GETTING THERE AND GETTING AROUND

Overview

Santiago is a big city, but its easy to get around. You just need to know where to start. In this section, you can find out how to get to and from the airport, how to manage the public transportation system and driving laws. There are also chapters on how to get out of Santiago and see the rest of Chile.

About Santiago:

Overview
The Spanish Conquistador Pedro de Valdivia founded Santiago in 1541. The layout that Valdivia originally designed for the city is still the basic structure of Santiago.
The city was abandoned as the Spanish began to place greater importance on the southern regions. The indigenous group that lived in Southern Chile, the Mapuche, staged an uprising in 1599 and drove the Spanish back towards the north. The return of the Conquistadors turned Santiago into Chile’s capital.

Santiago is now Chile’s capital in almost every sense of the word. It is Chile’s administrative, cultural, economic, political and industrial center. With 4.5 million people, the city accounts for a third of Chile’s population and produces 40 percent of its GDP.

Arriving at the Airport:

Overview

The first person you meet in the Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport will probably be an immigration agent. If you did not arrange for a visa before entering the country, you will be issued a tourist card. Australians, Mexicans, Canadians and Americans are the only nationalities that pay for the tourist card. See the Visas and Immigrations section for more information on the tourist card.

You will not be allowed to bring plants, vegetables, meats or fruits into the country. Customs (aduana) will confiscate these items.

Addresses

Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport
(2) 690-1900
Leaving Chile

Overview

If you are in Chile on a visa other than the tourist card, you must present your Chilean Identification Card when you leave and re-enter the country. The International Police say that they will not let you leave if you do not have your card with you.

You will have to pay US$26 departure tax when you leave Santiago.

Addresses
Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport
(2) 690-1900

Getting to and from the Airport

Overview

When you arrive at the airport, you can reserve a taxi at the reservation desk or hail a taxi outside the airport. A taxi to most hotels in Santiago will cost about 10,000 pesos (approximately US$15.50).

Minibuses are cheaper than taxis, but it will take you longer to get where you are going. Minibuses have to drop off all of the passengers in the bus.

Airport buses are the cheapest way to get to Santiago from the airport. Two bus companies, Centro Puerto and Tour Express, make trips from the airport to the Los Heroes Metro Station in downtown Santiago. Both companies charge 1,000 pesos (approximately US$1.5). Centro Puerto leaves the airport every 15 minutes. Tour express departs every 30 minutes.

To get to the airport, it is cheaper to take a radio taxi than to hail a taxi on the street. See the radio taxi section for a list of companies.

Minibuses are more inexpensive than taxis, but you should not expect punctuality. The driver may have to pick up a number of customers before he picks you up. There is a list of minibus companies below.

To take the airport buses, it is best to wait at the airport bus stop the corner of Alameda with Calle Tucapel Jimenez, a block west of Metro Station Los Heroes. This way you can take the first airport bus that passes. You can also catch the Tour Express bus on the corner of Moneda and San Martin.