From Puerto Montt , travelers can head southwest toward the archipelago of Chiloé  or southeast on the northernmost sector of the Carretera Austral. Only in summer is it possible to commence the full Carretera Austral in this direction, as the Hornopirén–Caleta Gonzalo ferry link operates only in January and February; otherwise, it’s necessary to take the ferry from Puerto Montt  or Chiloé  to Chaitén .
Puerto Montt ’s strength is its magnificent geographical setting, but it also has a handful of architectural monuments and other sights. On the south side of Plaza Manuel Irarrázaval, built of alerce in the style of the Parthenon, the copper-domed Catedral de Puerto Montt (1856) is the city’s oldest building. Surrounded by woods, the hillside Torre Campanario del Colegio San Francisco Javier (1894) rises behind the Iglesia de los Jesuitas (1872), at the corner of Guillermo Gallardo and Rengifo.
Recently upgraded, the waterfront Museo Juan Pablo II holds collections on natural history, archaeology (including dioramas of the Monte Verde early-man site 35 kilometers west of town), and anthropology, early Spanish and 19th-century German colonization, and the city’s history from its origins as the indigenous hamlet of Melipulli to the massive 1960 earthquake and up to the present. For many locals, the high point was the 1987 visit of Pope John Paul II, also documented here, which resulted in the museum’s renaming. Directly east of the bus terminal, it’s (Av. Diego Portales 991, tel. 065/261822, museojp [at] yahoo [dot] com) open 9 a.m.–6 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. and 2:30–6 p.m. weekends. Admission costs US$1 for adults, US$0.40 for children.
Puerto Montt  and Angelmó, two kilometers west, have gradually grown together along the waterfront, but the port retains its own identity and attracts more visitors than other parts of town, thanks to its sprawling crafts market and gaggle of marisquerías, always jammed with lunch and dinner patrons. Taxi colectivos out Avenida Diego Portales go directly to the port area, which is also the departure point for southbound ferries.