Valparaiso is a tapestry of mesmerizing chaos, old architecture, ramshackle funiculars, colorful street art, and the beautiful Pacific coast. Home to 45 historic hills, it is Santiago’s bohemian hideaway, a favorite among artists, philosophers, and romantics. In 2003, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Since then, more and more tourists have been attracted to visit – and some, to stay.
There are two primary modes of transportation you can use to get from Santiago to Valparaiso. The 120 kilometers land distance can be covered either by bus or car. Unfortunately, Valparaiso cannot be accessed by air as there is no airport near Valparaiso.
You can easily get a bus to Valparaiso from the bus terminal in Pajaritos in Santiago. While there are many bus companies driving the route, the most famous companies are Turbus and Pullman. Buses for Valparaiso leave every 15 minutes from 6:00am to 10:30pm every day. Travel time takes about 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the traffic, but time flies as there are scenic vistas to admire.
- It is fairly easy to get a bus ticket to Valparaiso. There are many ticket desks inside the bus terminal, each one dedicated to a company. Just head to the one you prefer and buy a ticket. You can also buy a return ticket here, or get one from Valparaiso’s bus terminal.
- Getting a bus is hassle-free except during weekends and holidays where it is recommended that you purchase your ticket in advance to guarantee your seat.
- The tickets have the time of next departure printed on it, so you know how long the waiting will be.
- On regular weekdays, the buses leave every 15 minutes, but you might have to wait a bit longer during weekends and holidays as the buses fill up faster.
- Keep hold of the tickets during the journey as the ticket may be checked at any point.
- Also, make sure that the bus service will directly go to Valparaiso. Some of them go via Vina del Mar.
- Most of these buses have in-built toilets but no toilet paper, so, be prepared!
- Bus fare starts at USD 8* or a little over 5,000 pesos which makes it the cheapest way to get to Valparaiso.
A car drive from Santiago to Valparaiso takes only about an hour. There are many car rental companies offering different prices, so you want to do your research. If you want to head directly for Valparaiso from Santiago airport there are plenty of car rental companies at the airport too. To save time, and potentially money (as you can easily get a price comparison), it is recommended to hire a car online before you arrive to Santiago.
- A car hire usually costs between USD 40 (20,000 pesos) to USD 110* (55,000 pesos), depending on the model of vehicle you choose.
- Get ready to pay toll a couple of times when driving to Valparaiso. Toll costs USD 1.85 (1200 pesos) on weekdays through 5pm of Friday and USD 2.93* from 5pm of Friday through Sunday.
- You will need a driver’s license, your passport, and a credit card to hire a car.
- Chile drives in the right hand-side.
- When settling on a car rental, read the contract carefully before making a commitment. Pay attention to extra charges for picking up or dropping off the car late, driver insurance, and fuel coverage. Also check the car carefully for damages prior to starting the tour, to ensure they don’t charge you for a dent you didn’t make.
- Make sure that the vehicle has the desired equipment such as GPS, straps, air-conditioning etc.
- Set the route on Google maps in your phone before hitting the road. It just makes life easier.
- While the roads leading to and around Valparaiso are in great condition for driving, the steeps and turns are rather challenging. Drive safe!
When it comes down to travelling from Santiago to Valparaiso, a bus is definitely the more pocket-friendly and hassle-free option. However, with a car rental the road is yours, meaning you can make a quick stop at a vineyard on the route, enjoy a glass or two may be, and take the journey at your own pace. The pick is yours!
*Note: Prices are as of 2017.