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- 19 Jan 2020, 3 nights
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Punta Arenas is a thriving city near the southernmost tip of Patagonia in Chile. Characterised by bright sunshine and lower temperatures, visitors love the bracing sea air – it's fresher here than almost anywhere in the world. The architecture is distinctly European in style, with colourful buildings and imposing statues dotted around. It's where the Pacific meets the Atlantic, where South America meets Antarctica and where travellers meet an adventure unlike any other.
The Punta Arenas hostel scene includes a family-run bed and breakfast with a friendly dog, a high-ceilinged 20th-century house and a series of apartments in the historic area of town. You can find Punta Arenas hostels that make it easy to meet new people, including a place with a pool table and a patio and one with common spaces made for chatting. Lots of options have free Wi-Fi and many have self-catering kitchens so you can cook up some comfort food during your trip.
Punta Arenas town centre is the place to stay if you want to be in the middle of the action. It's where you'll find the main square, Plaza Muñoz Gamero, and the tower of Mirador Cerro de la Cruz, where you can look over the city at sunset (or sunrise). Most of the restaurants, cafés and bakeries are in the downtown area and fairly close together, so head here when your tummy starts to rumble. For a day trip, 19th-century fort Fuerte Bulnes is around 57km away near the abandoned settlement of Puerto del Hambre.
You can venture to Isla Magdalena to visit the Magellanic penguin colony. It's home to 120,000 nesting pairs, a number that's growing thanks to conservation efforts over recent decades. The dramatic landscape and imposing glaciers of Tierra del Fuego are nearby, and the abundant wildlife and unique geography make it a trip you won't forget in a hurry. In town, the grounds and gardens of the Cementerio Municipal make for a peaceful stroll, and you'll find the Statue of the Indian in the city's Main Square. Locals say if you touch its toes, you'll come back to the city.
The nearest airport is Presidente Carlos Ibáñez International Airport, which receives flights from other Chilean cities a few times a day. From there you can take a bus transfer to Punta Arenas, 23km away. Downtown is walkable and there are local bus services in case you don't feel like going on foot. You can hail taxis from the street too.