Are you going to Punta Arenas? Don't miss the suggestions below; it's part of a LATAM Travel itinerary that also includes two days in Torres del Paine.
Day 1 • Punta Arenas and surroundings
8 a.m. – Have a coffee to warm up
Back in Punta Arenas, it's still cold. The tip to warm up is to stop by Wake Up Coffee, a modern café that specializes in eggs Benedict with French toast, two blocks away from the famous Plaza Muñoz Gamero. The tour goes on to Mirador del Cerro La Cruz, where you can contemplate a panoramic view of the city, the Strait of Magellan, and a faraway hint of the remote Tierra del Fuego.
Cerro La Cruz: Fagnano with Manuel Señoret, Punta Arenas
Wake Up Coffee: Avenida Presidente Errázuriz 944, Punta Arenas
1 p.m. – Try local ingredients
Combining French recipes with typical Magallanes ingredients to perfection is the idea of chef Eric Legois at the restaurant La Cuisine. The most popular dishes are made with guanaco meat, centolla (a kind of king crab), lamb, and local vegetables.
Ninety minutes from Punta Arenas is Parque del Estrecho with its Fuerte Bulnes, a fortress that was instrumental for Chile's claim of sovereignty over the area in the 19th century. In the surroundings, there's a museum with period items, surrounded by typical beech forests.
7 p.m. – Choose a souvenir
Souvenirs from this trip go way beyond stuffed penguins. Shops like La Galería and La Porfía display illustrations, photographs, sculptures, jewelry, and accessories made by local artists.
When the light goes down and temperatures drop even lower, it's time for a nice cocktail. At La Taberna, a bar in the basement of Club de La Unión, there are 35 labels of whisky and cocktails, like the house negroni, made with carménère wine reduction.
Club de La Unión: Calle Presidente Pedro Montt 701-799, Punta Arenas
9 a.m. – Visit the palaces
The town's glorious past has two landmarks: Palacio Sara Braun and Palacio Braun Menéndez. The former currently houses Club de La Unión, where gentlemen congregate. The latter is Museo Regional de Magallanes. Both buildings featuring French architecture are good representations of the lavish lifestyle of European families that lived there in the early 20th century.
In the 19th century, a lot of Croatians came to Magallanes, and their cultural influence can still be noticed. At Café Inmigrante, the hot tip is to have the café del nono, half regular coffee, half fig coffee (which is actually tea). It seems unlikely, but it's an excellent choice to go with the delicious sandwiches and cakes served there.
Ferdinand Magellan's perseverance inspired the owners of a craft brewery named after the Portuguese explorer. Producing 8,500 pints [4,000 l] a month, they intend to become a hotspot for local tourism. There are currently seven types of beer, all made with loving care.
Guanaco carpaccio, hare in stout beer, ceviche, lamb... At La Marmita, options are as varied as customers imagine. The atmosphere and the quality of the dishes make this restaurant a must-go. To drink, order a pisco cocktail.
La Marmita: Plaza Sampaio, 678, Punta Arenas
Day 3 • Pingüino Rey Park
King Penguin Park: Y-85, Porvenir, Region of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica
Tierra del Fuego, the big island off the coast of Punta Arenas, hides a jewel. It's Pingüino Rey Park, a private enterprise that protects a king penguin colony that has been living there since 2010. You can watch the penguins using binoculars and visit the strategically placed belvederes scattered across the area.
To get there, just cross the Strait of Magellan on a ferryboat for two hours to Chillota Bay, 3 miles [5 km] from the city of Porvenir. Walk around the main plaza and go to the museum, which showcases the rich culture of the native Selk'nam people. From there, the tour goes 70 miles [114 km] into Inútil Bay, where the wildlife reserve is located.
Special thanks: SERNATUR, IMAGINADORA, Kipaventour Patagonie, Hoteles Australis (Hotel Cabo de Hornos in Punta Arenas and Hotel Costraustralis in Puerto Natales).
Buy a complete package with accommodations and tours in the destination with LATAM Travel or at latam.com
LATAM has direct flights to Punta Arenas from Santiago, Puerto Montt, Concepción and two other cities.