Go 1,745 miles (2,800 km) south of lively Santiago de Chile, and you'll arrive in Puerto Natales—the gateway to Torres del Paine. The best way to make the trip is by plane, which is not only the fastest but often also the cheapest way to travel.
The new airport in Puerto Natales has made it a lot easier for travelers to reach Puerto Natales directly. One thing to consider if you decide to travel directly between the two cities is that flights are only available during winter (summer in Chile), from November to March at the moment. For year-round flights, you can instead fly to Punta Arenas, which will take you approximately the same amount of time of three hours and 20 minutes.
While in Santiago, you should take a day trip to Valparaíso—only two hours away. If you're planning on staying in Chile for a while, then check out the Best of Chile in 15 days to get more inspiration on places to visit and routes to take.
Duration: 3 hours 15 min
Taking a flight is the fastest way to get from Santiago to Puerto Natales and takes about three hours and 15 minutes. If you book your ticket further in advance, this is actually not only the fastest way to get to Puerto Natales but usually the cheapest option as well. If you can't book tickets early on, then it can be quite expensive, but it is still the most comfortable way to travel from Santiago.
By Plane & Bus
Duration: 8-9 hours
The second and most common option is to take a flight to Punta Arenas, which takes about 3.5 hours. You can either take the bus or rent a car with a driver from here to Puerto Natales—it all depends on the comfort level you are looking for. The buses usually have air conditioning, while the cars most likely don't. The total travel time is 8-9 hours, and the buses run every hour but don't be surprised if the buses are running a bit late, it's not very uncommon here.
Duration: 42 hours
You can travel by bus from Santiago to Puerto Natales, with two stops along the way, where you'll need to change to a different bus. The bus runs from Terminal Alameda in Santiago and will take you to Osorno in 10 hours. From here, you can take the bus to Punta Arenas, which takes about 26 hours and 30 minutes. Be mindful of that the buses only run once daily from Santiago and only a few times per week from Osorno. From Punta Arenas, it is a 3.5-hour drive, or bus ride, to Puerto Natales.
Duration: 37 hours
If you want to experience more of the country and are not in a hurry, hiring a car is great. This will take you a few days, so you'll need to make a few stops for rest and sleep, but if you want to take your time traveling through Chile, it is definitely the more adventurous way to do it.
Take Route 5 and drive approximately seven hours until you'll reach Temuco—a beautiful city for sightseeing, getting something to eat, and spending the night. Once you leave Temuco, keep driving on the same route, and you'll find several highlights, such as Puerto Montt, Lago General Carrera (General Carrera Lake), and Torres del Paine National Park along the way.
In total, it can take up to a week if you decide to do a lot of sightseeing along the way, but it's one of the greatest trips to make if you have time on your hands.
By Train & Bus
Duration: 44 hours
Taking the train from Santiago to Puerto Natales is the longest route, and if you have a lot of luggage, then this is not the most convenient option because you'll have to get off the train in San Carlos and then take three different buses. The train to San Carlos takes about 10 hours, and a bus will take you from here to Osorno in 6.5 hours. From Osorno, you'll have to take another bus to Punta Arenas, which takes about 26 hours, and from here, you can take a bus or rent a car to Puerto Natales.