The last city in the south of Chile is the perfect point to discover the wild, inhospitable and breathtaking scenery that Patagonia and the southern tip of the Americas have to offer.
Located right in front of the Strait of Magellan, a route that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the city of Punta Arenas It is the main Chilean base for tourists looking to navigate the southernmost archipelago of the globe. This is also the gateway for those who want to discover the beauties of the frozen continent of Chilean Antarctica and one of the most fascinating regions of the country: the Torres del Paine National Park.
The coastal destination has a strong European influence in its architecture, a legacy of immigrants of different nationalities who passed through the city. Punta Arenas It is marked by more than 50 statues and landmarks scattered in its extremely clean and organized streets, which honor people and remember important dates and facts of this remote part of the planet. You can discover several historical buildings starting the tour through the city center. The Plaza de Armas is the main Punta Arenas and brings together an important set of buildings left as a legacy by immigrants who arrived in the strait, including Croatians, Germans, French, English and Spanish.
Bathed by the Strait of Magalhães, the capital of the province of Magalhães, like any other destination by the sea, is surrounded by a shore where it is possible to see boats, different species of animals and an exuberant part of the mountain range that plunges from the mainland into a more south of the municipality. On the other side, the Magalhães National Reserve protects an important area of the mountains and forests that surround it. Punta Arenas. A great tour option to spend the day hiking and admiring incredible viewpoints overlooking the city and the strait.
Punta Arenas it is also famous for its Free Zone. The space brings together numerous stores that offer tax-exempt imported products. Cell phones, clothing, drinks, accessories, appliances and even automobiles are among the options available for purchase.
The geographic importance of Punta Arenas allows visitors to have countless possibilities to explore this still inhospitable region of Patagonia. From Punta Arenas, boats depart constantly to Tierra del Fuego, an island that houses the municipality of Porvenir and the neighboring Argentine cities of Rio Grande and Ushuaia.
During the summer, numerous flights and boats take visitors from the four corners of the world to luxury expeditions that depart for Antarctica. This is the perfect time to explore the frozen continent and watch penguins, whales and sea lions.
Just 342 km away from Torres del Paine National Park, Punta Arenas can be another starting option to reach the park, in addition to the city of Puerto Natales. These are the main points for those who want to know the wild scenery of this peculiar part of Patagonia. Mountains, lakes, glaciers, forests, woods and waterfalls are gathered in this protected area, which was declared by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve in 1978.
From the gigantic centellas (a species of crab with an impressive size) to the famous grills with lamb meat, Patagonian gastronomy is another point that needs to be rushed on a trip to Punta Arenas. The large amount of fish and seafood mixed with the gaucho culture present only in the south of Chile, produced a very diversified gastronomy, which mixes traditional dishes from the countryside and the coast. Be sure to try the Filet de Merlouza – a traditional fish from the region, the rack of lamb and Chupe de mariscos, a kind of pie served very hot in a clay bowl, incredibly appetizing.
Things to do in Punta Arenas
Plaza de Armas
Located in the heart of the historic center of Punta Arenas, the Plaza de Armas (also known as Plaza Muñoz Gamero) is the starting point to take a tour and discover the main points of the city. The square houses a sculpture that honors the navigator Fernão Magalhães and is surrounded by important buildings, such as the City Hall and Regional Government headquarters, the Sara Braun Palace and the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.
Magellan National Reserve
The reserve is located in the highest area of the region and protects dozens of species such as woodpeckers, cougars, foxes, armadillos, deer and a multitude of birds and birds. The Magellanic National Reserve provides 4 different trails to observe the rich flora present in abundance. The reserve also has an easily accessible viewpoint overlooking the city and the strait, in a background that fills the park. During winter it is also possible to ski on the slopes of Clube Andino, one of the few ski resorts in the world overlooking the sea.
Patagonia is among the largest wildlife hotspots in South America. Magdalena Island is proof of that. The islet located between Punta Arenas and Tierra del Fuego is home to more than 20,000 pairs of penguins, making it the most important colony of birds in the entire country.
Cerro de la Cruz viewpoint
The Cerro de la Cruz viewpoint is located in the highest part of the city of Punta Arenas. From the viewpoint it is possible to have a panoramic view of the city and the Strait of Magellan. Perfect place to take some pictures and understand the rich geography of the municipality.
The space houses a wide variety of restaurants that offer typical dishes of the region during lunch. After enjoying the wonderful Patagonian cuisine, be sure to check out the souvenir and handicraft shops located on the first floor of the building.
This is one of the main Chilean tax-free areas. The Free Zone brings together several blocks with shops and galleries that sell products including perfumes, drinks, electronics, sporting goods and even automobiles!
Punta Arenas Cemetery
It may sound strange, but the Municipal Cemetery of Punta Arenas is one of the most visited attractions in the city. Founded in 1894, the cemetery is on the list of the most beautiful in the world and houses beautiful gardens, chapels and mausoleums that can be considered true temples.
Nao Victorio Museum
Unlike all museums in the city, at Nao Victorio, visitors have the opportunity to see three perfect replicas of the ships that made history in the southern region of Patagonia. The first is that of Portuguese navigator Fernando Magalhães, who discovered the iconic strait named after him. The second is from the British vessel HMS Beagle, commanded by explorer Robert Fitz Roy, who left England in 1831 with the researcher and natural scientist Charles Darwin in his crew. The third and final is the ship of Henry Shackleton's expedition that traveled to Antarctica. In the museum it is possible to enter the replicas of these vessels and see up close how the explorers traveled, in addition to knowing other curiosities of these expeditions.
Kayaking in the Strait of Magellan
Unforgettable. That's the perfect word to describe the kayak tours offered in the Strait of Magellan. Those who embark on this adventure can observe and interact with the animals that live in the icy waters of the region. Tours can be started at different points of the channel, and offer intimate contact with southern dolphins, sea lions and whales.
The brewery has a factory in the city, and offers tours for visitors to learn how the beer production process works, in addition to tasting the different labels that the brand produces.
Other places to visit in Punta Arenas:
- Punta Arenas waterfront
- San Isidro Lighthouse
- Naval and Maritime Museum
- Recuerdo Museum
- Magellan Regional Museum
- Sara Braun Palace
- Braun Menendez Palace
- Cathedral of the Sacred Heart
- Fort Bulnes
- Otway sine
- green River
How to get to Punta Arenas
The fastest way to get there is through Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport. The airport is located very close to the city center and receives direct flights from Santiago, Puerto Montt and the Argentine city of Ushuaia.
Leaving Brazil, you can opt for flights operated by LAN and TAM airlines to the city of Santiago, and then proceed to the destination with LAN or SKY.
Punta Arenas is connected by land with four other cities, being accessed by the famous Route of the End of the World. The first city is neighboring Chilean Puerto Natales, the closest to Torres del Paine National Park. The second is the small town of Provenir, located right in front of the destination, after crossing the Strait of Magellan. The other options are the Argentine cities of Ushuaia and Rio Grande.
Best time to visit Punta Arenas
Punta Arenas is located in an inhospitable region in the extreme south of the Americas, so the cold weather is constant throughout the year. Regardless of the time chosen to visit the destination, it is necessary to be prepared for the harsh weather present almost every day of the year. Bring warm clothes and accessories to protect yourself from the cold, such as gloves, caps and scarves. The air currents in this region are very strong and can reach speeds of 100 km/h.
The best time to visit the destination is in summer. Between the months of December and March, the climate can reach 16°C and the presence of the sun is usually constant. This is also considered the best season of the year to carry out navigation tours and trails in the region.
If your intention is to interact with the completely snow-white landscape, winter is the ideal option. Although blizzards happen in all seasons of the year, it is in winter that the accumulation of snow is more present. Many resorts offer accommodation in super cozy wooden cabins in the middle of the wild Patagonian countryside. This can be a unique experience to experience the harsh winter of Punta Arenas.
During autumn, the landscapes are even more charming due to the color of the flora, which vary between yellow and red, merging with the shades of green present in the open fields. This can be a suitable option for those who don't like to be too cold and want to get to know cities without a lot of tourists.
Where to stay in Punta Arenas
The destination is reasonably small and the vast majority of accommodation options are well located, always very close to the city's main attractions.
In the city center, the most suitable is the Best Western Hotel Finis Terrae which is located approximately 350 m from the Plaza de Armas. The charming hotel offers rooms with minibar, cable TV, coffee maker, heating, as well as a restaurant with panoramic views of the city and the Strait of Magellan. Another option with a great location is the Hotel Cabo De Hornos.
Accommodation options by the sea are also very popular in Punta Arenas. THE Hotel Dreams del Estrecho It has a moderate structure and offers an indoor pool overlooking the Strait of Magellan. already the Boutique Hotel La Yegua Loca, was installed in a house with typical architecture of the city near the Mirante Cerro de La Cruz.
* This trip was made at the invitation of the Chile Travel in collaboration with the Better Travel Guide.
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