Puerto Natales picture
Evelyn Proimos/Flickr

Key Info

Southern Chilean Patagonia

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
More than Full Day Time to Spend
4.0scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 3.0Food Scene
  • 4.0Atmosphere

This coastal town perched above Seno Última Esperanza (Last Hope Sound) serves as the base for exploring Torres del Paine National Park. The town itself may not seem all that exciting, with only a small collection of restaurants and wooden shack-like homes. But take a closer look and you'll discover this fishing port's subtle charms. Early in the morning, you can admire the sunlight pouring over steep glaciers to the west. When night falls, feast on succulent seafood and rest your head at one of the cozy town inns to prep for a once-in-a-lifetime hike in Torres.

It's easy to get around Puerto Natales on foot. The town pivots around Plaza de Armas, an open square that boasts a scenic lookout over Last Hope Sound. One TripAdvisor user raves, "Something about this [view] just tugs at your heartstrings. […] This is no ordinary water body!" Within walking distance of Plaza de Armas, you'll find the Municipal History Museum (Museo Historico), a compact museum that features artifacts (like spear points and canoes) from the local indigenous peoples.

You'll find Puerto Natales about 150 miles northwest of Punta Arenas and 70 miles south of Torres del Paine. The easiest way to reach Puerto Natales is by plane or car from Punta Arenas; driving will take roughly three hours. Although Puerto Natales does not have a central bus terminal; a variety of companies, such as Bus Sur, offer service to the intersection of Baquedano and Valdivia streets, a short five- to 10-minute drive from the center of town. For further details on getting around Puerto Natales, consult our guide to Getting Around Chilean Patagonia.

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#1 Southern Chilean Patagonia

Occupying the southernmost area of the country, Southern Chilean Patagonia (SCP) draws visitors looking to admire the breathtaking landscape. Most visitors flock to Chile's southernmost province—also known as Magallanes (named after 16th-century conquistador Ferdinand Magellan)—to admire Patagonia's breathtaking landscape. From Magallanes' capital city, Punta Arenas, you can journey to Torres del Paine to admire its striking jagged peaks or head to Isla Magdalena to snap photos of thousands of Magellanic penguins scurrying along the shoreline.

Southern Chilean Patagonia is beyond secluded—separated by the Strait of Magellan and two soaring ice caps—but that only adds to its mystique as the gateway to Antarctica. The best way to reach Southern Chilean Patagonia is by plane from Santiago to Punta Arenas. It's also easy to access this region from Southern Argentine Patagonia. Cancha Carrera is a popular border-crossing, located between Torres del Paine and El Calafate (Argentina). Just be sure to acquire a visa before crossing; you can do so at an Argentine consulate in Santiago or before leaving home. For further details on how to navigate Southern Chilean Patagonia, consult our guide to Getting Around Chilean Patagonia.

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