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 upmarket cultural and scenic group tour adventure from Santiago to Buenos Aires. Along the way visit the stunning landscapes of Torres del Paine, the dynamic Perito Moreno Glacier and Ushuaia in the Tierra del Fuego National Park. Always accompanied…
- 14 Days
South America - Southern Explorer
A spectacular itinerary that takes you the length of Southern Patagonia with a small group, in a custom expedition vehicle and staying in comfortable hotels. Explore glaciers on foot and by boat, breaking Torres del Paine's W Trek into day…
- 13 Days
South America - Wild Patagonia
An epic, in-depth small group tour travelling the length of Patagonia in a kitted-out truck which will take you to places other tourist don't get to experience. Stay in comfortable hotels, visit wineries, volcanic lake districts, estancias, vast plains and…
- 27 Days