Top things to do in Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas

by on 15th September, 2016

Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas

Read out guide to the top things to do in Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas.

Chile’s southernmost cities of Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales offer the visitor to Patagonia much more than just an overnight stay.



As with many far-flung settlements, Punta Arenas started life in the mid 19th Century as a penal colony asserting sovereignty over the Magellan Straits.

It became a very important stopping point for shipping prior to the Panama Canal as all shipping between East and West coast North America had to pass by. Sheep farming established itself attracting waves of immigrants, particularly Croatians but also Swiss, French, British, Spanish and German.

This population mix together with its geographical position has given Punta Arenas a particular frontier feel, which remains to this day.

When in town we suggest:


Visit The Main square – Plaza Muñoz Gamero, lined with Cedar trees and surrounded by some impressive 19th Century buildings such as the Palacio Sara Braun. If you want to return to the city in the future make sure you kiss the toe of the bronze statue in honour of Hernado Magallanes.


Go to De La Cruz Viewpoint: Great panoramic views of the city and the Magellan Straits with Tierra del Fuego in the distance. Sunsets can be particularly spectacular over the Straits.


Salesian Museum “Maggiorino Borgatello” founded by the Salesian Congregation in 1893, one of the oldest of its kind in Chile. Learn about the rich ethnology, archaeology, wildlife and diversity of the region. Closed Mondays.


Fuerte Bulnes: Magellan Straits Park. Located 56km south of Punta Arenas. Here you will find a museum that explores the colonization history of Southern Chile and has replicas of a historic church, jail, post office and stables.

Nearby there is a lookout point with views over the Strait of Magellan as well as a series of trails to explore the area. Check opening times.


Magellanic Penguin Colony, Magdalena Island:  Breeding ground for a colony of Magellanic Penguins that numbers around 150,000.  The Island is located in the middle of the Strait of Magellan, 35km North of Punta Arenas. Can only be visited on an organized tour during the penguin season that runs from November through March.


King Penguin Colony, Tierra del Fuego:  Across the Magellan Strait from Punta Arenas on Tierra del Fuego Island, 120km south east of Porvenir is a King Penguin Colony  at the mouth of the River Marazzi. Full day tours are available from Punta Arenas during the season – November through March.




This town, 250km North West of Punta Arenas, was founded in the early 20th century mainly as a port for the sheep industry. It is now the gateway to the Torres del Paine National Park and as such counts on great infrastructure with hotels and restaurants for all tastes.

Located on the shores of Last Hope Sound, Puerto Natales has several activity options for those staying a day or two.


Muelle Historico / Historic Pier: Located on the Costanera at the entrance to the town, the remains of the pier are a hang out for the local cormorant population. There is also a wonderful panorama across the Last Hope Sound and if in luck the most incredible sunsets. Worth a stroll any time of the day.


Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers: Full day boat tours are available up Last Hope Sound to the Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers. Tours include lunch and a walk to the base of the Serrano Glacier and some day trips include a Patagonian barbeque… not to be missed. Frequency of tours depends on the time of the year.


Horse Riding: Patagonia is home to some fabulous horses and ranches. There are many options for half, full or multi-day riding tours in the countryside around Puerto Natales.


Mirador Cerro Dorotea / Dorotea Hill view point: Cerro Dorotea is a flat top hill that overlooks the town. The trailhead is a short taxi drive away. The trail itself heads up 600m and from the view oint there are spectacular views of the surrounding region, the town and last Hope Sound. The trek is around 1 1/2 hours and an entry fee (approx USD 5-10) is payable at the trailhead.


Both cities offer a good variety of accommodation and restaurants. If you are looking for suggestions on where to eat read our blog, Patagonia Restaurants – The best places to eat.

If you are planning to visit Patagonia do get in touch with us for help to organise your trip.


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