Flying is the most convenient way to travel the 630 miles (1,016 km) between Santiago de Chile and Puerto Varas. Expect a 1.5-hour plane ride, and a 30-minute drive from the Puerto Montt Airport. Shuttle buses are also available at the airport and take approximately the same amount of time as driving.
Another option is making the 10-hour drive, either via Route 5 or on the wine route through Curico Valley—passing by more than 15 vineyards along the way. If you take the wine route, you will eventually pass Radal Siete Tazas (Seven Cups) National Park and can make a stop in Altos del Lircay where you can stay for a few hours for some swimming and even trekking.
A bus ride will get you to Puerto Varas from Santiago in 13 hours. All tourist buses have air conditioning and some of them offer wifi as well.
The most exciting way to travel from Santiago to Puerto Varas is by car and you have two different options here—driving on Route 5 the entire way, with only short stops to rest, or taking the Wine Route. The Wine Route will take you through many vineyards—with the Curico Valley and Colchagua Valley having some of the best vineyards in Chile, and South America, and where you can stop for a wine tasting, some food and rest. To get to Colchagua Valley, keep on Route 5 and then get on Route 90—about two hours after leaving Santiago.
Get back on Route 5 and continue towards Los Angeles and Valdivia National Reserve where you can stop to rest or even spend the night and experience the Mocho Coshuenco Volcano. When you pass by Termas de Chillán, try some of the Chilean specialties like the longaniza and arrolado huaso.
IThe total driving time is about 10-12 hours but the whole journey is usually a whole day—depending of course on how many places you decide to visit and explore.
Duration: 2 hours
The fastest way to get from Santiago to Puerto Varas is to fly from Santiago Airport to Puerto Montt which takes about one and a half-hour. To get to the airport, get on a bus from Pajaritos or take a cab; it's easy to get a cab in Santiago so don't worry about booking in advance. From Puerto Montt Airport you can either take an Airport Shuttle bus, get a private transfer, or rent a car. It only takes 30 minutes to get from the airport to Puerto Varas. When in Puerto Varas the best way to get around is by car.
Duration: 13 hours
From the Santiago central station, there are buses leaving from Terminal Alameda. Here you have the option to take a regular bus, whether it's overnight or a day-bus, or get on a tour bus. Tour buses usually leave in the morning and you can buy tickets at the station. For the regular buses, you can either choose an overnight bus, which is the most comfortable, or a day-bus which lets you catch some of nature along the way, with a journey that takes 13 hours.