Comodoro Arturo Merino Benitez International airport is located about 30 minutes north of Santiago. During rush hours (7.00am-10.00am, 5.00pm-8.00pm) you should allow for up to one hour in travel time.
The most convenient way to get around town is by taxi:
- Taxis are black with yellow roofs.
- When you exit customs you will find a desk where you can arrange for an official airport taxi, which you will have to pay for in Chilean pesos. You can purchase pesos inside the arrival hall near the luggage carousel.
- All have meters, however, the minimum charge is 150 pesos. A taxi from the airport to most hotels will cost you A$35-A$50.
- There is no need to tip taxi drivers, but the fare can be rounded upwards.
- Radio taxis (sometimes not the traditional black and yellow) are booked by phone and come direct to your door. Although slightly more expensive, this is the safest option when travelling alone at night.
The Santiago Metro is fast, clean and efficient:
- There are currently five operational lines. The main line used to move between the city’s business hubs is the Red line which runs east/west between Los Dominicos and San Pablo.
- Fares vary according to the time of day – either peak or off-peak periods. The current time period is posted in the ticket seller's window with its corresponding fare.
- Tickets can be purchased individually at all metro stations. Alternatively you may purchase a BIP card which can be topped up and will also allow you to use the bus system.
Although cheap, plentiful and frequent, buses are not recommended mainly because they are only useful if you already know which one to catch and there are no reliable route maps available for visitors.
There are many hotels in Chile’s capital Santiago ranging from five-star chains such as Ritz Carlton, Intercontinental, Marriott, Hyatt and Sheraton, to lower budget hostels. These international chains as well as others also operate throughout the rest of the country.
If you plan to visit Chile, the Austrade office can recommend some hotels depending of the type of visit you are conducting.
There are a wide variety of restaurants located in all parts of Chile. The popular restaurant neighbourhoods in Santiago include Bellavista and Las Condes. Lunch is usually between 12.30pm and 3.00pm and later on Saturday and Sunday, while dinner is from 8.30pm onwards. Many restaurants are open for lunch on Sundays but closed in the evenings.
The typical food preparation is principally based in meat, potatoes, maize and fruits and vegetables. Due to Chile being located on the coast, there is a large range of fish and seafood to choose from including salmon, trout, eel, sea scallops and lobsters.
Tipping in Chile is usually 10 per cent of the restaurant bill. However, it is not customary to tip taxi drivers.
The main attractions for tourists are places of natural beauty situated in the extreme zones of the country: San Pedro de Atacama, in the north, is very popular with foreign tourists who arrive to admire the Incaic architecture and the Altiplano lakes of the Valley of the Moon.
In Putre, also in the north, there is the Chungará Lake, as well as the Parinacota and the Pomerape volcanoes, with altitudes of 6,348m and 6,222m, respectively.
Throughout the central Andes, there are many ski resorts of international repute, such as Portillo and Valle Nevado.
In the south, the main tourist sites are the Chiloé Island, Patagonia, the San Rafael Lagoon, with its many glaciers, and the Towers of Paine national park. The central port city of Valparaíso, with its unique architecture, is also popular.
Easter Island, in the Pacific Ocean, is also a main Chilean tourist destination.