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Atacama Desert
Atacama Desert
Torres Del Paine
Torres Del Paine

About Chile (CL)

The ribbon-shaped country of Chile (CL) spans over 3,000 miles (5,000 km) on South American coastline, with a varied climate moderated by the Pacific Ocean and framed by the dynamic topography of the Andes Mountains, which define the eastern boundaries. Chile is bordered by Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina, and its geography ranges from arid high desert in the north, to mild Mediterranean in the mid-central region, to low-lying wetlands in the south, which extends to the southern tip of the continent. The majority of destinations and attractions are separated by cultural and physical distance, with the main population centers found in the central regions. The southern third of the island is sparsely inhabited and dedicated national park and wildlife reserves. The capital city of Santiago is the primary gate way to Easter Island (Hanga Roa), located 3,500 km west.

  Getting around

Chile’s unusual, long narrow shape gives rise to a prominent north-south orientation, and navigation generally takes place up and down the coast. As cities and towns are spread far apart, most visitors will find it necessary to rent a car. Generally speaking, central Chile is well connected by a motorway network in good condition, and most long-distance travel will involve the Pan-American Highway (Route 5). Driving in Chile is a mix of North and South American influence. Road signs are in Spanish, but use American formatting. Unlike some neighboring countries, Chilean drivers are known for good behavior on the roads, and driving at night is considered safe. The greatest challenge of getting around the country is conquering the distances, and getting familiar with some of the peculiarities of Chilean traffic controls and regulations, for example, reversible lanes on highways, and bus only lanes on city streets.

  Choosing your car

You’ll find cheap car rentals in Chile from Avis, Thrifty, Sixt, Enterprise, and Budget. Choose from minicars, compact hatchbacks, economy, standard, and intermediate sedans, premium and luxury 4-door cars, estate wagons, midsize, fullsize, and standard SUVs, and 7-12 seater minivans.

  Tips and advice for renting a car in Chile


Rental cars in Chile are usually equipped with automatic GPS transponders that report back to the car hire company. This is to insure that you don’t take the car out of the country without signing a waiver, paying a fee, and acquiring a clearance in writing from the vendor.


Inner city streets and regular roads are generally narrow, while highways are more spacious. Compact cars are recommended for primarily city driving, while fullsize sedans and above are best for long-haul road trips. Smaller vehicles are great for squeezing into tight parking spots, but more difficult to control on highway roads by the exceptionally strong winds coming off the ocean and down from the mountains.


Most car rentals in Chile — including people carriers (7-12 seater minivans) are equipped with manual transmission, in part due to Chilean conservation efforts to save on fuel. Vehicles with automatic transmissions are significantly more expensive to rent.


All traffic signs and controls are in Spanish. All but a few include self-explanatory pictograms, but there are several signs unique to Chile. For example, their version of Do Not Enter will not be familiar to drivers from most English-speaking countries. It’s a good idea to educate yourself on the rules of the road before getting behind the wheel.


Stop signs are not common in Chile. Instead, they use Yield or Give Way.


The majority of highways and including major roads in Santiago are toll roads. It’s almost impossible to get around Chile without paying tolls. Your car hire will most likely be equipped with a toll transponder.

Are you driving a rental car in Chile?

Urban Speed Limit


50 kph  | 31.1 mph
Rural Speed Limit


100 kph  | 62.1 mph
Motorway Speed Limit


100 kph  | 62.1 mph
Fuel Price




Road Driving


Driving Age


17 years of age
21 years of age to RENT
Emergency Services


Documentation requirements



Chile Driving Ideas Guide

Chile is a country of startling contrasts and extreme beauty, with attractions ranging from the towering volcanic peaks of the Andes to the ancient forests of the Lake District, and plenty of opportunities for fine adventure travel.

Although just 175km wide, Chile stretches 4300km along the South American continent, reaching from the driest desert on earth to vast southern glacial fields. The extremely diverse landscapes include parched dunes, fertile valleys, volcanoes, ancient forests, massive glaciers and fjords, all making for fascinating travel experiences.

Santiago, the capital, anchors the northern and more prosperous section of the central valley, while the lush Lake District to the south is the homeland of Chile's indigenous peoples, the Araucanians.

Travel in Chile is surprisingly easy, if you don't rush it, and doing it by rental car offers unparalleled opportunities for discovery.  One thing that stands out is the hospitality of the Chileans and you will be greeted by locals everywhere you go.

Vineyards and valleys - driving Santiago and beyond

Santiago, the capital of Chile, is a large and modern city and the central point of a region filled with attractive sites and activities. The main South American ski centres are only 60 km away, and it is a mere hour's drive to the beautiful beaches of the Pacific to the northwest. Just south of Santiago lie the rich and beautiful vineyards of the Maipo Valley.

The city is halved by the Rio Mapocho River. Below the northern boundary of the river you will find all the major museums, monuments, and architectural sights the city offers. At the very heart of Santiago is the Plaza de Armas, which lies along the Alameda about five blocks south of the river.

Finding beautiful beaches and the 'Garden City' of Vina del Mar in Central Chile

A mere 120km from Santiago, you can explore the coastal towns of Central Chile on a leisurely drive. The road winds along the central coastal areas through the wine producing valleys of Curacavi and Casablanca.  From there the road takes you directly to the coast where you can spend a morning on the beaches of Renaca and explore the town of Vina del Mar.

After a local lunch you can continue driving to the bohemian and picturesque port town of Valparaiso. Built in the 16th-century on a total of 43 hills, it is reached by narrow windy streets, staircases and a series of lifts (funiculars). The Pablo Neruda Museum situated on one of the hills overlooking the bay, offers fantastic sea views.   You might even want to overnight at Valparaiso, to experience more of this beautiful area.

Driving Chile's Famed Highway - the Carretera Austral

Chile's extraordinary elongated geography as a country means it enjoys a phenomenal variety in its landscapes. One the most incredible and awe-inspiring sections is the stretch of Chile's Patagonian region typified by vast lakes, splintered fjords, glaciers, fierce rivers, lush evergreen forests, rolling pampas plains and national parks: all of it served by the famed Route 7 or better known as the Carretera Austral.

The highway stretches a total of 200 km from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins. Though most of the trip involves gravel, winding curves and unpredictable weather, the rewards are enormous. It is no exaggeration to say that each kilometre offers picture-perfect vistas. The impressive hanging glacier at the Queulat National Park is a great location for a photo to share. Opportunities for fishing, kayaking, rafting and other adventure sports are abundant along the way. Or simply drive to the end of the highway and enjoy the landscapes of Villa O’Higgins.

Chile is a naturally diverse country with a lot to offer and we believe you should spend time doing more, by spending less.  To find the best deals and choices for rental cars in Chile and accommodation in Chile you need not look further than Cheaperthancars and Cheaperthanhotels.

Your Cheaperthancars Team

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Frequently asked questions about renting a car in Chile

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1. What is the best time of year to book a rental car in Chile?

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2. Is it possible for one way rentals in Chile?

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3. Should I rent a round trip or one-way rental in Chile?

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4. Which location should I rent my car from in Chile?

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5. Do I pay more fees and taxes for renting a car at the airport in Chile?

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6. What insurance do I require for driving a rental car in Chile?

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7. What is the best way to save money on rental car insurance in Chile?

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8. Should I prepay my rental car booking in Chile?

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9. What are the largest numbers of vehicle seats available for a rental car in Chile?

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10. What types of sports and special cars are available in Chile?

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11. Can I take my rental car across borders in Chile?

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12. How do I inform the rental company I will be crossing a border from the Chile?