The southernmost urban hub in the Americas, Punta Arenas has long been the gateway to Antarctica, though some traffic has shifted to smaller, more southerly towns in recent years. Regardless this remains the most convenient spot in the hemisphere to see penguins, glaciers, and that fantastic Patagonian landscape of ice-carved granite peaks thrusting up through the tenacious green.
Puerto Arenas itself is a working town, busier with oil, wool, seafood, and shipping, than the enchanted tourists seeking small boats out into the immaculate wilderness. Its museums and no-nonsense charm have their own appeal, as do its modern amenities, especially after a few days camping in the outback.
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Punta Arenas is the southernmost city in Chile, and one of the most southern cities in the world. Keeping watch over the Straits of Magellan, the major port town is a transportation hub for the region, including most flights bound for Antarctica.
Most visitors arrive at the Carlos Ibáñez Airport (PUQ), about 20 km (12 mi) north of town, on direct flights from Santiago or Montevideo.
There are also ferries connecting the city to many tourist destinations, as well as Puerto Montt and Puerto Williams. Buses link the city to Puerto Natales, the surrounding national parks, and much more distant destinations.