Home to colonial mansions, tree-lined squares and national parks, this remote Chilean city is also a gateway to the fascinating Tierra del Fuego.
The isolated city of Punta Arenas faces the icy waters of the Strait of Magellan. Discover colonial palaces, superb museums, discounted shopping and curious sights, including an architecturally impressive cemetery. Punta Arenas is the capital of the Magallanes province in Chile’s remote southern Patagonia region. It started as a 19th-century pioneer city and today is a relaxed, windswept destination popular with adventurer seekers.
Start your visit at the tree-shaded central square, Plaza Muñoz Gamero. Browse the stalls of a handicraft market and admire the elegant Cathedral of Punta Arenas. Framing the plaza are ostentatious mansions, including Palacio Sara Braun and Casa Braun-Menéndez, built by wealthy immigrants. The well-preserved rooms of these mansions offer a glimpse into the life of the city’s aristocracy.
Discover the area’s pioneer past and sheep-farming heritage at the Museo Regional de Magallanes. Spot historical naval artifacts at Museo Naval y Maritimo.
Visit Punta Arenas Cemetery, a short walk from the main square. Note the elaborate tombs of former city residents as you stroll along leafy paths. Nearby is the Monumento al Ovejero, a sculpture dedicated to sheep and cattle farming.
Punta Arenas is a Free Trade Zone, great for finding bargain prices. Shop for tax-free clothes, electronics, perfumes, shoes and souvenirs at Zona Franca shopping complex.
Explore the breathtaking Patagonia landscapes on daytrips. Go hiking and mountain biking through the forests of Reserva Forestal Magallanes. Camp, fish and trek in Reserva Nacional Laguna Parrillar. Visit Seno Otway Penguin Colony between September and April to spot thousands of Magellanic penguins.
Reach Punta Arenas by flying from Santiago or take a multiday cruise from Puerto Montt, passing spectacular channels and fjords. Visit from October to April to benefit from sunnier days and limited rain. Enjoy a walk along the waterfront when the sun shines. From here, boats cross the Strait of Magellan to the barren wilderness of Tierra del Fuego.