How to Get to Patagonia | Everything You Need to Know
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How to Get to Patagonia | Everything You Need to Know

8 min read

Jan 8, 2021

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By Byron Patten

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Last updated on March 18th, 2021 at 08:42 am

How to Get to Patagonia

Figuring out how to get to Patagonia depends on a number of factors, including travel preferences, budget, and the sites and excursions on your itinerary. Though, fear not! Traveling to Patagonia is relatively easy, as the region is shared by both Chile and Argentina. This allows the park to host numerous points of entry and reachable sites. Therefore, determining the best route ultimately depends on your travel interests. This article will give you helpful tips on how to get to Patagonia, the major regions, and overall, the best way to visit Patagonia and its stunning landscapes.

Where is Patagonia?

torres del paine on a sunny day in chilean patagonia

First things first, where is Patagonia? Patagonia is at the southern tip of South America. Not distinct to one single country, the natural reserve stretches across both Argentina and Chile. Grassland plains, immense glaciers, and the towering Andes mountains dividing the region make Patagonia’s diverse landscapes its largest draw.

Visitors can travel to both sides of the reserve with ease. Though, we recommend planning your destinations specific to either country before moving onto the next. Therefore, we will be dividing the article on how to get to Patagonia, Chile, and how to get to Patagonia, Argentina separately based on the varying travel methods: flying and ground transportation.

Flights & International Airports

While there are dozens of Patagonia airports local to both Argentine and Chilean Patagonia, these are not international airports. Travelers will first need to enter either country before continuing their trip to Patagonia. For the most available flights to the park, we recommend flying first to either the Chilean capital, Santiago de Chile, or the Argentine, Buenos Aires. The major airports here offer regular and numerous routes to Patagonian hubs:

How to Get to Patagonia from Santiago:

  • Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport, Chile

How to Get to Patagonia from Buenos Aires:

  • Ministro Pistarini International Airport
  • Aeroparque – Jorge Newbery Domestic Airport

Note: Prioritize flying into the country of the Patagonian side you are most interested in seeing. Getting a flight from Buenos Aires to Chilean Patagonia and vice versa will be more difficult. Though, once in Patagonia, cross-travel between the two regions is common and is popular amongst travelers. 

How to Get to Patagonia Chile

Chilean Lake District and Osorno Volcano

Flying to Patagonia in Chile

There are several airports within Chilean Patagonia. Prioritize your entry by its proximity to the attractions and activities that most interest you. It is easy to hop from city to city in Chilean Patagonia via their local airports. Here are the major Chilean airports and their attractions:

Punta Arenas Airport (PUQ)

Punta Arenas is the hub for visitors to reach Torres del Paine National Park. However, the town still is a 245km journey from the park, which will require a bus or car to traverse. Puntas Arenas is a popular tourist stop for people planning to visit Antarctica or catch a connecting cruise to Ushuaia.

Puerto Montt (PMC)

In Chile’s Lake District, Puerto Montt is regarded as a gateway into the stunning Patagonian fjords and Andes Mountains. As the start to Carretera Austral, Puerto Montt is easily connected by road to most of Patagonia. Nearby attractions include Mount Osorno, Parque Nacional Alerce Andino, Puerto Varas, and Chiloe Island.

Puerto Natales Airport (PNT)

Next on our list is Puerto Natales. Puerto Natales is the nearest town to Torres del Paine National Park. While there is an airport, flights are limited in the week and dependent on the season. Overall PUQ has a more consistent schedule.

Though, if flights are available, PNT would be the more convenient option, which is why it is listed here. Additionally, there are occasional flights from PNT to El Calafate in Patagonia Argentina, but this journey is most commonly done by road.

Balmaceda Airport (BBA)

Balmaceda Airport is the gateway to the remote and scenic region of Aysen. While Balmaceda is a small town, the airport is perfect for connecting this wild region with Coyhaique. Coyhaique is often frequented by visitors wanting to explore the nearby Marble ice caves and towering mountains, including Cerro Castillo.

Temuco Airport (ZCO)

Lastly, Temuco is another reasonable route for flights. The journey into Puerto Montt is only a four-hour drive or bus ride. Temuco and the outlying regions are worth a visit, with nearby Pucon and the stunning Chilean Lake District in close proximity.

Getting to Patagonia, Argentina

sunset over the mountains in ushuaia

Flying to Patagonia in Argentina

Next up is the Argentine side. There are numerous domestic airports spread throughout Argentine Patagonia, ranging from major travel hubs to smaller, local airports that only have a certain number of flights per week. Here, we focus on the larger travel hubs that fly from Buenos Aires.

San Carlos de Bariloche Airport (BRC)

First on our list is San Carlos de Bariloche, in northern Argentine Patagonia. This winter resort town is picturesque, from its lakefront and mountain views to its swiss-alpine city center. We recommend a tour of Bariloche to start any Patagonia trip as you make your way south into the rest of the reserve along Ruta 40 or by air.

El Calafate Airport (FTE)

Next, we have El Calafate, the gateway into Los Glaciares National Park. The area is popular with tourists who are looking to hike Argentina’s incredible landscapes. Additionally, the world-famous Perito Moreno glacier is a large draw, being in close proximity to El Calafate.

Ushuaia Airport (USH)

Ushuaia is the gateway into Antarctica. Located at the end of the world, Ushuaia is the most accessible destination for touring Patagonia’s southernmost territories and the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego.

Trelew Airport (REL)

In northeastern Patagonia, Trelew is an ideal entry point into the reserve. Especially for visiting popular sites like Puerto Madryn and the Valdes Peninsula. This originally Welsh town has a lot to offer visitors. Explore its historical sites, unique architecture, and a museum dedicated to the dinosaurs that once inhabited the region.

Ground Transportation to Patagonia

Now, we’ll discuss ground transportation in Patagonia. Patagonia is easily accessible by either car or bus from the capital cities of Argentina and Chile. Though, the journey will be several hours longer than that of flying. These routes are for riders who wish to travel leisurely and enjoy the changing landscapes up close.

Note: travel costs by bus won’t necessarily always be more affordable than a flight. Compare prices before booking.

guanacos in chilean patagonia

Ground Transportation in Patagonia, Chile

Puerto Montt

Puerto Montt is the start of Chilean Patagonia. Therefore, busses or car journeys from Santiago de Chile will stop here. Additionally, Puerto Montt is an ideal transportation hub for the rest of Patagonia.

Northern Chilean Patagonia and the Carretera Austral – this stretch of scenic highway extensively explores the northern area, passing through the following towns:

  • Chaitén
  • Puerto Aysén
  • Coyhaique
  • Chile Chico
  • Cochrane

Southern Chilean Patagonia and Highway 9 – the Southern region of Chilean Patagonia includes some of the reserve’s most famous natural wonders. It also brings visitors closer to Argentina and Antarctica. The major destinations here include:

whales on the beach of peninsula valdes

Ground Transportation in Argentina Patagonia

San Carlos de Bariloche

San Carlos de Bariloche is the first major town in Argentine Patagonia. This is an excellent location to start your journey. It has fantastic accessibility to other destinations along the highway known as Ruta 40. Whether traveling by bus or car, we recommend first stopping here when entering from Buenos Aires.

Northern to Southern Patagonia and Ruta 40 – you’ll see so much on this incredibly long stretch of highway, passing through the following towns and attractions:

Tierra del Fuego and Ruta 3 – on the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego, Ruta 3 will be your main travel method on the ground, passing through the following:

  • Ushuaia
  • Puerto Madryn
  • Península Valdés
  • Punta Tombo

Tiera del fuego mountain and river

More Information on How to Get to Patagonia

In general, it’s no surprise that people from around ask us how to get to Patagonia. This part of the world is equally as beautiful as it is immense. With so much to see and do in Patagonia, there is no right or wrong way to do your tour through the reserve. Find out what about the reserve interests you and how you like to travel. Then, plan your journey accordingly.

Finally, if planning sounds like a stressful prospect, contact an expert Travel Consultant. Our itineraries are planned in full to ensure a relaxed and fulfilling travel experience through the wild and vast Patagonia.

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Last updated on March 18th, 2021 at 08:42 am

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