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Air

Chile's main air hub for both national and domestic flights is Aeropuerto Internacional Arturo Merino Benítez. It's 16km west of central Santiago.

LATAM Airlines and Aerolíneas Argentinas run regular domestic and regional services from here, as do low-cost Chilean carriers Sky Airline and JetSmart. Low-cost Brazilian carrier Gol has services to major Brazilian cities, including São Paulo, Salvador and Rio. Other international airlines that fly to Chile have offices or representatives in Santiago.

Transport Options

Two cheap, efficient bus services connect the airport with the city center: Buses Centropuerto and Turbus Aeropuerto. Both leave from right outside the arrivals hall, and you can buy tickets on board. The total trip takes about 40 minutes. All buses stop at metro station Pajaritos on Línea 1 – you avoid downtown traffic by transferring to the metro here.

A pushy crew of 'official' taxi drivers tout their services in the arrivals hall. Although the ride to the city center should cost around CH$18,000, drivers may try to charge much more. A simpler bet is to approach the desk of Transvip, which offers shared shuttles (from CH$7000) to the Centro. Trips to Providencia and Las Condes cost slightly more.

Bus

A bewildering number of bus companies connect Santiago to the rest of Chile, Argentina and Peru. To add to the confusion, services leave from four different terminals and ticket prices fluctuate wildly at busy times of year, and often double for cama (sleeper) services. The following sample of clásico or semi-cama (standard) fares (approximate only) and journey times are for major destinations that are served by a variety of companies. For fares to smaller destinations, see the listings under each terminal. Discounts often apply; shop around either in person at the terminals or on websites like Recorrido (www.recorrido.cl), a foreigner-friendly ticketing site that compares prices for more than 40 bus companies and allows you to purchase via PayPal.

Antofagasta

Cost (CH$)

33,000

Duration (hr)

19

Arica

Cost (CH$)

44,000

Duration (hr)

28

Buenos Aires (Argentina)

Cost (CH$)

66,000

Duration (hr)

24

Chillán

Cost (CH$)

7900

Duration (hr)

5

Concepción

Cost (CH$)

8000

Duration (hr)

Copiapó

Cost (CH$)

20,000

Duration (hr)

11

Iquique

Cost (CH$)

40,000

Duration (hr)

25

La Serena

Cost (CH$)

11,000

Duration (hr)

6

Los Andes

Cost (CH$)

2500

Duration (hr)

Mendoza (Argentina)

Cost (CH$)

29,000

Duration (hr)

8

Osorno

Cost (CH$)

21,800

Duration (hr)

11

Pichilemu

Cost (CH$)

7000

Duration (hr)

4

Pucón

Cost (CH$)

18,800

Duration (hr)

10

Puerto Montt

Cost (CH$)

22,000

Duration (hr)

12

San Pedro de Atacama

Cost (CH$)

40,600

Duration (hr)

23

Santa Cruz

Cost (CH$)

6000

Duration (hr)

Talca

Cost (CH$)

5000

Duration (hr)

Temuco

Cost (CH$)

16,000

Duration (hr)

8

Valdivia

Cost (CH$)

19,000

Duration (hr)

10

Valparaíso

Cost (CH$)

4000

Duration (hr)

2

Viña del Mar

Cost (CH$)

4000

Duration (hr)

2

Terminal de Buses Alameda

Turbus and Pullman Bus operate from this terminal, next door to Terminal de Buses Sur. The two companies run comfortable, punctual services to destinations all over Chile, including every 15 minutes to Valparaíso and Viña del Mar. Pullman del Sur runs regular buses to cities in the O'Higgins and Maule regions of Chile, including Rancagua, Pichilemu and Talca.

Terminal de Buses Sur

Santiago's largest terminal is also known as Terminal Santiago, and is usually manically busy. The companies operating from the large, semicovered ticket area mainly serve destinations south of Santiago, including the central coast, the Lakes District and Chiloé. A few companies also operate northbound buses and international services to nearly every major city in South America up to Colombia and across to Brazil.

Bus Norte runs excellent-value services to Puerto Montt and Valparaíso. The modern, well-appointed buses operated by Línea Azul connect Santiago with southern destinations, as do JAC, Cruz del Sur and Andimar.

Buses Nilahué goes to Cobquecura (CH$10,000, seven hours, once daily), Termas de Chillán (CH$14,000, seven hours, once daily), Santa Cruz (CH$5000, three hours, hourly) and Pichilemu (CH$7000, four hours, hourly). Condor goes to Concón and Quintero (CH$5000, 2½ hours, two hourly) and to major southern cities.

International tickets are sold from booths inside the terminal. Cata Internacional has six daily services to Mendoza and one to Buenos Aires. El Rápido has similar but slightly cheaper services, as does Tas Choapa.

Terminal Los Héroes

Also known as Terrapuerto, this small but central terminal is the base for a handful of companies, mostly servicing Los Andes and northern destinations. Ahumada goes three times daily to Mendoza; some services continue to Buenos Aires.

Terminal San Borja

This terminal is located behind Estación Central, with buses to the beaches of the central coast and destinations north of Santiago. A few companies also operate southbound buses here. Ticket booths are on the 2nd floor, divided by region. The most useful services from here are Libac and Pullman Bus. Bus services to Pomaire also leave from here.

Terminal Pajaritos

Buses from Santiago to the airport and Valparaíso and Viña call in at this small, newly renovated terminal. It's on metro Línea 1, so by getting on buses here you avoid downtown traffic.

Car

Intense rush-hour traffic and high parking fees mean there's little point hiring a car to use in Santiago. However, having your own wheels is invaluable for visiting the Casablanca Valley and places of natural beauty like Cerro la Campana and the Cajón del Maipo. Those planning to travel mostly in rural Chile may consider hiring a camper van from Soul Vans, which allows one-way rentals and has additional offices in Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas.

Chilean car-rental companies tend to be cheaper than big international ones, but note that they often have sky-high deductibles. Most rental companies have their own roadside assistance; alternatively, the Automóvil Club de Chile provides reciprocal assistance to members of the American Automobile Association and some other associations, but you may need to stop by the office to register. Some of the companies listed here also have airport offices at Pudahuel.

Chilean Rent A Car

Europcar

First Rent a Car

Hertz

Piamonte

United

Train

Chile's limited train system, TrenCentral, operates out of Estación Central. Train travel is generally slower and more expensive than going by bus, but wagons are well maintained and services are generally punctual. Normal trains run south to Chillán (CH$8100, five hours, twice daily), stopping along the way in Rancagua, Curicó and Talca. Special tourist trains head to the Colchagua Valley at least one Saturday each month (CH$60,000).