Travel via bus from Santiago to Valparaiso: A Budget Travel Guide
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Valparaiso was our favorite city in Chile. It is a perfect place to relax and get away from it all. I enjoyed walking and exploring Valpo’s colorful street art and breathing in the fresh air of this coastal gem. I always feel that one of the best parts about Valparaiso is its location – located along the Pacific Coast and in close proximity to Santiago. This makes Valparaiso a perfect weekend getaway from Santiago and the city dwellers flock to this Jewel of the Pacific for holidays and vacations. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its dilapidated buildings, creaking funiculars, spectacular street art, and a busy port area. You should definitely visit Valparaiso if you have a few days to spare while in Chile.
View of Valparaiso from high up a hill
Valparaiso can be easily reached from Santiago by car or bus – in fact, the bus from Santiago to Valparaiso is one of the most budget-friendly and efficient ways to reach this beautiful city. Spanish is widely-spoken in Chile and it gets a little difficult to converse with locals in English. I always recommend knowing and understanding your route beforehand if you do not speak the local language, especially if traveling by public transport. (I also recommend downloading Google’s Translate app, we found it super useful to converse with locals throughout Chile and Easter Island.) Also in my experience, travelers often avoid public transport in a new destination because of the lack of available information. With that in mind, here’s a handy step by step guide to help you out while taking the bus ride from Santiago to Valpo – it includes detailed information on where to board, buying your ticket, and getting down at Valpo.
Many cruise ships also leave from the Valparaiso Cruise Dock. This guide is also useful for those who want to reach the ship terminal for their cruise. Standard size luggage bags easily fit into the bus storage space.
Why travel via bus from Santiago to Valparaiso
There are many other reasons to travel via bus from Santiago to Valparaiso – the bus trip is a unique experience. The fares for the Santiago Valparaiso bus are cheaper than renting a car or car and driver and great for budget-oriented travelers. The bus is very reliable – bus timings are frequent, buses are almost always on time, and they reach their destination within expected time. The bus quality is good – buses are modern, large coaches with storage underneath and have toilets inside – though toilet paper are missing and cleanliness is often questionable. The route for the Santiago to Valparaiso bus is beautiful. When we traveled along the route early in the morning in September, it was a foggy spring day. We got to see some spectacular views of the Andes Mountains and the curving road and the attractive landscape of central Chile. The route passed through attractive Veramonte vineyards and family businesses and was a beautiful experience. If you are driving you can’t really take in the road and its attractions however when you make the trip via bus you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the views. Also, the buses on this route are safe and Santiago to Valparaiso distance of 115 km is perfectly suited for bus travel. Most buses leaving Santiago reach Valparaiso in one and a half hour leaving plenty of time to explore the city, even on a day trip. Last but not the least; bus travel is eco-friendly, green and a sustainable method of travel.
The popular Turbus is great for traveling from Santiago to Valparaiso Photo: Lanmeneses1987
Companies that run buses from Santiago to Valparaiso
Many companies drive the route from Santiago to Valparaiso at multiple times throughout the day including Pullman, Tur-Bus and Condor Bus. The bus companies that are most popular with local and foreign travelers are ‘Pullman’ and ‘Tur-Bus’. Both these companies ply modern, air-conditioned bus coaches with toilets and are the most recommended ones. Buses for Valparaiso leave every 15 minutes from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm (Tur Bus), and 6:10 am to 10:10 pm (Pullman). The fares for both buses are approximately the same, starting at around 5000 pesos (USD 8). You can purchase tickets online as well, however, it is not recommended since there are a large number of available buses and buying a ticket at the counter is hassle-free.
The route from Santiago was beautiful, extremely scenic and passed through vineyards and foggy mountains
Santiago to Valparaiso Bus: Step by Step Guide
Start your journey from Pajaritos Station in Santiago
Most of the buses leave from different stops within Santiago including the bus terminal Alameda (near the University of Santiago) but almost all of them stop at Pajaritos, which is the last stop while leaving Santiago. If you board the bus from Pajaritos, you have the option of boarding any of the buses leaving Santiago and you don’t have to sit in the bus as it weaves in and out of Downtown Santiago traffic. Boarding from Pajaritos saves a good 25-30 minutes of your travel time, especially in rush hour. Pajaritos is easily accessible by the metro. Pajaritos is the 2nd last stop on the red line (line 1), each stop is clearly announced and there are maps located within the metro. The bus station can also be reached by taxi or uber from most centrally located hotels in Santiago.
Buy the bus ticket at Pajaritos Station
If coming via Metro, follow the sign for ‘Bus Transfer’ which takes you outside the metro terminal. The ticket desks for different bus companies are located inside the bus terminal on the right and here you will need to buy a ticket before you can board the bus. You can simply request ‘One ticket, Valparaiso’. Most desks understand basic English and you can easily complete the purchase. Alternatively, you can use the handy Google Translate App or if you want to practice your Spanish say ‘un boleto a Valparaiso, por favor’. You can buy tickets with your credit card. The fares are very cheap and you may prefer to use cash for such a small amount. You can also inquire about bus departure times at the desk. Return ticket for most buses can also be bought from here or you can buy one at the time of your return at Valparaiso. To buy return tickets, ask for ‘un boleto de vuelta”
Parajitos Bus Terminal Photo: Jorgebarrios
Board the bus to Valparaiso from Parajitos Station
The tickets are printed in Spanish. Your ticket will have your bus departure time and seat number (asiento) printed on it. With your ticket in hand, walk to the waiting area where buses are parked and search for your bus by name of the company and destination name ‘Valparaiso’ written on the bus. Buses are constantly arriving and leaving and all the information is well displayed on the bus. Once you find the bus, show your ticket to the driver/guy at the entrance. He will check the ticket and guide you to your seat. If you have any luggage, the operator will give you tags for the same and keep the luggage in the storage compartment. You can now board the bus and sit on your assigned seat number. Keep your ticket safe throughout the journey as a ticket checker rechecks tickets during the trip. The total travel time is 1.5 to 2 hours and the route is beautiful and scenic. Buses usually depart every 15 minutes. However, during major holidays and weekends, you may have to wait for 30-45 minutes for a bus since they fill up fast.
Getting down at Valparaiso
The Valpo bus station called Terminal Rodoviario, where the buses have their final stop is located further from the city center near the National Congress Building. After you get down at Valpo Bus Terminal and pick up your luggage, I recommend getting a taxi to Plaza Sotomayer – a central point in Valparaiso. Most of Valparaiso’s attractions including street art walks, boat ride, funiculars and Cerros can be accessed by walking from Plaza Sotomayer. For more information on Valparaiso’s tourist attractions, check out my guide on 25 best things to in Valparaiso‘. Alternatively, if you are going to the cruise ship terminal in Valparaiso, it is just a 5 min drive and a taxi should take you there for cheap.
Beautiful street art in Valparaiso
The return journey from Valparaiso to Santiago
To take the bus back from Valpo to Santiago, you can board the bus at the same bus terminal (terminal de bus). Valpo Bus Terminal also has the ticket desks for different companies where you can purchase tickets and board the buses. Sometimes the buses aren’t already parked at Valpo terminal but leave as they arrive from Santiago. If you are getting down at Parajitos, then it is the first stop in Santiago and very easy to get down. That’s it!
If traveling via Santiago airport to Valparaiso
While it is not possible to catch a bus directly from Santiago airport to Valparaiso at the time of writing this guide – Turbus and CentroPuerto have buses every 15 minutes from the Santiago Airport to the city center that stops at Pajaritos Bus Station. Visitors traveling directly from the airport can travel via the Airport Bus to Pajaritos Bus station and then transfer to Valparaiso. When you pass through Immigration Control into the airport head straight for Exit 5 (Salida 5), turn right immediately after the Customs Desk. After you walk out of the Santiago Airport Terminal, turn right and walk straight past the taxis to a sign which says ‘Bus’. There is no need to go all the way to the Pullman/Turbus (Alameda) bus station in Downtown Santiago, just ask for a ticket to Pajaritos Bus Station (airport buses take only cash) and get down at the station to purchase your onwards ticket to Valparaiso.
Last but not the least; do check with the travel desk or manager of your hotel or hostel in Santiago for any route changes, temporary stoppages or changes and delays in travel conditions.