Punta Arenas is the regional capital of the Magallanes y Antártica Region located in Chilean Patagonia. Punta Arenas (formerly Punta Arenosa, "Sandy Point") is located on the Brunswick Peninsula and was founded in the 17th century by Englishman J. Byron who gave it the name of Sandy Point. With a population of around 125,000 (2015), it is the largest settlement on the Strait of Magellan and is located 1418 km from the coast of Antarctica. The history and economic growth of the city is based on maritime commerce, oil extraction, and sheep breeding.
The city has all kinds of facilities, in particular an abundance of banks, shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, hiking gear shops and a duty free zone called "Zona Franca".
Don't trust the weather forecast, usually you can get rain, wind, and sun all in the same day. Snow is always expected to fall in the winter.
Punta Arenas can be reached by air, land, or sea.
- 1 Airport, Presidente Ibanez Apo (20 km north of city), ☎ . "Carlos Ibañez del Campo" is the international airport north of the city with connections to Puerto Montt and Santiago. Planes are met by taxis and shuttles making it easy to transfer to downtown Punta Arenas in no more than 15 minutes. The airport is served by LATAM Chile and Sky Airlines and is rather sleepy.
Despite its designation as a regional capital, there is no centralized bus station in Punta Arenas. Bookings should be made at the offices of the bus companies.
- There are frequent departures to Ushuaia, Argentina, that take about 11 hours.
- Turibus and Quielen Bus have departures to Punta Arenas from Osorno crossing through Argentina. The trip takes about 36 hours, but it largely depends on how quickly you get through the two border crossings.
- Rio Gallegos
- There are multiple departures and arrivals daily to and from Puerto Natales.
The city is built around its main square "Plaza de Armas" where the imposing monument of Hernando de Magallanes is located. There is also a monument of a Magellan native, or Ona, that according to local legend if a tourist touches his foot it will return once again to the city. Another local legend to come back to the city is to eat Magellan Barberries (calafate), similar to blueberries.
Many of the main public buildings such as the town hall or the Union Club (Club de la Union) are found around Plaza de Armas. In general, Punta Arenas is compact and walkable, but it can get really windy. You will only need transportation for lengthier trips outside of it. For these trips, you can ask for a cab (taxi), a minivan (minibus), or a collective taxi (colectivo).
- A 10 minute walk from the Plaza de Armas, the Hill of the Cross viewpoint (Cerro de la Cruz) gives a panoramic view of the city.
- [dead link] Austral Brewery (Cerveceria Austral), Patagonia 508, ☎ . Come learn and enjoy the traditional production process and a beer tasting session at the southernmost brewery in the world. Call ahead for tour times and availability (minimum 2 people). Lasts 60-90 minutes and tastings are generous with their pours. CLP$4,000.
- Regional Museum, with historical artifacts and part of the Braun-Menéndez Mansion
- 1 Museo del Recuerdo, Avenida Bulnes 01890, ☎ . M-F 08:30-11:00, 14:30-18:00. Houses an outstanding collection of old steam engines, horsecarts, cars, historic houses furnished in the 1870s and farm implements.
- Visit the numerous lighthouses in and outside of the city, such as Faro San Isidro and Faro Punta Dungeness.
- The Shepherds' monument is a traditional monument located on Avenida Bulnes 11 blocks away from the Plaza de Armas. It is one of the many traditional places of the city.
- 2 Maggiorino Borgatello Museum, Avenida Bulnes 336, ☎ . 10:00-12:30, 15:00-18:00. Tu-Su A Salesian Society museum of natural history and pre-Colombian ethnic groups. 2.000.
- 3 Punta Arenas Cemetery, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 07:30-20:00. Famous for its magnificent mausoleums, architecture, and shaped pine trees, the municipal cemetery dates back to the 1840s and is blessed with the remains of many local aristocratic families, as well as English and Croatian immigrants.
- 4 Museo Nao Victoria, Km 7.5 Norte (In Sector Humedal de Tres Puentes), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 09:00-19:00 Daily. A nautically-themed museum that hosts replicas of the Nao Victoria, James Caird, Schooner Ancud and is building the first ever replica of the HMS Beagle. To arrive take the bus with destination Río Seco from the corner of Chiloé and Ignacio Carrera Pinto in town for $400. $1.000-3.000.
- Seno Otway penguin rookery. 70 km north of the city, each spring Seno Otway hosts hundreds of Magellan Penguins returning home to their birth place to breed. Many travel agencies offer day trips from Punta Arenas that leave you very little time at the colony, so it's best to visit in your own car. As of 2018, there have been multiple reports that penguins no longer have a colony at this location. Check with locals before planning a visit.
- Isla Magdalena Pinguinera (penguin rookery). A 5-hour trip. Two hours each way by boat and one hour on the island. Humans must stay on the path, but the penguins ignore it and will practically step on your feet as they waddle by. October - April. 61.000.
There’s a small open market ("feria") for touristy merchandise downtown. You can find department stores, supermarkets, and a lot of outdoors shops (like Timberland and The North Face) on Calle Bories nearby.
There is a large outlet mall on the outskirts of the city, called "Zona Franca", a duty-free zone, with supermarkets, perfume, clothing, and outdoor stores, all with very reasonable prices. Also on the outskirts of the city, the Mall Espacio Urbano Pionero (Pioneer Urban Space Mall) offers three department stores (Falabella, Ripley and La Polar), a food court, various smaller stores, and a "Lider" supermarket.
- Open Market. Muñoz Gamero Main Square, Downtown.
- Zona Franca Outlet Mall. Km 3 1/2 Norte, Bulnes Av.
- Espacio Urbano Pionero Mall. 01110, Eduardo Frei Av.
- Kiosko Roca, Presidente Julio Roca 875, ☎ . M-F 07:00-19:00, Sa 08:00-13:00. A very small place located near the Plaza de Armas. Here you can eat "choripan", grilled sausage on French bread, and "leche con plátano" a milk beverage with the addition of bananas. The food is so good that the place is full almost all day.
- Dino's Pizza, Bories 557, ☎ . M W F 12:00-23:00, Th F 12:00-00:00, Su 12:30-22:30. Locally famous pizza and sandwich restaurant. Try the delicious rhubarb juice or a "Barros Luco" (a beef and cheese sandwich).
- La Chocolatta, Bories 852, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A grandma-style café, very cozy and usually full, that serves a large variety of homemade chocolates, ice cream, tea, and coffee.
- La Luna, O'Higgins 1017, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Special cuisine made with fresh regional products. Its specialties are seafood and lamb.
- Puerto Viejo Seafood and Grill, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Fresh and savory food focusing on fish and seafood, and a variety of grill dishes that includes the famous Magellan lamb.
- El Remezón Restaurant, Calle 21 de Mayo 1469, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Magellian Ethnic Food in a warm environment.
The city is also known for its number of cafés, to name a few:
- [dead link] Café Pub Cyrano, Bulnes 299, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy a fabulous "Twinnings" teapot or one of its varieties of coffee or chocolate drinks with local pastries. Good coffee and Wi-Fi access.
- Santo Remedio, Bulnes 040. Local pastries, in the evening it becomes a pub and serves good "tablas" and "picoteos" (snack platters).
- La Marmita, Plaza Sampaio 678, ☎ . La Marmita has trendy decor, awesome food, and an all-around great atmosphere. An awesome place to relax with friends or family after a day of activity. A great find and a great choice for vegetarians.
- [dead link] Jekus, O'Higgins 1021, ☎ . Daily 10:00-15:00. A restaurant/pub with good service and creatively decorated inside with beautiful wood carvings. Good selection of wines and beers. Unfortunately the food is boring with soup from packets not quite dissolved and basic meat and potatoes entrees. Offers excellent salmon ceviche. CLP$15,000.
- 1900 Pub, Avenida Colón 617, ☎ . Daily 10:00-02:00. A small place located in the Tierra Del Fuego Hotel in the center of the city.
- Bull Blood, Avenida España 0480, e-mail: email@example.com. Nice environment, with great drinks and food. It has a small dance hall and karaoke all night.
- [dead link] Kamikaze Club and Madero Pub, Bories 655. Japanese World War II-themed nightclub may be unusual but makes for an entertaining evening. The pub plays a mixture of Western/Latin and Reggaeton music is played into the early hours and is attended by enthusiastic locals and tourists alike. At the top is the "Madero Pub", with karaoke and live music. Cover includes a free drink but is a bit expensive at CLP$6,000 on the weekends.
- Notre Dame, Croacia 1007, ☎ . A nice place to have a drink with friends, this place gets busy every day after about 23:00. Karaoke on the main floor Friday and Saturday nights.
- Olijoe Pub, Errázuriz 970, ☎ . A traditional local venue, it has a big bar made of wood from "lenga", the signature tree of the region.
- Santino Bar e Cucina, Colon 657, ☎ . Daily 18:00-03:00. Quality Italian food and good drinks alongside stunning decor. Live music on Saturdays.
Punta Arenas has all types of lodging, from inexpensive backpackers hostels with shared everything, international chain hotels and unique boutique and design hotels. Beds fill up in the high season during austral summer (around Christmas, New Year's and early January), so book early.
- [dead link] Tragaluz Pagagonia, Mejicana 1194, ☎ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Each room has been individually designed and is full of creative details. Breakfast features real coffee, real squeezed orange juice, fresh fruit, whole grain bread, and a tasty omelete. Six-person Jacuzzi inside a greenhouse in the patio. Tragaluz means skylight in Spanish, and here the creative light will brighten your stay. Instant online reservation system on the website. US$100-110.
- Hostal Patagónico, Natalio Brzovic 01242, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Quiet family-style accommodation. It has five rooms all with private bath. Close to transportation, supermarkets (For example Unimarc, which is about 2 blocks away.), restaurants, the Zona Franca, and the hospital. The manager is very friendly and helpful, and will answer questions about the city. Manager's son has even been known to take people around town himself to practice his English. CLP$20,000-40,000.
- Hostal Maria Isabel, Arauco 1066, ☎ . Dorms and doubles at a central location, kitchen access, free internet, lots of warm water. A friendly, well-heated place.
- Hospedaje Costanera, Rómulo Correa 1221, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. A very friendly, well-heated place located a 10-minute walk from the bus station includes breakfast, kitchen access, free internet, a lot of hot water, and laundry service. English is spoken. CLP$6,000-7,000.
- [dead link] Hotel Patagonia Pionera, Arauco 786, ☎ . Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Located in a quiet and safe residential area of Punta Arenas, the hotel is blessed by its proximity to downtown and to Cerro de la Cruz, the main high point in town with an exclusive panoramic view of the city and the Strait of Magellan. This boutique hotel offers comfort and privacy in an authentic and magnificent European-style house, a relic of the pioneer era in the early 20th century. US$110-140.
- Hostal De La Patagonia, O'Higgins 730, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A quiet, clean, comfortable mid-range place. Within walking distance of the Strait of Magellan and the Buses Pacheco terminal. Free internet and abundant hot water.
- Hostal Patagonia House, Avenida Independencia 413, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Quiet, clean, seven minutes from the main square. Free internet and kitchen access. CLP$6,000.
- Hospedaje Independencia, Avenida Independencia 374. Friendly but very cramped. Kitchen is small and stove is very slow. CLP$2,500 (camping).
- 1 Hostal Maipu Streeet, Maipu 1270, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Hostal Maipu Street is located in the city of Punta Arenas overlooking the Magellan Strait. There are more than 10 rooms and apartments to choose among, depending on your needs. Guests have total independence with their respective keys. The staff can provide information about the area and around Patagonia and are able to book trips for you. Rooms are equipped with their own private bathroom with shower, free WiFI, satellite TV with LCD TVs, a central heating system, a safety box and private secure parking plot free of charge for guests. Daily cleaning of your apartment. Breakfast is included in the price between 08:00-10:00. You can also prepare your own food if needed. Some of the apartments have a small frigobar and a kitchenette. Foreigners do not pay Chilean tax when booking with this hostel (21%).
Punta Arenas is the launching point for various expeditions to (relatively) nearby Antarctica.
- [formerly dead link] Parque Marino Francisco Coloane. Whale watching off the southeastern point of Carlos III Island. Only accessible by guided boat or kayak tour from December until the fall.
- Rey Jorge Island Natural Sea Park (whale observation).
- Fuerte Bulnes, a historical reconstruction of the site were Chile took possession of the Strait of Magellan.
- Torres del Paine National Park, near Puerto Natales.
- Seno Skyring
- Reserva Nacional Magallanes, located 8 km from the center of town, this national nature reserve is covered by lenga (a species of southern beech, Nothofagus pumilio) and provides a beautiful overview of the city.
- Cabo Froward, the southernmost point of mainland South America. Can be reached overland or by kayak. There are numerous companies in town that lead guided expeditions.
- Puerto del Hambre, an early Spanish colony which failed and under the name of Port Famine became a Royal Navy base. It was here that Captain Pringle Stokes, the captain of HMS Beagle, shot himself in his cabin due to severe depression and temporary command was given to Lieutenant W.G. Skyring. Stokes' fatal depression was attributed to the boring nature of the local geography.
- Estancia Lolita, Ruta 9 Norte km 42, ☎ . A beautiful place for watching different species of native animals and birds.
- Pali Aike National Park, San Gregorio (By car, take Route 9 North and then Route CH225 to the Aymond Mount custom border, and then to Punta Delgada.). description CLP$1,000.