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So why did I take a day trip from Santiago to Valparaíso? After I had exhausted everything there was to see and do in Santiago, I ended up with a few free days to fill. I opted to take a day trip to Valparaíso but you could definitely spend a night or two in this colorful city. Read on to find out exactly what Valparaíso has to offer!
RELATED: If you’re also visiting Santiago, find our my highlights of the city here.
How To Get There
Valparaíso is the perfect destination for a day trip from Santiago as it can be reached within 1.5 hours.
Firstly, depending on where you’re staying, you’ll need to jump onto Santiago’s incredible Metro station and head towards Pajaritos which is on line 1 (the red one). Using Santiago’s Metro system couldn’t be easier thanks to Bip, which is essentially the equivalent of London Oyster card.
A Bip card costs 1,500 CLP (approximately £1.50) and you need to top up the card to cover your travel costs – this can be done at most metro stations. Unlike the London Underground, no matter how far you travel, the price will stay the same. Prices per journey range between 610 CLP (approximately £0.60) and 750 CLP (approximately £0.75) depending on whether you are travelling at peak time or not.
Once you have arrived at Pajaritos, make your way into the main terminal to buy your bus ticket to Valparaíso. The two main bus companies are Turbus and Pullman – we opted for Turbus simply because they had a bus departing soonest. The journey was comfortable and pleasant enough!
As with all South American bus travel, I would recommend using BusBud to check timings and prices. You can even make online bookings when travelling in Chile.
As a word of warning – I was often told that booking online would result in higher prices than when booking at the ticket station throughout South America. I tended to avoid this advice and book online when needed to avoid any hassle at the bus station with my poor Spanish!
The journey from Santiago to Valparaíso takes around 1.5 hours. If you are travelling more widely through South America, enjoy this bus journey – it will probably be one of the shortest you take!
If you are feeling nervous about using public buses in a foreign country, you can always book a guided day trip like this one which also incorporates a trip to Vina Del Mar.
What To Expect
Affectionately referred to as “Valpo”, Valparaíso is known for being Santiago’s cooler, grittier little sister. With it’s abundance of street art, cool bars and trendy places to eat, you can see why it has become a Instagram aficionado’s paradise.
Other than the street art, I didn’t really know what to expect on arrival in Valparaíso. I was startled at the number of articles online that focused on pick pocketing and petty crime…. Thankfully, my time in Valparaíso was uneventful in that sense and I always felt safe. In fact, the locals are very friendly and always seemed to be looking out for tourists – one shop keeper told me to put my camera away in certain areas.
You shouldn’t expect tonnes of tourist attractions – Valparaíso is a city that you will just love wandering around, soaking up the vibrant colours and sights!
With such close proximity to Santiago, it’s easy to fit a trip to Valparaíso into a longer Chilean adventure, so why stop here? I’d also highly recommend trying to visit San Pedro De Atacama – you can read all about my Atacama adventures here!
Things To Do
Take a Free Walking Tour
Price – Whatever you decide to tip!
Oh, am I recommending yet another Tours 4 Tips walking tour in Chile? Yes I am! In Valparaíso, there are three tours that you can choose from – “Valparaíso highlights” (as the title suggests, this shows you all of the hot-spots of the city), “Valparaíso Offbeat” (to show you all of the local’s favorite spots and hidden gems) and “Valparaíso Neruda’s Perspective” (to learn more about acclaimed poet Pablo Neruda’s life).
With limited time, I decided to take “highlights” tour to see what the city has to offer. Valparaíso is an absolutely maze, so I really enjoyed having a local guide me around! It’s so fascinating to learn some of the back-stories behind the graffiti and learn more about the city as a whole.
If I had a second day in the city, I would definitely take the Valparaíso Offbeat tour too – even if it’s just to meet more dogs! There are just as many well behaved street dogs in Valparaíso as there are in Santiago, so we had a few resident pups join us on our tour!
RELATED: I took Tours 4 Tips tours in a few Chilean cities – San Pedro De Atacama being one of them! Read my complete guide to San Pedro here.
Ride The Historic Funiculars
Cost: Less than £1
After only a few minutes in the city, you will learn that Valparaíso is HILLY. I’m not exaggerating here… this might be the hilliest city I’ve ever visited. While wandering around the city before our Free Walking Tour, we seemed to take every wrong turn possible, meaning we had to walk up the steepest hills to get anywhere! Luckily, the tour guides take you on much better routes!
Rest assured, there are 16 historic funiculars throughout the city which can take you up to the highest spots – the oldest was built in 1883, so these funiculars are steeped in history! Be sure to head to to the top of a few to enjoy the views and see what secret street art you can see from above.
La Sebastiana Museum
Cost: 7,000 CLP (approximately £7)
Pablo Neruda (Chile’s most renowned poet) had three properties throughout Chile which have been transformed into museums, La Sebastiana potentially being the most popular.
As I was limited on time, I didn’t get to visit La Sebastiana as I got too lost exploring the street art lined streets. If I stayed overnight, I would have definitely poppped in on my second day!
We had heard that chorillana was a traditional dish from Valparaíso – despite knowing very little about it, we got a recommendation from our walking tour guide and headed on our way to find some for dinner.
We ate at J. Cruz – a real local place, hidden down a dark alleyway who supposedly serve some of the best chorillana in town.
We ordered one large portion between three of us, still not knowing what to expect. Before we knew it, the largest pile of chips (french fries for you Americans), meat, egg and onions I’d ever seen in my life!
Even with three people, we couldn’t manage to finish it. The locals looked at cast us disappointing glances of course… we deserved the disappointment.
Get Lost In a Sea of Street Art
Valparaíso doesn’t have tonnes of “must see” attractions, which makes it the perfect destination to just get lost and wander! With street art on every possible surface, there’s always something to admire.
Plus, there are loads of great cafes, restaurants and bars to fall into when you get tired of walking! If that’s not a good enough reason to book a bus from Santiago to Valparaíso, I don’t know what is!
Have you ever been to Valparaíso? What was your favorite thing to do?
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