What to see in Chile

Puerto Natales

Tourist attractions Puerto Natales

Once a humble fishing port, today Puerto Natales is considered the gateway to Chile’s world-famous Torres del Paine National Park. Nestled in the heart of Southern Patagonia, it is also the jumping-off point for boat tours of the spectacular Patagonian fjords. 

The city itself has a ranch-town type feel, the result of its heritage as an important sheep farming region. Over the centuries this waterside city has been settled by both European migrants, notability Germans, the British and Croatians, as well as Chileans from the island of Chiloe, all attracted by the flourishing sheep breeding industry. Therefore, the city has a diverse feel and if you travel to Puerto Natales you’ll also have the chance to experience traditional Chiloe culture.

Sat on the shore of the Ultima Esperanza Sound, the city is humbled by the majestic surroundings of snow-capped mountains and turquoise fjords. The rustic appearance of the city only adds to its appeal, with modest tin-roofed houses and chalet-style lodgings. If you visit Puerto Natales you’ll find it’s easy to get around the city on foot, but it’s better known as the base for active adventures into the depths of Patagonia or the glistening fjord lands of the Chilean archipelago. The city itself also has a great range of accommodation options, an array of eateries and, above all, spectacularly scenic views.  

Things to see in Puerto Natales

As one of Chile’s most captivating attractions, the Torres del Paine National Park is the best thing to see in Puerto Natales. Just north of the city, this huge national park is home to soaring granite peaks, glacial lakes and unique wildlife. The rugged Cordillera del Paine mountain range is at the heart of the national park, with its 'Paine Horns' peaks. Furthermore, Torres del Paine is considered one of the best places to go hiking in Chile. A number of different hiking circuits mean anyone can experience the spectacular landscapes here, with trails to suit all levels.

Cueva del Milodón Natural Monument is one of the best things to see near Puerto Natales if you want to discover the ancient history of this unique region. Of great paleontological importance, this natural moment holds the secrets of more than 20,000 years of history in Patagonia. Remains of a mysterious prehistoric animal, known as the Mylodon, were discovered in this huge cave, as well as evidence of sabre-toothed cats and other long-extinct animal species. Furthermore, evidence of human inhabitants only adds to the curiosity surrounding this fascinating site. 

Back in the city itself, one of the best things to do in Puerto Natales is to hike to the top of Cerro Dorotea, a hill just outside of town. After a steep climb, a viewpoint offers spectacular views across the wilds of Patagonia and the glistening waters of the Ultima Esperanza Sound. This windswept hiking area is known for its condors and unique wildflowers.

Finally, if you travel to Puerto Natales, be sure to stop at the Municipal Historical Museum, in the heart of the city. The museum contains an array of artefacts and objects charting the history of the Magellanic region, ranging from tools used by traditional cultures to relics from the colonial era. 

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