Puerto Madryn City Travel Tips, Attractions & More
Patagonia Argentina is a land rich in breathtaking landscapes and diverse wildlife; and the city of Puerto Madryn, Chubut in the eastern coast of this vast impressive land is no exception.
Founded by Welsh immigrants in the mid-1800s, Puerto Madryn is another city in the Argentine Patagonia frequented by tourists from all walks of life. While its fellow Patagonian holiday destinations are more famous for their landscapes, however, this coastal city’s main attraction is its marine life and the beautiful “performances” they give to spectators. It is in this area where penguins nest, seals bask, and whales teach their young how to swim and hunt. It has its share of beautiful beaches, of course, but it’s first and foremost a gateway to many attractions that are centered on the fascinating marine life that are rarely seen by most in the wild.
City Logistics – Getting Around Puerto Madryn
Puerto Madryn is accessible by land and by air, mostly, although cruise ships do stop in the area for its attraction. By land, it is accessed by Ruta 3. You can get there by car or by bus connections from Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata, and Rio Gallegos. By plane, it is serviced by El Tehuelche Airport 3 miles away and by the Trelew Airport in the neighboring city of Trelew about 34.5 miles away. El Tehuelche is only 10 minutes away from downtown Puerto Madryn while Trelew Airport is an hour away but if you’re flying in from Trelew, don’t worry – it is serviced by shuttle buses that take you into the city for less than $3.
The city has a good city bus system and you can definitely count on them to get around once you’re in Puerto Madryn. There are also a lot of taxis available. Plus, there are also a lot of tours being offered by different places and these tours include transportation. It is recommended, however, to rent a car (cost around $70), especially if you’re planning on seeing the wildlife attractions outside the city.
Puerto Madryn is famous for its beaches and for its marine wildlife so the best times to go would be from June to December (whale watching peak season) and from December to March for the summer.
Weather and Backpack Essentials for Puerto Madryn
Puerto Madryn’s climate is cold and similar to that of a temperate semi-desert climate. While it’s a popular tourist destination in the summertime, around December to March, and there will be plenty of sun and it will be plenty warm, it will still be pretty windy. Make sure to bring a windbreaker and a beanie with you as well as lip balm to protect your lips from getting chapped when you’re exploring the reserves. Also make sure to hydrade – always bring a bottle of water with you.
Where to Stay in Puerto Madryn?
Because Puerto Madryn is a gateway to many marine wildlife attractions, it has a lot of accommodation options, from cheap hotels to affordable hotels. It’s best to do your research first, however, as some of the more affordable options might not have the service to match. Here are the best of the best in the city to start you off with:
For hostels, which rent beds for as low as $20 a night, Hostel Trapalada, Hi Patagonia, La Casa de Tounens, La Tosca Hostel, Chepatagonia Hostel, and El Gualicho Hostel are your best options.
For budget hotels, B&Bs and inns (for less than $100 a night), Casa Patagonica, Hosteria Solar de la Costa, La Posada de Madryn, Los Tulipanes, Bahia Nueva Hotel, and Hotel Piren are the top favorites of visitors.
For the more expensive options (for more than $100 a night), people love Dazzler Puerto Madryn, Hotel Tolosa, Hotel Península Valdés, and Territorio Hotel.
Top Things to Do
This city by the coast offer a variety of things to do and see for people of all ages – from it’s beautiful beaches to its wildlife sanctuaries to its fantastic museums. Of course, as with all the places, it has its top attractions, its main lures that shouldn’t be missed especially on your first visit. Here is a list of the top things to do in Puerto Madryn:
Visitors flock the city mostly for its proximity to Peninsula de Valdés, the UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its geography and its fauna. There are lots of things you can see in this peninsula, including a bay town surrounded by pyramid-looking cliffs (Puerto Pirámides), sea lion and elephant seal colonies, nice beaches, and a lighthouse that has been converted into a hotel (in Punta Delgada). There are a lot of things to do as well – you can go whale-watching, scuba diving and snorkeling, fishing, trekking, and kitesurfing.
For a cheap fee per person, you can witness the mating rituals of the massive elephant seals who come to Loberia de Punta Loma once a year to mate. This nature reserve is only 17 kms from Puerto Madryn is a must visit during your stay, not only because of the elephant seals but also because you’ll get to see and learn about the indigenous plants in the area.
If you are into snorkeling or diving, try and find out about the tours they offer at Lobo Larsen. You will get a chance swim with sea lions for 45 minutes, a rare opportunity and a wonderful experience, with very knowledgeable and friendly tour guides.
Only 30 minutes away from the city is El Doradillo, a favorite area to witness the rituals of Southern Right Whales. Only a few meters away from the rocky shores of El Doradillo are the most amazing things you’ll ever see in your life – it’s here where Southern Right Whales give birth, again only a few meters away from the shore, and where the mothers teach their young how to swim. There is an observation deck on Punta Fleche but visitors can also walk down to the shoreline for a closer look.
Spend a day with Magellenic Penguins at Estancia San Lorenzo, the Penguin’s Land. Part of the beach is roped off and is only limited to the penguins to protect the animals and their environment, but you will still get a chance to get up close and personal with them as they go about their business, caring for their young, gathering food, and even breeding. And there are other wildlife as well – there are guanacos (llama-type animals), elephant seals, and Patagonian burrowing owls. Additionally, the ranch also offers an authentic Patagonian ranch experience to those who are interested.
Have had enough of the outdoors? Puerto Madryn has a few museums worth visiting. They are the Natural Science and Oceanographic Museum, where you can learn about whales, other marine mammals, and the history of the Welsh immigrants in the area; Ecocentro, where they offer interactive sensory exhibits so you get a chance to see what it’s like to swim with right whales and where you can climb to the top for a great panoramic view of the surrounding landscape; and Museo del Desembarco, where you can learn a great deal about the amazing history and achievements of the Welsh immigrants in Chubut.
Go out into the sea and watch the dolphins in their natural habitat by going on a tour with tour companies like Proyecto Iris and HydroSport.
Set out to the Hidden Island of Isla Escondida, where you can get closer to elephant seals. The area is not very well-known – from Puerto Madryn, head south past Trelew and then take the unpaved road to Rawson; from there watch out for the beach entrance – and the road is not very good; but the experience is worth it. Just be careful, elephant seals are massive and are very strong creatures.
The new three-story shopping mall in the center of Puerto Madryn is the best place in the city to go for shopping. It has everything from cheap to high-end shops. Additionally, there are also a good number of specialty stores in the downtown area.
Foodies – Where to Eat and Drink in Puerto Madryn
Nothing beats a great hearty meal after spending a day in the sun watching the marine animals and Puerto Madryn doesn’t disappoint. It’s got fantastic restaurants, most of which serve traditional Argentine dishes. Some of the highly recommended ones are El Almendro Restaurante, known for the excellent steak, the friendly staff, and the cozy ambience; Unamesa Restaurante, for their also excellent steak, their fresh veggies, and their very friendly chef who might just show you his garden if you ask nicely; Taska Beltza, for their fresh seafood and amazing chocolate; Ambigu, for their great pasta and pizza at good value; and La Estela, for the best parilla (grill) meats in the city.
For delicious deserts especially during those hot summer days, stop by Heladería Mares and sample their dulce de leche ice cream.
Puerto Madryn caters more to families with kids as well as animal lovers and marine biologists but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a romantic time with your partner. Walk among the penguins in one of the penguin reserves or go on a boat trip and watch the dolphins swim or even watch the young whales as they learn how to swim. Then top your day off with a lovely dinner at a nice seaside restaurant.
Nightlife and Special Events in Puerto Madryn
There’s not a lot special events going on in the city since Puerto Madryn retires pretty early as a city. There are a few bars to go to. For late night cocktails with friends, try the Margarita Bar Comidas & Bebidas. They have an extensive list of amazing cocktails drinks and the service is excellent.
There are, however, a couple of big festivals that take place in the city every year in January – the National Cordero Festival, when they celebrate the traditional Patagonian livestock practices by having demonstrations of them, and Madryn Rock, a 3-day rock music festival that draws in local and international bands into the city.
Best Day Trips Outside the City
Most of Puerto Madryn’s main attractions are located outside the city already but there are other attractions farther still that you must see, especially if you have plenty of time to spare.
Spend a day exploring the neighboring city of Trelew less than an hour’s drive away. It’s a commercial and industrial hub in Chubut and is the center for wool processing in Argentina. The Museum of Paleontology and the Astronomic and Planetary Observatory there are must-sees.
A little farther away, more precisely 85 km away, is the town of Gaiman, a farming village with nice little Welsh tea shops and some historic Welsh houses. It’s also worth a short visit, especially if you’re taking the road there from Trelew on bike so you can enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way.
And lastly, about 3 hours away south of Puerto Madryn is Punta Tombo, a Magellanic penguin colony where you can really enjoy the company of these awesome creatures. The penguins spend their time there twice every year, in October and in March, and they are in the thousands! There are also a nature trail (boardwalk) that goes around the park so you can also see the other locals, like guanacos and chimangos. While in the area, consider taking a boat trip to see the Commerson’s dolphins as well.
Puerto Madryn is not only a gorgeous summer destination for beach lovers; it’s also the ultimate destination as far as seeing marine animals in the wild is concerned. Here, you will see Magellanic penguins, sea lions, sea elephants, right whales, and dolphins in their most natural habitat and witness them going about their every day business, catching food, taking care of their young, or just playing in the sand. And whether you’re an animal lover or not, whether you’re come here specifically to see the wildlife or you’re just passing by, these will probably be some of the best nature shows you will see in your lifetime.
If you have any insider’s tips to share about Puerto Madryn, we would love to hear from you!