I first visited Punta Areaas, the second most southernly city in the world (after Ushuaia, the next stop), two years ago and thought that I would never return. Thankfully I did as a few evening hours that time around weren’t enough to properly explore what is initially (particularly from the port 5km from the city centre) a rather uninspiring but actually relatively interesting place. The city is on the shores of the Magellan Strait which you probably didn’t think look like this…
I started closest to the port, though still a 3km along walk along the main road, at the fascinating Nao Victoria Museum. Here they’ve built life size replicas of a number of ships, which you’re free to climb all over (with care), including Ferdinand Magellan’s ship which was pretty small inside, The Beagle which wasn’t that much bigger, and the James Caird, the tiny life boat that saves Shackleton’s team in an amazing act of navigation.
Also relatively close to the port (1km the other way along the main road, past some lovely lupines) was the wonderful (and free, though all museums in Chile are pretty cheap) Museo del Recuerdo (Museum of the Memories). Basically a lovely grass and flower covered field filled with all sort of random items from the past, including trains, wagons, and buildings.
Heading toward the city centre is the Cementerio Municipal Sara Braun, worth an explore through the endless topiary, and is home to a moving memorial to those who ‘disappeared’ during General Pinochet’s regime.
The latest Pope (or at least a life sized cardboard cut out of him) could be found in Iglesia Matriz (Catedral de Punta Arenas), not for the only time on this trip, though you’ll need to look closely at the second photo.
Every city in Chile has a Plaza De Armas and Punta Arenas was no exception. It was home to the 1910 kiosk turned tourist information centre, and large 1920 statue commemorating the 400th anniversary of Magellan’s voyage. Touching the foot of the native Tehuelche is meant to guarantee your return to Punta Arenas, which clearly was a popular wish for many.
Final stop was a quick look around the pretty underwhelming Museo Naval Y Maritimo (known as Museo de Punta Arenas on Google), which took all of 10 minutes, before decamping to the decent Cafe Montt across the road to catch up with the world via the magic of the internet.