Established in 1848, Punta Arenas is the capital of the Magallan Province in southern Chilean Patagonia. It is believed that the town was named 'Sandy Point' by a British sea captain called John Byron, who sailed to Patagonia and claimed to have seen giants inhabiting the land. The name was later changed to the Spanish Punta Arenas. Find out how to get from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas.
Gateway to Torres del Paine
Many travellers visiting Torres del Paine National Park fly to Punta Arenas airport (Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International (PUQ)), which lies around 13 miles north of Punta Arenas and serves Chilean Patagonia. The main airlines operating here are LAN Chile and Sky Airline, which offer regular flights from Santiago and Puerto Montt. Once in Punta Arenas, travellers then take the 3-hour bus journey directly to Puerto Natales, a small town just outside Torres del Paine. Puerto Natales is known for its beautiful fjord, the Seno Ultima Esperanza which is perfect for kayaking.
As a major sea port, Punta Arenas also acts as a departure point for Patagonia cruises. There are several options, including:
- Cruises through the Chilean fjords between Punta Arenas and are a fantastic way of either arriving at the trekking heart of Patagonia, or of departing for the north after a W Trek or Full Circuit trek
- Cruises to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego and Cape Horn offer an incredible way of exploring the Magellan Straits sailed by Darwin and getting up close to Magellanic penguins, hanging glaciers and the wild and remote landscape loved by adventurous trekkers.
It is common when travelling through Punta Arenas to need overnight accommodation, either due to the timing of flights and cruises or simply to break up your journey. We have shortlisted a selection of recommended hotels to make it easier for you to find the place that best fits your needs and budget.
Photos of Punta Arenas
Map of Punta Arenas
Trips that visit Punta Arenas
An epic, in-depth group tour of Patagonia, combining trips to Huerquehue National Park, the Queulat glacier, an isolated fishing village, a working estancia in Argentina and a king penguin colony in Tierra del Fuego, Torres del Paine, El Chalten and…
- 27 Days
A flexible, multi-day itinerary with a sociable eco-friendly camp as your base. Daily excursion options for all abilities with expert guides to support you. Return to a comfortable bed, wood burning stove and en suite bathroom. Meals and transfers from/to…
- 4 Days
This once in a lifetime cruise navigates through the Chilean Fjords starting at Valparaiso. Stay on a luxurious ship whilst spending your days discovering Puerto Montt, Punta Arena, Ushuaia, Punta Del Este and Montevideo. Please note: tours at each of…
- 15 Days
From Ushuaia to Valparaiso, journey north through a huge network of fjords and channels. Explore the highlights of this region via Zodiac including huge glaciers and migratory wildlife and birdlife. Witness outstanding viewpoints, visits to small coastal communities from the…
- 14 Days
Explore deep into the Chilean Fjords, getting up close to stunning glaciers and abundant wildlife, all from the comfort of a luxury vessel with fine dining, personal butler service, and fascinating lectures from experienced…
- 15 Days