1. Understanding the Driving Culture
Driving in Valparaiso can be a bit challenging for newcomers due to the hilly terrain and narrow streets. The city is built on several steep hillsides overlooking the Pacific Ocean, which can make driving a bit tricky. The locals are used to this and tend to drive quite fast. It’s important to be cautious and patient, especially when navigating through the city’s many one-way streets and sharp turns.
2. Car Recommendation
Considering the city’s hilly terrain, a car with a strong engine and good brakes is recommended. A compact car is often a good choice as it can easily navigate through the narrow streets and find parking more easily. If you plan on exploring the countryside or going on road trips, a 4×4 might be a better option.
3. Parking Situation
Finding parking in Valparaiso can be difficult, especially in the city center and during peak hours. Some areas have metered parking, while others require a parking permit. Parking can also be expensive in certain areas, so it’s advisable to check the rates and regulations in advance. Some people opt to rent a place with a parking spot included to avoid the hassle.
4. Driving with an International License
Foreigners can drive in Chile with an international driver’s license for up to 90 days. After that, you will need to obtain a Chilean driver’s license. It’s important to always carry your license, passport, and the car’s registration and insurance documents when driving.
5. Obtaining a Chilean Driver’s License
To get a Chilean driver’s license, you will need to pass a written test and a practical driving test. The written test is available in English, but the practical test is usually conducted in Spanish. You will also need to provide a certificate of residency, which can be obtained from the local police station. It’s advisable to take a few driving lessons to familiarize yourself with the local driving rules and conditions.
6. Road Conditions
While the main roads and highways in Chile are generally in good condition, some of the side streets in Valparaiso can be quite steep and narrow. It’s important to drive carefully and be prepared for sudden turns and changes in road conditions.
7. Traffic Rules
Chilean traffic rules are similar to those in most Western countries. You drive on the right side of the road, seat belts are mandatory, and using a mobile phone while driving is prohibited. However, it’s important to be aware that traffic signs and signals may not always be obeyed by local drivers, so always stay alert and drive defensively.