One of the best and easiest trips to do from Santiago is to visit the coastal city of Valparaíso. However, if you’ve never been to Chile before, you might be nervous about traveling from one city to another. Well, never fear! In this post, I’m going to be tackling exactly how to get from Santiago to Valparaíso. Why should you trust me on this? I’ve lived on and off in Santiago for over four years, and as a result, I’ve made this trip countless times with no issue. So, let’s hop to it! What are the best options to get from Santiago to Valparaíso, Chile?
Firstly, let me lay out the two options: by bus and by car. Unfortunately, flying is not possible, as Valparaíso does not currently have its own airport. Furthermore, many people have asked about whether or not there is a train between Santiago and the coast. Although this would be a cool idea, no trains run between these two cities.
Leaving from downtown Santiago
To take a bus from downtown Santiago to Valparaíso, you will first need to find your way to one of the bus stations. These are located at two of the metro stops on Line 1 (red line): Universidad de Santiago and Pajaritos. My recommendation is to go to the Pajaritos station. Many times, the buses will pick up at Universidad de Santiago first and then the Pajaritos station. So, if you get on at the first station, you’ll end up having to sit on the bus for an extra 20 minutes.
Now, to take the metro, you’ll need to purchase a Bip! Card and put money on it. It’s crucial to have Chilean pesos on hand to “charge” your metro chard. The Santiago metro does not currently use single tickets, only the plastic Bip! Metro card. These cards can be purchased and “charged” at any of the metro stations.
Once you arrive at the Pajaritos metro station, it’s easy to find the signs pointing to “bus transfer”. After entering the bus station, you’ll need to purchase your ticket from one of the kiosks. Some of the most popular bus companies are Turbus and Pullman. Let me point out that it is possible to buy your tickets online ahead of time. Nonetheless, this is not necessary, as the buses between Santiago and Valparaíso run almost every 5-20 minutes. Of course, the frequency will depend on the time of day.
After you’ve purchased your ticket, make sure to walk outside and locate your bus. The bus parking spots typically have a number and will say “Valparaíso” on the front in big letters. The ride to Valparaíso will take approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. With this in mind, I recommend paying to use the restrooms at the bus station. There are typically bathrooms on the buses as well, but in my experience, they aren’t the cleanest and many times don’t have toilet paper.
Once you’ve arrived at the Valparaíso bus station, you will still be about 25 minutes from the center. However, frequent local buses run between these two areas. Plus, the short walk is also pretty scenic. To check out your options, I recommend using Google Maps. Below, I’ll show you an example of a search from the bus station to Cerro Concepción in Valparaíso.
Leaving from Santiago airport
If you’re flying into Santiago and then need to go directly to Valparaíso, you’re in luck! Turbus has only recently started offering bus service from the airport terminal to Valpo (nickname for Valparaíso). Nonetheless, because this service is new, the buses only run a few times per day. For this reason, you’ll want to check the bus times before you decide on this option. You can check the bus times for a particular day in a few easy steps:
1. Go to the Turbus website.
2. Under “ciudad de origen”, type “aeropuerto”. Under “ciudad de destino”, type “Valparaíso”.
3. If you need to buy one-way tickets, make sure to click “solo ida” at the top. If you need return tickets as well, click “ida y vuelta”.
4. Choose the appropriate dates in “fecha ida” and “fecha regreso” (if you’re booking round trip).
5. Under “cantidad de pasajes”, put the number of tickets you need to buy. This will be the number of people you are buying tickets for.
6. Click “comprar,” and you will be taken to a page with the times.
You can purchase tickets online or at the Turbus ticket office, which is located at the airport after you pass through customs. From what I can find online, this bus picks up right outside of international arrivals, door 6. Nonetheless, you can double-check at the ticket office to be sure.
If the bus times from the airport to Valparaíso do not work for you, you will need to follow the directions in the “leaving from downtown Santiago section”. Essentially, the only difference is that you will take a bus from the airport to the Pajaritos terminal. You can also purchase this ticket at the same Turbus office. Once you reach the Pajaritos terminal, you can buy a ticket from there to Valparaíso.
Renting a car and driving to Valparaíso can be a great option if you’re short on time, although it’s not the most budget-friendly. My advice is to rent your desired car online beforehand and to pick it up at the airport when you arrive. From there, driving is simple, and depending on traffic, it can take from an hour to an hour and a half. However, please note that you will pass through multiple tolls. For this reason, it is imperative to have Chilean pesos with you in cash. Once you reach Valparaíso, you will have to drive up steep hills to reach the tourist section of the city. So, make sure that you feel comfortable doing this!
I don’t mean to deter you from renting a car in Chile, as there are plenty of advantages to driving yourself. You’ll have more autonomy once you reach Valpo, and can drive directly to the city center. In comparison, the bus station will leave you approximately a 25-minute walk from the tourist attractions. Another advantage of renting a car is that you can make a stop at a vineyard on your way to the coast!
How will you be traveling to Valparaíso?
No matter how you get there, I hope you enjoy your time in this coastal city! While you’re there, don’t forget to try these restaurants in Valparaíso.