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I’m a huge fan of the hop-on, hop-off or trolley type tours. But I like to save my money whenever I can while visiting a new city. In San Antonio, the city’s VIVA bus lines were the perfect answer for an inexpensive way to get around town. While it isn’t a tour bus, VIVA will easily get you to all the highlights in San Antonio.
VIVA has three routes that are important to tourists: Culture, Missions and Centro. You can access information from the official website. All buses stop in the Alamo, Hemisfair Park, La Villita, Rivercenter (easy access to the Riverwalk) and Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. You will be able to change buses at these points as well.
Things to Know about the VIVA San Antonio Buses
Bus fare costs $1.30 per person. But an unlimited day pass only costs $2.75. If you’re planning on taking it more than out and back, buy a day pass. Free WiFi is provided. General areas are announced, which is great for those of us visiting. I also found the bus drivers to be really informative and helpful. The buses are climate controlled – which was very handy on my 100+ degree day!
My favorite part, each stop sign has a location number. If you text it, the upcoming bus time will be texted back to you. Very useful in knowing how long you have to spend exploring a stop!
PRO TIP: The bus drivers cannot give you change. Either use exact cash or buy your ticket using the app.
VIVA San Antonio Route 40 – Missions
If you’re going to the Missions (which you should!), you’ll take VIVA’s Route 40 bus. Starting at the Alamo, the Missions bus will take you out of the downtown area so that you can fully explore the Missions. Since the buses run every 30 minutes, it gives you just enough time to do a quick run through (you’ll want to spend at least an hour at Mission San Juan).
VIVA San Antonio Route 301 – Centro
The Centro route takes you through the heart of downtown – from Centro Plaza to Sunset Station. I rode this bus to get an idea of the lay of the downtown area. You’ll take this bus if you’re going to Market Square, which is where I found most people were going. The Centro route also showed me a new place – Sunset Station. Fans of Selena will recognize this as one of her favorite performing spots and where she got married. One of the gentlemen working there was kind enough to let me in for a quick photo!
VIVA San Antonio Route 11 – Culture
The Culture route connects you to the cultural sights – the San Antonio Zoo, the Japanese Tea Garden, the theaters. You should also take this bus out to The Pearl one evening. The San Antonio zoo is a great place to visit if you have kids or like exploring zoos. They host many events and we did a lot of activities with Cub Scouts when the boys were younger!
No need to rent a car if you’re visiting San Antonio! You’ll get around just fine with the VIVA buses. You can also take Via Bus #5 from the San Antonio airport to downtown – not only is it accessible, but you can use your day pass later on for the VIVA routes. The ride takes about 30 minutes, which is about twice as long as a shuttle or taxi, but at a fraction of the price. For reference, I paid around $15 for a Super Shuttle ride.
Annick, The Common Traveler