Things to do in Puerto Natales (that aren’t Torres del Paine)
Puerto Natales is truly enchanting – I was even more charmed than I expected to be when I decided to make it my base for a week’s trip in Patagonia. The locals are friendly and welcoming, while the streets are pedestrian-friendly and lined with everything you need like hotel accommodations, scrumptious restaurants, and sportswear stores.
There are no safety concerns, either; it’s an incredibly tranquil town. It gets even better with a coastal walk from which you can admire views of Last Hope Sound shimmering with glaciers atop the islands dotting its waters.
Puerto Natales is a great base for visiting Patagonia
If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting Patagonia, take a cue from English writer Bruce Chatwin who wrote his famous travelogue novel “In Patagonia” after experiencing the captivating beauty this part of the world has to offer. During his research in Puerto Natales, he even uncovered interesting historical facts such as that during World War I, the English had built slaughterhouses along a four-mile stretch of the bay, complete with a railroad to transport workers.
Here are the best things to do in Puerto Natales
Located at the heart of Chile’s extreme south-western tip, it sets itself as a great base for travelers wanting to explore the incredible wilderness of Patagonia. Even though Torres del Paine national park is usually at the top of everyone’s wishlist, this small city has many secrets that are only a $6 cab ride away. Whether you’re looking for a full day excursion or something to do for just a few hours.
The Singular Hotel
This luxurious hotel is located in the old Bories refrigerated warehouse building, and is a must-visit when exploring this part of Chile. Not only will you get to check out some old machinery on display throughout the building, but you can also take delight in knowing that this location was once the main exporter of sheep in the area.
If that’s not enough to entice you, sample one of their delicious drinks in the bar or explore their amazing surrounding natural environment! Puerto Bories Hotel offers incredible history with their museum-hotel – home to antiques and machinery dating back to 1915.
Laguna Sofia Horse Trek or Hike
Although often overshadowed by the famous Torres del Paine in terms of sightseeing, a hike or horseback ride at this incredible location is a wild adventure worthy of any explorer’s attention. The great thing is that you don’t have to worry about hordes of tourists running around like it’s Black Friday – Laguna Sofía is a VIP-style excursion into nature with no lines or overcrowded trails (yasss!).
Whether you want to take it easy while meandering through silent woods, marvel at waterfalls, explore mysterious caves or unleash your inner gaucho with some horseback riding, Laguna Sofia has all this and more.
From its dramatic mountain scenery to its still, reflective lakes and ancient magestic glaciers, this place will take your breath away and make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time. Still need convincing? Just look at those photos – it speaks for itself!
Read more about Laguna Sofia horseback riding here.
If you’re looking for an idyllic spot with stunning views of nature, you should definitely check out Canal Snort just outside of Puerto Natales – it’s well worth the 10-minute drive! Whether you’re up for a kayaking adventure or are more interested in watching the majestic birds that soar through the skies here, there’s no shortage of outdoor fun and relaxation.
From graceful flamingos draped in vibrant pink to majestic condors gliding in the sky – there’s plenty to appreciate here.
cat. With views of the Patagonian fjords of Last Hope Sound and the Andes mountains, this peaceful haven is a great destination for nature enthusiasts.
Hermann Eberhard was a brave explorer who pioneered through northern Patagonia. Here, he found something incredible: the remains of an extinct Giant sloth, as well as evidence that early man had been residing in these parts since 10,000 BC!
Tasty Things to do in Puerto Natales: Eat Seafood
If you’re looking for things to do in Puerto Natales, look no further than its awesome restaurants. For such a small town, Puerto Natales certainly has a lot of delicious seafood to offer!
The must-try seafood dishes are king crab, limos and salmon – freshly caught and prepared with local ingredients, they will be the highlight of your vacation after trekking in the national park all day.
Puerto Natales Coastal Promenade
There is only one attraction you can’t miss in Puerto Natales, and that’s its two-kilometer coastal promenade. Whether you’re snapping some shots of the Historical Pier or snapping shots of the flamingos that call it home, this walk offers a great view of the mountains in the background and plenty of picture perfect moments. So if you’re looking for things to do in Puerto Natales, add a stroll along the coastal promenade to your list – you won’t regret it!
Here, spectacular views of Last Hope Sound and its snow-capped islands provide lasting memories for all who visit. The area even has a literary connection – Bruce Chatwin’s classic 1977 novelistic travelogue “In Patagonia” brought this destination to the world’s attention. Unbeknownst to many, during World War I the English built slaughterhouses along a four-mile stretch of the bay here and connected them with a railroad system.
Walk and Shop
Puerto Natales is the ideal set up for exploring Patagonia (and not onlyTorres del Paine!). In the city’s bubbling seafood restaurants, you can refuel after a long day of wandering in nature, or if you’re looking to browse the local talent, pick up handicrafts or sportswear from its variety of shopping opportunities.
When it’s time to take a break from sightseeing, just take a quiet stroll through its light- filled streets – something that will be sure to put both your body and soul at ease.
Despite expecting Puerto Natales to be like the touristy towns I’ve seen in the United States on the edges of national parks, this charming little town was something else entirely. Rustic and modest instead of commercial, quaint buildings filled with local flavor rather than souvenir shops; it gave me a feeling that I had truly left home and been welcomed into somewhere new.
Monumento de la Mano
Take a stroll along Costanera and you might think you’ve encountered the strangest thing to do in Puerto Natales – Monumento de la Mano!
As its name suggests, this particular art installation features five human fingers sticking out of the ground, giving it an undeniably unique look. While photographers may find themselves at odds against the street light in front of it, this only serves as proof that stunning photo opportunities can still be found even in the most unusual places
Monumento al Viento
If you want to experience the full force of Puerto Natales’ famous wind, head north along Costanera and in less than five minutes you’ll find Monumento al Viento. Unconventional, artsy and sure to impress, this monument consisting of two statues hanging off a pole is a must-see while visiting the city.
Visit Cueva del Milodón – Milodón Cave
Visiting Cueva del Milodón is definitely one of the best things to do in Puerto Natales if you’re a fan of paleontology. With its stunning landscapes and rock formations, imagine being back in time to explore the giant bear which roamed Patagonia 10,000 years ago – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
As you traverse further into the area, you’ll also stumble upon other megafauna like saber-tooth tigers, panthers, jaguars, horses and our beloved granite-faced ancestors: the first human inhabitants of Patagonia!
How far is Milodón cave for Puerto Natales?
Cueva del Milodón is only a 30-minute drive away from Puerto Natales – so don’t hesitate to take a glimpse at this historic destination.
Muelle Viejo isn’t exactly an Instagram-worthy destination, but it is a practical place of interest for those who prefer the ferry to get to Puerto Natales instead of any other means of transport. After all, disembarking at this pier may well be your first stop if you’re coming from Puerto Montt or Puerto Yungay – and definitely your last stop if you’re leaving town!
That bit of history
Puerto Natales has come a long way since its founding in 1911 as nothing more than a humble port for the export of lamb's meat and wool. Who would have guessed that it would one day become the bustling tourist destination it is today? From the hostels to the restaurants to the tour companies, there seems to be no shortage of things to do here that can delight and excite visitors.
How big is Puerto Natales?
Puerto Natales may look a little rough around the edges but, behind its weather-beaten facade, hides a town full of charm. A stay in one of the cozy inns or guesthouses is like taking a step back into simpler times; and if you’re feeling brave enough to venture out into the streets, don’t worry – tasty treats from the local bistros are never far away!
Of course, Puerto Natales not only has quaint appeal but some stunning features too – just take a walk along the waterfront and enjoy the view out over the peninsula while admiring glacier capped peaks traversed by distant horizons.
Where is Puerto Natales located?
Resting at a triangle of a thin slice of land between Ultima Esperanza Sound and the Almirante Montt Gulf, Puerto Natales is the perfect – if not essential – day’s stop for anyone on their way to explore Torres del Paine National Park. Just 254 km (158 miles) northwest from Punta Arenas, and 115km (71 miles) south of Torres del Paine, this rambling town is ready and welcoming with its 19,000 citizens.
Getting to Puerto Natales by plane
If you’re looking for an easy and affordable way to reach this destination, the small Aeropuerto Teniente Julio Gallardo located just 10 kilometers away from Puerto Natales should be your first stop. LATAM or JetSmart both have frequent 3-hour flights between Santiago and Puerto Natales for very reasonable prices.
Puerto Natales is the ideal spot if you’re looking to explore the southern tip of South America. Of course, everyone already knows about the Torres Del Paine National Park but that’s just scratching the surface of Patagonia.
My top picks of the best things to do in and around Puerto Natales summed up:
- Puerto Bories: The Singular Hotel is a luxurious hotel located in the old Bories refrigerated warehouse building.
- Laguna Sofia: Perfect for hiking or horseback riding, with no lines or overcrowded trails.
- Canal Senoret: A great spot for kayaking, bird-watching, and admiring the Patagonian fjords and Andes mountains.
- Eat Seafood: Try king crab, limos, and salmon – freshly caught and prepared with local ingredients.
- Puerto Natales Coastal Promenade: Offers stunning views of the Historical Pier and birds flying through their sky – perfect for photography.
- Monumento de la Mano: Unique art installation with five human fingers sticking out of the ground.
- Monumento al Viento: Artsy monument consisting of two statues hanging off a pole.
- Cueva del Milodón (Milodón Cave): Explore the giant bear that roamed Patagonia 10,000 years ago.
- Walk & Shop: Refuel after a long day of sightseeing at seafood restaurants, browse local talent and handicrafts, and take a quiet stroll through light-filled streets.