The Coolest Little Town in Patagonia
The Hilarity of “Underrated”
“Underrated” doesn’t even begin to cover it.
If it were anywhere else on earth, you’d already have heard of Puerto Natales. Problem is it’s right smack dab in the middle of Patagonia, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful areas in the world. It’s like putting your perfect little daily driver in the middle of a Ferrari factory. Poor little Puerto Natales is treated as nothing more than a gateway city, a place to sleep before heading somewhere better. But if Puerto Natales is jealous of its otherworldly next door scenery, it doesn’t show it.
So what makes Puerto Natales worth visiting?
The main draw to Puerto Natales is personality. Unlike some parts of Patagonia which border on pretentiousness, Puerto Natales is completely down to earth. People are friendly, restaurants stay open late, the bars are laid back, and the city has a very upbeat feel to it. I’m sure this is aided by the sense of hopeful anticipation all the travelers bring to the area.
Despite being a small countryside Chilean town, Puerto Natales has a very international flavor to it. Travelers from all over the world converge here for just a night or two at a time. It’s easy to swap stories of travel and life at home while sipping beers at the nearest dive.
You’ll find Patagonia’s delicious Austral beer to be plentiful throughout the area, and Puerto Natales is no exception. It’s crisp, refreshing, and easy to like. I highly recommend it.
Seafood is a Puerto Natales specialty, and they do it right. The town’s right on the waterfront, and fresh caught seafood is served daily at various restaurants throughout the town. Try the crab legs, you won’t regret it.
Christmas in Summer
Puerto Natales is one of the southernmost cities on the planet. It’d be a stretch to say you’ll enjoy a warm Christmas because it never really warms up, but at the very least it’s a summertime Christmas. There’s a definite, surreal beauty to enjoying the lingering summertime sun while walking among houses adorned in Christmas decorations. You’ll see lit up Christmas trees displayed in windows, Santas hanging prominently as in the photo above, and Christmas lights among green trees and comfortable weather.
Amazing as the town is, let’s face it: you’re not going to come all this way to see Puerto Natales and go home. With that in mind, Puerto Natales serves as an incredible gateway city to just about anywhere else in Patagonia. It’s right next to Torres Del Paine National Park, and it’s a reasonable bus ride away from just about anywhere else you’d like to go too. Perhaps that’s why so many international travelers converge on Puerto Natales.
Just make sure to appreciate the town; it’s far more than a place to sleep.