Besides the W trek, the O circuit, and other hiking expeditions that tour Torres del Paine for several days (more info about the several-day treks here), there are also day hikes that will let you enjoy different parts of this National Park in just a one-day excursion from Puerto Natales. You can check them out below! If you need more info on how to do day hikes, whether it’s guided or self-guided you can find it here.
The most common day trek in Torres del Paine is the trek to the impressive ‘Horns’ or ‘Towers’ themselves, the trek is around 19 km long and takes around between 6 and 8 hours to the towers and back.
Another must-see at Torres del Paine National Park is the Grey Lake and Grey Glacier, a vast stunningly blue glacier that you can observe from the lake and enjoy a small trek over it. In order to take the Grey Lake Cruise you have to go to the ‘Lago Grey Hotel’
Finally, the French Valley, from which you can see the Paine Grande (3050 m), the highest peak in the area. This Peak is crowned by numerous hanging glaciers. On this hike you will feel like in a giant natural granite amphitheatre. One of this granite walls are some of the famous towers, seen from the oposite site of the famous frontal view.
The closest city to Torres del Paine is Puerto Natales.
If you are travelling to Torres del Paine, it is not necessary to stay one night in Punta Arenas if you would rather escape to the mountains straight away. Many people go straight to Puerto Natales, where you can rent gear needed for your trek. It’s also a lot closer to the park, so if you arrive on a later flight, you could go to Puerto Natales and then be ready to leave for the park early in the morning the next day. It’s about a three-hour drive by car from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales, and another two hours at least by car to Torres del Paine National Park.
If you are going by bus these times will be longer. Within Torres del Paine there are a great many different campsites and refugios where you can stay, and depending on whether or not you go West to East or East to West on your trip, the places you stay will vary. In addition, if you want a bit more luxury within the park there are also a few hotels available (even open in winter) which provide more comfortable accommodation options if you prefer.
The best time to go is during the off-peak times, when the weather is still good, so roughly September-October and March-April. In the peak of summer between November-February there will be many more people, and it’s highly likely campsites and refugios will sell out unless you book a minimum of four months in advance. Winter treks are also possible, but typically these require a guide as most trails in the park are no longer accessible in non-guided groups for safety reasons between the months of May and August.
Punta Arenas is famous for its Arctic Crab and Patagonian Lamb! The Arctic crab is a delicious delicacy and can be eaten grilled or also in a dish much like the classic Chilean Pastel del Choclo, except instead of chicken and beef in the dish you have crab. Slow roasted Patagonian Lamb is also a must-try here, with the Patagonian style of roasting being where the entire lamb is roasted for 12 hours over an open fire, leaving the meat succulent and tender.