If you’re planning a trip to Santiago, Chile, you’ve surely read about the vineyards outside of the city and the renowned port town of Valparaíso. But many people overlook the countryside town of Pomaire, which is known for its pottery and one-kilo empanadas.
Pomaire is one of the easiest day trips from Santiago because of its proximity to the city.
In this post, I’ll cover the must-knows about taking a day trip to Pomaire from Santiago.
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How To Get To Pomaire From Santiago by Bus
Taking a day trip to Pomaire by bus is easy, thanks to frequent bus departures. However, there are a few particularities of getting to Pomaire for you to be aware of.
Below is a step-by-step guide so that you can navigate the Santiago transportation system like a pro.
Step 1: Go to Estación Central
Estación Central is Santiago’s main bus and train station. You can get there by taking the metro to the “Estación Central” stop.
Make sure to admire the architecture of Estación Central before entering. It’s easy to think you landed in Europe rather than South America.
Step 2: Turn Right Towards Terminal San Borja
Estación Central has an easy setup on the surface. When you walk in, the train station will be directly in front of you. To either side of the train station, there is a single hallway.
The hallways are where it can get a little tricky, but for now, know that when facing the train tracks, you need to go down the hall on the right side.
That’s the way to Terminal San Borja. There’s a sign to point you in the right direction if you’re unsure.
Step 3: Turn Left
When you enter the hallway, walk straight to the back. It won’t take long.
Then, turn left. You’ll see a sign that says “Terminal San Borja” to point you in the right direction of where you need to make this turn.
But here’s the good news: If you take a left down any of the aisles before that sign, you’ll arrive in the general vicinity of where you need to be.
Step 4: Walk to the End of the Terminal
The walk to the end of the Santiago terminal is long bus stimulating. You’ll feel like you’re in a mall, rather than a bus station.
This is a great opportunity to purchase a snack for the bus ride. Or you can buy clothes, a cell phone, and stationary if it tickles your fancy.
If you’re like me, you’ll feel like you’re in the wrong place. But ignore your gut and keep walking straight.
Step 5: Take the “Intercomunal” Bus Elevator
When you get to the end of the terminal-turned-mall, you’ll see two elevators and two signs.
Take the elevator on the left. The sign will read “Intercomunal.” The spelling isn’t a typo here, as the word in Spanish is nearly identical to English.
The elevator will take you to the second-story floor.
And just like that, you’ll be surrounded by buses and feel like you’re at an actual bus station.
Step 6: Look for the Melipilla/Pomaire Signs
When you get off the elevator, turn right and you’ll see a few stands a stone’s throw away with “Melipilla” and/or “Pomaire” signs. That’s where you’ll buy your ticket.
The trip costs around 2,000 – 2,500 pesos, depending on the bus you take.
The ticket issuer will let you know which numbered parking space you need to stand next to in order to catch your bus.
So, you’re at the San Borja bus terminal and your day trip to Pomaire is about to begin.
But before I go further, let’s touch on the difference between the Pomaire and Melipilla buses.
Pomaire vs. Melipilla Buses
The difference between the Pomaire and Melipilla buses comes down to the bus schedules rather than amenities.
Melipilla is a larger town located about 15 minutes further from Pomaire.
As such, when you purchase your ticket, ask if there is a Pomaire bus leaving soon. This bus is direct and will have you arriving in Pomaire from Santiago in under an hour.
Direct buses to Pomaire are sporadic and unreliable. Chances are you’ll need to take a Melipilla bus, or risk waiting hours at the bus terminal for a direct Pomaire bus.
How To Take the Melipilla Bus to Pomaire
Taking the Melipilla bus requires a bus change shortly before arriving in Pomaire. As with arriving at the San Borja terminal, it isn’t hard to do but requires knowledge or Spanish skills.
Knowledge is what I’m here for, so below is everything you need to know.
Step 1: Get on a Melipilla Bus at the San Borja Terminal
The Melipilla buses depart Santiago every 10 to 15 minutes. There’s no need to purchase your ticket in advance, for seats are plentiful.
Make sure to tell your driver that you’re going to Pomaire. If you want to get fancy, you can say “Voy a Pomaire.”
Otherwise, just say “Pomaire,” or point to the word on your phone and they’ll get the gist.
Step 2: Get off When the Chauffeur Says So
You’ll need to get off the Melipilla bus about 50 minutes into the ride.
If you’re sitting on the right-hand side of the bus and are paying attention, the bus will stop just after a sign with an arrow and the word “Pomaire.”
Step 3. Walk to the Road Diagonal From You
This is where things get trickier. Your driver will let you off on the side of the road. There’s no formal bus stop there, nor a sidewalk.
The bus will continue down that road. Don’t walk that way.
Instead, you need to cross a few feet over to the toll booth and follow that short road up and around the curve, bypassing any toll booth payers there may be.
It’s an odd experience, but a legal one. Promise!
When you’ve passed the tollbooth and are walking along the curved road, you’ll see a short set of dirt steps. These steps lead from the lower road you are on to the higher road where you need to be.
Walk up those steps.
You’ve made it to the Pomaire “bus stop.” And you’ll be rewarded with no indication that you’re in the right place. There’s no sign, nor a bus stand.
You’ve just got to trust yourself…and these incredible directions 😉
Don’t worry—it’s super safe. You’ll be in the Chilean countryside surrounded by fields, mountains, livestock, and friendly locals.
Step 4: Get on a Pomaire Bus
Identifying a bus to Pomaire from Melipilla is easy; the buses display a sign reading “Pomaire.” When you see the bus, flag it down by waving your arm.
The bus driver will be looking for you since this “bus stop” is a common pick-up point for people coming from Santiago.
The buses pass frequently, so you don’t have to worry about waiting on the side of the road for long. The ride costs 400 pesos.
For context, when I visited Pomaire, I would have had to wait over 1.5 hours to take the direct Pomaire bus from Santiago. By hopping on the Melipilla bus, I arrived in Pomaire in 1 hour and 3 minutes.
Totally worth the bus change in Melipilla.
Alternative Option: Walk Instead of Taking the Bus
If you’re the hiking type, you can walk to Pomaire from Melipilla. The distance is less than 5 kilometers, so it’ll take you longer than taking a bus, which will get you to Pomaire in just a few minutes.
If you wish to walk from Melipilla to Pomaire, head up the dirt stairs as if you were going to take the bus.
Then, turn right (in the opposite direction of the bridge) and walk straight until you hit Pomaire. It’ll be the first town you come to.
Where To Get off the Bus in Pomaire
You’ve made it to Pomaire, hooray!
The good news is that the hardest part is over. Pomaire is a tiny town composed of two main roads forming a triangle.
I recommend getting off at the white church that marks the start of the town and makes up one point of the triangle.
From the church, you can walk down the road to the right or to the left. These roads will lead you to the heart of all things touristy for your day trip to Pomaire.
Things To Do During a Day Trip to Pomaire
When it comes to things to do in Pomaire, the answer is easy—explore pottery shops and eat empanadas.
As you now know, Pomaire is designed in the shape of a triangle with its two long roads being the area of all things tourism.
But of these roads, the one on the right-hand side (when you’re facing the white church), is the very center of tourist attractions.
Take a short walk down the road to the right and you’ll soon find restaurants showcasing gigantic empanadas. You’ll also come across loads of touristy pottery shops.
Travel Tip: Aim to visit Pomaire from Wednesday to Sunday. Chilean tourists, especially those from Santiago, are the most common tourists in Pomaire. So, there isn’t as much open in Pomaire earlier in the week.
1. Admire the Pottery
When circling around the triangle, starting at the white church and heading down the right-hand side of the road, you’ll find that you travel from the high tourist area to gradually more home-based pottery stores and workshops.
If you take a left at the end of the road you won’t find much except another restaurant and pottery shop or two.
By taking that next left, you’ll complete the triangle circuit. This time, you’ll start with the more home-based pottery stores and end with the touristy stores, although slightly less touristy than where you started.
I personally found it more rewarding, and authentic, to purchase my pottery directly from potters at shops towards the end of the road. You can also get some extra good deals, although either way the pottery is cheap.
Needless to say, Pomaire is a great place to stock up on pottery if you’re a homeowner looking for some ceramic flair in your house.
If you don’t want large pieces of pottery but would like to take a souvenir from Pomaire home with you, I recommend going with the classics: a three-legged clay pig or an “Abundancia de la Suerte”.
Abundancia de la Suerte is a traditional cornucopia-type basket that the locals believe will bring luck.
For anywhere from .50 cents to $3 USD you can bring home one of these tiny treasures to remember your day trip to Pomaire. The three-legged piggie banks in particular are a signature Pomaire souvenir.
If you get lucky, you may even get to see locals making pottery in their shops.
Did you know? The black pottery you see in Pomaire is a natural coloration from the potter burning grass over the clay. You’ll find pieces that weren’t fully treated and have a little bit of the brown color showing through. Those are my personal favorite!
2. Eat Empanadas
It’s a near sin to visit Pomaire without eating an empanada.
That said, compared to the empanadas I’ve had elsewhere in Chile, I didn’t find anything extraordinary about Pomaire’s empanadas taste-wise. No matter where you travel in Chile, you’ll encounter delicious empanadas.
But in Pomaire, size matters.
The restaurants have no issue with passersby taking pictures of the 1 kilo+ empanadas that they have on display. And that’s a good thing since it’s easy to assume you’ll receive an empanada of that size on your plate.
Not necessarily so, my friends.
Of the endless list of meat, seafood, and vegetarian empanadas you’ll have to choose from, only one kind comes large. It’s the “Empanada de Kilo” (Kilo Empanada).
Any other empanada you order will be regular-sized. Compared to what you will have seen walking around town, Pomaire’s regular-sized empanadas will seem like a portion fit for a mouse.
So what do the Empanadas de Kilo contain?
Ground beef, chicken, and onion, among other seasonings.
If the vegetarian in you is cringing, you could try asking for a special order of Empanada de Kilo. For the right price, they may be able to concoct something for you, especially if you go to one of the mom-and-pop restaurants further away from the touristy area.
3. Other Things To Do During a Day Trip to Pomaire
You went through the effort to take a bus to Pomaire. So there must be more to do than just two things, right?
You could walk down the side streets that periodically connect the two streets forming the triangle. There, you’ll come across more pottery shops and restaurants.
You can also find some locally packaged sweets that make nice souvenirs. They even sell packaged sweet pear empanadas.
To me, Pomaire is special because it’s such a small town built around pottery and empanadas. Trust me, if I didn’t think it was worth it, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Including transportation time, you’ll only need five to six hours to enjoy a day trip to Pomaire. That’ll allow you to return to Santiago in time to watch the sunset from Santa Lucia or San Cristobal hill.
Travel Tip: As is typical for Chile, things in Pomaire open late. I arrived at 11:00 am on a Sunday (one of their busiest days for tourism) and things were just starting to get going. So, I recommend aiming to arrive at noon or later to really see the town in action.
How To Take the Bus From Pomaire to Santiago
Pomaire is an easy place to depart by bus even though it doesn’t have a bus station. That’s because all buses into and out of Pomaire drive the route of the triangle.
So, it doesn’t matter where you catch the bus. All bus stops lead out of town.
Speaking of bus stops, they come in all kinds in Pomaire. Some are fully built masterpieces like this one:
Others have just a tiny green “Parada” stop sign:
And, of course, since you’ll be in a small town, you can create your own bus stop. Just flag down a bus, and chances are the bus driver will stop for you.
Buses pass frequently through Pomaire, every 10 minutes or so.
If you ask a local how to get back to Santiago from Pomaire, they’ll all tell you the same thing—get on a bus going to Melipilla.
Unlike in Santiago, there’s no bus representative to consult with about those few direct buses between Pomaire and Santiago. Therefore, I recommend planning to take a Melipilla bus so that you’re happily surprised if a direct bus to Santiago comes around.
One exception to this is finding out the time of the direct buses departing Pomaire before you leave Santiago.
However, given that the bus change with Melipilla doesn’t take up much time, it’s probably not worth planning your day around a direct Pomaire to Santiago bus.
How To Change Buses From Melipilla to Santiago
The bus change from Pomaire to Santiago is different than when you were traveling from Santiago to Pomaire.
When you’re in Pomaire, tell the bus driver “Voy a Santiago” or simply, “Santiago”. Even if the bus sign doesn’t say Melipilla, it very well may be going to where you need to catch the bus to Santiago.
The ride will take 10 to 15 minutes before the driver motions you to get off. This time, you’ll disembark on a wider street in a more residential/business area with nice big sidewalks and a formal bus stop.
When you get off the bus, cross the street and walk to the nearest bus stop.
Then, wait for a bus that says “Santiago.” You shouldn’t have to wait more than 15 minutes. The ride will cost around 2,000 pesos.
The bus will let you off at Estación Central and you’ll be back in Santiago, likely with a full belly and pottery in hand.
Ready for Pomaire?
Taking a day trip to Pomaire is the perfect option for travelers that love going off-the-beaten-path.
Have you been, or will you be going, to Pomaire?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Please also leave a comment if you experience any route, price, or other changes since I wrote this post. I appreciate it, and I’m sure our future readers will too.
6 thoughts on “Day trip to Pomaire, Chile: The Ultimate Travel Guide”
Wow, it looks so beautiful there! I would love to get my hands on that pottery in the future. Do you happen to know if the shops in Pomaire accept USD?
I’m so glad to hear that you’re considering a trip to Pomaire! I didn’t notice anyone accepting USD, especially since Pomaire is still off the average tourist’s radar, so I recommend bringing enough pesos to get you through the day.
Wishing you a wonderful trip!
Good to know, thank you so much. I’m so happy I found this site, I love the authenticity of your blog!
Thanks Mary! 🙂
Pomaire is a great day trip from Santiago. We went on a Friday using buses both ways. We followed the directions provided above with ease. Also, walk into town several blocks to find the best deals and the best workmanship. Thanks
Thanks so much for your message. It’s great to have confirmation that the bus directions remain the same since it’s been a few years since my visit. I’m glad you enjoyed your time in Pomaire!