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Skirting the Strait of Magellan, this bustling city serves as the central base for exploring Southern Chilean Patagonia's premier attractions. Here, you'll spot throngs of intrepid hikers gearing up for exploring Torres del Paine and wildlife-enthusiasts flocking to Isla Magdalena to mingle with Magellanic penguins.
If you have time to explore around town, head to the main square, Plaza Muñoz Gamero. You'll discover bright, newly developed residential homes next to ornate 19th- and early 20th-century mansions that arose from the prosperous wool industry. According to one TripAdvisor user, "A visit to Punta Arenas wouldn't be complete without stopping at the Memorial to Ferdinand Magellan and rubbing the foot on the statue (a local custom)." A short but fun walk is from the Plaza Muñoz Gamero to the Mirador Cerro la Cruz, a steep lookout that boasts breathtaking vistas of the Strait of Magellan and Tierra del Fuego.
The best way to reach Puntas Arenas is by plane. The flight from Santiago's Arturo Merino Benítez airport (SCL) to Puntas Arenas' Pres Ibáñez Airport (PUQ) takes roughly three and a half hours, and direct flights can be booked through local carriers, such as LAN and Sky Airline. For more information, consult our guide to Getting Around Chilean Patagonia.