Why go to Punta Arenas?
A good base for tours to penguin colonies, Torres del Paine National Park and even Antarctica
Not a ton to do in this tender port city; tours can be long and pricy if flights are needed
For bucket list cruisers, Punta Arenas is a jumping-off point for memorable adventures
Punta Arenas Cruise Port Facilities?
The yellow marine terminal has restrooms, a coffee shop, souvenir stands and an internet café. Just around the corner from it is a nice handicrafts shop that also offers a respectable selection of Chilean wines. Other than that, there's not much to hang around for.
Good to Know?
While the vendors in Plaza Munoz Gamero offer a decent price point for their locally made goods, make sure you are in fact "buying local" and not purchasing a Chinese knockoff. Also, quite a few stray dogs tend to hang around the square, which can be a bit offputting. And don't even think about bringing ashore dairy products or any other consumable fresh food item or they will be confiscated upon arrival by agriculture department inspectors.
With its compact grid, Punta Arenas is imminently walkable. Plaza Munoz Gamero is a 10- or 15-minute walk or a $5 taxi ride. To get there from the terminal, walk up the hill one block on Avenida Independencia, then turn right on 21 de Mayo and continue for three blocks. The cathedral, museums, restaurants and main shopping avenue, Avenida Bories, all spin right off the square. There's also a tourism kiosk in the plaza, offering maps and other helpful brochures.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
Chile's currency is the peso. Visit www.oanda.com for current rates and a handy cheat sheet that fits nicely into a wallet. ATM's, and there are several located off the city's central plaza, tend to be the cheapest way to acquire pesos. However, there's no need to bulk up on local currency. Most sidewalk vendors, taxis, museums, restaurants and shops accept U.S. dollars and some will take euros. Credit cards are widely accepted as well.
Spanish. Very little English is spoken – even in museums and restaurants. Those eateries that do cater to tourists often have English translations on the menu.