Introducing Punta Arenas
A sprawling metropolis on the edge of the Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas defies easy definition. It's a strange combination of the ruddy and the grand, witnessed in the elaborate wool-boom mansions and port renovations contrasted with windblown streams of litter and urban sprawl. Set at the bottom of the Americas, it is downright stingy with good weather – the sun shines through sidelong rain.
Magellanic hospitality still pervades local culture, undeterred (or perhaps nurtured by) nature's inhospitality. The city is remarkably relaxed and friendly. Recent prosperity, fed by a petrochemical industry boom and growing population, has sanded down the city's former roughneck reputation. It would be nice if it were all about restoration but duty-free shopping and mega-malls on the city outskirts are the order of the future.
Easy connections to Tierra del Fuego, Torres del Paine and Argentina, and good travelers' services make Punta Arenas a convenient base for traveling. A growing volume of cruise-ship passengers and trekkers has effectively replaced yesteryear's explorers, sealers and sailors.
Best places to stay in Punta Arenas
Punta Arenas destination guides
End of the Earth
Perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who want to experience one of the world’s most pristine wilderness settings, this challenging 2-week adventure packages the region’s essential highlights into one incredible journey. Explore Torres del Paine, encounter the Perito Moreno Glacier and hike Glacier National Park.
Torres del Paine Circuit
A classic trek around the dramatic Towers of Paine