24 hours in: Punta Arenas

July 13, 2018
Urban Adventures

While many travellers use Punta Arenas, known as the gateway to Antarctica, as a jumping off point for adventures further afield, it would be a mistake to skip over the city entirely. Whether you’re on your way elsewhere or happen to find yourself in the area, Punta Arenas is worthwhile even on a short visit. And to help you make the most of your time there, our local Punta Arenas tour guides have put together the perfect itinerary for experiencing the best of Punta Arenas in just 24 hours.

Early morning (7am – 9am)

Fuel up for a full day of sightseeing with visit to Kiosko Roca, serving great coffee and traditional Chilean breakfast. Open since 1932, it’s one of the must-dos (and tastes) in Punta Arenas. Everything here is good, but we recommend trying the banana milk and choriqueso bread (Chilean sandwich with cheese and chorizo). The restaurant is well-located in the city centre, making it the perfect spot to start your day.

Morning (9am – 12pm)

Plaza Muñoz Gamero in Punta Arenas

Visiting Plaza Muñoz Gamero | Photo by Punta Arenas Urban Adventures

Following breakfast, take a walk through the centre of Punta Arenas. Start with a stop at Plaza Muñoz Gamero, a leafy square named after the former city governor, Benjamin Muñoz Gamero. From the plaza you can see the Punta Arenas Cathedral and Sara Braun Palace (part of the Jose Nogueira Hotel) and a national monument. The square is a relaxed spot for people-watching and also from which to admire the beautiful buildings surrounding it. Once you’ve wandered through the square, walk over to the Museo Regional de Magallanes, located just a few steps from the plaza. It’s an important place to visit if you want to learn about the history of Punta Arenas.

Midday (12pm – 2pm)

If you’re getting hungry after a morning of exploring, you’re in luck — we know one of the best places for lunch. Take a 10-minute walk from the museum to La Marmita. This family-run spot is loved by locals and the food here is made with local ingredients. The atmosphere is cosy with a homey vibe, making La Marmita a nice spot to linger. Seafood is a popular choice here and there are vegetarian options available.

Afternoon (2pm – 6pm)

Once you’ve filled up on lunch, spend the afternoon visiting Museo Maggiorino Borgatello and Municipal Cementerio Municipal Sara Braun. The Maggiorino Borgatello museum showcases a complete ethnological, historical and biological collection telling the story of the Strait of Magellan. While Cementerio Municipal Sara Braun was named by CNN in 2013 as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. The museum is about a six-minute walk from where you had lunch, and the cemetery another 10 minutes on foot from the museum.

Evening (6pm onwards)

Depending on the weather, take a leisurely 25-minute walk from the cemetery to La Yegua Loca, a restaurant serving traditional Patagonian cuisine. Since Chileans eat on the later side (from 8pm onwards), we recommend having some drinks at the restaurant’s bar before dinner. The bar takes its inspiration from old Patagonian pulperías, rural grocery stores that also functioned as drinking establishments. Once you’re ready to eat, you shouldn’t leave without trying the chupe de centolla, Chilean crab gratin made with local king crab, which tastes like an ultra-decadent crab dip.

Visit the penguins of Punta Arenas

Penguins of Punta Arenas | Photo by Punta Arenas Urban Adventures

Shorter stays

For travellers on a short visit, we recommend having a layover that will allow you to spend two hours in the city centre, and another hour for travelling to and from the airport.

The best way to get from the airport to the sites is by taking a taxi, which should take around 30 minutes.

If you want to see Punta Arenas in two hours in the morning or afternoon, spend some time exploring the city centre and the waterfront promenade. The waterfront gets you views of the Strait of Magellan and distant Tierra del Fuego. If you’re lucky, you might see some seabirds, or even penguins and dolphins. Some good options for a morning or afternoon meal during your layover include cosy Café Tapiz and Cafe Inmigrante for cakes, epic sandwiches and hot cocoa.

If you’re in Punta Arenas for an evening or nighttime layover, we always recommend taking a walk through the centre of the city, which is beautiful day or night, and filled with historical buildings. Have a meal and a drink before you head back to the airport at Santino Bar and Restaurant, with good music, atmosphere and great food.