Valparaiso is one of Chile’s hottest backpacker destinations. With such a bohemian feel, amazing coffee and some crazy buildings it’s no wonder why. If you’re trying to decide on how many days to spend in Santiago then cut that time in half and get on a bus to Valparaiso.
Before you can enjoy the simple pleasures of cheap empanadas, street art and coffee galore how do you even get to Valparaiso? Oh so simple. Just hop on a bus and away you go. So easy even you can do it.
The first thing to do is to figure out how the buses work.
Get to bus stop.
Buy a bus ticket.
Get on bus to Valparaiso.
Enjoy the ride.
Enjoy the city!
Buses leave from two main terminals – Alameda and Parajitos. Both are connected via the amazingness that is the Santiago subway system. For a mere 660 pesos, you can catch the train from just about anywhere. Both stations are on the red metro one line. For ease of life, it’s simpler to catch the bus from Parajitos. As the bus from Alameda travels through the city. Really you’re just dropping off 20mins of unnecessary bus time. As someone who suffers from travel sickness I like to avoid that where possible.
If you are catching the bus from Alameda then you will want the U de Santiago (University of Santiago) stop.
Pre Book or buy a ticket on the spot?
We had considered pre booking our tickets via Busbud. But didn’t want the hassle of having to find a printer to print out tickets. Which really worked in over favour. At the time of booking Turbus had a promotion on. All tickets were down to 2000 pesos (plus tax) or around $4 Australian dollars. In total, we paid less than $10 Australian dollars for two people one way.
When you arrive at the desk don’t worry if you don’t speak any Spanish. We certainly dont! Our Spanglish got us there in the end. The operators tend to understand that you want to buy tickets to a destination. They will ask you if you want to sit up top or bottom (if it’s a double decker) or just assign you a seat number. The most you’ll need to do is point at the time you’d like to go. We just booked our tickets for the next available bus and usually had to wait 15-25mins.
One way or a return ticket?
We went with one way tickets. It seemingly made no difference to the price. As there were departures every 15-20mins on most companies there wasn’t much risk of a bus being booked out. We also travelled in the mid afternoon. In case the bus is full there’s one soon after,
Boarding the bus.
Once you have your tickets in hand you’ll need to keep an eye out on the bus. There are quite a few companies who leave at different times. There will be a big sign, either digital or a clock, letting you know what time the bus leaves. 5-10mins before the bus leaves you can drop off your baggage. The handler will label your back and hand you a copy. Do not lose this! You will need it at the other end to collect your bags. They really won’t want to hand over your bag unless you have the magical ticket.
The trip to and from Valparaiso is pleasant. Not a whole lot happens but you do get to see wineries and a palm tree valley on the way. Just a hint – if you arrive early then drop off your bags and get your feet ready to go on the Free Tour. Ok it’s not free as they do ask for tips at the end but it’s a wonderful way to learn more about the city. It was one of the best walking tours we’ve had in South America!
Without a doubt, our 2 and a half days in Valparaiso was one of the most enjoyable parts of our adventure. The city is full of life, people and great coffee. A Melbourne girls dream really. Keep posted as we’ll have a few blog posts on the history, street art and snacks of this wonderful area shortly.
Founder, Principal Blogger & Coffee Drinker
Coffee Lover | Travel Blogger | Horse Rider | Adventure Racer | Donut Dame. Generally nice lady-enjoys wine, indie movies & random dance parties in my tent.
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