Read our comprehensive Puerto Madryn travel guide, packed with all the general information that you need to know to plan your trip to Puerto Madryn. Insider tips, weather, how to get there, plus tours and activities along Patagonia's coastline!
The city of Puerto Madryn lies to the north-east of the Province of Chubut in the Patagonian region of Argentina and is situated on the shores of Golfo Nuevo, a large deep-water bay of the Atlantic Ocean. It is the third most populated city of the province, and probably the second in importance after Trelew, a commercial city located 67kms from Puerto Madryn.
The area was originally inhabited by the indigenous Tehuelche people; however Puerto Madryn was officially founded by Welsh immigrants who arrived on the clipper vessel "Mimosa" in 1865. The boat was named in honour of Sir Love Jones-Parry, an important Welsh knight and landowner whose estate in Wales was also named "Madryn". The settlement of Puerto Madryn continued to grow as the Welsh, Spanish and Italian immigrants started to construct the Central Chubut Railway line linking Puerto Madryn to Trelew via the lower Chubut River valley. To this date Puerto Madryn still maintains a link to its Welsh culture and roots by being twinned with Nefyn, a small town on the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales.
The current population of Puerto Madryn is approximately 57,571 and the city has been growing rapidly in the last few years mainly due to the fishing industry, the presence of an important aluminium refinery and the rapid expansion of tourism in Patagonia. The city of Puerto Madryn is an extremely popular summer destination, as it is known worldwide for its beautiful beaches and ecological diversity even though the Atlantic seawater can remain very cold with strong coastal winds throughout the summertime.
Furthermore, Puerto Madryn is developing a modern infrastructure that has also contributed to a significant increase in tourism by making it an attractive location for both international and domestic tourists visiting Patagonia. This includes a Cruise Port, due to its popularity as a port of call for cruise ships on the South American circuit. Puerto Madryn has been positioned on the tourist map as an important city of the south of Argentina and gateway to some of the biggest natural tourist attractions in Patagonia, such as Peninsula Valdes and Punta Tombo.
Photo source: Mariano P.
Puerto Madryn is famous of course for its spectacular marine wildlife. The stretch of coast expanding north and south from Puerto Madryn is a prime location for spotting whales, sea lions penguins, dolphins and more. Break your trip up into day tours to visit Puerto Madryn's surrounding peninsulas and beaches to fully experience this region's incredible scenery and wildlife.
Located on the Atlantic coast in the Viedma Department is the Valdes Peninsula, an important nature reserve in the north east of the Province of Chubut, which was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. Its spectacular coastline is inhabited by an abundance of exciting marine animals, like sea lions, elephant seals and penguins making it an extremely popular Patagonian nature and wildlife tour destination. Puerto Piramides is the only major town of Peninsula Valdes where tourists can find a nice beach, some bars and restaurants as well as great outdoor activities such as kite surfing, wind surfing and snorkelling.
The most popular activity in Peninsula Valdes is whale watching. Southern right whales can be spotted mating and giving birth between May and December in Golfo Nuevo and Golfo San José, a body of calm, warm water protected by the peninsula and the Patagonian mainland. The pleasant water conditions make it an excellent spot for scuba diving as well, as Golfo Nuevo's small current creates great visibility. Furthermore, it is possible to spot Orcas in the open sea off the Valdes peninsula, where they are known to beach themselves on shore to capture sea lions and elephant seals.
Travelling inland into the Peninsula Valdes will give you a fabulous opportunity to spot other Patagonian wildlife such as rheas, guanacos and maras, as well as a wide range of birds; at least 181 bird species, 66 of which are migratory, including the Antarctic Pigeon.
An ideal way to enjoy all that this amazing peninsula has to offer is to book a Peninsula Valdes day tour, which includes a whale watching boat trip, and visits some of the region's most spectacular wildlife hotspots.
Located a short distance north of Camarones, on a peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean, 110 km south of Trelew in Argentina is Punta Tombo, the largest penguin colony in South America. You can walk among thousands of Magellanic penguins nesting their eggs and preparing their offspring for migration between the months of October and March. The surrounding landscape of Punta Tombo offers plenty of other sightseeing opportunities, like a boat tour to spot small black-and-white Commerson dolphins or a tour to other Welsh colony cities such as Gaiman or Trelew.
Located only 17 kilometres south west of Puerto Madryn, you can discover the Punta Loma reserve, the only permanent sea lion colony reserve in South America. According to records, Punta Loma was created in 1967 and was the first natural reserve in the Province of Chubut. Book a Punta Loma tour for the opportunity to get up close to these amazing creatures!
In and around Puerto Madryn:
Other highlights in Puerto Madryn include snorkelling with sea lions; Punta Ninfas, home to one of the most important elephant seal colonies; and El Doradillo Beach which is fantastic for whale spotting from the shore, for those who don't have the sea legs for a whale watching boat trip. Puerto Madryn is also a dream vacation for keen suba divers. From Parque Nuevo, experienced scuba divers can explore natural reefs as well as shipwrecks, including the Albatross shipwreck.
The town of Puerto Madryn is an excellent place to increase your knowledge about the incredible wildlife to be found here. The Ecocentro and the Oceanographic and Natural Sciences Museum with its geology, anthropology and oceanographic exhibitions, are perfect starting points for your travels around this peninsula, giving you the opportunity to learn all about the region's wildlife and environment, ensuring a deeper experience in Puerto Madryn.
If you're looking for something a little bit different, explore the dunes and scenery of Puerto Madryn with a 4x4 expedition; try an inland excursion to one of the Welsh towns to visit their famous tea houses; listen to some lilting Welsh accents on a sheep farm; or experience the gaucho life on an estancia (ranch). Many Patagonian ranches allow tourists to jump into the thick of things and try their hand at ranch activities such as cattle hearding and sheep shearing. For more off-the-beaten-track suggestions, read our guide to alternative Puerto Madryn excursions.
Photo source: Mariano P.
By Bus: Bus journeys from Buenos Aires are approximately 17 hours long. There is a wide selection of bus companies that travel directly from Buenos Aires' Retiro station to Puerto Madryn. Services are comfortable coaches that range from standard to sleepers. Meals and drinks are served on board, all have toilets and films are also shown during the trip. Several bus companies cover this route: Andesmar, El Pinguino and Via TAC. For prices and timetables, visit the Omnilineas website.
By Plane: Flights are approximately 2 hours and only depart from Buenos Aires. Puerto Madryn's Airport (PMY) El Tehuelche is located 10 minutes from the downtown area. There are currently only three flights per week from Buenos Aires due to environmental concerns.
The only airline doing domestic flights from Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn is Andes Airlines. Aerolineas Argentinas flies daily to Trelew, which is only an hour’s journey from Puerto Madryn; therefore you can fly to Trelew and get a direct transfer to Puerto Madryn for easy access to the tours around the peninsula area.
To get from the Puerto Madryn Trelew International Airport to your hotel in Puerto Madryn, book a Trelew Airport transfer.
Photo source: Jonothan Hood
The general climate in Puerto Madryn is cold and semi-arid, with average annual precipitation levels between 150 and 200mm.
Summer in Puerto Madryn: The temperature during the day can reach up to 40°C but it will always be cool at night. If you are travelling to Puerto Madryn in the summertime remember to bring warm layers; a jacket, sweatshirt or a sweater, as well as your swimming costume, sunglasses and sun lotion. It is important to apply sun cream in the southern hemisphere as it is less protected by the ozone layer the closer you get to the Polar circle of Antarctica.
Winter in Puerto Madryn: Temperatures are cold throughout the day and night although Puerto Madryn never experiences snow as the city is situated next to the ocean. The most important climate factors to consider are the strong coastal winds. It is recommended to bring not only warm multiple layers but also a good jacket, appropriate shoes and a hat, especially when taking part in a slow moving tour such as whale watching.
Puerto Madryn has a wide selection of accommodation categories. It is advisable to book well in advance during peak seasons, which run from 15th June to 15th December, when it’s great for whale watching in Peninsula Valdes, and from 15th December to 15th March during summer season.
There are plenty of stunning Patagonian landscapes and wildlife near Puerto Madryn so if you would like to explore the land it is possible to hire a bicycle for the day. Most hostels and hotels in Puerto Madryn can put you in touch with a bicycle hire company.
Puerto Madryn's downtown area itself is fairly compact, therefore it is quite easy to walk from one place to another. However, it does have a city bus system and taxis are numerous. Rental cars are also available in Puerto Madryn but it is recommended to book it from Buenos Aires especially if you would like to collect the car from the airport. There are an abundance of amazing scenic routes, which you can drive and explore by yourself. By renting a car you can also enjoy a broader number of scenic lodging options in more secluded areas.
Although the American Dollar and the Euro are generally accepted, the money exchange is done in banks and authorized offices, and exchanging traveller’s cheques is difficult outside Buenos Aires. Most frequently accepted credit cards are American Express, VISA, Diners and MasterCard but there are also a lot of ATM's available in Puerto Madryn City centre.
Traditional Festivals and Events in Puerto Madryn:
June: Whale season begins, and is the peak period when the Puerto Madryn receives the largest amount of tourists from all over the world.
July 28th: Commemoration of the City's foundation.
November: Fishermen's festivity.
December: National Scuba Diving Festivity. Diving competition, award: Jules Rossi Cup.
For more activities and attractions in Puerto Madryn, view Argentina4u's wide range of Puerto Madryn tours.