If you have more than a couple of days in Santiago, the nearby port city of Valparaiso is definitely worth a visit. Just 120km from Chile’s capital, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a quirky collection of dilapidated buildings, rickety funiculars, graffitied alleyways and colour as far as the eye can see! It’s also home to over 40 historic hills (cerros) offering spectacular views of the city and bay below.
It’s really easy to make the hour and a half journey between the two cities, but it definitely helps to work out the route beforehand to make sure you end up in the right place. To help you out, here’s a step by step guide on how to travel from Santiago to Valparaiso…
If you have the money and want a private ride, then travelling by taxi is an option but the most common mode of transport is the bus. There are a bunch of different companies that drive the route multiple times daily, but the two you will probably hear about the most are ‘Pullman’ and the bright green ‘Turbus’. They leave from a couple of stops within Santiago, but the easiest one to go from is Pajaritos which is the last stop in Santiago. Leaving from here means you won’t end up sitting on the bus for an extra 20 mins or so whilst the bus weaves through the centre. To get to Pajaritos, you will probably need to take the metro. For me, it was really straightforward as I just needed to take one line but depending on where you are coming from, you may need to change. The underground system is really easy to understand, but if you are unsure see my guide on how to use the Santiago metro.
Once at Pajaritos, follow the signs for ‘Bus Transfer’ which will lead you outside to the terminal. Before you exit to the outside waiting area, you will need to buy your ticket from one of the ticket desks inside. They are clearly labelled with the company names – you can’t miss the bright green Turbus signs!
To buy your ticket, head to your preferred desk and ask for ‘un boleto a Valparaiso, por favor‘ (One ticket to Valparaiso). If you want to buy your return at the same time, you’ll need to specify ‘un boleto de vuelta’. It doesn’t seem to make any difference whether you buy the return journey beforehand or not – I chose to wait and buy mine the next day. Once you have your ticket, head out to the waiting area and look out for your bus, which will have the company logo on the side and Valpariso displayed somewhere on the front. The time of the next available bus will be printed on your ticket, so you can see how long you have to wait. They run regularly (every 15 mins), but buses can fill up fast on weekends so it may be one or two buses before you can get on. Whilst you wait, you can use the baños / bathrooms in the station but you’ll need to pay 400 pesos for the pleasure. TIP: If you can wait 15 mins, there are toilets on the buses! Although you’ll need to bring your own toilet paper…
When your bus arrives, you’ll need to find your seat – your seat number is printed on your ticket (look for the word asiento). There will be a guy waiting to check your ticket before you get on, who will direct you to your seat if the bus has two levels. KEEP HOLD OF YOUR TICKET! At some point during the ride, you may have your ticket checked so make sure you keep it somewhere safe! With minimal traffic, the total journey time is an hour and a half and the time flies thanks to the beautiful views. You drive past a number of vineyards and local villages, cloud-topped mountains and sprawling green forests before arriving in to Valpariso’s dusty streets. The seats on the Turbus were really comfortable with loads of room and space to put your feet up too.
Once at Valparaiso, you will need to find your way in to the centre or to your accommodation. It’s not particularly close – around a 25 minute walk to Plaza Sotomayor so it’s advisable to take a bus, collectivo or taxi. For information on how to get to the centre, check out my guide to public transport in Valparaiso. If going directly to your accommodation it’s probably best you email your hostel to find out the best way to get there.
Update 16/11/18 – you can now get the bus direct from SCL airport to Vina Del Mar with a stop in Valparaiso which takes an hour and costs 4000 pesos. Thanks for the update Alison!
To make the return journey, head back to the same bus station (ask for terminal de bus) and find the ticket desks. Turbus leaves from dock numbers 1 -6 so keep down that end and you’ll see the bus when it arrives if it isn’t there already. Parajitos is the first stop in Santiago, so you know as soon as the bus stops, it’s time to get off!
So that’s it! Easy peasy 🙂 If you have any specific questions about travelling between these two cities, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them!