Is Punta Arenas Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On April 5, 2024
Punta Arenas, Chile
Safety Index:
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Punta Arenas, Chile, is known as the Portal of Antarctica.

While many people use it as a stop on a longer excursion, it’s also a great destination in its own right.

Punta Arenas is located at the southern tip of Chile.

It’s a small city with about 130,000 residents.

You can enjoy a relaxed feel similar to a village, while still enjoying the amenities a big city has to offer.

Before you start planning your trip, however, it’s important to know if it’s safe to visit Punta Arenas.

Warnings & Dangers in Punta Arenas

Overall Risk


Punta Arenas is a safe city to visit. It has a low crime rate. There are instances of petty crime, but more serious crimes are very rare. The locals are friendly, and the city has a relaxed atmosphere. The biggest danger is the climate, which can be extreme. Remember, Punta Arenas is close to Antarctica. You can encounter heavy rain, freezing temperatures, and very strong winds.

Transport & Taxis Risk


Punta Arenas has taxis, but you may have a hard time finding one during busy times. This is particularly true when your flight lands. It's best to schedule a taxi ahead of time through your travel agent or hotel. Then, they can pick you up from the airport without a hassle. You can also take a bus or shared taxi. You can also use Uber, which is a great option if you don't speak any Spanish. Punta Arenas is a small, walkable city. However, it's still important to have options for transportation.

Pickpockets Risk


Pick pocketing isn't particularly common in Punta Arenas, but it does occur. However, it is the most frequent type of crime in the city. Pick picketers will often work in teams, with one person distracting you while the other person grabs your belongings.

Natural Disasters Risk


Crime isn't much of a concern in Punta Arenas, but mother nature does pose a risk. Flash flooding can occur. In 2012, it was declared a catastrophe zone due to the flooding. Earthquakes are another concern. Earthquakes with a magnitude of 4 happen frequently, once every few years. The last major earthquake was a 6.8, and occurred nearly 75 years ago. In 2021, the city was hit with hurricane force winds, which left half of the residents without power. High winds, torrential rains, and temperatures below freezing are all common issues in Punta Arenas.

Mugging Risk


The risk of mugging in Punta Arenas is low. The city has crime rates that are lower than the national average, making it a very peaceful city.

Terrorism Risk


The risk of terrorism in Punta Arenas is also quite low. The U.S. State Department recommends exercising a high degree of caution when traveling in Chile due to crime rates and civil unrest. However, there have been no instances of terrorist attacks in Punta Arenas. Civil unrest is also uncommon in this area.

Scams Risk


The risk of scams in Punta Arenas is also fairly low. Telephone scams occur in Chile. Scammers will attempt to get you to tell them your personal or banking information. Credit card and ATM fraud can also happen. Pay attention to credit card readers, be careful entering your PIN, and don't let others handle your card.

Women Travelers Risk


Women travelers can feel safe traveling in Punta Arenas as well. The low crime rate and helpful local population make it a great place for women travelers. Concerns about sexual harassment are very low here.

Tap Water Risk


Many South American countries have water that isn't safe for foreigners to drink. Even if locals drink the water, it may have microbes that your body isn't accustomed to. However, this isn't a problem in Chile. More than 90% of the country, including Punta Arenas, has tap water that is safe to drink. This is due to its water filtration and sanitation infrastructure.

Safest Places to Visit in Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas is a safe city, but there are a few attractions you should check out.

You should certainly enjoy the waterfront.

You can see the Strait of Magellan and the island of Tierra del Fuego.

You should also visit the King Penguin Park on the island, where you can interact with the local penguin population.

You should visit the Plaza Muñoz Gamero, which has a memorial to explorer Ferdinand Magellan.

You can also check out the Museo Nao Victoria, which features a replica of one of Magellan’s galleons.

Places to Avoid in Punta Arenas

Most cities have areas that are safe, and some areas that you should avoid due to safety concerns.

However, this really isn’t the case in Punta Arenas.

You can relax and enjoy yourself anywhere in the city.

It is advisable to avoid poorly lit or deserted areas, however.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Punta Arenas

  1. Travel With Others. Despite the low crime rate in Punta Arenas, it’s still a good idea to travel as part of a group. This can increase your safety, and give you a sense of camaraderie. If you plan on outdoor adventures, you should definitely have a partner. It’s also a good idea to let someone know exactly where you are going, and when you will be back.
  2. Plan Your Journey. It’s also important to plan your journey, particularly if you plan to take a tour or travel to some remote locations. You should know where you want to go, how to make it happen, and how to stay safe in the area ahead of time.
  3. Research Tour Companies. If you plan on going on a tour in Punta Arenas, you should research tour companies beforehand. For example, traveling to King Penguin Park is a great idea, but you’ll want to go as part of a tour. This allows things to run smoothly and helps keep you safe when you are out in the wild. It’s essential to make sure you hire a reputable company. Check out some reviews online, and don’t hesitate to ask the locals as well.
  4. Respect the Wildlife. Chile has little dangerous wildlife. A few tourists have mentioned stray dogs being an issue, but venomous snakes are not. When in Punta Arenas, you are unlikely to encounter any animals that are actually dangerous. However, be sure that you follow the rules and guidelines when interacting with any local wildlife.
  5. Get Up to Date on Vaccines. Chile has fewer disease concerns than many South American countries, but there are a few vaccines you should consider. If you’ve already had common vaccines like chicken pox and measles, you may still need Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines before you head out.
  6. Pack and Dress Properly. When traveling to Punta Arenas, it’s essential to pack and dress properly. The weather can change dramatically very quickly, so it’s a good idea to wear layers. This allows you to change your clothing by adding or removing layers as needed. You should also be prepared for the wind, which is nearly constant and can reach 60 mph. Wind breakers, jackets, and raincoats are important gear.
  7. Keep Your Belongings Close. Punta Arenas doesn’t have a huge problem with pickpocketing or theft, but it can occur in any city. Be sure to keep your bag close to you. If you are sitting, place your purse or bag between your feet. Cross-body bags and money belts are also good ways to keep your belongings safe.
  8. Don’t Display Valuables. The easiest way to make yourself a target for theft is to look like you have something worth stealing. Leave any valuables you don’t need at home. This will help prevent you from being a target of theft, and reduce your stress as well.
  9. Keep Personal Information Private. Even though the risk of scams isn’t high in Punta Arenas, you should still use caution with your personal information. Avoid giving anyone your personal information. Never leave your identification or bank cards unattended. If you leave your cards or wallet in your hotel room, be sure to place it into a safe.
  10. Enroll in STEP. One of the easiest things you can do is to enroll in STEP (Smart Traveller Enrollment Program) before you leave. It’s a free service offered by the U.S. government. It connects you to the nearest U.S. Embassy. You’ll receive alerts if there’s a security or weather warning, and it makes it easier to contact or find you in the event of an emergency.

So... How Safe Is Punta Arenas Really?

Punta Arenas is a safe place to visit.

It has a low crime rate, and the locals are helpful and accepting.

However, you should be prepared for the extreme weather that can occur in the city.

How Does Punta Arenas Compare?

CitySafety Index
Punta Arenas77
Santiago de Chile71
La Serena76
Belize City (Belize)37
La Paz (Bolivia)52
Sao Paulo (Brazil)45
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)43
Sofia (Bulgaria)73
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63

Useful Information



U.S. citizens don't need a visa for stays of 90 days or less, but you will need a valid passport. You'll be given a tourist card when you arrive. You must return this when leaving the country. Failure to do so can delay your departure. If you are traveling with a child, you must bring their birth certificate. You won't be able to leave the country with your child without it. This is to prevent kidnapping and child trafficking. To leave Chile, you have to prove your child is really yours. If you've overstayed your 90 days, you'll need to pay a fine to the Departamento de Extranjería before leaving. If you attempt to leave without paying the fine, you'll be detained by the airport police. If you plan to stay longer than 90 days, you can get a 90 day extension. You'll need to do this before your 90 days are up and pay a small fee.



The currency is the Chilean Peso. You'll find plenty of exchange offices and 24 hour ATMs in Punta Arenas, so it's easy to exchange your currency. The exchange rate is currently 648 pesos for every $1. Most businesses will also accept major credit cards, including American Express, Diners Club, Master Club, and Visa.



In Punta Arenas, summers are cool and mild. You'll experience extreme winds in the summer. At times, ropes are placed in town to help people get from one place to another in the wind. The winters are cold and dry. Of course, they are windy as well. The temperature is typically 31°F to 58°F. It's rare for temperatures to drop below 24°F or above 65°F. Summers are from November to March, with an average temperature of 54°F. In the winter, which runs from May to August, temperatures are below 43°F, with lows around 32°F.



The Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport serves Punta Arenas. You can fly into the airport from Santiago. Once you arrive at the airport, you can get to the city by taxi or bus. As mentioned previously, it's a good idea to schedule your taxi ahead of time.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance isn't a requirement for visiting Chile, but it's a great idea. You should consider getting a policy that covers travel hazards like canceled flights and lost luggage as well as unexpected health issues.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Punta Arenas Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 12° C
Feb 11° C
Mar 10° C
Apr 7° C
May 5° C
Jun 2° C
Jul 2° C
Aug 3° C
Sep 5° C
Oct 7° C
Nov 9° C
Dec 11° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

Chile - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
La Serena76
Punta Arenas77
Santiago de Chile71

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