This beautiful city is located on the shores of the Strait of Magellan, just a few miles from Cape Froward, the southernmost point of the South American mainland. It’s one of Chile’s most important ports, and from its docks, boats set sail to Puerto Williams, Cape Horn, Antarctica, and other destinations. Its European-influenced architecture, its museums, and its cemetery tell the story of the city’s golden age, when the Strait of Magellan was the main route connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, before the Panama Canal opened in 1914.

Punta Arenas was the ancestral territory of the Aonikenk people, the Kawésqar people along the coastlines, and the Selknam people to the south, in Tierra del Fuego. In 1843, the history of the area changed dramatically, when the Chilean government took control of the Strait of Magellan and established a military presence with the construction of Fort Bulnes. In 1848, the city of Punta Arenas was incorporated. In 1877, 300 sheep were brought to the Islas Malvinas, fostering Punta Arenas’s role as a stronghold of wool and meat exports. The gold rush of the 1890s attracted more settlers, including people from Croatia, Spain, England, and Chiloé, all hoping to strike it rich. During World War I, the city welcomed European refugees.

Lodging, Food, and Activities

Punta Arenas has a wide variety of offerings for tourists, including cafés, restaurants, a casino, shopping centers, various museums, and travel agencies, along with large hotels and small lodging establishments with personalized service. For more information, visit:

Region

Punta Arenas

Province

Magallanes

Population

166.533

Climate and Rainfall

-

Nearest National Park(s)

Torres del Paine National Park

Pali Aike National Park

Kawésqar National Park

Alberto de Agostini National Park

Bernardo O’Higgins National Park

Cabo de Hornos National Park

Parque Nacional Yendegaia

Don’t Miss

  • Go to the Plaza de Armas (town square) and kiss the foot of the statue «La Figura del Indio.» Legend has it that if you do this, you’ll return to the Patagonia.
  • Explore the various museums in the city, including: Recuerdo, Salesianos, Braun-Mendéndez, and Nao Victoria. You can also visit the Sara Braun Palace. Sara Braun was a Russian woman who arrived in Punta Arenas in 1874 and married José Nogueria, one of the area’s pioneers of sheep farming.
  • Visit the Punta Arenas cemetery, named one of the beautiful in South America.
  • Walk on the road that runs along the shoreline to take in the beauty of the Strait of Magellan.
  • Hike to the lookout point on the La Cruz hill for a panoramic view of the city, along with Tierra del Fuego, Mount Sarmiento, and the Brunswick Peninsula.
  • Explore the forests of the Magallanes National Reserve and visit the Laguna Parrillar National Reserve, located 32 miles from Punta Arenas.
  • Take a day trip to Fort Bulnes, the geographic center of the country, and Puerto del Hambre (Port Hunger), where Captain Sarmiento de Gamboa led an ill-fated attempt to settle the area in 1584.
  • Hike the Cape Froward Historical Route, a can’t-miss trip for anyone who loves trekking.
  • Visit the Isla Magdalena Natural Monument, home to an estimated 60,000 pairs of Magellanic Penguins. You can organize your tour through various local companies.
  • Visit Pali Aike National Park, located 118 from Punta Arenas.
  • Explore the 93 miles that separate the city and Isla Riesco, the land access point from Kawésqar National Park.
  • Take part in an expedition to Francisco Coloane Marine Park, which surrounds Carlos III Island and is a 6-hour boat ride from Punta Arenas.

How to get

Punta Arenas is located 153 miles from Puerto Natales; 1,356 miles from Puerto Montt; and 1,920 miles from Santiago de Chile. You can get there from Puerto Natales, via Route 9, or from Argentina, through the Dorotea Pass, the Casas Viejas Pass, the Río Don Guillermo Pass near Cerro Castillo, the Integración Austral Pass, or the San Sebastián Pass near Tierra del Fuego.

Various bus connections are available to and from Punta Arenas. The main routes are Punta Arenas–Puerto Natales (Buses Fernández, Buses Pacheco, and Bus Sur), Punta Arenas–Ushuaia (Buses Pacheco, with a connection via Buses Líder), Punta Arenas Río–Gallegos (Buses Barría Ghisoni, El Pingüino), Punta Arenas–Osorno–Puerto Montt–Ancud–Castro (Queilen Bus), Punta Arenas–Osorno (Turibus), and Punta Arenas–Puerto Montt (Pullman Bus).

Various ferries leave from Punta Arenas and nearby areas to set out for Tierra del Fuego. You can check schedules for ferries crossing the Strait of Magellan and arriving at Porvenir at the following website: http://www.tabsa.cl/portal/index.php/es/servicios/3-cruce-p-arenas-porvenir. You can also check schedules for the ferry between Punta Delgada and Cerro Sombrero at: http://www.tabsa.cl/portal/index.php/es/servicios/2-cruce-primera-angostura.

Ferries are also available between Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams, a voyage of around 32 hours. Find out more at: http://www.tabsa.cl/portal/index.php/es/horarios/12-horarios-p-arenas-williams.

Finally, various cruise ships make the trip between Punta Arenas and Ushuaia and offer trips to and from Punta Arenas to visit Alberto de Agostini National Park and Cape Horn. Find out more at: (https://www.australis.com/site/).

Various airlines offer daily flights to Punta Arenas, and LATAM Airlines offers direct flights to Puerto Natales during tourist high season. Dap Airlines offers twice-weekly flights between Balmaceda and Punta Arenas.

The direct flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas takes 3.5 hours.

Tips

  • The median temperature in Punta Arenas is 35 degrees Fahrenheit in August and 64 degrees Fahrenheit in January.
  • Find more information about border crossings at http://www.pasosfronterizos.gov.cl.
  • The wind in Punta Arenas is intense and very frequent in summer. It can reach up to 93 miles per hour. Come prepared and bring appropriate clothing.
  • There are gas stations and currency exchange offices in Punta Arenas.
  • The entrance fee to Pali Aike National Park is $1,500 CLP for Chileans and $3,000 CLP for foreigners. Bring cash.
  • The road from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas is paved.
  • There are various options for car rentals in Punta Arenas, and in the Punta Arenas airport, you can also find the following options: http://www.aeropuertodepuntarenas.cl/es/?cat=137&scat=821&template=2&nombre_seccion=Transporte/%20Rent%20a%20car.
  • The Hospital Clínico de Punta Arenas is located at: Los Flamencos 1364 / phone: (+56) 61 2293000.

Basic Services

  • Gas Station
  • ATM
  • Bank
  • Hospital
  • Auto Repair Shop
  • Bike Repair Shop
  • Cell Service
  • Police Station
  • Visitor’s Center
  • Airport
  • Conaf (Park Rangers)

Visitor’s Center

Address: Plaza Benjamín Muñoz Gamero s/n.
Phone: (+56) 61) 2200610

www.puntaarenas.cl

The Sernatur (National Tourism Service) office is located at Monseñor José Fagnano 643.

Important Dates

In June, the community celebrates the winter solstice, and in July, they hold a Winter Carnival and the Patagonian Folkloric Festival.

In Villa Tehuelches, 62 miles south of Punta Arenas, the community holds a Shearing Festival in January. Also in January, you can attend the pilgrimage to the Virgin of Montserrat.

Each summer, in Punta Arenas, locals hold a festival celebrating traditions from Chiloé, including shows and demonstrations that celebrate its gastronomy, art, and music.

In Cerro Sombrero, Tierra del Fuego, the community holds a rural Shepherd Festival.

In the San Gregorio community, locals hold a celebration of their town with equestrian shows, traditional games, and various other activities.

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