Viña del Mar, Chile

Viña del Mar is one of the country’s premiere resort towns. The beaches, flowers, parks, resorts, nightlife and casino of Garden City are a major draw for international tourists plus Chileans from Santiago and nearby Valparaíso.

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1 Flower Clock in Viña del Mar, Chile

A few miles north of Valparaíso is the resort town of Viña del Mar. The name means “Vineyard by the Sea” but its nickname is The Garden City. This Flower Clock has been a landmark since it was designed by Oscar Martinez Amaro in 1962. The nine foot hands of Reloj de Flores are driven by a Swiss mechanism. If you want to see hundreds of species of flowers and trees, then stroll through the botanical gardens called Jardín Botánico Nacional. Since Viña was founded in 1874 by José Francisco Vergara Echevers, it has grown into Chile’s fourth largest city with over 300,000 residents called Viñamarinos.

Reloj de Flores, Alamos 590, Viña del Mar, Región de Valparaíso, Chile

2 Caleta Abarca Beach in Viña del Mar, Chile

There is an excellent reason Viña del Mar became one of Chile’s best resort towns: about a dozen gorgeous beaches. The most popular is Playa Caleta Abarca. There are plenty of amenities surrounding the beautiful sand. It is nestled in a cove which breaks up the Pacific waves making it ideal for swimming. Other tourist areas to consider within the Valparaíso Region are the Vergara Pier, the Las Salinas and Reñaca Beaches plus the commune of Concón.

Playa Caleta Abarca Avenida España S/N, Viña del Mar, Región de Valparaíso, Chile

3 Waves Crashing Against Rocky Beach in Viña del Mar, Chile

You would expect the Pacific to be warm in Central Chile during the peak tourist season of December through March. But the coastline is affected by the Humboldt Current. This ocean flow brings cold water from the southern tip of the country so swimming can be nippy. Yet it also delivers excellent waves that delight surfers and skimboarders.

Playa Caleta Abarca Avenida España S/N, Viña del Mar, Región de Valparaíso, Chile

4 El Castillo Wulff in Viña del Mar, Chile

A businessman named Gustavo Wulff proved the famous 1604 quote by Sir Edward Coke that “a man’s home is his castle.” The first phase of El Castillo Wulff was finished in 1908 but it continued to evolve from atop Castle Hill until the middle of the century. This city landmark along the ocean was declared as a National Monument in 1995. Today it houses the Unidad de Patrimonio (the Municipality’s Cultural Heritage Unit) plus an art gallery.

Av. Marina 37, Viña del Mar, Región de Valparaíso, Chile

5 El Castillo Wulff Observation Balcony in Viña del Mar, Chile

A delightful feature of the medieval castle named El Castillo Wulff is this balcony perched on a wall of stone with its tall, lone tree. From this vantage point you have excellent views of the mouth of the Marga-Marga River, the town of Viña del Mar and the beautiful Pacific Ocean coastline.

Av. Marina 37, Viña del Mar, Región de Valparaíso, Chile

6 Castillo Burnet in Viña del Mar, Chile

During the 19th century, the First Sister Hill was occupied by the Callao Military Fort. Then in the 1920s, two grand buildings were constructed on top of what became Castle Hill. One of them was commissioned by Carlos Ibáñez del Campo. The former president’s 7,400 foot summer residence is Castillo Presidencial. The second is Castillo Burnet. But before Rafael Brunet Brown could finish, he sold it to Nicolás Yarur Lolas. This is why it is also referred to as Yarur Palace. Burnet Castle is now the holiday retreat of the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Iberia 104, Viña del Mar, Región de Valparaíso, Chile

7 Municipal Enjoy Casino in Viña del Mar, Chile

When a casino was approved in Viña del Mar in 1928 it became Latin America’s oldest. Enjoy Casino offers a wide array of games including roulette, blackjack, baccarat and poker plus about 1,200 slot machines. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights the Nightclub Ovo is the place to be for loud music and dancing.

Av. San Martín, 199, Viña del Mar, Región de Valparaíso, Chile

8 Hotel Del Mar in Viña del Mar, Chile

One of two of Viña del Mar’s five-star accommodations is the Hotel Del Mar next to the Enjoy Casino. All 60 rooms are well appointed. In addition to the bar, restaurant and gym is a swimming pool on the top floor so you don’t miss a moment of sunshine. As its name implies, all of the resort’s balconies surrounding its coliseum-shaped facade provide fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean. The other top-rated hotel in town is the Sheraton Miramar Hotel & Convention Center.

San Martín 199, Viña del Mar, Región de Valparaíso, Chile

9 Twisted Tree at Plaza Columbia in Viña in Viña del Mar, Chile

Adjacent to the casino is a public park named Plaza Columbia. This is an ideal place for a relaxed, afternoon stroll through the tree-lined grounds. Kids will enjoy its go-carts, pony rides and the chance to rent a scooter. There are several other delightful squares around the city. Also consider spending time admiring the flowers and plants at Quinta Vergara Park.

Tte Hernán Merino, Viña del Mar, Región de Valparaíso, Chile

Viña del Mar, Chile Composite of Four Photos

A few minutes from Valparaíso is the resort town of Viña del Mar (Vineyard by the Sea). Its highlights are sandy beaches with crashing Pacific waves. It also hosts an art deco casino from 1930 that is opened 24 hours, a racetrack, the Wulff Castle, the Castillo Presidencial (summer palace of the Chilean president) plus numerous lush summer gardens. Visitors will find an array of hotels, restaurants and bars that cater to every nationality, taste and budget.