Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Sun.

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