If you want to explore both the Atacama desert in the north and Patagonia in the south, the numerous options for Chile transportation can make this dream come true on one trip. The geography of the country means there are long distances between destinations, so air transportation is of particular importance to travelers. Most international flights will land in the airport of the capital city, Santiago. From here it is possible to explore the rest of the country via Chile buses, trains, or ferries. Domestic flights are also available that can whisk you from one part of the country to a distant corner quickly, meaning you can ski and swim on the same holiday if you plan accordingly.
Chile transportation was historically dependent on trains, yet this option isn’t as significant for today’s travelers. The best way to see the dramatic coastlines is by riding a ferry in Chile or by taking a cruise. The views from the water provide an intimate perspective of the changing landscapes of Chile. For an even closer view of the coastlines, adventurous travelers to Chile sometimes choose to go kayaking or fishing, which grants them access to places ferries and larger boats don’t pass through. A train in Chile is also an option, though relatively few routes are available.
Chile buses are popular because much of the country's transportation is dependent on roads. Unfortunately, the southern region isn’t connected to central Chile by road unless buses divert into Argentina, which is also an option. These details lead many travelers to book domestic flights as part of their exploration of Chile. While a train in Chile may have been a popular option in the past, the decline of the railways has increased the popularity and frequency of long-distance buses.
Chile buses now serve the entire country, though rides may be long: From Arica in the north to Santiago in central Chile, the bus ride is approximately 30 hours. From Santiago you can travel on to Punta Arenas in the south, but beware that the bus ride is approximately 40 hours. These details often convince visitors that airplanes are the best method of Chile transportation.
A train in Chile can often take longer than a bus, which has left buses as the winner in the transportation competition. If you aren’t in a rush, trains could still be an option, though many travelers suggest that the level of comfort between the two choices is similar. As buses are often the more affordable choice, it is easy to see how rail transportation in Chile has suffered in recent years.
During popular seasons, it is wise to book your tickets in advance. This may not be as crucial for bus journeys, but is essential for domestic flights. These flights fill quickly, and new journeys are not added unless there is a serious demand. If you are arriving in Chile for a cruise or tour, check with your company to see if other transportation within the country is included. Transfers often are, leaving you free of the hassle of public transportation. Getting a rental car is also an option for Chile transportation, and it provides visitors with the freedom to explore national parks, the coastline, and the cities at their leisure.