Torres del Paine National Park

City of Punta Arenas, Chile

Cerro de la Cruz, Punta Arenas, Chile.
ravel Agency & Tour Operator in Patagonia
Punta Arenas is the capital of Magallanes and the Chilean Antarctic Region. It is an interoceanic port located on the continental shore of the Strait of Magellan, at a point almost equidistant between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, 90 kilometers from Cape Froward, the southernmost point of the American continent. 

Although Patagonia, as a bi-national region, does not have a capital city per se, Punta Arenas is often referred to as the 'Capital of Patagonia' due to its strategic location, commercial significance, and historical importance. The estimated population in 2021 was 135,321. The straight-line distance to the capital, Santiago, is 2,197.39 km, while the route distance is just over 3,000 km.      
The city was founded in 1848, and its first settlers came from the island of Chiloé in southern Chile. Since then, this migration flow has been constant. There is also a strong influence of European settlers who, together with the Chileans, populated this part of the country in the early twentieth century. Croatian immigration played a decisive role in the development of the Magallanes region and the city in particular. Additionally, the traces of hundreds of English, German, Italian, Swiss, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and other settlers can be seen.
The name of many geographical locations in the region, are a clear expression of how hard was for the first explorers and inhabitants their life in Punta Arenas and surroundings. As an example we can find places like Puerto del Hambre (Port Famine), Paso Tortuoso (Tortuous Pass), Golfo de Penas (Gulf of Surrows), Cape Froward, Ultima Esperanza (Las Hope Province), Seno Obstruction (Obstruction Inlet), Bahia Inutil (Useless Bay), etc. Through its history, Punta Arenas and the region in general, have had periods of economic boom such as the Gold rush of the nineteenth century, the rise of cattle ranching, the time of Black Gold (crude oil), the period of the Free Port, the creation of the Duty- Free Zone, and it can also be mentioned the good times that the tourism industry has experienced in recent years.

It is also worth mentioning that Punta Arenas is currently considered a city of great future and economic progress, based on the installation of industries on a global scale which will produce the clean energies required by the modern world, namely green hydrogen, e-fuels and ammonia on a large scale including the necessary expansion of ports for export.

Regarding climate, Winter temperatures are generally low, the average does not exceed 6°C, with a low that sometimes can be less than -10°C. In summer (December-February) the medium temperature exceeds 10°C., with exceptions of 24-25°C. The wind that until recently was typical of the Spring-Summer season, can now appear at any time of the year, easily reaching 100 km / hour. 

Saint-Exupéry and his relationship with Punta Arenas and Patagonia

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the famous author of "The Little Prince", the most translated and sold book after the Bible, had a remarkable but little known relationship with Punta Arenas. During his tenure as an airmail pilot with Aeropostale, he flew routes throughout the Argentine-Chilean Patagonia. During his time with Aeropostale, between 1929 and 1931, Saint-Exupéry made air mail flights linking the Argentine cities of Buenos Aires and Comodoro Rivadavia and in Chilean territory, Punta Arenas was a key destination.

Saint-Exupéry's experiences flying over the vast and rugged landscapes of Patagonia greatly influenced his writing. His adventures and the places he visited in the area served as inspiration for some of his literary works. In Punta Arenas, his legacy is honored with a square  located in the median strip of Bulnes Avenue. This historical connection enriches the cultural tapestry of the city, making it a compelling destination for visitors interested in both history and literature​.


Places to visit in Punta Arenas and surroundings:

Plaza Muñoz Gamero

Plaza Muñoz Gamero, city of Punta Arenas.
Plaza Muñoz Gamero, Punta Arenas  
Image: - Tourism in Patagonia & Antarctica

Currently, the city has grown in all directions, the Costanera del Estrecho (Waterfront Ave.) bordering the Strait of Magellan is one of the places to be visited but the Plaza de Armas (Main Square), marks the civic and historical center of the city and almost always, the first place where tourists go. In the center of the Plaza stands the monument in honor of the discoverer of the Strait, the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, which was donated by the wealthy businessman Jose Menendez, on the occasion of the fourth centenary of the discovery of the Strait of Magellan. 

The monument also highlights a Tehuelche Indian, an old tradition says that if the toe of the Tehuelche is kissed by the visitor, he will surely return to Punta Arenas, The square is named after the governor Benjamin Muñoz Gamero, who found tragic death in the bloody mutiny led by Lieutenant José Miguel Cambiazo in 1851. Surrounded by well-maintained historic buildings, that reflect the origin of the city as the economic capital of southern Patagonia to the present day.

Maggiorino Borgatello Salesian Museum


Address: 336 Bulnes Av., adjacent to "Maria Auxiliadora Don Bosco" Catholic temple, created by the Salesian priest Father Maggiorino Borgatello in 1893. 

Through its galleries you will take a journey through more than 100 years of history of southern Patagonia, in one of the most comprehensive museums of its kind in Chile. The gallery consists of an interesting exhibition of what were the religious Missions in Patagonia, paleontology, ethnography, flora and stuffed animals, the Antarctic Territory, regional oil industry, etc.
 Museo del Recuerdo

(Museum of Memories), belonging to the Instituto de la Patagonia. Address: 01890 Bulnes Av., just across the Duty Free facilities. This outdoor museum, receives a large number of national and foreign visitors, especially in Spring, Summer and Autumn seasons. It has 8 wooden heritage buildings, 40 old transport vehicles, machinery and countless tools, associated mainly to the work of livestock as well the replica of an oil derrick of early last century, with a height of 16 meters, built with lenga wood and steel, all the collection of immense historical value for the region. 

Museo Regional de Magallanes

Magallanes Regional Museum in Punta Arenas.

   Address: 949 Magallanes St., at Braun- Menendez Palace, just half block away from the Main Square, built in 1903 and recently renovated, this mansion was built entirely with materials, furniture and decorative objects brought from Europe. In 1974 the luxurious palace was declared a National Historic Monument, in 1983 the heirs of the Braun Menendez family decided to donate the property to the Chilean state in exchange for its restoration and maintenance, then the collections exhibited in the Museum of Patagonia were moved here. Today the museum includes archaeological, ethnographic, photographic and art collections covering from the first geographical discoveries until the mid-twentieth century.

Museo Naval y Maritimo de Punta Arenas

The gallery created in 1994 an run by the Chilean Navy, features different elements of the national and regional history, adventures on the high seas, exploration and discoveries. 

Currently, it has 11 permanent exhibition rooms that provide information on naval and maritime history, to name just a few, the history of Fuerte Bulnes, Chile's first stronghold on southern Patagonia; shipwrecks; the network of lighthouses along the Strait of Magellan or the feat of the Chilean Navy pilot Luis Pardo Villalon in the rescue of the Imperial Tras-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917) led by Sir Ernest Shackleton; the Antarctic room that shows different units that have participated in the expeditions to the White Continent, as well as a place specially dedicated to the 500th anniversary of the Strait of Magellan, among others.
Founded: November 4, 1994
Address: 981 Pedro Montt St.
Telephone:  569 4138 0335

Cementerio Municipal de Punta Arenas

   Officially "Sara Braun" Municipal Cemetery. In 2013, this graveyard was ranked sixth by CNN among the most beautiful in the World and most recently, the 2015, in first place by the newspaper "La Opinion" of Murcia, Spain. 

Located on Avenida Bulnes close to downtown, created in 1894 and National Monument since 2012. Its entrance is a monumental portico, donated by businesswoman lady Sara Braun, in 1919. It draws the attention the layout, of cypress-lined small avenues, monuments, chapels and mausoleums with marble and fine finishes, most of them belonging to pioneer families and institutions. In rare occasions a cemetery becomes a tourist attraction but this graveyard has a singular and strange beauty that has crossed the borders, becoming an obliged visit for tourists and pride of the city. It is included in most of the tourist circuits through the city.

Gastronomy and entertainment

Dreams Hotel & Casino

  If you want to enjoy food and entertainment in Punta Arenas, there are many places you can visit.

Some names: "Kiosco Roca", 875 Roca street. This very little restaurant was chosen as "La mejor picada de Chile" ("picada"= Chilean idiom meaning "place little known but highly recommendable"). Here you can order the specialty of the house: the "Choripan", a sandwich that consists of a strange combination of ground chorizo with mayonnaise which is recommended be accompanied with a glass of milk and banana. Cheap, tasty and it will not upset your stomach. If you visit Kiosco Roca, try to avoid peak hours, as it is generally crowded; La Luna Restaurant, 1017 O'Higgins street, with space-inspired décor, where you can try seafood, meat and vegetable dishes in different recipes, craft beer; Jekus Restaurant, 1021 O'Higgins street, another of the popular places of its kind in Punta Arenas with a varied wine and cocktail list, typical food of the region, vegetarian and vegan options; History Coffee, 1065 Lautaro Navarro street, in a very pleasant atmosphere, everything is nicely decorated; Sotito's Restaurant, 1138 O'Higgins street, nationally renowned, with a variety of regional dishes such as king crab, seafood, southern hake, roast lamb and a variety of side dishes, wines and cocktails; La Chocolatta, 852 Bories street, Swiss pioneer tradition with tasty hot chocolate, desserts, coffee and cakes, 1 1/2 block from the main square; Dino's Pizza, 557 Bories street, one of the iconic places to eat a delicious pizza or sandwich in downtown Punta Arenas; 5 Star Hotel-Casino Dreams del Estrecho, with bar, restaurants, spa, events and convention center. Just a few minutes from downtown Punta Arenas and with a beautiful view of the Strait of Magellan.  

Two blocks south of the Casino, is located the Mercado Municipal a place where you can buy mostly seafood, there are also stalls selling handicrafts, but one of the things that most attracts tourists are the "cocinerías", small but neat eateries or restaurants where you can taste a variety of seafood and typical Chilean cuisine. These cocinerias are located on the second floor. On the third one, there is a food court with panoramic view of the Strait of Magellan and Arturo Prat port. 

Zona Franca and Mall Espacio Urbano are important shopping centers visited by both locals and tourists and also offer entertainment, especially for children, and food courts.  

Nao Victoria Museum

Located on the shores of the Strait of Magellan, 7.5 km north of Punta Arenas. This museum opened in October 2011 owes its name to the main replica displayed in full size of the Spanish carrack "Nao Victoria", which commanded by the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan made the largest maritime achievement of that time, the first World circumnavigation, between 1519 and 1522. 

In the Museo Nao Victoria you can also see reproductions of other important ships that marked a milestone in regional and national history such as the "Goleta Ancud", schooner which was sent to take possession of the Strait of Magellan on behalf of the Chilean Government and brought the first immigrants at the beginning of the regional colonization in 1843; the "James Caird", a lifeboat that played a big role in the rescue of the crew of the "Endurance", ship belonging to Ernest Shackleton's Polar Expedition that had capsized in the Antartic. The original James Caird was taken from South Georgia Islands to England and now is on permanent display at Dulwich College, the old college of Shackleton. You can also visit the replica of the "HMS Beagle", a brig of the British Navy of 1820, which later became an exploration vessel, and made three trips, the most famous is the second one (1831- 1836), under the command of Captain Fitz Roy, with the young naturalist Charles Darwin on board, and when the Beagle stayed in the region for nearly three years.

Monument to the Shepherd

Monument to the Shepherd in Punta Arenas, Chile.
Monument to the Shepherd at Bulnes Avenue

       Located on the median strip of Bulnes Av., just opposite the Hospital de las Fuerzas Armadas. The "Monumento al Ovejero" consists of 12 full-scale figures made in bronze, 10 sheep, a horse and the shepherd. It is inspired by a real farmworker of the first half of the twentieth century. The first version of the sculpture was inaugurated in 1944 and the current representation dates back to 1963. The figure is representative of the most traditional economic activity within the regional history.

Monument to the Croatian Immigrant

The Croatian Immigrant Monument is located in the median strip of Bulnes Avenue, between El Ovejero and Hornillas streets. It pays homage to the largest immigration wave that arrived in the Region between the end of the nineteenth century until almost the middle of the twentieth century.

Monte Tarn Trekking Route

A little known expedition but with incredible views from the summit of Mount Tarn, 825 meters above sea level, located at the southern tip of the Brunswick Peninsula, the last portion of dry land in Chile and South America.

The hill is located just over 70 km south of Punta Arenas, after having passed historic sites such as Fort Bulnes (first Chilean settlement on the shores of the Strait of Magellan) and Puerto del Hambre, tragic Spanish colonization attempt of the place in 1584.

From the summit, you will be able to observe the Strait of Magellan, the Brunswick Peninsula, the San Isidro lighthouse, Dawson and Tierra del Fuego Islands, the imposing Mount Sarmiento and the Darwin Mountain Range. 

It should be noted that the place and its surroundings have a great tourist value, given both by the beauty of the landscape, its geographical location and the historical importance of being one of the mountains explored by the English naturalist Charles Darwin during his visit to the area in 1827. 

The excursion is carried out in the day, its realization depends on the weather conditions and the degree of difficulty is medium/high. Expeditions led by specialized guides are available at travel agencies in Punta Arenas. 

Fuerte Bulnes and Puerto del Hambre 

Situated 62 km. South of Punta Arenas, Fuerte Bulnes was a Military Fort founded in 1843 at the beginning of the colonization of Patagonia. For the centenary of its foundation, in 1943, it was restored and reinaugurated as a museum. The installation of the Fort was of great significance for the sovereignty of Chile on the Strait of Magellan as it is said that the next day that the first settlers arrived to what would be Fuerte Bulnes, the French boat Le Phaeton, with similar purpose for France, reached the place. Because of the inhospitable climate, it was not possible to establish a large and stable population, so in 1848 the little village moved further north, with better conditions and where the current city of Punta Arenas was founded. 

Located 2 km. away from Fuerte Bulnes, on the coast of Bahia Buena, are the remains of what was "Ciudad del Rey Don Felipe", settlement founded in March 1584, first and failed Spanish attempt to populate these southern lands. Because of the hostile climate and tremendous isolation of the place, the almost complete population of the village of 337 people, died of starvation. When the English privateer Thomas Cavendish arrived at the place in 1587, found only the remains of the unlucky colony and just one survivor, faced with such a grim scene Cavendish renamed the place as "Port Famine". The last survivor was found and picked up in early 1590 by the British ship The Delight.

Penguin Colony

During the Spring- Summer months (October to March), there are many sea tours departing from Punta Arenas to visit the "pinguineras" (Penguin Colonies) of Isla Magdalena. Magdalena Island is 35 km away from the city, officially named "Monumento Natural Los Pinguinos", being the largest Magellanic Penguin colony in Chile, gathering some 200,000 specimens. The duration of the tour is about 6 hours (round trip) and on the way you can see a variety of marine fauna such as Toninas Overas (Commerson's Dolphin), Sea Lions, birds such as the Imperial Cormorant. 

Sea voyages around Punta Arenas

Sea voyages around Punta Arenas, Chile.
ocal tourist agencies offer sea travels to visit and discover many places of great interest, either in the Strait of Magellan or the countless channels and fjords of the region. One of these can be performed with M/V Forrest Cruise Expeditions. There are several options to take, the main ones being the expedition in search of the presence of Humpback Whales in the vicinity of Carlos III Island; the visit to places of extraordinary and little known beauty such as the Glaciers of D' Agostini sound in Tierra del Fuego Island, Almirantazgo Sound on the West coast of Tierra del Fuego or the corners of Skyring, beautiful inlet of southern Patagonia, almost unexplored.

Club Andino de Punta Arenas

This Andean Club (although not precisely located on the Andes mountains) is located 8 km. West of the city, nestled on the slopes of Mount Fenton, better known as Cerro Mirador. It has a total area of 209 hectares, of which approximately 18 correspond to the ski tracks. Its highest point is 600 mts., from where you have a fantastic view of the Strait of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire Island). The facilities are located within the Reserva Forestal Magallanes (Magallanes Forest Reserve), also known as Parque Japones. There are 11 ski slopes to enjoy the excellent snow quality, depending on the conditions of each year, the best time should be July and August.

In the Spring- Summer season, visitors can enjoy chairlift rides, activity that often also enjoy hundreds of tourists from around the world when their ships are docked at the port of Punta Arenas, visitors can also take walks through the innumerable paths that cross the forests of the Reserva Forestal Magallanes, which have a varied flora and many bird species, practicing Canopy, Trekking, Mountain Biking, etc.

Magallanes Forest Reserve

Formerly called Parque Japones (Japanese Park). During the Spring- Summer season this beautiful protected area, very close to Punta Arenas, is covered with a rich native vegetation, which together with the passivity of the environment and the spectacular view from the top, make it a must for every visitor. Located just 7 km. from the city, the purpose of its creation in 1932 was to protect the basin of the Laguna Lynch, one of the main water sources of Punta Arenas. Within the reserve is the Club Andino, one of the few ski centers in the world with natural snow that overlooks the sea.

You might also be interested in:

Places to visit in the Strait of Magellan


  1. Great information about Punta Arenas friends! it will be very useful and we will share it with our customers. Thanks!

  2. How many deaths are associated with the weather conditions here each year? Please respond soon I need it for as project.

    1. Fortunately, in Punta Arenas, weather conditions result in a minimal number of deaths due to direct exposure to cold, typically fewer than 5 cases per year. However, there is an impact on the health and safety of the local population, particularly concerning traffic accidents, respiratory diseases, and other health issues that could potentially lead to fatal outcomes. While this percentage is not quantified, it may certainly contribute to an increase in the initial number.


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