Punta Arenas travel guide

Punta Arenas Tourism | Punta Arenas Guide

You're Going to Love Punta Arenas

Located in southern Chile's Patagonia region, Punta Arenas has captured the imagination of adventurers for centuries. On the Strait of Magellan, which links the Atlantic and the Pacific, the city draws cruise ships and hikers on their way to Antarctica.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Punta Arenas

1. Natural Beauty

The Magallanes National Reserve, sitting 1,000 feet above sea level, features lush vegetation and cerulean water reserves on its nearly 49,000 acres. Fauna, such as black woodpeckers, royal ducks, pumas, and grey foxes, and more, populate the area.

2. Pioneer Spirit

Soak in the pioneer spirit at the Museo del Recuerdo, which showcases antique farm and industrial machinery, a traditional pioneer home and shearing shed, and a shepherds' trailer.

3. Maritime History

The Museo Naval y Marítimo revisits naval and maritime history with the remains of shipwrecks, ancient maritime equipment, as well as maps, charts, and a radio room.

4. Andean Cuisine

Many restaurants in Punta Arenas specialize in local delicacies, such as Magellan lamb, king crab, and shellfish. Desserts include Calafate black berry or rhubarb jam-filled baked goods.

5. Shopper's Delight

Zona Franca, the duty-free district in Punta Arenas, retails electronics, hiking and camping gear, and photography equipment. Visual artist Andrea Araneda sells Magellan-inspired crafts, woolens, and paintings at her workshop downtown.

What to do in Punta Arenas

1. An Antarctic Animal Adventure

In today's eco-tourism oriented Punta Arenas, penguins are almost as important as people, and Isla Magdalena is the best place to see them in the wild. Boat tours to the island leave daily during peak season, and you're guaranteed to see flocks of Magellanic penguins strutting their stuff. Sometimes, other charismatic fauna will pop into focus, including sea lions and elephant seals - and they all make great holiday snaps. You can also disembark and wander the island in the company of experts who teach visitors all about their flightless friends and the fragility of the Antarctic ecosystem.

2. Bringing The Heights Of Luxury To Deepest Patagonia

During the 19th century, Patagonia boomed due to ranching and mineral extraction (as well as removing native peoples from the scene), and much of this wealth found its way into Punta Arenas' elegant old town. Nowhere was it spent more skillfully than this urban palace, which tried to recreate European civilization in what was essentially a wilderness. The French neoclassical facade and the marble fiINSERT IGNOREs and beautifully painted walls of the interior are equally sumptuous, and not a little surprising for such a southerly place.

3. A Model For Other Ship Museums

Punta Arenas is tightly linked to global exploration and the Age of Sail, and nowhere gives a better picture of this connection than the Museo Nao Victoria, around 5 miles north of the city center. Created by a patriotic local, the centerpieces are three incredible reproductions of sailing ships: the Nao Victoria, sailed around the world by Magellan, the James Caird, used by Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, and the Ancud - a craft which claimed the Straits of Magellan for Chile. Nautical fans will be in heaven.

4. See Where Chile Won The Dash For South America's Tip

The single most historic spot in the area, Fuerte Bulnes is around 40 miles south of Punta Arenas, and provides a fascinating window onto the growth of Chile. That's because it was here in 1843 that Chile's young government created its southern-most fort, and laid claim to the Straits of Magellan. The fort lasted six years, before the garrison retired to Punta Arenas, but it has been carefully rebuilt, creating an atmospheric way to get to know a nation-making mission.

5. Mighty Glaciers That Inspired A Scientific Legend

Spread across 1,460,000 hectares of mountainous islands to the south of Punta Arenas, the Parque Nacional Alberto de Agostini includes the most southerly hills in what eventually becomes the mighty Andes. It was also visited by Charles Darwin in the 1830s, and his meetings with the native Fuegans informed his famous "Descent of Man". Today's park is a stunning wilderness of glaciers and fjords, and is best seen by organized tour boats which depart in the summer every day from Punta Arenas.

1. An Antarctic Animal Adventure

In today's eco-tourism oriented Punta Arenas, penguins are almost as important as people, and Isla Magdalena is the best place to see them in the wild. Boat tours to the island leave daily during peak season, and you're guaranteed to see flocks of Magellanic penguins strutting their stuff. Sometimes, other charismatic fauna will pop into focus, including sea lions and elephant seals - and they all make great holiday snaps. You can also disembark and wander the island in the company of experts who teach visitors all about their flightless friends and the fragility of the Antarctic ecosystem.

2. Bringing The Heights Of Luxury To Deepest Patagonia

During the 19th century, Patagonia boomed due to ranching and mineral extraction (as well as removing native peoples from the scene), and much of this wealth found its way into Punta Arenas' elegant old town. Nowhere was it spent more skillfully than this urban palace, which tried to recreate European civilization in what was essentially a wilderness. The French neoclassical facade and the marble fiINSERT IGNOREs and beautifully painted walls of the interior are equally sumptuous, and not a little surprising for such a southerly place.

3. A Model For Other Ship Museums

Punta Arenas is tightly linked to global exploration and the Age of Sail, and nowhere gives a better picture of this connection than the Museo Nao Victoria, around 5 miles north of the city center. Created by a patriotic local, the centerpieces are three incredible reproductions of sailing ships: the Nao Victoria, sailed around the world by Magellan, the James Caird, used by Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, and the Ancud - a craft which claimed the Straits of Magellan for Chile. Nautical fans will be in heaven.

4. See Where Chile Won The Dash For South America's Tip

The single most historic spot in the area, Fuerte Bulnes is around 40 miles south of Punta Arenas, and provides a fascinating window onto the growth of Chile. That's because it was here in 1843 that Chile's young government created its southern-most fort, and laid claim to the Straits of Magellan. The fort lasted six years, before the garrison retired to Punta Arenas, but it has been carefully rebuilt, creating an atmospheric way to get to know a nation-making mission.

5. Mighty Glaciers That Inspired A Scientific Legend

Spread across 1,460,000 hectares of mountainous islands to the south of Punta Arenas, the Parque Nacional Alberto de Agostini includes the most southerly hills in what eventually becomes the mighty Andes. It was also visited by Charles Darwin in the 1830s, and his meetings with the native Fuegans informed his famous "Descent of Man". Today's park is a stunning wilderness of glaciers and fjords, and is best seen by organized tour boats which depart in the summer every day from Punta Arenas.

Where to Eat in Punta Arenas

La Marmita, a casual Chilean eatery, features salads, casseroles, and seafood dishes, as well as vegetarian selections and take-out. Entrees average CLP$9,323. La Luna specializes in smoked pork chops and fried king fish. Entrees are around CLP$7,000.

When to visit Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas in July
Estimated hotel price
$68
1 night at 3-star hotel
Punta Arenas in July
Estimated hotel price
$68
1 night at 3-star hotel

The best time to visit Punta Arenas is during the summer months, November to December, which enjoy highs in the 50s. A windbreaker and sunscreen are recommended for the strong winds and intense sunlight.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Punta Arenas

Plane

Presidente Carlos Ibáñez International Airport (PUQ) is 12 miles from downtown Punta Arenas. There are 10 daily flights from Santiago, Chile. A taxi from the airport is CLP$6,659. The Austral bus shuttle is CLP$3,996 per person.

Car

The drive on Route 9, between Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales, takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes. Drivers should expect strong winds on the road.

Bus

The four-hour bus trip from Puerto Natales is CLP$3,996. Bus service from Ushuaia takes 12 hours and costs CLP$39,955.

Airports near Punta Arenas

Airlines serving Punta Arenas

Delta
Excellent (2,663 reviews)
Iberia
Good (675 reviews)
LATAM Airlines
Good (633 reviews)
Qantas Airways
Good (101 reviews)
Sky Airline
Good (28 reviews)
JetSMART
Okay (10 reviews)

Where to stay in Punta Arenas

The upscale Hotel Dreams del Estrecho features spacious rooms and an infinity pool, as well as a spa, a casino, and an excellent restaurant. The more modest Hostel Keoken, near downtown, provides cozy bedding and homemade baked goods for breakfast.

Popular neighbourhoods in Punta Arenas

Barrio Croata - the Croatian Neighborhood, named for the hundreds of immigrants who arrived in the 1850s, preserves much of the area's original Eastern European architecture.

Barrio Catalina - Barrio Catalina houses Zona Franca, Punta Arenas' shopping district, which draws 15,000 people a day to its tax-exempt bargains.

Centro - the Plaza Muñoz Gamero in downtown Punta Arenas houses a memorial to Ferdinand Magellan, and the Museo Nao Victoria features a replica of one of the explorer's galleons.

Where to stay in popular areas of Punta Arenas

Most booked hotels in Punta Arenas

Hotel Cabo De Hornos
Excellent (8.7, Excellent reviews)
$192+
Hotel Jose Nogueira
Excellent (8.6, Excellent reviews)
$170+
Hotel Rey Don Felipe
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
$74+
Hotel Los Navegantes
Excellent (8, Excellent reviews)
$82+
Cabañas Shenu Patagonia
Poor (0, Poor reviews)
$155+
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How to Get Around Punta Arenas

Public Transportation

Punta Arenas can be traveled on foot. Buses are only needed to journey outside of the city.

Taxi

Taxis in Punta Arenas start at CLP$300 with CLP$1,931.21 for each additional mile.

Car

Rental cars in Punta Arenas start at CLP$37,957 a day.

Car hire agencies in Punta Arenas

Avis

Avis
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The Cost of Living in Punta Arenas

Shopping Streets

The duty-free Zona Franca has several blocks of electronics, sporting goods, perfume, clothing, spirit, and cigarette shops. Downtown streets off the Plaza de Armas sell handmade knitwear, woodworks, and stoneware from local artisans.

Groceries and Other

Hiper Lider sells staples and baked and take-out goods. Minimarket Vieille specializes in fruits, cured meats, and wines. Punta Arenas is relatively affordable. A gallon of milk averages CLP$2,737 and a dozen eggs is CLP$2,111.

Cheap meal
$11.54
A pair of jeans
$78.82
Single public transport ticket
$1.10
Cappuccino
$5.31