A HUB OF HISTORY, TRADE, AND ADVENTURE
Perched on the western side of the Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas has long been a European trading point and is now the most commercially crucial city in Patagonian Chile. A relaxed, diverse city rich with vibrant pioneering history, this welcoming port is equally popular as a gateway for adventures to Antarctica.
Begin with a stroll through the main Plaza de Armas among its massive conifers, where you’ll see a monument commemorating the 400th anniversary of Magellan’s voyage, the cathedral, the residence of the governor, and the traditional Cabo de Hornos Hotel. The square is surrounded by several other landmarks and beautiful stately mansions, the most famous and opulent of which is the Palacio Sara Braun, the must-see former home of the female gold and sheep tycoon from the late 1800s.
The Plaza Muñoz Gamero holds a memorial to explorer Ferdinand Magellan, and the Museo Nao Victoria even features a replica of one of his galleons. The many massive, elegant mausoleums and tombs of the Municipal Cemetery—ranked as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world—are also a sight to behold just a short walk away from the plaza. While cemeteries rarely make must-see lists, this is an exception. Its flawlessly manicured cypress trees and diverse array of tombs make it well worth a visit. Find souvenirs or something special for your trip at the duty free area or Avenida Bories, the city’s main shopping street.
After exploring downtown, tour the scenic Magellan Strait by kayak or take a boat to Magdalena Island, also Los Pingüinos Natural Monument, where you can mingle with and be welcomed by its ambassadors—a colony of thousands of beautiful Magellanic Penguins. You’ll also spot seagulls, cormorants, and sea lions.