Welcome to Puerto Montt, Chile!
Puerto Montt is a down-to-earth, authentically Chilean, spot right in the heart of southern Chile’s majestic Lake District. Surrounded by forbidding volcanoes, gorgeous glacial lakes, and vast swathes of glorious national parks, Puerto Montt remains somewhat overlooked as a destination in its own right. However, as well as being the ultimate launchpad for some of the most staggering scenery in the country, Puerto Montt is a lively little port town with a fantastic dining scene that’s well worth a visit.
The tourists arriving at Puerto Montt airport tend to stick with what they know, but a worldwide local seeks out adventure and explores beyond the usual activities. This is an insider’s guide of the lesser-known delights of Puerto Montt.
Where to Begin
Right on the water’s edge, overlooking the busy, bustling harbor, the Plaza de las Armas is the perfect place to start your exploration of Puerto Montt. Wander around and soak up the atmosphere, get a feel for the buzz of the city, and then grab a coffee and a bite to eat at one of the delightful cafes that are scattered around the area. Cafe Sirope and Rukaffee are two of the best, just off the main square.
Worldwide Local Tip: The northern edge of the Plaza is dominated by the unique, remarkable structure of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Puerto Montt’s cathedral constructed entirely from wood. Built in 1892, it is a charmingly beautiful building, and well worth a look.
Things to Do in Puerto Montt
Despite its slightly staid reputation, Puerto Montt has a few excellent cultural and historical attractions. The Historical Museum of Juan Pablo is a carefully curated exploration of the history of the area. There’s also the Lahuen Nadi Natural Monument, which is a gorgeous park, just outside town, which is dedicated to the trees, plants, and landscape of the region. Finally, the archaeological site of Monteverde is an extraordinary place dating back around 18,500 years, and possibly the earliest location of human settlement in the Americas.
Eating Like a Local
Puerto Montt is a seafood lover’s dream, with restaurants serving up fresh, tasty mariscos from dawn to dusk. In the last few years, however, Puerto Montt’s dining scene has had a bit of an under the radar renaissance, but now boasts some of the best eateries in the region.
Worldwide Local Tip: For dedicated carnivores, the quincho (barbeque hut) at Cotele is a mouthwatering monument for steak and grilling. If you’re in search of something a little more gourmet, Chile Picante is one of the finest restaurants in southern Chile, with an ever-changing, market-fresh menu, and an immensely creative chef.
For the Nature Lover
Of course, the main reason most travelers make the trip to Puerto Montt is to witness the natural wonders surrounding it, as they are truly remarkable. Glacial lakes, mountains, active volcanoes, and deep forests are here in abundance, and with the temperate Puerto Montt weather, the city is the perfect base to go exploring.
Worldwide Local Tip: The Chilean fjords are a breathtakingly beautiful series of narrow inlets, verdant, towering cliffs, and stark glaciers. The best (if not the most luxurious) way to see them is by jumping on board the Naviera Austral from Puerto Montt harbor, where you can join the locals as well as cargo, in a glorious and jaw dropping 24 hour journey up the coast. You can jump on and off for hikes, set up camp, and explore as much as you wish!
Enjoy Your Stay!
Puerto Montt is a busy, bustling, and straight-up serious working town that is, of course, a wonderful base to explore the Lake District of Chile. However, as a worldwide local you’ll experience the beauty and excitement in unexpected places. There’s no doubt you’ll find a few days in this excellent city to be immensely rewarding.