Given the variety of transportation services in Chile, getting around is not difficult and public transportation is an inexpensive and popular mode of transport. Most people travel by bus, given it’s a reliable and affordable option. However, airlines catering primarily to business passengers, are handy for covering long distances in a hurry and last minute flights can be reasonably priced. The country has a good road network with a low volume of traffic away from the major towns, which makes driving a fast and relatively stress-free way of getting around. In recent years Chile’s rail network has fallen into decline and only an ever-shrinking service operates south of Santiago. South of Puerto Montt there are limited ferry services that provide a slow but scenic way of traveling as far as Puerto Natales.
We’ve covered most of your options in this section so that you have some understanding of the transportation services available in Chile.
Wheelchair Accessibility in Chile
While in Chile, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from the United States and European countries. While steps are being taken to improve conditions for persons with disabilities, many public places are not adapted to accommodate these needs. For information on handicap accessible locations in Santiago and other locations in Chile, you can visit www.mapcity.com/ciudadaccesible.
By far the most popular form of long-distance transport in Chile is bus, with several companies competing with each other. The bus system provides an inexpensive and comfortable way to get from city to city.
There are several important bus terminals in Santiago, and as a traveler it is essential to choose the right one according to destination and Bus Company. With the exception of the relatively small terminal Los Héroes near the metro station of the same name, most bus terminals are located close to the Universidad de Santiago and its metro station.
*The Santiago Bus Terminal is also called Estación Central.
Read more about Bus Services in Chile
Taxi Colectivos in Chile
A colectivo is a mix between a “micro” bus and a taxi and are much less expensive than a regular taxi. Similar to buses, they follow a regular route and will fill the car with passengers (if you don’t mind sharing). These small cars are able to get around quicker and more comfortably. There is usually a set price but it does vary depending on day and time that you travel. Colectivos also tend to run late at night when there are fewer buses.
TIP – It is not necessary to tip colectivo drivers.
Taxis are a safe mode of travel but can be expensive depending on the length of your ride. There are two types of taxis – normal taxis and radio taxis. The normal taxis are yellow and black cars that circulate throughout the city. If you are downtown, it is best to walk to the Alameda or to Parque Forestal to hail a taxi. Taxi drivers are generally honest but occasionally take foreigners to their destinations via very indirect routes, as a means of bumping up the fare. Find out what your fare should be before you travel. Also, if possible, it’s best to give the driver (taxista) directions (if you are able) rather than just tell him/her your destination. Women traveling alone at night should exercise caution.
Read more about Taxi Services in Chile
The Metro is Santiago’s subway system. It is modern, fast, clean, safe and efficient. There are five lines operating with three lines that interconnect at the Santa Ana, Los Heroes and Baquedano stations. Metro services in Santiago Chile are continuing to expand to accommodate more locations, and several new metro cars have been added. The subway reaches key areas in downtown and southern Santiago, but it does not reach boroughs on the outskirts of the city like Vitacura, Lo Barnechea, La Reina, Maipu and much of Las Condes. The Metro does not reach any boroughs north of the Mapocho River.
Read more about Metro Services in Santiago Chile
The fastest way to bridge the large distances in Chile is air travel. Most travelers will arrive at the airport of Santiago (Arturo Merino Benitez Airport in Santiago), and needless to say there are many airlines that operate international flights to and from Chile. Most of the tourists who want to see different areas of Chile will have to travel by plane, due to the huge distances in the country.
Air travel is significantly more expensive than going by bus, but may save you quite some time, so when you are able to secure a good deal this may be a suitable travel option.
Because of the shape of the country, many routes are subject to several time-consuming layovers. You might take this into account as you can have up to 4 stops en route to your destination adding several hours onto your trip.
Read more about Airline Services in Chile
Chile’s railway system, run by Empresa de los Ferrocarriles del Estado (EFE) is not what it used to be and unfortunately, the railway system in Chile is small and badly maintained. It is in general true throughout South America that trains are rarely an option, and Chile is no exception. For example, there are no national train services connecting Santiago to the North of the country.
Read more about Train Services in Chile
As compared to other South American countries, Chile’s main roads are well maintained. Highways connecting towns and cities are called Rutas Nacionales (National Routes) and are identified by their numbers (e.g.Ruta 7 or Ruta 64).
International Drivers Permits (IDP)
In order to drive visitors must have an International Driving Permit along with their driver’s license (which must be valid.) This permit must be obtained before traveling to Chile. Although car rental firms may rent to customers with only a driver’s license, the police may fine foreigners for driving without a valid international permit.
Always carry car documents, passport, and driver’s license with you. If you have questions or run into problems, turn to one of the numerous police stations (carabineros) for help. Insurance companies may not cover damages resulting from an accident if you are unable to provide an international drivers permit.
Read more about Driving in Chile
Car Rentals are widely available throughout most major cities, but not in smaller towns. Usually a credit card, a valid driver’s license and a passport (all three issued to the same person) are needed to rent a car. A 20% tax is added on all rental vehicles.
Rental rates in Santiago are very similar to those in the U.S., but prices can be much higher in other cities.
Read more about Car Rentals in Chile
Fly comfortably via private jet to Northern or Southern Chile with Aviasur!
Aviasur offers comprehensive private jet services in Chile geared to the specific needs of clients interested in chartering a jet.
They have highly qualified personnel, prestigious brands, and modern facilities.
Read more about Private Jet Services in Chile
A modern airline dedicated to the transport of VIP’s, Executives, Tourists, etc. Their latest generations helicopter, Agusta, model AW 119 MKII, accommodates up to 7 passengers.
They move passengers who want to optimize their time, especially when they must go from one place to another in a short time.
Read more about Helicopter Services in Chile
Other Useful Links for Transportation in Chile
Maps of TranSantiago (Metro)
Santiago International Airport