Puerto Montt is a large port city on Chile’s coast in the Lagos Region of the country. Many travelers don’t set aside much time to explore this city or skip visiting it altogether in favor of Santiago or the wonders of Patagonia further south. However, this region of Chile holds many wonders of its own, from delicious foods, stunning landscape, and a unique history. Here are seven great things to do in Puerto Montt.
1. Explore Chiloé Island
Chiloé is a picturesque island that sits just off the coast and can be reached by a short ferry that departs south of Puerto Montt. There are so many activities to do on Chiloé, including biking around the island, hiking through the national parks, observing wildlife, admiring the colorful buildings, and learning about the legends of the island and history of the communities there.
Many opt to take a day tour of the island to see the highlights, but you can also explore it on your own. If you opt to do it on your own, you can take a bus, but we recommend renting a car to be able to see more of the island. The ferry does transport cars between Chiloé and the mainland for an extra fee. If you feel that one day isn’t enough to explore this stunning place, there are hotels there too.
2. Visit Angelmó Market
Visiting Mercado Angelmó is one of the great things to do in Puerto Montt that doesn’t require a tour or travel far outside the city center. This market sits on the west side of Puerto Montt along the water. While it is a good place to pick up souvenirs, Angelmó is more famously known for its fish market.
Fishermen bring in fresh catches daily, and there are restaurants around the market serving delicious salmon, ceviche, and more. When we went, there were smaller stands selling quick bites and also places to sit down and have a larger meal. There were many staff members presenting their menus as we walked by. You can also pick up some fresh fish to prepare at your accommodation if cooking is an option.
At the far end of the market, there were quite a few birds and sea lions lounging about waiting for fishermen to throw scraps into the water.
3. Walk the Waterfront
The Costanera de Puerto Montt is a bustling place great for a walk. There is a nice pathway along the water that runs through parks with green spaces, fountains, sculptures, and other displays. From the path and the docks along it, you’ll get pretty views of the ocean, city, and snowcapped peaks in the distance.
The heart of town is located near the waterfront too, and you’ll find the Plaza de Armas, restaurants, and various shopping opportunities in the area. If you’re looking for information, you’ll also find quite a few tour agencies and the tourism office along Ruta 7 (Carretera Austral).
4. Visit the Historical Museum
The Puerto Montt Historical Museum Juan Pablo II sits near the bus station and Costanera. It’s a quick activity in Puerto Montt. When we went, the entrance was free. This museum highlights some of the history of the region, including colonial settlement, the growth of the city, the massive earthquake that caused huge destruction, and more. A downside to this activity for some travelers is that the information on the exhibits was only presented in Spanish. Consider visiting with a guide for information in another language.
5. Experience Osorno Volcano
There are many volcanoes in Chile, and Osorno is one of the prominent ones in the Lagos Region. It is incredibly beautiful and there are a variety of ways to experience its magnificence. There are many tours that will take you up Osorno where you can hike around and take a lift further up the side of the volcano. In the winter, you can even ski! Visitors can also drive up to the parking area with a rental car.
If you don’t have the opportunity to make it up the volcano, you can still get a good look at Osorno from Puerto Varas, the shores of some of the lakes in the area, and viewpoints like the Saltos del Petrohué.
6. Take a Day Trip to Puerto Varas
Many travelers choose to stay in Puerto Varas over Puerto Montt. But if you stay in Puerto Montt like we did, we recommend taking a day trip to Puerto Varas. This town can be easily reached by bus from Puerto Montt. It is smaller and a bit more quaint than Puerto Montt and its German influence makes it an interesting place to spend some time. Within the town, you’ll find shopping, unique architecture, great cafes and bars, and more.
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll be thrilled with all of the natural beauty around Puerto Varas. The town sits on Lago Llanquihue where you can walk the shores, kayak, and admire the views of the surrounding volcanoes. We took the bus from town and visited Saltos del Petrohué and Lago Todos Los Santos. The area around Puerto Varas is packed with opportunities to hike, camp, and enjoy the great outdoors.
7. Explore Alerce Andino National Park
Parque Nacional Alerce Andino sits about 30-45 minutes outside Puerto Montt. For one day, park entry costs about 7 USD per adult foreigner. Check prices and purchase tickets here. The park is filled with lush forests, lakes, and beautiful waterfalls. While exploring the park, you’ll be among some of the world’s largest trees that are thousands of years old and you may see some wildlife, including foxes, pumas, and deer.
If you don’t have your own car, there are tours you can take from Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas. If you want a bit more flexibility, you can drive yourself. Just use caution on the gravel roads, especially after heavy rain. There are also camping opportunities if you’d like to immerse yourself in the park’s stunning nature a bit longer.
For more information on Puerto Montt, check out our city guide!