Information on Bus Travel in Chile

Bus, flight or train?

When it comes to choosing a public transport service in Chile, there are basically three options: buses, trains, and planes.


While especially travellers from Europe are used to look for train services as their prefered way of getting around, the bad news is that the railway system in Chile is small and badly maintained. It is in general true throughout South America that trains are rarely an option, and Chile is no exception. For example, there are no national train services connecting Santiago to the North of the country.

However one should acknowledge that recent efforts of modernization are bearing some fruits and fast and comfortable services are available on a few routes, for example from Santiago to Chillán.

The Empresa de Los Ferrocarriles del Estado, short EFE, is operating the national train system. What is good news is that convenient online-booking is possible on their webpage.


The fastest way to bridge the large distances in Chile is air travel. Most travellers will arrive at the airport of Santiago (SCL), and needless to say there are many airlines who operate international flights to and from Chile. However for national flights within the country, there are only a few larger airlines to choose from:

In addition there are also smaller airlines offering touristic air travel in Patagonia:

Air travel is significantly more expensive than going by bus, but may save you quite some time, so when you are able to secure a good deal this may be a suitable travel option.


Chile boasts an extensive network of bus connections and many private companies are competing within the framework of public regulations. There is no doubt that bus travel is the most popular form of transport both for locals and tourists, due to the combination of favourable prices and high levels of comfort.

In fact there are various comfort categories to choose from. Tur-Bus calls its categories Clásico, Semicama, Ejecutivo, Cama, and Premium. The Premium service will offer you fully reclining seats and best comfort for sleeping in a night bus. Here is the Tur-Bus webpage where you can compare the seating comfort of the different classes.

For longer trips we would always recommend the best category, to make sure that you will get a good night's sleep and then be able to fully enjoy the next day of your precious holidays.