Punta Arenas. PUQ
I have recently been asked by a lot of people what to do in Punta Arenas so I thought why not make a guide!
Personally, I turn to blogs all the time for travel advice so here is my input on a little city at the end of the world, Punta Arenas, Chile.
How much time do you need in Punta Arenas?
2-3 days. One, if you want to simply see the city, though 2-3 consisting of tours is ideal.
City exploration and penguins.
Wake up in your hostel (sadly I have no recommendations for this but anything near the plaza is a good location!) enjoy hostel breakfast or plan to go to a café. Café Tostado on Magallanes, a block from the plaza, has a great breakfast deal 2,100-2,800 pesos for eggs, toast and coffee/tea. Café Tapiz, on Roca street is a little more expensive but has a very unique style, inviting atmosphere, great decor and delicious food/ fresh juices. I would highly recommend Tapiz, for any meal of the day! History Coffee located on Calle Lautaro Navarro has great crepes, jucies and coffee; the atmosphere is nothing special but it does have wifi. Most places open around 9am.
After breakfast head to the cemetery. Cemeterio Municipal. It is beautiful, spend some time strolling through the almost eerily huge cemetery, spotting pictures of the deceased and multiple story mausoleums. (30-45 minutes) From the plaza it will take 15-20 minutes to walk here. (Total time 1 hour)
If you wish to see a museum, the Salesian museum is very close to the cemetery and is full of interesting history of Magallanes.It is located across the street, connected to Maria Auxiliadora Church which you cannot miss. (time dependent, and only if you enjoy museums.)
Now it is 12:00 or so and you are planning to see the penguins at Isla Magdalena!
Time to head back to the plaza area and eat lunch.
Experience a Chilean favorite, choripan/ queso and leche con platano! Go to Roca Street and find Kiosko Roca. It is very popular among both locals and tourists, and about one block off of the plaza in the direction of the water. Here they have two menu items, banana milk and a sandwich. It is a must while in Punta Arenas and so delicious. If you eat meat, get the choripan or choriqueso and a glass of leche con platano, if you are like me simpy get the pan con queso no chori. Warning you will need 2 sandwiches if you are hungry (maybe 3, maybe 4). This is fast, easy and always filled with Chileans, so it is authentic. I have stopped in for a glass of the leche multiple times because it is pretty addicting. It is just a bar and usually very crowded so you may ever want it “para llevar” (to go).
Now, let’s say it is 1:30. Go across the street from Kiosko Roca and walk into Confiteria Cohen. Ask for an “alfajor” and enjoy 🙂
Make your way back to the plaza, walk through the center area to see the statue, maybe take a picture kissing the foot and sit at a bench to people watch. Next catch a cab or colectivo to Tres Puentes around 2pm.
INFO about Isla Magdelena.
The ferry leaves at 3 and returns at 8 every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. If you are not in town on one of these days, there are tour companies who leave in the morning on the off days and take you to 2 islands, for a higher price so you will need to look into that. There is a small snack bar on the ferry but you should bring a few granola bars or some kind of food! (Schedule is different depending on month)
You will need a ticket before hand which almost every tour company sells or you can buy through the ferry directly in an office. I would suggest doing this before coming to Punta Arenas or simply stopping into any tourism office you see while walking around in the morning.
You board the ferry at 2:30 so I would suggest hoping in a taxi or colectivo #15 by 2:00. To get a colectivo, head to Magallanes street because those are going in the direction of the Port, Tres Puentes.
Enjoy Isla Magdalena because it is amazing and the penguins are everywhere. You take a 2 hour ferry, arrive at a small island with nothing but a simple red and white light house and many many penguins. They walk along the human walking path, look you in the eyes and seem to not be phased by human presence. It is so worth the 25,000-35,000 pesos.
You will dock around 8pm and likely be ready to eat! It has been a busy day so hey why not grab a local beer! Hop in colectivo 15 or a taxi until you reach Bar Bulnes. here you can enjoy pizza and home-brewed beer.
After this, head back to the hostel and if you wish to go out you can always check out Casino Dreams! Santino’s on Colon street is great place to grab a casual drink or stay at Bar Bulnes because it is a fun crowd near the University of Magallanes.
Start your day off with an early view of the city! If your hostel has breakfast, perfect, or go to one of the cafes I mentioned or anything you walk past.
Mirrador Cerro la Cruz. To get here, simply walk up Jose Menendez until you see it. It takes about 10 minutes. Even better, walk to the base before the stairs of the cross then turn left (facing cross) and walk to a better lookout point with arrows pointing to cities all over the world. From here you can see how colorful Punta Arenas is, Tierra Del Fuego and the Estrecho de Magallanes. Take some pics, enjoy the view and picture yourself on a map; it will give you chills.
Take a leisure stroll back towards the plaza and go into the Museo Regional de Magallanes, or Palacio Sara Braun. Both are houses of the Braun family who economically ruled Punta Arenas during the city’s boom. They are beautiful and shed a lot of light into the history of Magallanes! They are very similar so just going to one will do.
If you have time, head down to the water. One of my favorite things is sitting at the water, birdwatching (thought they were penguins my first day) and feeling the strong wind while studying the cargo ships coming to dock. In my opinion this is the essence of Punta Arenas, a city which flourished all because of that port located at the end of it all. You are sitting in extreme southern Patagonia, in capital of the most isolated region of Chile; it’s pretty crazy.
Next, walk up to O’Higgins street, only a street up from the water and pick a place to eat lunch! La Luna, seems great from what I’ve heard and has a very inviting atmosphere. There are many restaurants in that area so see what seems the best to you!
Hopefully you are able to visit Fuerte Bulnes on this day. It is about 45 minutes outside of the city and a must. You need to take a bus or a tour there so I would suggest figuring this out online before your trip. It is possible that you have to go in the morning so if that is true, just swap it with the mirrador and then do the mirrador in the afternoon instead. (Look into bus Fernandez)
Fuerte Bulnes has views of beautiful Patagonian mountains, is loaded with history and I highly recommend it.
For dinner, head to La Marmita! Absolutely delicious food, a funky atmosphere and very vegetarian friendly (although all my friends ate guanaco.) For dessert get calafate anything because calafate is a berry native to this area.
(Or go to La Perla! Description when you scroll down)
Assuming that you will be off to Natales for Torres del Paine, this is a great goodbye to Punta Arenas. Bus Sur and Bus Fernandez frequently go to Natales (3hrs away). You have to go to their hubs because Punta Arenas does not have a main bus terminal.
Armaranta Tea House: real tea (loose) and great cakes. They also have a 5,000 pesos lunch deal. (Meal, tea/ juice and cake). Love the atmosphere, you can even color your own mandala for them to hang up! (I did this yesterday)
Café Inmigrante: Opens at 3:00 and has amazing cakes/ coffees and teas. Great atmosphere and owned by Croatian immigrants.
La Perla Del Estrecho: Highly recommend for dinner! You should pick between here and La Marmita. It has a GREAT atmosphere, live music and an “off to sea” vibe. The calafate sours are delicious and hand blended. The walls are full of caricatures and you can even sit in a boat for your meal.
Dino’s Pizza: A favorite in Punta Arenas, I suggest getting a sandwich. Personally, I did not think the pizza was great but it is filled with locals and the sandwiches looked much better. I’ve heard great things about the meat! Atmosphere is nice too.
Things to try!
Cerveza de Punta Arenas:
- Hernando de Magallanes (Rubio, Negro, IPA which is Rojo)
- Austral (Calafate, Yagan, Lager, Patagona, Torres del Paine)
- Calafate- need to try! A Blue Moon-esque beer with hints of calafate berry
- Yagan- my favorite, a stout
- Torres del Paine- good, bigger and more alcohol
- Bar Bulnes Brews! Go and try them 🙂
In general, Punta Arenas is a small, quaint, pretty city and the capital of the region of Magallanes. I suggest making sure you have at least half a day to explore Puerto Natales also because in my opinion Natales is much prettier, being that it has the typical Patagonian mountains as its backdrop.
Beware of the wind! You will likely see ropes put up to help you walk without falling over.
Buen Viaje 🙂