Rent a Car for Travel in Santiago

Santiago is the vibrant capital of Chile located in the country’s central valley. With its rich culture, vibrant nightlife and proximity to the Andes mountains, having your own set of wheels makes it easy to explore the city and surrounding areas. Here is a guide to renting a car for travel in Santiago.

Benefits of Renting a Car in Santiago

Renting a car provides many advantages for travelers in Santiago:


A rental car allows you to set your own sightseeing schedule and visit attractions at your own pace rather than rely on public transport or group tours.


Driving yourself makes it easy to modify plans on the fly and take spontaneous side trips to places like Valparaiso, wineries or ski resorts.


A rental car makes it more convenient to reach farther flung attractions around Santiago that have limited public transport options.


Driving in an air-conditioned rental car is much more comfortable than taking buses, trains or taxis, especially for long distances.


As the driver, you have full control to seek out hidden local spots off the tourist trail and customize your itinerary.

Types of Rental Cars Available in Santiago

Major rental companies like Hertz, Avis, Europcar operate in Santiago. Here are common car types:


  • Affordable basic cars for 1-2 passengers
  • Models like Chevrolet Spark, Kia Rio


  • Good option for couples or small groups
  • Cars like Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra


  • Ideal midsize cars fitting 4 adults
  • Examples: Volkswagen Passat, Renault Fluence


  • For groups up to 7 people
  • Models like Chrysler Town & Country


  • For off-road adventures or larger groups
  • Jeep Compass, Hyundai Tucson


  • Premium models featuring upgraded amenities
  • Brands like Audi, BMW, Mercedes

Where to Rent a Car in Santiago

You can rent cars across the city:

  • Santiago International Airport – Counters of major companies in arrivals hall
  • Downtown Santiago – Various rental offices and partner hotels
  • Providencia District – Agencies in this central neighborhood
  • Rental company websites – Reserve online for deals and confirmed availability
  • Train stations – Some rental desks at Central & Mapocho stations

Shopping around helps find the best rental rates. Booking ahead online can also save money.

Requirements for Renting a Car in Chile

To rent a car in Chile as a tourist, you’ll typically need:

  • Valid driver’s license from your home country
  • Passport to confirm identity
  • Major credit card for payment – debit cards usually not accepted
  • Minimum age is 21 years but sometimes 18-19 for basic cars

An International Driving Permit is recommended but not mandatory. Meeting the minimum age and having proper licenses and payment cards will ensure a smooth rental.

Driving Laws and Rules in Chile

Here are some key laws and norms to follow when driving in Chile:

  • Drive on the right side of the road
  • Legal blood alcohol limit is 0.03%
  • Seatbelt use is mandatory for all passengers
  • Using handheld cell phones while driving is prohibited
  • Speed limits range from 60km/h in cities to 100km/h on highways
  • yielding to the right at unmarked intersections
  • Watch for bicycle lanes when making turns in urban areas
  • Adhere to priority signs for vehicles on roundabouts

Following Chile’s driving rules will keep you safe and avoid issues. Keep documents accessible while driving.

Top Destinations Near Santiago to Visit By Rental Car

Having your own wheels makes visiting popular attractions around Santiago easy:

Nearby Cities

  • Valparaiso – Colorful harbor city with hillside neighborhoods
  • Viña del Mar – Upscale coastal city renowned for beaches and nightlife

Wine Region

  • Casablanca Valley – Vineyards near Santiago producing white wines
  • Colchagua Valley – The heart of Chilean red wine country

Ski Resorts

  • Portillo – Legendary ski area in the Andes favored by experts
  • Farellones – Popular ski resort in the mountains near Santiago
  • Termas de Chillán – Ski resort and hot springs getaway

Coastal Region

  • Pichilemu – Laid-back surf and beach town
  • Isla Negra – Poet Pablo Neruda’s stunning coastal home

A rental car provides easy access to top destinations near Santiago.

Tips for Renting a Car in Santiago

Follow these tips for a smooth rental experience:

  • Reserve early online for best rates, car availability and add-ons
  • Inspect vehicle thoroughly at pick-up and note any prior damage
  • Purchase extra liability insurance for peace of mind
  • Ask for a car with GPS if unfamiliar with the area
  • Get an automatic transmission if you don’t want to drive stick shift
  • Use a radar detector app to alert you to speed cameras
  • Be cautious of pedestrians when driving in urban centers
  • Allow extra time for traffic congestion during rush hours

Renting a Car in Santiago – FAQ

Requirements for Renting a Car in Chile

You’ll need a valid driver’s license, passport, major credit card in your name and optionally an International Driving Permit. Minimum age is usually 21.

What side of the road do Chileans drive on?

Chile drives on the right hand side of the road, same as many Western countries.

Are automatic transmission cars easy to find for rental?

Yes, most agencies offer automatic transmission options but it’s best to reserve in advance for guaranteed availability.

Can I take a rental car from Chile into Argentina or other countries?

Most companies prohibit crossing borders. Clarify the policy in advance before booking as some allow it for a fee.


Renting a car is an excellent way to explore Santiago as well as access attractions in surrounding areas conveniently. Advance reservations, inspecting vehicles thoroughly and adhering to local driving laws will ensure a smooth rental experience. The freedom of driving yourself makes a rental car a great option for visitors aiming to see the best of central Chile.


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