Car Rental in Santiago
Cheapest Car Rental Rates
Most Popular Car Rental Deals
Why rent a car in Santiago?
Santiago is a wonderful and expansive city to explore by car. It is also the starting point for many Chilean road trip itineraries.
One of the largest cities in South America, Santiago de Chile offers plenty in the way of landmarks, culture, and amazing cuisine. Located in a valley surrounded by the snow-capped Andes and the Chilean Coast Range it is beautiful at any time of year.
Long and narrow, Chile is served north to south by the famous Pan-American Highway, and one of the best ways to explore the country is by car.
One-Way Car Rentals in Santiago
The most popular one-way rental options for pick up in Santiago and drop off in another city include:
- From Santiago to Puerto Montt - 47 offers from $77.29 per day
- From Santiago to Arica - 6 offers from $141.74 per day
- From Santiago to Punta Arenas - 3 offers from $328.30 per day
Top ways to enter Santiago
Santiago Airport: Also known as Arturo Merino Benítez Airport and Nuevo Pudahuel Airport, it handles over 20 million passengers a year. The airport is a hub for LATAM, Sky Airline, and JetSmart, and is also served by around 20 other airlines. In addition to domestic and South American connections, it also has flights to and from North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
Located 15 km (9.3 miles) northwest of the city, the airport can be reached in about 25 minutes.
Santiago Airport should not be confused with Santiago de Compostela Airport in Galicia, Spain.
- Santiago has a semi-arid climate with Mediterranean influences. The average high temperature is 29°C (86°F) in January and February, the warmest months, and 15°C (59°F) in July, the coldest. Precipitation is practically nonexistent from December to February, but increases from May until August. Snowfall is extremely rare in Santiago but does occur in the nearby mountains.
- According to archaeological records, the Santiago area has been inhabited for almost 12,000 years. For thousands of years, only nomadic people lived in the area; the first permanent human settlements appeared around the year 800 when the local Mapudungun-speaking tribes started to grow maize and potatoes. The area was later included in the Inca Empire; the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1540 and founded the city of Santiago del Nuevo Extremo the following year. When Chile got its independence in 1810, Santiago became its capital city.
- The Santiago metropolitan region has around seven million inhabitants, making it the sixth-largest city in South America; more than one-third of all the inhabitants of Chile live in or near the capital city. The Greater Santiago area is made up of 37 communes that span four different Chilean provinces. Santiago is often ranked as one of the three cities in South America with the highest quality of living alongside Montevideo in Uruguay and Buenos Aires in Argentina. The inhabitants of Santiago are called Santiaguinos and Santiaguinas.
Top destinations and activities
- Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art. Before the European Conquistadors came to North and South America, the two continents were already populated by many native civilizations which had a unique culture, lifestyle, and types of government. This museum of anthropology tells this fascinating story through different exhibits and artifacts. There are sections dedicated to world-famous civilizations like the Inca and Mayans as well as lesser-known, but equally fascinating ones like the cultures of Isthmo-Colombia and the Valdivia Culture of Chile.
- The Chilean Museum of Fine Arts. A lot of fascinating Chilean art is ancient, but much of it has also been made during the last two centuries. More than 130 years old, this museum houses thousands of paintings, sculptures, and other artworks made by Chilean, as well as foreign artists. The museum is located in Parque Forestal, the most famous public green area of Santiago.
- Gran Torre Santiago. Exactly 300 m (984 ft) high, the Great Santiago Tower is the tallest building not only in Chile, but in all of Latin America. The first brick of the tower was laid in 2006 and it was finished in 2013. The tower consists of 64 floors, and there is an observation deck on the 62nd floor which is available for visitors.
- Cerro Calán. A hill and a park, Calán is one of the most pleasant green areas in the eastern part of the city. In addition to that, it is also the location of the Chilean Astronomical Observatory which is run by the University of Santiago and open to visitors. Visit its official website to learn more (sadly, it’s only available in Spanish at the time).
- Central Market of Santiago. Celebrating its 150th birthday in 2022, the central market is one of the most interesting attractions of the Chilean capital. Located indoors and taking up two floors, it offers fresh vegetables, fruits, and wines from all over the country, a seafood court, and plenty of other things you’d expect in a typical marketplace. A fascinating place to visit even if you don’t plan to buy anything, the market is centrally located and near other landmarks such as the Moneda Palace and de Armas Square.
Traffic and parking
- Chile drives on the right-hand side of the road.
- The speed limits in Chile are 100-120 km/h (62-75 mph) on highways (depending on each highway), 80-100 km/h (50-62 mph) on most other intercity roads, and 60 km/h (36 mph) inside urban and built-up areas.
- Most streets in Santiago (and other cities in Chile) have special bus-only lanes. Many have video surveillance, so even if you are not caught using one, your rental car provider might receive a fine afterward that you will have to pay.
- Chile has, on average, some of the best road conditions in South America. Nonetheless, some rural roads remain in poor condition, so it is best to drive cautiously outside cities. Cattle crossing the road can also be an issue in the countryside. It is recommended to avoid driving at night, if possible.
- Although Chile has a large number of gas stations, the huge distances and the many remote areas means that it is still quite possible to run out of gas in an uninhabited area. Because of this, it is important to set out the route and to calculate the distances in advance.
- Self-service in the Chilean gas stations is forbidden by law - you will have to ask the employee of the gas station.
- The legal alcohol limit is 0.03% for experienced drivers and 0.00% for novice drivers. Exceeding the limit can lead to large fines and even imprisonment of 60 to 300 days.
- Proof of insurance and the car’s documentation needs to be in the car whenever you’re driving.
- When you are driving, you need to have your passport or ID card with you at all times.
- The emergency numbers in Chile are 131 for an ambulance, 132 for fire brigade, and 133 for police.
Toll roads can be confusing for visitors to Santiago and Chile. Most highways, as well as many secondary roads in Chile, are subject to tolls.
Thankfully, most rental cars in Santiago come equipped with an electronic transponder or Tag that will automatically register your car when passing through a toll gate. The service is usually prepaid for the number of days that you will use the rental car with the price included in the initial rental car price, although this may vary from provider to provider - some will charge you for the transponder after you return the rental car. Some rental car providers might charge an additional fee for providing the transponder.
It is important to ask your rental car provider in advance about the toll roads in Chile and the best available means of payment.
Learn more about the Tag system on its official website (available only in Spanish).
If your rental car doesn’t come with an electronic transponder, you can buy a day pass, known as pase diario. Most malls and gas stations in the Santiago area sell these day passes, though the system can be confusing, especially if you don’t speak Spanish.
Most toll roads outside the Greater Santiago area are not part of the tag system. The tolls and payment methods vary from road to road. Most have toll booths (the booths are known as peajes in Spanish). In this case, you will have to pay a toll, usually in cash as many booths don’t accept credit cards, upon entering the toll road. You will receive a receipt that you will have to present upon leaving the toll road. The toll is usually fixed and doesn’t depend on the length of your travel. The tolls are often raised during the weekends and public holidays.
Ideas for day trips
- Viña del Mar. As the name suggests, Viña del Mar is a Chilean beach city and a very fine one at that. Located on the Pacific Coast, it has many beautiful beaches as well as interesting museums and quality restaurants. The best thing about Viña del Mar is that it is so close to Santiago - just 122 km (76 miles) northwest, it takes about 90 minutes to reach by car.
- Skiing. Winter sports might not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of South America, but that’s exactly what’s available just a short drive from Santiago. The mighty Andes are not only majestic to look at, but they can also be great fun to go down on skis or a snowboard. El Colorado ski resort is just 58 km (36 miles) northeast of Santiago, and a number of others are also nearby.
- Rancagua. The capital of the neighboring region, Rancagua has a reputation as something of a party capital of Chile. The city boasts one of the highest concentrations of quality bars, nightclubs, and other venues for having a good time. If you’re up for something more relaxing, drive to the nearby Cauquenes hot springs or Rio Los Cipreses National Reserve. Rancagua is 86 km (53 miles) south of Santiago and takes about one hour to reach.
- La Campana National Park. There are 42 national parks in Chile, and while some of the most spectacular ones can be found in the extreme north or south of the country, others are just a relatively short drive from the capital. One of the latter ones is La Campana, a nature preserve of steep slopes covered by forests of Chilean wine palms. Popular hiking destinations include Cerro La Campana, or Bell Mountain, which was once climbed by no other than Charles Darwin, as well as the Ocoa Waterfall. The drive from Santiago to La Campana takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Most popular cars
The most popular rental car in Santiago is the Hyundai i10. Many travelers also pick the Chevrolet Spark and the Chevrolet Onix. The most popular rental car types are mini, economy, and intermediate.
- Valparaíso. Beloved by Chilean writers, painters, and other artistic souls, Valparaíso is a relaxed city on the Pacific coast. There’s plenty in the way of museums, galleries, and performance venues, and the city’s free-thinking spirit is even reflected in the colorful facades of its buildings. The city also has some seriously amazing Chilean food, although the nearby town of Concón is rumored to be even better in that department. Valparaíso is 115 km (71 miles) northeast of Santiago and can be reached in about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Cochamo Valley. Located in Northern Patagonia far from the capital city, Cochamo Valley is one of the most beautiful places in Chile. Made up of vast meadows, high peaks, steep waterfalls, and temperate rainforests, it is the perfect country for hiking, climbing, and just being in nature. Many species of wildlife, like condors, tiny pudú deers, and black-necked swans live in the area. The town of Cochamo is 1,068 km (663 miles) south of Santiago and takes about 12 hours to reach, but the long trip is worth it. Needless to say, there are many stunning places along the way, so it’s easy to cut your trip into two or three parts.
- The Atacama Desert. One of the most distinct and spectacular regions of Chile is its arid north and the otherworldly Atacama Desert. Featuring geysers, salt lakes, flamingos, and volcanoes, the desert is like a different world. San Pedro de Atacama is the main tourist town from where most tours set off. The Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon) is a must-see landscape.
- Argentina. The land of gauchos, posh Buenos Aires, Maradona, and Che Guevara, the large South American nation of Argentina continues to hold a romantic place in the hearts of many adventurous travelers. Coming from Santiago, however, you’ll first encounter the Argentine Andes, home to awesome bodegas or wineries, classy spas, great opportunities for adventure sports, and equally amazing mountain scenery. Mendoza, the center of Western Argentina, is 360 km (223 miles) east of Santiago and can be reached in just over five hours. You’ll have to cross an international border, so ask your rental car provider in advance if they permit it. Some won’t, but in that case, you can travel by public transportation and pick up a new rental car after arriving in Argentina. Also, check to see if you need a visa to enter Argentina - while it has a generally similar visa policy to Chile, the overlap is not 100%, so it depends on your citizenship.
Car Rental Prices in Santiago
- Large cars - from $45 per day
- Medium cars - from $34 per day
- Small cars - from $29 per day
- SUVs - from $43 per day
Improve your odds of landing a great rental vehicle in Chile by following these tips:
- Compare the rates of different rental car providers
- Book your rental car well in advance
- Plan your route before you go
- Know your fuel and mileage requirements
- Visit during the month when the rental prices are the cheapest. According to our data, visiting Santiago is the cheapest in August when renting a car is about 39% cheaper than the yearly average and a whole 53% cheaper than renting a car in March.
- Make sure that your rental car has a toll tag.
Top 12 Cities near Santiago
79.0 km / 49.1 miles away
Viña del Mar Car Rentals from $28.77 per day80.6 km / 50.1 miles away
87.0 km / 54.1 miles away
La Serena Car Rentals from $53.78 per day388.5 km / 241.4 miles away
Temuco Car Rentals from $30.61 per day637.4 km / 396.1 miles away
Puerto Montt Car Rentals from $23.98 per day917.2 km / 569.9 miles away
Antofagasta Car Rentals from $40.13 per day1106.3 km / 687.4 miles away
Calama Car Rentals from $79.52 per day1225.8 km / 761.7 miles away
Coyhaique Car Rentals from $97.79 per day1361.2 km / 845.8 miles away
Iquique Car Rentals from $53.78 per day1430.9 km / 889.1 miles away
Arica Car Rentals from $53.78 per day1673.4 km / 1039.8 miles away
Punta Arenas Car Rentals from $88.60 per day2180.7 km / 1355.0 miles away
Top 9 Locations near Santiago
Santiago International Airport Car Rentals from $28.77 per day
La Serena La Florida Airport Car Rentals from $53.78 per day388.5 km / 241.4 miles away
La Araucania Airport Car Rentals from $30.61 per day637.4 km / 396.1 miles away
Puerto Montt Airport Car Rentals from $23.98 per day917.2 km / 569.9 miles away
Calama El Loa Airport Car Rentals from $79.52 per day1225.8 km / 761.7 miles away
Balmaceda Airport Car Rentals from $100.82 per day1361.2 km / 845.8 miles away
Arica Chacalluta Airport Car Rentals from $53.78 per day1673.4 km / 1039.8 miles away
Punta Arenas Airport Car Rentals from $88.60 per day2180.7 km / 1355.0 miles away
7578.9 km / 4709.3 miles away
Map of Car Rental Locations
What is the cheapest month to rent a car in Santiago?
This information can help you identify the low season. But these are only average numbers. How much your car rental will cost will depend on the type of vehicle you rent, how long you’ll rent it for, and how far ahead you book. Simply enter your dates in the form at the top of the page to see the exact prices.
What’s the usual rental length in Santiago?
What's the most popular month to rent a car in Santiago?
Car Rental Information
|Car rental locations||3|
|Popular suppliers||NUCarrentals, SIXT, Keddy, Europcar, Avis|
|Popular car categories||Small cars, Medium cars, Large cars, SUVs|
|Lowest price||$29 per day|
Most Popular Car Models of Rental Suppliers
|NUCarrentals||Kia Morning||4||2||Small cars|
|NUCarrentals||Kia Rio||4||2||Medium cars|
|NUCarrentals||Fiat Tipo||5||4||Large cars|
|NUCarrentals||Kia Rio||3||2||Medium cars|
|SIXT||MG ZS Aut.||5||2||SUVs|
|SIXT||Chevrolet Spark||4||Small cars|
|Keddy||VW Gol||4||2||Small cars|
|SIXT||Suzuki Swift||5||Small cars|
|NUCarrentals||SsangYong Actyon Sport||4||3||Large cars|
Our Customers' Reviews
Because we want to make sure each review listed here is left by a real customer, we don’t have an option to post a review here. Instead, we ask each and every customer to leave a review after they return their rental car. This way, you know that all reviews are authentic, verified, and trustworthy.