British Airways have launched a direct flight between London and Santiago, making Chile skyrocket to the top of our sun-stalking hit list this summer. Valparaíso, an artistic coastal town that is slightly less trampled by tourists than the Chilean capital, is the place to be for catching some rays while exploring the bohemian art scene in this colourful city.
Known as the "jewel of the Pacific," this UNESCO World Heritage city has unique architectural charm. It's built up onto steep seaside hills and is the perfect place to spend a holiday getting lost exploring its cobblestone alleys while popping between galleries, pisco bars and Valparaíso's Open Sky Museum, a maze of funky outdoor murals.
Follow in the footsteps of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and visit his Valparaísan home, La Sebastiana. Overlooking the city and the Pacific, this house will let you in on the poet's secrets and inspirations that led to him scrawling out lines such as, "The moon lives in the lining of your skin," and "You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming." His love of nature is instantly recognisable once you set foot in the house. Immense windows overlooking the ocean and old maps, music boxes and curiosities such as a preserved merry-go-round horse allow visitors to peek into Neruda's artistic world that was so often linked to the natural one - much like the city itself.
Who to take with you
This is a trip to take with your siblings; running down candy-hued streets and sampling tres leches cake will take you straight back to childhood holidays en famille.
When to go
Like Santiago, Valparaíso is a great place to visit year-round in terms of the weather but spring and summer really top the charts. From September to November, the city comes alive with bright blossoms and greenery, while December to February guarantee non-stop T-shirt top weather and late sunsets.
Most likely to bump into
Bourgeois-bohemians on the prowl for inspiration.
Essentials to bring with you
Notebooks for sketching your fairytale surroundings.
How to get there
Fly into Santiago International Airport and take a bus from Santiago's Terminal Alameda to Valparaíso. Busses leave every 15 minutes and cost £5.30 for the one hour and 15-minute drive. Once you get to Valparaíso, hop in a cab at the bus terminal to get to your hotel.