When you come by cruiseship to Punta Arenas it will be easy to walk into town on your own, the walking-distance to the Plaza is less than 10 minutes and there are a few nice houses also to see on the way to the centre of the town. All of the places that you see on this page can be done on your own within 3-4 hours, depending on your walking-speed. The people are friendly, no scams in the street, no pickpockets, nobody forceing you to do or buy this or that, and friendly policemen, tipping you on the shoulder and pointing their finger to the zebra-crossing, when-ever you try to cross the street at another place. And they don't shout at you, they do it with a nice smile, I really could get rid of some stereotypes about corrupt police in South America !
At the port-building you will find a small cafe, an internet-cafe and some souvenir-shops and places, where to buy clothings made of fur and leather.
Choose the size of your ship carefully:
Giant ships will have to anchor off the port and take you ashore by tenderboat and that way you are loosing more than 2 hours of your precious time ashore. Smaller ships up to 25.000GRT will be able to dock in port !
Because of the mountains and ice fields, you can only reach Punta Arenas by air, ship, or overland through Argentina.
We chose the most direct route and flew from Santigao to PA on Lan Airlines.
It is a 3 1/2 - 4 hr flight because they stop in Puerto Montt for 25 minutes to change crew and let passangers off and on.
There is a snack served after each takeoff and the food is very good for airplane food.
The price was very reasonable and we booked our flight online.
A great way to explore the area around of Punta Arenas is by small cruise-ships like "M/N Mare Australis" and "M/N Via Austrralis", 2 small cruise-ships that will take you quite close to the glaciers and into narrow fjords, where the giant cruise-ships will never be able to get to. They have zodiaks onboard, beeing able to land even in small bays without a fixed landing-stage.
While cruising on the Celebrity Infinity around the south-tip of South America, we twice passed by this ship, that offers various short cruises between 5 and 6 days, leaving from Puerto Montt or from Punta Arenas.
read more about the details of the itinerary of these small ships on my link below !
This couple from Augsburg / Germany was on a tour through Patagonia by Motorhome. They are pensioners and had to ship their car from Germany on a cargo-ship taking them from Germany to Patagonia on a tour of 49 days along many ports of Africa and South America. That ship-passage was around 4000 euro and they intended to stay here for several months.
They did not have any bad experiences at all in Chile, just take a look, they are parking their car in the centre of the town, the door open with the ladder down and had their lunch inside the car.
Gasoline is much cheaper here than in Europe : 1 litre of Super / 95 Oktan was around 1 euro, while it was 1,23 in Austria or 1,40 in Germany at the same time.
There is a bus service run by Buses Transfer
that you can ride into town on for $2.50 each.
The driver will drop you off where you are staying or downtown.
It makes several stops on the way but it is easier and cheaper than finding a taxi.
If you have decided to take a boat trip along the fjords from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt you can book it here in time because it might be booked up by the time you reach Puerto Natales.
Comapa can help you with it. It's in the big building of the photo on Plaza Munoz Gamera.
There are also bus connections to Ushuia, Argentina and Puerto Montt.
'Transfer Sandy Point' offers transportation with a minibus to/from the airport (20 km's from the city centre) to/from Punta Arenas. They do have a counter in the arrival hall where they meet travellers at any incoming flight and drop you off at your accommodation in town.
And also they pick you up from your accommodation to bring you to the airport. It is also possible to leave from their town office in Punta Arenas. Of course you have to make a reservation for this service, either by phone or at their office (or ask your accommodation).
We paid (December 2005) 2.000 Chilean pesos per person.
Sandy Point, Lautaro Navarro 975, Punta Arenas
A lot of travellers (from abroad) will arrive/leave by plane in Punta Arenas on Pres. Ibanez International Airport. A small modern airport with all facilities like car rentals, café, book store and an ATM. LAN Chile has connections with Santiago, Puerto Montt, Balmaceda, but also with Ushuaia in Argentina.
(I know there is another airline in Chile: Sky Airline. You can take a look at their website too: www.skyairline.cl)
LAN offers the South America Airpass to travellers reaching South America with LAN or another OneWorld airline. Check the conditions, because you may save a lot of money for domestic flights: http://www.lan.com/en_ue/promociones/data/europa/todo_europa/saairpass.html
(There is also a One World South American Air Pass, sometimes with better deals than LAN:
We used another option travelling within Chile, using our RTW tickets (OneWorld), which allowed us to travel from Punta Arenas to Santiago (and to and from Easter Island).
As we like traveling around at our own pace, we prefer renting a car. When we went to Torres del Paine and Perito Moreno, last September, we searched for the best deal to rent a 4x4 in Punta Arenas, and the best value for money from about 10 companies we made enquires with was Chet kar rent-a-car. The price was £230 for a week. This included snow chains, extra petrol container and permits to cross to Argentina. Roberto was great all along. He met us with his brother at the airport with the Nissan Mistral we were renting, provided us with a map, gave us advice on the roads considering what we wanted to do, asked us which hotel we were staying and then helped us to get to the hotel, by driving ahead of us. When we got to the hotel he helped us checking-in and checked if we could use the car park on the back of the hotel. The car performed really well and when we got back after a week, he droped us back at the airport. I most definetly recommend renting from Chet kar!
Going from Santiago de Chile to Punta Arenas by plane, there are not much option, the are two airlines that fly, the most popular LAN, very good service and have 5 fly daily, you can find prices from 100$ to 350$. The fly make a stop in Puerto Montt the total of the flight is 4 hours approx. arrive to the airport International Carlos Ibáñez del Campo that is 20 min from the city.
Desde Santiago de chile a punta Arenas por avión, no hay muchas opciones, solo hay dos aerolíneas que viajan, la mas popular es LAN Chile, muy buen servicio y tiene 5 vuelos diarios, puedes conseguir precios desde 100$ a 350$. El vuelo hace escala en Puerto Montt el total del vuelo es de 4 horas aprox. Llegas al aeropuerto Internacional Carlos Ibáñez del Campo que esta a 20 min del centro de la cuidad.
Arriving in or leaving from Punta Arenas by plane a lot of tourists do have to travel by bus to/from Puerto Natales.
We made our reservation at the office of Buses Fernández two days in advance and got reserved seats.
The departure at the local office was just like one on an airport and we had to check in and drop off our luggage. The bus ride takes 3 hours through a rather pleasant scenery. And our bus even had a TV with a movie.
Buses Fernández operates 7 services from 7.15 am till 8.00 pm; we paid 4.000 Chilean pesos for an one way ticket. There is also a stop at the airport of Punta Arenas before reaching the city office/station.
Buses Fernandez, Armando Sanhueza #745, Punta Arenas
We just had a very bad experience with Pacheco Buses. We were told they were the best and cheapest company to get from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia. We booked our trip 4 days ahead with choosing our seats in the office. When boarding the coach, the seats were not the way they were on the paper. Everybody had to sit next to a stranger instead of the travelpartner. The chaos was perfect. Then we had a flat tire after the ferry. That can happen. Along the route we made some stops while the driver was talking to the driver from the other bus which came from the opposite direction. Then there was a mechanical problem. That of course can happen to every company BUT: We were in the middle of nowhere for 6! hours. First the bus-assistant went with a car for help/or organising spareparts. after 3h with no sign of the guy, our driver went with another car. Letting the hole car and 44backpackers alone somewhere in the pampa. No cellphone coverage to call for help. Not to believe! After 6hours, at midnight they both returned and fixed the problem. Then we set off for Ushuaia arriving here at 4.30 in the morning. The driver just opened the door and said: Here we are please get out. That's it. no information, no excuses, nothing. Unfortunately there is no Pacheco office here in town. Summary. It took us almost 21hours, the driver immediately (at 8 o clock) loaded his new passangers and drove back to Rio Grande (4h) So this means he was awake for nearly 24hours and was still driving a bus full of passangers. Thats mad. I would not support this company again. Take the other one in Punta Arenas.
The airport of Santiago de Chile, some four hours flight north of Punta Arenas; serves as main airport of Chile.
Flights from North America, other South American countries, Europe and Australia arrive here. The airport is a modern airport with efficient and friendly customs and immigration officers, the two times I have landed here so far was a breeze!!
Comfortable, simple and very punctual, Bus Fernandez takes from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales and of return, it has seven schedules per day, the trip lasts 3 hours approximately, and you will be able to enjoy a very pretty landscape is worth the trouble to be awake. The price it is 3000 pesos Chileans one way (5,50 US$).
Cómodo, sencillo y muy puntuales, Buses Fernández te lleva desde Punta Natales a puerto Arenas y de vuelta, tiene siete horarios de salida por día, el viaje dura 3 horas aproximadamente, y podrás disfrutar unos paisaje muy lindos vale la pena estar despierto. El precio es de 3000 pesos chilenos viaje de ida (5,50 US$).
When on holiday we love our freedom and if possible we try to travel by (rental) car. We feel it is much more convenient and flexible. We drive and stop when and how long we want and not when a tour guide does. And self driving allows to take minor roads and to visit ‘off the beaten path’ sights.
In Punta Arenas Adel Rent a Car was our company, because it was just around the corner from our hostel and open on a ‘public holiday’. Friendly staff, although English can be a problem if the ‘boss’ Gerson Reyes is not at the office. During a day trip we visited both Fuerte Bulnes as the Seno Otway Penguin Colony; almost impossible if you don’t have your own transport.
Adel Rent a Car - Pedro Montt 952, Punta Arenas