Cities near Santiago for a road trip
Aconcagua Valley, Central Valley
Cajon del Maipo, Central Valley
Casablanca and San Antonio Valleys, Central Valley
Bahia Inglesa, Northern Chile
Las Condes, Norte Chico
Panquehue, Central Valley
Penalolen, Central Valley
Arturo Merino Benitez International (SCL)
Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport is located 17 kilometers (11 miles) northwest of Santiago.
Airlines serving this airport include:
Air Canada (+56 2 690 1115 / http://www.aircanada.com
Aerolineas Argentinas (+56 2 690 1030 / http://www.aerolineas.com
AeroMexico (+56 2 690 1038 / http://www.aeromexico.com
Iberia Airlines (+56 2 284 0020 / http://www.iberia.com
American Airlines (+56 2 209 8111 / http://www.aa.com
British Airways (http://www.britishairways.com
Delta Airlines (+56 2 690 1555 / http://www.delta.com
Lufthansa (+ 56 2 210 2111 / http://www.lufthansa.com
Lan Chile (+56 2 526 2000 / http://www.lan.cl
Lloyd Aereo Boliviano (+56 2 690 1140 / http://www.labairlines.com
Pluna (+56 2 690 1348 / http://pluna.com.uy
Varig (+56 2 690 1348 / http://www.varig.cl
Air France/KLM (+56 2 290 9696 / http://www.airfrance.cl
Private buses and vans offer service to and from the airport to the city center and around Santiago. Companies with offices in the airport include:
TurBus (+56 2 601 9573 / http://www.turbus.cl
Transvip (+56 2 677 3000 / http://www.transvip.cl
CentroPuerto (+56 2 601 9883 / +56 2 601 0549)
TurBus and CentroPuerto offer bus service to Los Heroes Metro or nearby, and are the most economical option. TurBus and TransVip also offer shared and private rides in vans.
(+ 56 2 690 138) are readily available at the terminal (look for the blue "official" cab logo).
Rental car companies servicing the Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport include:
Alamo (+56 2 690 1370 / http://www.alamochile.com
Econorent (+56 2 690 1287 / http://www.econorent.net
Rosselot (+56 2 690 1374 / http://www.rosselot.cl
Avis (+56 2 690 1382 / +56 2 690 1318 / http://www.avischile.cl
Santiago is located along Chile's Highway 5, which people will refer to as Ruta 5, El 5 Sur, or el 5 Norte, depending on which way it's going. This is the Panamerican Highway.
Driving times to Santiago: From Rancagua – 1 hour; Valparaíso/Viña del Mar – 1 hour 30 minutes; Chillán – 4 hours 30 minutes; La Serena – 5 hours 30 minutes; Valdivia – 9 hours 20 minutes; Puerto Montt – 12 hours; Antofagasta – 15 hours; Arica – 23 hours.
Chile's roads are fast, efficient and well-maintained, especially when compared to other South American countries. That said, driving in Santiago can be a nightmare. There is lots of congestion and confusing traffic patterns. Avoid the morning and afternoon rush hours. Cars brought into Chile need local insurance and a Relaciones de Pasajeros (Passenger Relations) document, both of which are available at points of entry and border crossings.
The quick and easy way to get around Santiago is via the metro (+56 2 250 3000 / http://www.metrosantiago.cl
), which is clean, convenient and modern, and serves much of the city and its surrounding areas. The system's five lines run from 6:30a-11:00p M-Sa and 8:00a-10:00p Sundays and holidays. Regular travelers can buy BIP (say: beep) pass for $1200 pesos, and add fare to the card as they go along. These passes also work on the busses, and there is a 90-minute transfer period from bus to metro or metro to bus, during which time the second voyage is free. Small orange buses called the Metrobus offer additional services (with free transfers) from the Metro, and also accept the BIP pass.
Buses bring Santiaguinos all over town, and if you know where you're going or want to try your luck with the Santiago transportation website, it is www.transantaigoinforma.cl. It gives routes and alternate routes but requires a bit of Spanish and knowlege of the city wouldn't hurt either.
Colectivos are shared taxis that ply the streets. They look like regular taxis but have a white plastic sign on top indicating their route. They are more expensive than buses, cheaper than taxis, but only run on specific routes, as indicated by their signs.
Taxis are not terribly expensive, but it's best to know the route you need to take before you get in the car to prevent circuitous routes. Some taxi meters are "fixed" and will increase more quickly than they should, though as a traveler, you are ill-equipped to know if this is the case. Upon giving a 10,000 bill to the driver, it behooves you to say "son diez," to avoid "confusion" where you are told that you gave the driver a 1,000 bill, a common scam. Taxis are actually a safe and efficient option, but you need to keep your wits about you. A red light in the upper left corner of the windshield that says "Libre" (free) indicates that the black and yellow cars are in service and looking for passengers, though taxi drivers will often honk if they are assertively looking for fares.
Some people prefer to call a taxi rather than hailing one on the street. Here are some companies:
Centro (+56 2 695 4148)
Andes-Pacifico (+56 2 225 3064 / http://www.andespacifico.cl
Apoquindo (+56 2 211 6073).
By Long-Distance Bus
Bus travel in South America is very popular and effective. The main international bus companies serving Santiago from as far as Rio de Janiero, Brazil, are:
Tas Choapa (+56 2 779 4295 / http://www.taschoapa.cl/
El Rápido (+1 56 2 776 0049 / http://www.elrapidpoint.com.ar/
These companies also run domestic routes within Chile, as do:
Tur Bus (+56 2 270 7500 / http://www.turbus.cl/
Pullman Bus (+56 2 560 3700 / http://www.pullman.cl/
There are four main bus terminals in Santiago:
Alameda, Avenida Bernardo O'Higgins 3750 (+56 2 776 2424)
San Borja, Calle San Borja 184 (+56 2 7760645)
Universidad de Santiago, Avenida Bernardo O'Higgins 3848 (+56 2 3761755)
Los Heroes, Calle Tucapel Jimenez 21 (+56 2 420 0099)
Travelers going to Valparaíso or Viña del Mar may prefer to take the red line metro to Pajaritos where there is another small bus station with just 11 platforms that has frequent (every 10-15 minutes) service to these two destinations.
For long distance buses, there are a few clases of service, from ejecutivo (regular Pullman-style seat), semi-cama (somewhat more inclined) cama (flatter still, with leg rest). Even so, these services vary from company to company, and asking how many seats there are on the bus is a better indication of how comfortable they will be than the name itself. Most overnight bus services will come with blankets and a snack at breakfast time, with the quality of the snack related to the price of the service. Buying tickets ahead of time for long weekends, holidays and during the prime summer travel season (January and February) is recommended and can be essential.
By Long-Distance Train
There are two trains that run out of Santiago to other cities, both of which leave from the striking Estación Central (on the red line metro stop of the same name, along the Alameda (Avenida Bernardo O'Higgins).
The Metrotrén is a commuter line that runs out to San Fernando, near the Colchagua valley, and which you can take to some smaller towns such as Pelequén with its onion domed church, or to go to Rancagua, or get closer access to the abandoned mining town of Sewell (http://www.tmsa.cl/
The second train is the "
Train to the South" which is, post earthquake (Feb 27, 2010), only running as far as Talca, but will hopefully one day extend back to Concepción. Their website. in English is at http://www.terra-sur.cl/link.cgi/English/
Distance to Santiago from other cities