Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Punta Arenas

  • Published 2022/01/08

In the southern tip of Chile lies the vibrant city of Punta Arenas.

This city, Chile’s Patagonia region capital, is also touted as the “Gateway to Antarctica” since it is the most common jumping point for many expeditions to this icy continent.

However, Punta Arenas has many beautiful attractions and exciting activities aside from being the gateway to Antarctica.

You don’t need to go further afield to find exciting things because the city has a lot of attractions to offer, from historical, natural, food, and culture that you’ll only find in Chile’s Patagonia region.

Before Punta Arenas became Antarctica’s gateway, it was a former port town thriving on the wool industry.

Today, it’s one of the Patagonia region’s best tourism destinations not entirely because of its proximity to Antarctica (882 miles) but because of its captivating beauty from well-preserved old buildings and unique Chilean culture.

You can sail across the Magellan Strait and be amazed at the majestic natural beauty of nearby islets and archipelagos.

Walk along Punta Arenas’s streets, where you’ll virtually be taken back to the old days as you come across old European-style architecture from its monuments, parks, and buildings.

If you’re into outdoor activities, you can head to the Torres del Paine, where you’ll be in awe of the marvelous snow-capped mountains, unspoiled terrains, and vast lakes.

Despite being away from Chile’s capital Santiago (1864.114 miles), you’ll find everything you’re looking for in Punta Arenas.

Now let’s look at the 15 best things to do in Punta Arenas.

Take Photos with Shipwrecks along the City’s Shores

Shipwrecks along shores of Punta Arenas

Dmitry Pichugin /

Historically, the Strait of Magellan was once a major shipping route wherein hundreds of ships passed through while some met their untimely demise due to bad weather and accidents.

Thus, Punta Arenas’s beaches and shorelines have dozens of partially submerged ships of all sizes, which is interesting.

Shipwrecks along shores of Punta Arenas

Fotografo de los Andes /

Today, these ships lie rusting on the city’s shorelines, adding more drama to its already scenic view.

One of the most famous sunken ships you can see up-close is Lord Lonsdale, a British ship from the Falkland Islands that sank along the shorelines of Punta Arenas.

Shipwrecks along shores of Punta Arenas

Uber Mancin /

Indulge in Local Delicacy at Kiosko Roca

Kioska Roca is a culinary institution in Punta Arenas because of its excellence in serving a one-of-a-kind gastronomic experience to everyone.

This family-owned Punta Arenas restaurant has been serving the locals and visitors since 1932.

It is very popular for its Magellanic Choripan paired with banana milk, where its old recipe was passed from generations of thsarae family.

The restaurant is also popular for its homemade sausages or chorizo and ‘chorisqueso.’

To sum it up, all of the food on its menu is a must-try if you want to taste traditional Chilean cuisine with a fusion of Spanish flavor.

Kioska Roca is located at Pdte. Julio A.Roca 875, Punta Arenas.

This restaurant opens from 7 am to 7 pm except on Sundays.

Visit the Palacio Sara Braun

Palacio Sara Braun

Galina Savina /

A great start in touring Punta Arenas is by visiting its old structures.

One of the oldest mansions in the city is the Palacio Sara Braun which is an 1800s colonial-style building.

It’s the only building along PL. Benjamin Muñoz Gamero street stood out from the rest.

Palacio Sara Braun

Sergey-73 /

This elegant mansion was the masterpiece of a French architect that served as the residence of one of Punta Arenas’s most notable families, Sara Braun and Jose Nogueira.

The mansion was eventually donated in 1983 by the family’s descendants to the Chilean State along with its original ornaments, interior furniture, and wares for preservation.

Visiting inside the Sara Braun Mansion is available the entire week from 10 am to 2 pm.

View of Palacio Sara Braun

Javier Mansilla G., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stay at the Hotel Isla Rey Jorge

Another nice place in Punta Arenas is the elegant and cozy Hotel Isla Rey Jorge.

This historic hotel is housed in an elegant European-style building from the early 1900s.

Aside from its elegant architecture, the hotel is well-known in Punta Arenas to be environmentally prohibiting the use of plastic materials entirely from its rooms to amenities.

Instead, the hotel management promotes sustainable and eco-friendly practices like using recyclable materials and using natural energy to power the hotel.

If you’re searching for entertainment during nighttime, the hotel is a stone’s throw away from Casino of Games, another popular entertainment hub in Punta Arenas.

If you want to stay at this magnificent hotel, it is located at Av, 21 de Mayo 1243, Punta Arenas.

Stroll along the Waterfront Promenade

Waterfront Promenade

Free Wind 2014 /

Punta Arenas faces the Strait of Magellan that leads to the South Pacific and the South Atlantic Oceans.

Thus, it boasts a scenic waterfront promenade.

Strolling or biking are the two most popular activities you can do in Punta Arenas’ Waterfront Promenade.

Waterfront Promenade

Rainer Lesniewski /

You’ll also see hundreds of cormorants that rest on the seaside every afternoon and during rainy days.

Also, you can head to one of Punta Arenas’s most famous casino-hotel, the Hotel Dreams del Estrecho, for leisure.

Waterfront Promenade

Jeremy Richards /

You’ll also come across a maritime monument along the promenade that pays homage to Punta Arenas’s pioneers.

There are multiple access points to the city’s waterfront promenade.

The best access points are located along Costanera del Estrecho de Magallanes.

former pier along Waterfront Promenade

Jeremy Richards /

Eat Chocolate at the Norweisser Chocolate

If you’re a lowkey chocolate connoisseur, you can also take a bit of a detour in your Punta Arenas itinerary to visit the Norweisser Chocolate.

This chocolate maker in Punta Arenas opened in the 1970s and continues to serve delectable chocolate products to tourists and locals.

This chocolate maker in Punta Arenas is famous for its artisanal and traditional chocolates.

If you’re planning to visit Norweisser Chocolate, head to José Miguel Carrera 663, Punta Arenas, and it’s open from 9:30 am to 7 pm.

Explore the Museo Nao Victoria

Museo Nao Victoria

Adwo /

Museum Nao Victoria is a unique and interesting museum in Punta Arenas for history buffs and average visitors.

The museum is filled with interesting historical facts and stories that captivate your imagination.

The museum’s main features are its replica ships, particularly the Nao Victoria.

1024px NaoVictoria

Magallanes1, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

This famous ship was a Spanish carrack that became part of Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition to circumnavigate the world.

Furthermore, you’ll see old artifacts, wares, jewelry, paintings, and statues dating back to the 1800s in the museum.

If you want to visit the Museo Nao Victoria, it is located along Juan Williams St.

It is open the entire week from 9 am to 7 pm.

Rub Elbows with the Locals at the La Taberna de la Plaza

To experience genuine Chilean hospitality, head to the La Taberna de la Plaza.

This local pub in Punta Arenas is known for its locally-crafted beers, Chilean wines, and very hospitable patrons to make you feel at home.

It’s also a nice place to learn more about Punta Arenas and its history through personal recounts and stories from locals.

Try their locally-crafted beers, such as the Hernando de Magallanes beer, Austra Calafate, and Baguales beer.

La Taberna dela Plaza is situated at 6700000, Punta Arenas, Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena, Chile.

This pub opens up at 6:30 pm until 1 in the morning every day.

Stay and Play at the Hotel Dreams del Estrecho

Hotel Dreams del Estrecho

Vintagepix /

Punta Arenas has a plush four-star hotel resort and casino nestled on its scenic coastline.

The Hotel Dreams Punta Arenas has a picturesque view of the Strait of Magellan, but this hotel has a lot more to offer.

This premier billeting and entertainment establishment in the city boasts popular casino games, card tables, and slot machines.

Hotel Dreams del Estrecho

Galina Savina /

The hotel also features a spacious convention center, entertainment facilities, an indoor pool, a nightclub, a fitness center, and a fine-dining restaurant.

All-in-all, this hotel resort and casino have 88 rooms that you can choose from.

If you’re planning to visit this place or perhaps stay there, it is located at O’higgins 1235, Punta Arenas.

Taste the Famous Spit Roast Lamb (Cordero al Palo)

Patagonia Region is also popular for its culinary traditions, and one of the best places to experience this is in Punta Arenas.

One of the must-try cuisines in the Patagonia Region is the world-famous spit roast lamb or locally known as Cordero al Palo.

Many restaurants and households cook this cuisine in the Patagonia Region, but among the best is Parrilla Los Ganaderos.

This restaurant follows the traditional practice of roasting the lamb in an open fire using logs for several hours.

It is cooked until the meat falls off its bones while the outside maintains crispness.

This roasting style gives the lamb meat a smoky aroma and delicious flavor that will make you drool.

Parrilla Los Ganaderos serves Cordero al Palo as one of their Chilean specialty dishes.

So, look no further if you want to taste this delicious cuisine in Punta Arenas.

To have a wonderful dining experience at this famous Punta Arenas restaurant, it is located at Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 1166, Punta Arenas, Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena, Chile.

Discover the Magellan Memorial

Magellan Memorial

Rainer Lesniewski /

The Magellan Memorial in Punta Arenas is one of the many statues built for the famous Portuguese navigator scattered around the world.

This one in Punta Arenas is nestled at the city center, particularly in Plaza Muñoz Gamero.

Magellan Memorial

Sculpture: Guillermo Córdova; photo: Jens Bludau, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The statue of the famous Ferdinand Magellan is surrounded by manicured trees and grass that resembles a mini-park.

Thus, it’s a perfect setting to learn history and take nice photos.

Magellan is very famous in Punta Arenas for discovering the Strait of Magellan and set foot in Punta Arenas during his expedition to discover spice islands in the western sea route.

Other Things to Do Nearby

After you completely roam Punta Arenas’s local attractions and experience its hospitality, food, and tradition, it would be great to head further out for more adventure.

You can visit various outdoor destinations in the north that will surely give you an exhilarating experience.

Or perhaps you can get up close with penguins, sea lions, and other local wildlife that are surely fun.

If you still have a lot of time and energy, you can set out on an expedition to the Antarctic.

So, here are some of the cool things to do near Punta Arenas.

Explore Isla Magdalena

 Isla Magdalena

Filip Fuxa /

This small island, roughly 35-kilometers off of Punta Arenas’s coast, is where you’ll find a colony of 150,000 Small Magellan Penguins.

If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, you should not miss visiting this island and getting close to these small flightless birds.

 Isla Magdalena

Dmitry Pichugin /

The easiest way to get to Isla Magdalena is through Punta Arenas’s public ferry, or you can sign up for an organized tour for more convenience.

Aside from penguins, you can also come across sea lions and other species of birds while enjoying the scenic view of the entire island.

 Isla Magdalena

Juan Carlos Munoz /

Conquer Torres Del Paine with Eco Camp Patagonia

Trekking in the snowcapped mountains and untamed wilderness of Torres del Paine in the Patagonia region is probably the best outdoor activity you can do there.

Torres del Paine is a four-hour drive north of Punta Arenas.

The trekking usually lasts several days to a week, depending on how hardcore you are to explore this frontier in the Patagonia region.

One of the best trekking tour guides in the area that you can hook up with is Eco Camp Patagonia.

They offer various trekking expeditions in Torres del Paine depending on the guests.

Eco Camp has been operating in the Torres del Paine since 1991.

Aside from trekking, they also offer mountaineering expeditions, kayaking, rafting, skiing, horseback riding, and wildlife observation in the Patagonia region, Bolivia and Argentina.

If you want to explore Torres del Paine, you can head to their office at Estancia Cerro Paine, Torres del Paine, Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena, Chile.

Enjoy Nature at the Magallanes National Reserve (Reserva Nacional Magallanes)

Sign of Magallanes National Reserve

Natalia Reyes Escobar, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Magallanes National Reserve is a popular outdoor destination five kilometers west in the Bunswick Peninsula of Punta Arenas.

Its landscape dominated by water reserves makes it a perfect place for waterborne activities and sports.

You can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and other waterborne activities there.

View of Magallanes National Reserve

Draceane, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Furthermore, you can also explore the national reserve’s beautiful flora and fauna through its 60-kilometer trail, which is popularly known as ‘Bocatoma Límite Sur.’

You can also come across animals from gray foxes, Andean foxes, Darwin’s leaf-eared mice, long-tailed meadowlarks, Chilean flickers, and Magellanic woodpeckers.

This Magallanes National Reserve is a nature lover’s paradise which you should also visit.

View of Magallanes National Reserve

Natalia Reyes Escobar, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go on an Expedition to Antarctica with Ocean Endeavour

Since Antarctica is within your grasp, you must seize the opportunity and embark on an expedition there.

Considering that only a few had the chance to visit Antarctica, it’s your perfect chance to witness colossal glaciers and an endless sea of ice that will surely amaze you.

To reach Antarctica’s shorelines, you need to join an expedition tour.

There are numerous Antarctica expeditions you can join, but it would be best to join with the experts.

One of the best is Ocean Endeavour, a group of experts who offer expeditions to Antarctica that start from Punta Arenas.

The expedition highlights the unique landscape of Antarctica and its wildlife through shore landings and touring.

Visit Ocean Endeavour’s website to learn about its Antarctica expedition.

Final Thoughts

Chile, in general, is a wonderful place to visit, and going deeper into this country lets you discover hidden gems like Punta Arenas.

You will surely fall in love with Punta Arenas’s beauty, hospitality, and unique landscape that you won’t find anywhere else.

Although it’s a bustling city, Punta Arenas maintained its Chilean charm and welcoming atmosphere.

If you’re planning to visit this Chilean city soon, you should bookmark this page for an instant itinerary, and don’t forget to share it with your fellow travelers.

© All rights reserved.