There may be no better way to get to know the Central Valley than by taking a ride on Chile's only remaining ramal (branch-line railroad), which runs from Talca to the coastal city of Constitución. The 88-km (55-mi) Ramal Talca–Constitución makes a slow trip to the coast—it's 3 hours and 20 minutes each way—stopping for about 15 minutes at each of the small towns en route. In Constitución you'll be able to admire the coastal cliffs and rock formations.
The train departs Talca's Estación de Tren daily at 7:15 am, returning at 4:30 pm. In high season (December–April) a train also leaves at 11 and returns at 8. A good option is to arrange a tour on which you take the train to Constitución, then board a van to visit nearby sand dunes and other natural attractions.
Contact EFE, the national train service for more information on the train tour. 71/674–824. www.efe.cl.