Madryn has a special charm, it is a beautiful city, big but at the same time small and in front of the sea. It is perfect to live in because it is not too cold in the winter and not too hot in the summer. We show you what to see and do in Puerto Madryn, one of our favorite cities in Argentina.
If we had to choose a place in Argentina to live, Puerto Madryn would be one of them. It is in our Top 3. We have visited it many times, especially because I, Flor, have family living there and I went there for many of my vacations when I was a child.
Already on the access road to the city, you will find a viewpoint where the views begin to captivate you. You can see the contrast of the dark blue of the sea with the desert merging into the colorful city.
Many of the things to do in Puerto Madryn are more than 60 km away, and I was even able to talk about them in the article about things to do in Trelew. However, I will mention the most important ones here, so that you can keep them in mind.
Puerto Madryn is a young city and its origin and strange name is due to the fact that the first inhabitants were Welsh settlers who arrived in these lands in 1865 on the sailing ship Mimosa (that is why one of the city’s beaches is called that way). However, most of the Welsh left for the Chubut River Valley side, where there was potable water. The calm waters of the Golfo Nuevo were propitious for Madryn to function as a port.
📜 TABLE OF CONTENTS
Things to do in Puerto Madryn
1) Valdes Peninsula
One of Puerto Madryn’s main attractions is Península Valdés, a protected reserve that is also a World Heritage Site. It shelters the native fauna and flora of Patagonia, which naturally live there or come migrating at certain times of the year.
🔘 Check out the rest of the World Heritage Sites we have visited.
Seen from the air, the Valdes Peninsula is shaped like a whale (well, or at least it seems to me, hehe) and it is precisely this animal that is one of its main protagonists. The Southern Right Whale is the one that arrives in June and July to give birth to its calves and then in November it leaves for more southern waters. We will talk about whale watching below since it is another of the main things to do in Puerto Madryn and deserves a separate section.
In addition, in this reserve you can see a colony of Magellanic penguins, not as large as the one in Punta Tombo, but it will be enough if you have little time to dedicate to it.
In Punta Norte, there is a lobería and it is one of the perfect places to see the orcas feeding in a unique way in the world, since nowhere else do they do it this way. The best time to see them is between March and April, and between October and November. The technique used by killer whales has been passed down from generation to generation and consists of“beaching“, i.e. leaving the water towards the shore to feed on the poor sea lions.
There are different routes to do within Península Valdés. You have to be careful because most of the roads are gravel and in the end it takes a long time to cover the distances. Within the park is Puerto Pirámides, a coastal town from where most of the whale watching boats depart. It also has some hotel and restaurant infrastructure, as well as a campground.
✏️ The general rate to visit Península Valdés updated for 2022 is ar$ 2.800 (9 € / 9,5 us$), but if you are Argentinean, resident in the province of Chubut, minor or retired, there are discounts. For example, a general rate for an Argentine resident is ar$ 1.300. As prices in Argentina vary constantly, check the official website of Peninsula Valdes. Cars also pay a fee of ar$ 300 (up to 5 passengers).
📷 If you want to get to know Península Valdés in depth, you can do these two excursions, one in the north and the other in the south.
2) Whale watching in Puerto Madryn
Whale watching is one of the main activities to do in Puerto Madryn and the reason why many tourists go there. The good news is that it is not necessary to make an excursion to see them up close, but there are more accessible ways for those who do not have a high budget. However, if you can afford to embark to see them from the water, you will love it.
So, how can you see the whales in Puerto Madryn?
- Whale watching by boat: the boats depart from Puerto Pirámides, so you can get there in your own vehicle or on a tour from Puerto Madryn.
📷 You can book a whale watching tour here.
- From El Doradillo Beach: this is one of the best places to see the whales from the shore. You will see them passing by just a few meters away. It is about 25 km from Puerto Madryn on a gravel road and can be reached by car or by renting a bike in the city. Of course, the route raises some dust.
📷 And if you don’t want to embark or go alone to El Doradillo beach, you can hire an excursion to go to El Doradillo beach.
- From the waterfront of Puerto Madryn: yes! Whales can also be seen from the city, they will not be as close as in El Doradillo, but you will see them jumping or showing their tails in the distance.
3) Visiting the Ecocenter and the Oceanographic Park
These two places to see in Puerto Madryn are perfect to understand all the nature, flora, fauna and geography that surrounds the city.
It is a cultural space dedicated to the sea and it hosts permanent and temporary art exhibitions, lectures, conferences, presentations and meetings of all kinds related to this theme. The best thing is its location, on a cliff south of the city, with stunning views of the sea, to whom it pays tribute. The building has a tower from which you can enjoy an incredible panoramic view.
✏️ The general fee to visit the Ecocentro updated for 2022 is ar$ 600 (3 € / 4 us$), but if you are Argentinean, resident in the province of Chubut, minor or retired, there are discounts. For example, a general fare for an Argentine resident is ar$ 330. As prices in Argentina vary constantly, check the official website of the Ecocentro.
Provincial Museum of Natural Sciences and Oceanographic Museum
The building that houses the oceanographic is known as“the castle of Madryn” and was the former villa of the Pujol family. The exhibition they have in this museum is about Man and the Sea. Man, in that they have exposures of elements of the original peoples and of the first European settlers.
The sea, in terms of their relationship with the flora and fauna of the area, although what most attracts everyone is the exhibition of stuffed animals. You can find everything from an ostrich and a penguin, to the ultimate star of the place, a giant squid. The room dedicated to the southern right whale is essential to learn more about this recurrent visitor.
✏️ Visiting the Oceanográfico of Puerto Madryn is free of charge. For those who have any difficulty with their legs or any disability, please note that this is a refurbished but not accessible house. There are stairs.
4) Climbing the Indio
This is how we colloquially call the viewpoint at the southern end of the city that has the Tehuelche Indian Monument. This one is on a traffic circle, facing the sea. And no wonder, because the panoramic views from there to the gulf and the city are dazzling.
It is easily accessible through a paved avenue and can be reached by car, bike or walking. You have to be a little careful at the top because there are many who stop to contemplate the views from the car, or directly to drink some mates if the day is nice. So there are a lot of people scattered.
Next door is the Ecocentro, another of the above mentioned places to see in Puerto Madryn.
5) Walking along the waterfront of Puerto Madryn.
The beachfront avenue is beautiful and we recommend walking it from end to end, from the Indio to the pier. If you can resist walking, it is a good exercise, but if not, you can also do it by car.
It is not only nice to look towards the sea side. The further south of the city, the houses overlooking the gulf are real mansions to behold.
The promenade is very pleasant. From the Muelle to Gales, on Rocha Avenue, there are cafes, restaurants, a shopping mall and all the souvenir stores. On the sea side, in addition to the beach, there is a small area suitable for walking, rest and recreation, with games for children and ramps for skaters and skating. Then, taking Almirante Brown Avenue, there is a sidewalk, sidewalk or path where most people go to do sports and next to the beach. In fact, there are areas of dunes where sand invades the sidewalk.
6) Enjoying the beaches
The beach of Puerto Madryn is characterized and differs from the rest of the Argentinean coast in that its location within a gulf, the waters are calmer. It’s like a big pool. But the water is also colder, or at least it gives that sensation.
The downtown beach is called Mimosa, in honor of the sailboat of the Welsh settlers who came to populate the area. It is large, sandy and usually has algae. But it is like everywhere, the algae are on the shore, after walking a few meters out to sea, and the water is very clean.
The other beaches to see in Puerto Madryn are a little farther away and are frequented at any time of the year:
- Playa el Doradillo: is a pebble beach located 15-25 km north of Puerto Madryn, accessible through a gravel road. We have already mentioned it before because it is the ideal beach from where you can see the whales very close, but in summer you can enjoy a wild and quiet beach.
- Playa Paraná: this beach is also pebbly and extensive. Its particularity lies in the stranded ship that appears, especially at low tide. In winter, many go fishing and drink mates.
Some of the activities to do at the beach in Puerto Madryn are:
- windsurfing, private lessons are available;
- kayaking, there is the possibility to rent;
- snorkeling, even with sea lions at Punta Loma;
- professional diving or underwater baptism;
- rent boards for stand-up paddle or even yoga.
🔝 Take a look at the best beaches in the south of Argentina.
7) See the sea lions in Punta Loma
Going south of Madryn, just a few kilometers after Playa Paraná, is Punta Loma where there is a lobería. These little animals can be seen from platforms at the top of the cliff and thus observe them resting on the beach or going in and out of the sea.
Black-necked cormorants are also seen, which is a bird of the area that flies and dives using its legs to swim. They live in the hollows of cliffs.
📷 Book an excursion to see the sea lions at Punta Loma and don’t miss out on anything.
8) Other activities in the surroundings of Puerto Madryn
These other activities have already been mentioned in the article on Trelew, which is 60 km to the south, but they are also indispensable when visiting Puerto Madryn.
🔝 Take a look at the article on things to do in Trelew.
See the penguins at Punta Tombo
In this colony you will see a large number of Magellanic penguins, being the largest colony in Patagonia Argentina. The best time to visit Punta Tombo is between September and April. If you want to see the baby penguins, the best time is between December and February.
📷 Book the excursion to Punta Tombo from Puerto Madryn here. If you are arriving by cruise ship in the city, you can also take the Punta Tombo cruise excursion from the port.
Welsh tea in Gaiman
It is one of my favorite activities, hehe. The great variety of cakes, scones, homemade jams, is amazing. Very tasty. The prices are somewhat expensive, especially if you are traveling with your family, but there is also the option of choosing some cakes to take away and eat with some mates on the river, or at home.
📷 Book your trip to Gaiman for tea here.
Visiting the MEF, paleontological museum
In Trelew is the MEF, the Egidio Feruglio Paleontological Museum, one of the most important museums of its kind in the world. Argentine Patagonia is a rich fossil quarry and many specialists from different countries come to do research. A must if you aretraveling with children.
Practical information for traveling to Puerto Madryn
Best time to travel to Puerto Madryn
All year round! In the summer months, you can enjoy the penguins both in Punta Tombo and Península Valdés, the beach and the good weather. In the winter months, especially after July and up to November, there are whale watches. The weather is not hostile during these months.
How to get around Puerto Madryn and surroundings
The most convenient way to get around the area is to rent a car ; you can check prices and book here. All activities can be done on your own, from entering Península Valdés to going to Punta Tombo. It is convenient, but not always affordable.
To Trelew, Gaiman and Puerto Pirámides, you can go by public transportation, perhaps making some combination. But in order to visit the two reserves mentioned above, it is necessary to do it with a local tour or agency.
Where to stay in Puerto Madryn
As long as you choose a hotel near the sea, it’s perfect. But if you want to refine the area, I have two recommendations:
- Choose a hotel in downtown Puerto Madryn, between the pier and Avenida Gales, in the vicinity of Plaza San Martín. It is where all the commercial stores are located. It is also very close to the bus station.
- Choose a hotel before the ascent to the Indio (around Maria Humpreys Avenue, perpendicular to the sea): in that neighborhood, inland and to the south, there are plenty of houses, inns, bungalows and hostels where you can book your stay. It is a quiet area and the beach is also less crowded than in the center. The most commercial street is Dardo Rocha Avenue.
Public transportation and cabs are available in Puerto Madryn. I would choose near downtown if I am not with a car and near Indio if I am with a car. My brother and sister-in-law live in Rada Tilly and travel a lot to Puerto Madryn for the weekend. These are the hotels they have recommended:
- Hostal del Rey: new facilities, excellent service and value for money. A cheaper option to stay in front of the sea and close to the center.
- Luz y Fuerza: inexpensive, quality cabins with fully equipped kitchen, grill and private parking, just behind the Indio. Ideal for families looking for tranquility.
- Rayentray Puerto Madryn: 4 star hotel located in front of the sea before going up to El Indio. It is a giant new building with spacious rooms, an indoor pool and even a casino.
🏨 Do you want to look for other options? Find here the best hotels in Puerto Madryn.
How to get to Puerto Madryn
From Buenos Aires there is a distance of more than 1200 km, so if you choose to travel by bus you have to plan for a 16-20 hour trip. By car, perhaps you can get there in one go, we have done it.
The fastest and, with the advent of Low Cost, perhaps the cheapest way to travel to Puerto Madryn is to fly. There is an airport in Madryn, but it has less activity than Trelew airport.
Discounts and useful resources to save on your trip
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