Punta Arenas, Chile cruises
Punta Arenas port guide
From the dramatic backdrop of the Andes Mountains to the penguin colonies of Magdalena Island, there’s no shortage of natural splendor to behold on a cruise to Punta Arenas.
Located at the southern tip of Chile, this vibrant city is home to a unique blend of Chilean and European cultures. You’ll see this reflected in the picturesque blend of buildings lining the bustling city streets, as well as the museums and galleries seeded throughout town. Venturing just a short distance beyond the city immerses you in breathtaking scenery, making Punta Arenas a perfect destination for nature lovers and urban explorers alike.
Top landmarks and sights in Punta Arenas
From rugged coastlines and snow-capped mountains to galleries laden with fascinating artworks, there’s no shortage of sights to behold in Punta Arenas.
La Cruz Hill
For a birds-eye view of the city, that extends across the glittering waters of the Strait of Magellan, take a stroll to Mirador Cerra de La Cruz. A short (albeit steep) walk from the city center, this hilltop lookout point offers spectacular panoramic vistas as far as the eye can see. You’ll encounter local artisans selling all manner of handmade wares on the way up, or, if the walk proves too much, you can always save your legs and take a taxi instead.
Plaza Muñoz Gamero
If you love nothing more than sitting somewhere scenic and people watching, be sure to check out Plaza Muñoz Gamero while ashore in Punta Arenas. Located in the city’s Old Town, this central square and meeting point is surrounded by 19th century mansions, built in traditional Spanish style. Lined by trees and benches, it offers a tranquil setting in which to take five while watching Punta Arenas’ locals go about their daily business. You’ll also find a bronze statue of Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, at the Plaza’s center.
Spending an afternoon in a cemetery may not be high on your Chilean cruise wish list but you’ll be in good company if you do decide to pay Cementerio Municipal a visit. With extravagant sculpted tombs, dating back to the 19th Century, the cemetery is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Punta Arenas. It’s also the final resting place of many of Patagonia’s most prominent pioneers and explorers.
Sara Braun Palace
Once home to one of Patagonia’s most iconic pioneering families, Sara Braun Palace is a postcard-perfect example of period architecture in Punta Arenas. Designed by French architect Antonio Beaulier, the palace offers you an uncensored insight into the lavish lifestyles led by Punta Arenas’ elite during the early 20th century.
Things to do in Punta Arenas
Punta Arenas is rich in history and natural beauty. Here are just a few ways you may choose to spend your time in port.
Visit a penguin colony
Just a short drive from Punta Arenas you’ll find Magdalena Island, where you’ll be able to come face-to-face with a rather special native resident – the Magellanic penguin. If seeing penguins in the wild sounds like a dream day out, a visit here will live up to expectations. The rugged cliffs and sandy shores are home to thousands of Magellanic penguins, all of whom spend their days happily frolicking in this protected natural reserve.
Explore Magallanes Forest
If long leisurely hikes are among your favorite way to relax, a walk through the lush winding tails of Magallanes Forest should be right up your street. Bursting with emerald trees, sweeping vines, and rustling wildlife, the trail takes you up Mount Fenton, where you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views across the Strait of Magellan.
Visit the Maggiorino Borgatello Salesian Museum
If you’re interested in learning more about Punta Arenas’ history, look no further than the Maggiorino Borgatello Salesian Museum. Offering a fascinating array of exhibits, this 19th century museum celebrates the stunning ethnology, architecture, history, and wildlife that the Patagonian region is known for.
Discover Fort Bulnes
You’ll find further opportunities to immerse yourself in history at Fort Bulnes. A short drive south of Punta Arenas, Fort Bulnes is a reconstruction of the area’s original settlement, designed to protect the Strait of Magellan. Inside, you’ll find yourself transported back to the era of early European exploration among barracks, a church, and other well-preserved structures that tell the story of Chile’s southern frontier.
Eating and drinking in Punta Arenas
Punta Arenas offers a unique blend of traditional Chilean and regional Patagonian cuisine, much of which revolves around seafood. Hake, salmon, seabass, eels, king crabs, clams, oysters, and snails, are among the oceanic delights plucked fresh from the waters here, making Punta Arenas a dream destination for seafood fans.
Another famous ingredient you’ll come across time and again on Punta Arenas menus is Magellan lamb. Known for its rich and succulent flavor, this mouth-watering staple is usually simmered down in stews or served grilled with fresh seasonal vegetables.
As with much of South America, Street food is abundant in Punta Arenas. If eating this way appeals, you’ll find the biggest concentration of vendors in the city’s downtown area. Some of the most popular street foods include empanadas (a type of filled pasty) and churros, a sweet snack, similar to a long donut. Another local favorite is sopaipilla – a bread-like fried pastry, usually dipped in honey.
Complete your gastronomic experience of Punta Arenas by sampling Chile’s national drink – the Pisco Sour. Enjoy sipping on this delightfully refreshing beverage as you take in the slowly setting sun, dipping beyond the waves of the Strait of Magellan.
Shopping in Punta Arenas
If shopping while ashore in Punta Arenas appeals, you won’t be disappointed. The city is home to a range of retail experiences, perfect if you’re looking to take home a slice of South America as a memento of your cruise.
For an authentically Chilean shopping experience, head to Plaza Munoz Gamero. Here, you’ll discover a kaleidoscope of local produce, from alpaca wool clothing to jewellery, wooden carvings and penguin-themed souvenirs.
You’ll find bigger-brand stores and boutiques lining the downtown area, the majority running through Plaza de Armas and Bories street, and Magallanes street. Duty-free shopping is also on offer at Zona Franca located on Av. Manuel Bulnes, at the northern edge of town.
Getting around, Punta Arenas transport
Downtown Punta Arenas is fairly compact and easy to explore on foot, but there are plenty of taxis on offer should you need them. Just raise your hand when you see one approaching should you wish to hail one down.
A simple-to-navigate public bus service also connects the city across various routes, stopping regularly at the top attractions. You’ll also find ferry services from the port to transport you to other nearby coastal regions. Just be sure to check the crossing times before departing to ensure the journey will get you back in time to re-board your ship.
Punta Arenas port facilities
Punta Arenas operates a tender port, which means that you’ll have to travel ashore from your ship via a short boat transfer. The main terminal is equipped with a café, restrooms, and Wi-Fi, and you’ll also find a range of local vendors selling local goods and snacks.
Punta Arenas Quick Tips
The currency in Punta Arenas is the Chilean Peso. ATMs are available at the cruise port and around the city’s central plaza. We can also issue you currency at Reception on board, should you wish to carry some cash ashore.
Service charges are often automatically included in your final bill at bars and restaurants but if not, it’s polite to leave around 10% of your total bill price as a tip.
Punta Arenas offers a cool and windy climate. The summer season runs from December to February, when the region experiences temperatures of around 10 – 15 °C on average.
Sudden changes in the weather are common, so you may find it more comfortable to wear layers and/or a waterproof jacket when going ashore, just in case.