20km (12 miles) S of Puerto Varas; 1,016km (630 miles) S of Santiago
This port town of roughly 155,000 residents is the central hub for travelers headed to Lagos Llanquihue and Todos los Santos, Chiloé, and the parks Alerce Andino and Pumalín. It is also a major docking zone for dozens of large cruise companies circumnavigating the southern cone of South America and several ferry companies with southern destinations to Laguna San Rafael and Puerto Natales in Patagonia.
Puerto Montt was founded in 1853 by German immigrants and their stalwart promoter Vicente Pérez Rosales, who named the town after another promoter of immigration, President Manuel Montt. The waterfront here was rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1960, which destroyed the city's port, church, and neighborhood of Angelmó. Today it is the capital of Chile's southern Lake District, a thriving city that invests heavily in salmon farming, shipping, and tourism. There isn't much to see or do here, and most visitors head straight out of town upon arrival, but Puerto Montt's small downtown offers a quick, pleasant stroll on a sunny day, and there is an extensive outdoor market that sells Chilean handicrafts.