Valparaiso could be Chile’s gayest city of all.
Santiago might be home to a large gay scene in Bellavista, but for our money, Valpo is even more tolerant, open-minded and downright fabulous!
Valpo (for short) is one of the country's most popular draws, famous for its magnificent street art and unique architecture. Pablo Neruda, the famous Chilean Nobel Prize-winning poet, loved Valpo so much he set up one of his homes here. UNESCO was so impressed, it added Valpo's Historic Quarter to its World Heritage List in 2003, and The Guardian described Valpo as a “mini Berlin by the seaside“.
As Chile’s capital of culture, Valparaiso is packed with art, nightlife and creativity of every kind. This makes the city a hub for the nation’s gay community and we felt more at home in Valpo than anywhere else in Chile.
We fell in love with Valpo’s stunning seaside location, it’s amazing works of art and, of course, the drop-dead gorgeous locals. It goes without saying that by this point, Valpo is one of our favorite cities in Latin America.
To show you how great Valparaiso for LGBTQ travelers, we decided to create a comprehensive gay guide to the city and its neighboring gay resort town Viña del Mar. From the most gay-friendly places to stay to the wildest gay bars and clubs, we will cover it all in our guide to Chile’s coolest city.
Let’s get going with an in-depth look at the gay hotels of Valpo.
Get your personalised gay friendly itinerary to Chile
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Is Valparaiso safe for gay travellers?
Valpo is very safe for gay travellers! Chile may be on the conservative side of the LGBTQ spectrum, but Valpo and Viña del Mar rank as one of the gayest places we've been to on the whole continent. It's just so Bohemian here – hip, cool, super laid back. There are queer people everywhere and no one bats an eyelid.
Valparaiso is famous for having a liberal and tolerant atmosphere. For many years it's been the bedrock for local artists and musicians…the city's famous colourful street art is testament to this! As such, Valpo has a thriving gay scene with several hangouts like Pagano and Máscara, as well as many excellent gay friendly hotels. Booking a double room in Valpo? Never was a problem for us in any of the places we stayed at in this hip Chilean city.
Heading to Valparaiso?
Valparaiso doesn't have its own airport so you first have to fly into Santiago's airport. It's around 30 minutes from Santiago airport to the city centre then roughly 2 hours by bus to Valpo. Instead, we recommend getting a private transfer from Santiago to Valpo which is quicker and soooo much more comfortable!.
Gay hotels in Valparaiso
Valparaiso is Chile’s cultural capital and an extremely liberal city. This means that gay travelers shouldn’t have any issues booking a double bed in this quirky seaside city.
Though we didn’t find any outright gay hotels like those you can find in Puglia, Miami and Berlin, everywhere we stayed was super gay-friendly.
Below are some of our favorite hotels for LGBTQ travelers in Valparaiso, with something for all budgets and tastes.
Why we love it
- Gay-friendly and tolerant
- Awesome location
- Chic decor
- Rooftop bar with hot tubs
Verso Hotel is a stylish gay friendly place to stay in the chilled Cerro Florida neighborhood of Valpo.
When we entered the hotel, we were struck by the modern design of the lobby area. Natural elements like plants and wooden furniture contrast beautifully against the industrial-chic space. We knew from the beginning that this was a great choice to base our fabulous selves while exploring the city.
On arrival in the room, we were proven right! There is a poetry theme that runs throughout Verso, with each room featuring verses from a different poet emblazoned on the wall. Our room showed Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario’s famous poem Invernal. What a pleasure to wake up every morning greeted by such beautiful words!
Overall, our room at Verso Hotel was decked out in a light, minimal style that provided a lovely oasis from the city outside. Even better is the rooftop bar at this hotel, which features two hot tubs that make the perfect spot for a sunset cocktail overlooking the city.
The staff at Verso Hotel are young and hip, not to mention used to hosting LGBTQ guests. We loved the inclusive, liberal vibe that this hotel gave off throughout our stay.
The food at the on-site Verso Restaurante is delicious. With a seasonal theme, the focus is on local ingredients and refined Chilean cooking. Sampling their creations before taking an evening soak in the hot tub with a nightcap is a must if you visit this Valpo hotel.
Why we love it
- Art deco building
- Gay owned
- Delicious food
- Artsy vibe
This awesome hotel is a gay-owned operation ran by French-speaking Belgians. Although only small, we loved everything about ViaVia.
First, the location of this hotel is perfect. ViaVia sits in an old part of Valpo that hums with ambiance at all hours of the day. In fact, this area is where we spent most of our time in the city because it is so, so beautiful.
The art deco theme at this hotel made our stay that extra bit special. Our room was modern, trendy and squeaky-clean. We loved the light parquet flooring and unique vintage furniture at ViaVia. This place has some real style!
Look out for Menu the cat – yes, that's his name! He prowls the restaurant area charming guests, then nestling in your lap and purring away. In true Belgian style, expect delicious chips and beer here in addition to Chilean specialties prepared with love.
As ViaVia is gay-owned, it is one of the top places for LGBTQ visitors to stay in Valpo. The city is renowned for its tolerant attitudes but ViaVia goes above and beyond even this. Neither the staff nor the other guests at ViaVia seemed to care a jot when we checked into our room with a double bed.
One of our favorite things about ViaVia was enjoying our morning breakfast in the leafy patio area outside. Our hosts often came out to chat with us, offering some handy tips on our itinerary for the day and checking if we needed any more coffee. The huge mural in the patio is stunning and helps to make ViaVia a really unique place to stay in Valpo.
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.
Hostal Maison de la Mer
Why we love it
- Great value place to stay
- Friendly, inclusive owners
- Squeaky clean
- Top location
Just a stone’s throw from the beach on Yungay Hill, we loved this super-funky gay friendly inn. The vibe at Hostal Maison de la Mer is very chilled thanks to the young bohemian crowd that flock here.
The owners of this place are a French couple who are incredibly open-minded and helpful. Their information on little-known spots to visit around the city will help make your Valparaiso trip truly unique.
As the name suggests, this is a hostel so you have the use of a kitchen area as well as a communal zone with tv and table football. With that said, the place is kept super clean and guests tend to be respectful. Rooms are basic but sparkling and adorned with plenty of local art, so this is by no means a rough place to stay.
Hostal Maison de la Mer features murals from local artists throughout, making this a delightful space to inhabit for a day or two. We particularly loved the art in the outdoor patio area, which we spent plenty of time discussing over our morning tea, coffee and cake.
As far as value for money goes in central Valparaiso, Hostel Maison de la Mer is right up there with the best of them. Their continental breakfast is unusually generous whilst we loved the bar area. It gets quite busy during evenings with locals and tourists alike, who come for the cheap beer and stay for the friendly atmosphere!
Why we love it
- Super chic boutique hotel
- Ambient terrace area
- Non-judgemental staff
- Cool coffee shop with homemade snacks
A stunning gay friendly boutique hotel in Valpo, Hotel MM450 has to be one of the most stylish places to stay in the entire city.
We absolutely loved the chic decor of this place. From the minimal but tasteful furniture to the parquet flooring, the whole hotel is beautiful. Rooms and communal areas were light and breezy, with a big emphasis on natural light that made us feel constantly energized!
The terrace is one of the highlights at MM450, where enjoying a coffee begins to feel like some sort of calming ritual! The area is filled with unique design elements like repurposed wood tables, stylish couches and lots of plants. We spent so much time chilling in the patio at MM450.
When we felt like a walk around town, Hotel MM450 was perfectly positioned. The local neighborhood is upmarket and hip, much like the hotel, but it’s also really central to all of the major sites in Valpo. The coffee shop serves delicious coffee and snacks throughout the day. In fact, their homemade cakes and pastries are an absolute must for anyone with a sweet tooth.
The staff and guests at MM450 were super-friendly and respectful, with no indication of judgment when we turned up with our booking for one room and one big double bed to share! When it comes to boutique luxury in Valparaiso, we think that Hotel MM450 is one of the very best options for LGBTQ travelers and especially couples seeking to spend their time here in style.
Gay bars in Valparaiso
As you might expect for one of Latin America’s most creative and liberal cities, the gay scene in Valparaiso is loud, proud and very much out of the closet! It's actually quite a small gay scene in Valpo, especially when compared to Santiago's Bellavista gayborhood, but the few gay bars we found in Valpo certainly pack a punch and make for a terrific night out.
Below we've included information on some of our favorite gay and gay-friendly bars in Valpo, catering to all tastes and budgets.
We loved heading to Mascara to kick start our journey into Valpo’s awesome gay nightlife. Like many of the coolest bars in Valpo, Mascara has an indie vibe, with this place taking plenty of inspiration from British indie bands like Pulp and The Smiths. They have promotions like 2 for 1 cocktails from Monday to Thursday until midnight, so we usually headed here until around that time before moving on to one of the bigger nightclubs or bars. If you’re looking to meet handsome Chilean boys in Valpo, we’d say Mascara is your best bet.
Location: Plaza Aníbal Pinto 1178, Valparaíso, Chile
Open: Daily from 9 pm to 4 am
Open only at weekends, Morgana is a unique pagan-themed gay bar that celebrates all things occult. This place was a real eye-opener for us… filled with wonderful weirdness in every way imaginable. The clientele here is almost all LGBTQ, if not extremely liberal. After all, Morgana is a hotbed of underground and alternative activity in Valpo. This bar throws special theme nights on a weekly basis, with DJs, fancy dress and much more adding to the deliciously dark ambience!
Location: Salvador Donoso 1445, Valparaíso, Chile
Open: Friday and Saturday from 11.30 pm to 4.30 am
Cassot is a gay-friendly bar packing a serious amount of cool into its tiny, central Valpo setting. Known throughout the city for hosting top Latin American DJs, Cassot has an awesome inclusive vibe that we couldn’t get enough of. Every night of the week, Cassot is packed with locals and visitors alike who come here to dance, chat and drink until the early hours. We absolutely loved it here, so much so that we kept coming back for more.
Location: Av. Ecuador 110, Valparaíso, Chile
Open: Daily from 7 pm to 4 am
Gay clubs in Valparaiso
Much like the bars of Valpo, the club scene in this liberal city is alive and kicking. Whilst there aren't many queer venues in Valpo, you can be sure that most clubs in the city welcome everybody, including our own! From hedonistic all-nighters to hipster-magnet superclubs, this area of Chile boasts no shortage of awesome nightlife. Here's a slice of some of our favourite gay clubs in Valparaiso which we think you need to check out:
Probably Valpo’s definitive gay nightclub, Pagano has been throwing some of the most hedonistic gay club nights in Latin America for over twenty years. Their experience shows. We had great fun here, drinking and dancing the night away with a diverse crowd of locals who were almost all part of the LGBTQ community. The music at Pagano was awesome and their cocktails are fantastic if a little strong! The whole club is bathed in a bright red light that makes visiting here a unique experience.
Location: Avenida Errazuriz 1852, Valparaíso, Chile
Open: Daily from 11.30 pm to 6.30 am
Club Divino (Viña del Mar)
This is the definitive spot in Chile for meeting gorgeous local boys. Club Divino is a huge gay club just outside Valpo in Vina del Mar. With multiple rooms, a banging sound system and a fun-loving crowd, our night at Club Divino was the best party experience we had in all of Chile. This gay club competes with the best places in Europe in terms of music, atmosphere and pure shenanigans. Whether you come for a drag event or to catch an international DJ on the decks, Club Divino is the best place to come for LGBTQ nightlife in the Valpo region.
Location: Camino Internacional 537, Viña del Mar, Valparaíso, Chile
Unapologetically glam, Club Delirio is an LGBTQ club in Valpo located near the port area. This place doesn’t get going until well after midnight but once that time arrives, anything goes. Just take our advice – try to have a Disco Nap in the afternoon before coming….! We found the crowd at Club Delirio to be super alternative, with a wild and accepting atmosphere. Be prepared to stay a lot longer than you planned, Club Delirio is the kind of place where the hours pass like minutes.
Location: Av Chacabuco 2124, 2340000 Valparaíso, Chile
Open: 24 hours
Where to eat in Valparaiso
Anybody even a little interested in food will tell you that Latin American cuisine is having a moment right now. Well, Chile is no exception! The country produces some of the world's best wines and is famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon.
As the nation’s cultural capital, Valparaiso is home to some exceptional restaurants to suit all budgets. We had some delicious meals in both the fanciest and most basic restaurants in town.
Below we have included a selection of our favorite restaurants in Valparaiso.
With its amazing view and busy tables, Fauna might look to experienced travelers like a bit of a tourist trap. The truth is that the food here is excellent and whilst prices are slightly higher because of the view (did we mention it is amazing?), this is still great value fare. We had a delicious lunch here, finding the food and service to be excellent. As for our recommendations, look no further than the Fauna salad with a blueberry dressing and the deliciously delicate beef carpaccio.
Serving elevated Chilean cuisine, La Capurcita y el Lobo was one of our favorite restaurants in all of Valpo. Like many of the best places in town, the view is incredible, but the food at this spot is what we couldn’t stop talking about. This classy place was perfect for a date night and we dined on ceviche and grilled octopus, both super-fresh. The wine, recommended by our friendly waiter, was one of the best we had in all of Chile, and that’s saying something!
Barrio Puerto isn't known as the nicest area of Valparaiso, but locals are ren-ergising it and the Barrio Huerto Resto-Bar is a big part of that. They purchase local ingredients and focus on ‘inclusive' food, which means there's plenty of options for vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free or lactose-free patrons. The dishes are soooo good, mostly healthy Chilean-style streetfood as well as classics like ceviche or lamb stew with creamy beans and rice. They also do amazing desserts, like the tomato made of apple custard sitting on top of chocolate and granola soil!
Chic, elegant and always busy, La Concepcion has a reputation as one of the best restaurants in Valparaiso. As far as we’re concerned, this is totally deserved. Our food was as fresh as can be and, of course, the view from this place is sumptuous. We dined on beautifully soft fish, vibrant salads and wine so good that we ordered an extra bottle. If you're feeling extra adventurous you could even try some llama stew, although we couldn't quite bring ourselves to eat something so cute!
Gay pride and other events
Although the gay scene in Valpo is pretty awesome for a smaller city, unfortunately, there is still no Gay Pride event taking place here. Although this is definitely a shame, the fact that the Chilean capital of Santiago throws one of Latin America’s biggest Pride events definitely helps!
So, we recommend jumping on the train to Santiago if you’re in Chile during the month of pride or for any other LGBTQ events taking place throughout the year. You won’t regret it!
Marcha del Orgullo – June
After beginning life in 1999, Santiago’s first pride event of the year takes place in June. Usually taking place on the last Saturday of the month, the Marcha del Orgullo (Pride March) has grown from a few hundred attendees to over 100,000 people every single year. All in just over twenty years. If there’s any better example of Chile’s amazing LGBTQ scene than that, we’d love to see it!
Open Mind Fest – November
The second of Santiago’s pride events happens in November, which in this part of the world is summer. A must for fans of electronic music, the pride march culminates at Plaza Italia in the Open Mind Fest. Expect plenty of fun, amazing tunes and thousands upon thousands of beautiful boys.
The event is organized by MOVILH (El Movimento de Integracion y Liberacion Homosexual), who do wonderful work for the LGBTQ community across Chile.
Top things to do in Valparaiso
One of Latin America’s tourism hotspots, Valparaiso conjures images in a way that few cities in the world can. Whether you’re into street art, poetry or natural beauty, Chile’s cultural capital will have the perfect activity.
We made some incredible memories during our time in Valpo, from wandering the stunning streets of the old quarter to trying our hand at Chilean cookery.
Below we have included a selection of our top things to do in Valpo.
Explore the street art of Valparaiso
Renowned all over the world for its expressive, vibrant street art, Valparaiso is a hub for creatives not only in Chile but globally. Some of our favorite days in the city were spent roaming the atmospheric streets, stopping every now and then to take in one of the thousands of murals that characterize the city. In our mind, Valparaiso is one of the most colorful and alive cities we have visited. Much of this energy comes from the city’s stunning street art, which is best enjoyed with Ecomapu, a gay-owned company who run a variety of cool street-art tours.
Across Chile, you will hear plenty about the great poet Pablo Neruda, maybe the nation’s most famous son. He owned a variety of properties across Chile but perhaps the most interesting is La Sebastiana, Neruda’s Valparaiso residence. We enjoyed our trip here learning about this eccentric yet deeply sensitive poet, whose life story is exhibited in the museum at La Sebastiana. The views across the city from the museum are also spectacular.
Do a Chilean Cooking Class
One of the highlights of our Valpo trip was the Chilean cooking class we took. The chef was super friendly and spoke great English. We kicked things off with a trip to the local market to source our fresh ingredients before we returned to the kitchen to get cooking. The best part was, of course, the eating of our meal, which was paired with some delicious local wines that came included in the price. And now we know how to make ceviche at home for whenever we get a craving!
Visit an art gallery
As Chile’s cultural capital, people in Valpo pride themselves on their appreciation of art. The city is packed with art galleries big and small, so we spent plenty of time here flitting between the best of them. Our favorite was Espacio Rojo. Located in the city’s UNESCO world heritage area, their collection focuses on contemporary painting and street art. We were left blown away by the works of art on show at this awesome Valpo gallery.
Go on a day trip to Viña del Mar
Our day trip to Vina del Mar from Valpo was one of the highlights of our trip. This small city is just a short cab ride from Valparaiso and is famous across Chile for its beaches and gardens, it's even called “The Garden City”. The vibe is even more chilled than in Valpo if you could believe it. We spent our time here strolling through leafy plazas, sipping cocktails on the beach and checking out the handsome local surfers! There's also a pretty cool castle overlooking the sea, Wulff Castle, which is worth a visit.
Plan your trip to Valparaiso
We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Valparaiso. Read on to find out everything the gay traveller should know before they go.
How to get there: Since Valparaiso doesn't have its own airport, most travellers will fly into Santiago and then make their way to Valpo. You can then get to Valparaiso via bus or train although we recommend organising a private transfer, especially if you're going straight from the airport to Valpo. It can be quite a mission to figure out all the buses or trains, so a private transfer is much quicker and more convenient.
Visa requirements: Travellers from most EU countries, USA, Canada and Australia don't need a visa to stay in Chile for up to 90 days as a tourist. You will, however, need to show that you have a return/onward travel ticket if you arrive by plane and a passport with at least 6 months validity from the day you arrive. Make sure you check your personal visa requirements before you make travel plans for Valparaiso.
Getting around: The easiest way to explore Valparaiso is on foot or by getting a taxi if you want to avoid the hills. The trolley-buses are also quite fun. Here's some more info on transport within Valpo.
Power Plugs: Chile uses two main types of power plugs. The first is type C, which is common in Europe, the second is type I, which is mainly used in Australia, New Zealand, China and the South Pacific. If you're travelling to Valparaiso from the USA or UK we recommend bringing a good travel adaptor with you.
Travel insurance: Don't head anywhere without knowing you're protected in the case of cancelled flights, lost luggage or illness. We never go anywhere without the reassurance of our World Nomads Travel Insurance and we can definitely recommend them to other travellers. They provide affordable and comprehensive cover, plus it's easy to make a claim online if you need to.
Safety and Security: Valparaiso is very safe for gay travellers, but no matter where you are, you can encounter danger when travelling. We like to use the CloseCircle “virtual bodyguard” app when we're travelling as they can provide support and security alerts. Their service even includes evacuation in the case of weather emergencies or other unforeseen events. Read more about why we love CloseCircle in our article on how travellers can stay safe.
Vaccinations: All travellers to Chile should make sure they're up to date with routine vaccinations like measles, mumps and chickenpox. Most travellers should also be vaccinated for hepatitis A and typhoid. Some travellers may also need vaccinations for hepatitis B, yellow fever, malaria and rabies, depending on what you'll be doing/where you'll be going. Check the CDC website for the most up to date info for Chile and also speak to your local doctor or travel nurse before making travel plans for Valparaiso.
Currency: The currency used in Chile is the Chilean Peso. The code is written as CLP and the dollar sign is usually used when you see prices within Chile. $1 (US) converts to around 820 Pesos, €1 is worth around 900 Pesos and £1 is about 1,000 Pesos.
Tipping culture: Wages in Chile tend to be rather low so many workers do depend on tips to get by. The norm is to tip around 10% if service is not already included. The tipping culture of Chile is very similar to that of Europe – i.e. you don't need to tip for every drink in a bar or your taxi driver, but of course, it won't go unappreciated if you do! Here's some more info on tipping in Chile.
Internet access: You'll be able to access free WiFi at hotspots throughout Valparaiso as well as at most hotels, hostels, cafes, bars and restaurants. If you will be needing reliable internet access for work then we recommend bringing a portable WiFi device with you.
Online privacy: Since Chile is a very gay friendly you won't find gay dating apps like Scruff or Grindr being blocked. If you just want to keep your online activities private, then we recommend using ExpressVPN. It's an affordable and reliable way to browse the internet anonymously.
Accommodation: There are plenty of cool places to stay in Valparaiso. We love using Booking.com when planning out our travels as they have an extensive selection at the best prices. Many also offer free cancellation which is perfect if you want to be flexible and spontaneous on your travels.
Sightseeing and adventure: For more fun things to do and see in Valparaiso, we love to use GetYourGuide. They always have lots of cool tours and activities for excellent prices, plus it's easy to book online.
When to visit: Chile's summer months between December-February are the warmest, although the shoulder season of spring is less busy and therefore cheaper. Plus the weather is still pretty nice so that's our favourite time to visit.
Gay map of Valparaiso
Here's a gay map of Valparaiso which includes all the gay bars, clubs, hotels and sightseeing highlights we've mentioned in this post. Use it to plan your own amazing gay trip to Valpo!
For more inspiration:
- Read more about what it's like to grow up gay in Chile in our interview with Ivan from Santiago
- See which are our favourite gay hotels throughout Chile
- If you're hopping over the border don't miss our gay country guide to Argentina
- Including the fabulously gay capital city Buenos Aires
- For more mouthwatering meals, here's our favourite foods from Argentina
- As well as interesting facts about Argentina you might not have known
- If you're going north, find out what it's like to hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu as a gay couple