South America > Chile > Santiago de Chile

See: Why hire a car in Santiago de Chile ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

The city of Santiago itself is one of the largest in South America, with the population of the metropolitan area now heading towards the 7 million mark.

Please note that is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2021 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. It is expected that some social distancing rules will still apply. For additional Santiago de Chile car hire advice, please use the comments form below.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Santiago de Chile is in car rental price band: 3/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Santiago de Chile? 

Yes. Car rental is good value.


Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Santiago de Chile between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 6/10

Non car score:4/10

Balance: 7

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -


Why? Visiting Santiago de Chile using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Santiago de Chile ?

Should you rent a car in Santiago?

Public transport in Santiago is nothing to write home about, but it is still one of a small handful of cities in South America to have a metro system, and the city also has a reasonably widespread network of rapid bus lanes, so getting around isn’t a great problem.

Yet we think that the chances are that if you have come to Santiago in the first place, you really want to head onwards and explore some of the amazing scenery that Chile has to offer, with breathtaking variety stretching from the fjords along the Pacific coast to the mountain ranges of the Andes, and then on further still to the arid landscapes of the Atacama desert. The roads in Chile are reasonably safe by South American standards, and the sheer range of open country that can be explored relatively soon after leaving the Santiago urban area makes this a great destination for a road trip.

However, don’t automatically assume that if you want to see everything that Chile has to offer, keeping a hire car for the whole period of your stay will be a wise option. For heading north, there’s no doubt about it, you need a car to have the freedom of the Atacama desert, or of greener areas as you head towards Peru.

Why not? Visiting Santiago de Chile without a car

Why don't you need a car in Santiago de Chile ?

In the south, a rental car is going to be of little use, simply because the great national parks in this part of the country – from Laguna San Rafael through Bernado O’Higgins, and then down to Torres Del Paine or even Alberto Agostini right up to Cape Horn itself all have few if any roads to drive on.

To visit the spectacular Torres Del Paine National Park, you will need to head towards Puerto Natales, one of several destinations in southern Chile that are best reached via Argentina. Taking a rental car across the border, even if you are planning on bringing it back into Chile is going to cause a lot of headache in terms of paperwork, not to mention the border queue itself.

You can fly to Puerto Natales during the summer season, although the flights are by no means cheap for the 3 hour service. From here you could pick up a rental car, or take local bus services, which will take you right up to the park gates.

Should you rent a car in Santiago? Yes.

Ratings: How does Santiago de Chile compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Santiago de Chile? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Santiago de Chile, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?



Do you need to hire a car in Santiago de Chile? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Santiago de Chile (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Santiago de Chile? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel


Car hire basics:


Public transportation basics:


Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):


As you start ....

Does Santiago de Chile airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No






Has our advice for Santiago de Chile car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 7

2019 - 7

2021 - 7

Average score - 7




Do you or don't you need a car in Santiago de Chile ?