The Top 7 Things to Do in Puerto Natales
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The Top 7 Things to Do in Puerto Natales

6 min read

Feb 5, 2021

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By Byron Patten

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The Best Things to do in Puerto Natales

At the end of the earth in southern Chilean Patagonia, there is a myriad of exciting things to do in Puerto Natales. Home to some of the country’s most scenic landscapes, Puerto Natales is a destination centered around the outdoors. While Puerto Natales is mostly attractive to travelers for its proximity to some iconic sites like Torres del Paine and the Chilean fjords, there are some other hidden gems worth checking out during your tour of Patagonia. Here are our recommendations for the best things to do in Puerto Natales.

1. Visit the Waterfront: Monumento de la Mano and Muelle HistóricoThe waterfront and mmountains in puerto natales

First on our list of things to do in Puerto Natales is to visit the waterfront! The old fishing mill along the town’s waterfront was once a busy port. Although today, there are only remnants of the old pier left. With a fantastic backdrop of the water and snow-capped mountains, this is one of the most photogenic places in Puerto Natales. Visit the waterfront to snap your postcard souvenir. Be sure to look out for black-necked swans; they are often gliding between the pier’s iconic wooden poles that jut from the waters.

An equally important site located along the waterfront is the Monumento de la Mano, whose twin sculpture is located in Uruguay. This large statue is in the shape of a hand and perfectly encompasses Puerto Natales’ unique street art.

2. People watch in Plaza de Armas Arturo Prat

This simple yet lively concrete square marks the center of Puerto Natales and the hub of local activity. With its quiet seating areas, shaded planters, and relaxing fountain, this is an ideal meeting place or spot to rest while walking the city. It’s typically alive with activity and for those who are fans of people watching, enjoy street performances, local festivities, and the square’s surrounding eateries.

Outside of the town is an abundance of remote natural beauty, with Puerto Natales serving as the closest inhabited area for miles. From breathtaking glaciers to exciting wildlife, here are some of the best things to do outside of Puerto Natales.

3. Hike the Famous Treks of Torres Del Paine

By far, the biggest draw to Puerto Natales is its proximity to Torres del Paine. Located about a two hour’s drive north of Puerto Natales, this national park has numerous hikes ranging in difficulty and length. Most notably are its W Trek and O Circuit hikes that pass through various valleys and some of the park’s leading attractions. Its name comes from its mountainous granite towers that have become world-famous. They provide visitors with one of the best views in all of South America. The park also consists of a large selection of glaciers, icebergs, and wildlife, ideal for any South America nature enthusiast.

4. Enjoy Amazing Views of Glacier BalmacedaGlacier Balmaceda on foggy day

Conveniently located in Torres Del Paine National Park, this is an excellent stop if you’re planning to visit the granite towers. While not found on the W Trek, Glacier Balmaceda remains easily accessible to visitors. Balmaceda is one of the few significant glaciers in Chile that does not come down off the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap but is conjoined with another immense glacier, Serrano. The glacier is often overlooked by visitors, making it a beautiful spot to enjoy without the crowds. Visitors can choose to hike to the glacier or even kayak to get up-close.

5. Explore Bernardo O’Higgins

Bernardo O’Higgins park and lake during sunset

Chile’s largest national park features stunning fjords, wildlife, and native forests. Bernardo O’Higgins is famous for its Southern Ice Fields, featuring some of Patagonia’s most spectacular glaciers. As a popular stop on the route to cruise Chile‘s fjords and glaciers, visitors can easily travel between O’Higgins and Torres Del Paine by tour. However, we recommend at least a day to explore. Visit the park by horseback, trek its in-tact forest, climb cliffs, or relax fire-side to the sounds of nature under a starry night.

6. Get up-close to Glacier Serrano

tourists getting up closer to serrano

Located on Bernardo O’Higgins National Park and Torres Del Paine’s border, this is Chile’s most famous glacier. Serrano extends from an ice-capped mountain, ending at a sleepy lagoon of the Chilean fjords. One of the most popular ways to visit is by boat or kayak. Visitors can approach the lagoon’s incredible icebergs that have collapsed from the immense glacier. Additionally, a 10-minute wooden trail leads walkers to various viewpoints of the glacier, providing visitors a chance to view this unique sight from all angles. Afterward, be sure to enjoy either national park for a day’s worth of excellent hiking.

7. Discover the wonders of the Fjords

cruise in patagonia

The Chilean fjords are quickly becoming one of Patagonia’s most coveted sites. A journey through the fjords is an experience through many of Patagonia’s highlights. Enjoy immense glaciers, icy waterfalls, rare marine life, world-famous national parks, and, simply put, incredible views. Whether traveling Patagonia by cruise or merely wanting to experience the magnificent views of the fjords, we recommend a boat tour. A simple day-ferry can carry visitors around some of the fjord’s nearby sites. These include the Serrano and Balmaceda Glaciers. Enjoy a glass of Chilean wine while watching the sunset against isolated forests, towering cliffs, and sleepy waters.

How to Get to Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales is most accessible from Punta Arenas, about a three-hour drive away. Punta Arenas has the largest airport in the region with the most frequent flights. While Puerto Natales has a small, local airport, flight schedules are sporadic. If there is a flight available to Puerto Natales, then that will certainly be the most convenient way to visit. However, Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales by bus or car is incredibly accessible and a common journey made by visitors to the region.

Accommodation and Supplies in Puerto Natales

With its primary industry being tourism, this quaint town has all your travel essentials. This is ideal if you need to stock up on supplies or purchase gear. Whether you need a plush warm coat or lunch ingredients for your upcoming day-trip, you can find it here. Puerto Natales is also an excellent hub for your accommodation. There are plenty of lodging options available including modern hotels, family-operated pensions, or even cozy hostels.

Restaurants in Puerto Natales

After a long day’s worth of hiking nearby mountains and valleys, return to Puerto Natales to have your choice at a number of high-quality restaurants. Ranging from casual to higher-end dining, there are plenty of delicious options to keep travelers entertained while visiting the town. Afrigonia, Cafe Artimana, and Santolla are just a few popular dining options within the city; however, the list goes on and on! There are also distilleries, high-end pizzerias, authentic bbq, delis, and ice cream shops spread throughout the town.

More Info on Things to Do in Puerto Natales

Overall, Puerto Natales is teeming with outdoor adventures. It also serves as a central hub for visiting Patagonian landscapes that would otherwise be inaccessible. Additionally, this destination can easily be combined with other popular Patagonian stops like Puntas Arenas and Ushuaia. Remember to unwind in untouched nature, ferry past iceberg filled waters, and dine in foodie heaven during your stay in Puerto Natales. And, for more information, contact an expert Travel Consultant!

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