Punta Arenas#5 in Best Things To Do in Chilean Patagonia
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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.
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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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