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Puerto Madryn

The gateway to Península Valdés, Puerto Madryn is Patagonia's star destination for marine wildlife watching. With a beachfront location, it's also a pleasant place in itself. While the city bustles with tourism and industry, it retains a few small-town touches: the radio announces lost dogs, and locals are welcoming and unhurried. With summer temperatures matching those of Buenos Aires, Madryn holds its own as a modest beach destination, but from June to mid-December visiting right whales take center stage.

The sprawling city is the second-largest fishing port in the country and home to Aluar, Argentina’s first aluminum plant, built in 1974. A sheltered port facing Golfo Nuevo, Puerto Madryn was founded by Welsh settlers in 1886. Statues of immigrants and Tehuelche along the shoreline pay tribute to its history. The Universidad de la Patagonia is known for its marine-biology department, and ecological centers here promote conservation and education.