Best Day Hikes and Lookout Points in Torres del Paine, Patagonia

by shortgirlontour

Torres del Paine in Chilean Patagonia is home to stunning viewpoints and hikes. While the O circuit and W trek are popular multi-day hikes in Torres del Paine, there are lots of day hikes and lookout points that you can do and see around the park that does not require camping, carrying a backpack or committing to a minimum of 4 days that is required by the W trek or the 8 days required by the O circuit. This post covers the best day hikes and lookout points in Torres del Paine.


Salto Grande Waterfall

This stunning waterfall is a popular attraction for day trippers visiting Torres del Paine. It can be seen both up close and from a distance.

From a Distance

  • Location: On Y-150 between Camp Pehoé and the Pudeto ferry station turn off
  • Length: 0; viewpoint can be seen from road
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: Designated parking available on roadside (on the right hand side when coming from Camp Pehoé
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine

Close up

  • Location: At the end of the road (Y-158) after the Pudeto ferry station
  • Length: 200-300 meters from car park
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: Designated car park a few meters before the falls
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine

Mirador Nordenskjöld

This lookout has stunning views of Lago Nordenskjöld and its aqua blue waters. It also has a different angle of Los Cuernos. There are actually a couple of lookout points along this road (all on the left as you are going towards the east). Stop at any of the designated parking spots.

  • Location: On the Y-150 after passing the Pudeto ferry turnoff (about ~7km from turn off)
  • Length: 0; viewpoint can be seen from road
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: Designated parking available on roadside
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine

Los Cuernos

On a clear day, you can see this famous mountain in Torres del Paine from many different places along the road.

Short Hikes

Mirador Lago Grey

This easy hike passes a suspension bridge over the Rio Pingo and goes through an easy walk to the shores of Lake (Lago) Grey. You can see chunks of ice bobbing up and down even from the shores without hiking to the lookout. To hike to the lookout, keep walking on the beach and turn left at the first small hill. How much ice you may see of course depends on the day and weather. If you are doing the boat trip to the grey glacier, then you will be passing these shores to get to the boat.

  • Location: At the end of the Y-150 passing Hotel Lago Grey. The trail is next to the Rio Pingo Cafeteria
  • Timing: 1.5 hours 
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: There is a car park at Rio Pingo Cafeteria 
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
The big red marker shows the Rio Pingo Cafe
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Saw two chunks of ice on the water

Mirador Salto Chico

Technically a part of the luxury hotel Explora. No one stopped me from walking on the boardwalk so I continued. The views from here are supposed to be stunning but alas it was cloudy this day. On a clear day, you can apparently see amazing views of Paine Cuernos (or the horn like mountains) and Lago Pehoé.

  • Location: Starts from the entrance to Hotel Explora on Y-150
  • Length: Super short walk on a boardwalk (200-300 meters)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: Park at the start of the boardwalk as soon as you swing a left on Y-150 (look for hotel Explora)
Los Cuernos is to the right
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
You can see Los Cuernos on the right a little better here

Mirador Cóndor

This lookout is what picture postcards are made out of! The view consists of Lago Pehoé with Los Cuernos or the horn shaped mountains in the background. Unfortunately the weather was bad when I went and I could not see the mountains.

  • Location: Trail starts on Y-150 (right side just passing Camp Pehoé)
  • Time: 1.5 hours return
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Parking: Roadside pullout parking available just before start of trail 
This is what it looks like on a clear day – MARIA JOSE VARELA, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s a gradual climb through vegetation. After a while you will see Lake Pehoé on your left. The trail then starts climbing. After a few meters, you pass a small open tunnel between two peaks. This is basically a wind tunnel where the wind goes from crazy to how am I even standing. I got caught to a crazy episode of wind here, where it was literally moving me forward even when I had my trekking poles dug to the ground and in a crouched position. Not only was it moving me forward, it was also picking up my backpack from my back! I couldn’t breathe or see!! Probably one of It was the most scariest wind related episode I have ever experienced in my life!

The path to climb further up will be on the left hand peak of this tunnel. It’s not a difficult climb. Enjoy amazing views if it’s a clear day but be careful of the wind.

Mirador Cuernos

Mirador Cuernos is one of the best viewpoints to see Los Cuernos. This relatively short and easy hike gets you to a place with a stunning view of the Cuernos or horn like mountains that’s famous in Patagonia.

  • Location: Trail starts at the end of the road (Y-158) after the Pudeto ferry station
  • Time: Around 1.5-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: Designated car park just before Salto Grande waterfall
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Start of the trail next to Salta Grande waterfall. You can see Cuernos even from here.

Long Day Hikes

These are full day hikes that require you to cover long distances. One of the disadvantages of doing these as day hikes as opposed to multi-day hikes is that you will have to cover a longer distance in a day. The other disadvantage is that you would have to rely on a ferry to get you to the starting point for two of these hikes(see below for more detail). Regardless, I do think these are all worth t!

Mirador las Torres

The best day hike you can do in Torres del Paine is the hike to Mirador las Torres. Unofficially dubbed the crown jewels of Torres del Paine, this hike takes you through varied landscapes right to the base of Las Torres or the three iconic towers that the park is named after.

  • Location – Mirador las Torres or Base Torres is location on the upper right corner of the “W” trek (I describe the W in more detail HERE). Trail starts at Hotel las Torres
  • Time – This really depends on you. The official guidance is anywhere from 7-10 hours
  • Distance – 20.8 km/~13 miles
  • Elevation gain – 845 meters
  • Difficulty – Mirador las Torres hike is categorized as a moderate to difficult hike
  • Parking – At the Welcome Center near Hotel las Torres

I wrote an entire blog post on Mirador las Torres. See HERE or below!

Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine

Mirador Glacier Grey

Mirador glacier grey is a popular day hike in Torres del Paine. This is more or less a full day hike. Given the time commitment, you may want to consider skipping this, if you are also going to do the grey glacier boat trip. However, if you have time, then do both the hike and the boat ride. One view is a panoramic view and the other is a close up.

  • Location: Located mid-way on the left side of the “W” trek. Trail starts at Paine Grande
  • Length: Depends on viewpoint (see note below)
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Facilities: Car parking is available at the Pudeto ferry station. There is also a café located there.

Important Notes on this hike

You can do this hike 2 ways. 1. You could take the Glacier Grey boat tour to Refugio grey and hike down to Paine Grande to catch the ferry back. This is the more expensive option but lets you see both views (up close and panoramic). 2. You could take the ferry to Paine Grande and take it back. With both these options, timing is everything and the weather can throw a wrench in all plans.

Option #1 – Given timing of the first landing of the boat at refugio grey (10:45 am) and time it takes to hike back to Paine Grande to catch the ferry, the timing has to work like clockwork. Any delays, especially weather related delays will hinder your ability to do this option and to get back to the ferry on time for their last departure. Also, you will have to find a way to get back to your accommodation and/or pick up your car (if you left it at hotel Grey) from the Pudeto ferry station.

Option #2 – From Paine Grande, you can hike to the lookout point (Mirador Glacier Grey) or you can hike to the view point just beyond the refugio. All this depends on 1. If you catch the first ferry to Paine Grande 2. How fast you can hike. There is a 3rd viewpoint a few kilometers beyond refugio grey but do not recommend doing it as a day trip.

Option 2 is the more preferable and the less riskier (less things to go wrong) of the two.

If the weather causes the ferry to Paine Grande to delay (depending on by how much), you can hike to Mirador Glacier Grey and back without going further.

Personal Experience

I booked the boat trip to Glacier Grey and it first got delayed due to bad winds and then eventually canceled. We were asked to wait to see if the wind will die down and I waited for a long time for them to come back and say they were canceling the tour. In hindsight, instead of waiting, I should have raced to the ferry station in Pudeto to try and do the hike to Mirador Glacier Grey instead. I did do that later in the day but it was much too late to complete the hike.

Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Trail to Mirador Glacier Grey

Notes on Glacier Grey

There are a few activities you can do around Glacier Grey.

  1. The boat trip – I spoke about this above. There is only 1 company who offers this. They have 4 navitation times in peak season (less other times) but this is totally weather dependant
  2. Glacier Hiking – There are a few companies who offer this and they all more or less have 2 schedules (morning and afternoon). You cannot do this unless you stay at the Grey campsite as the timing for the hike, boat trip and/or ferry schedule does not line up for it to be done as a day trip activity
  3. Glacier Kayaking – Same note as above. You have to stay at Grey campsite as the timings do not work to do this as a day trip if not

Mirador Valle Francés

Mirador Valle Francés is another popular hike on the O circuit and W trek. It can also be done as a full day hike. There are actually 2 lookout points on this hike; Frances and Britanico. The trail passes through some beautiful scenery and gorgeous lake and mountain views, including a view of the back of Los Cuernos

  • Location: Located on the middle pointer of the “W” trek. Trail starts at Paine Grande
  • Length: Depends on viewpoint (see note below)
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Facilities: Car parking is available at the Pudeto ferry station

Important Notes on this hike

As mentioned above, there are 2 major lookout points on this hike. However, if you are doing this hike as a day trip then I highly recommend not going to the 2nd lookout point (Britanico), unless you are very fast hiker. This is because you will need to get to Paine Grande before the last ferry departs at 6:35 pm.

Here is a breakdown of the distances with rough timing (because timing will really depend on your speed). These are all one way. Double for the total length and timing.

Paine Grande to Camp Italiano7.5 km2 hours
Camp Italiano to Mirador Valle Francés2 km1 hour
Mirador Valle Francés to Mirador Britanico3.5 km2 hours

The hike starts from Paine Grande camp and refugio and is a relatively flat hike. It passes along Lago Skottsberg and open sections of dead trees. Los Cuernos also makes an appearance for some time as you hike along the lake.

Somewhere after the first sighting of Glacier Frances (about 15 minutes from Camp Italiano) is where the trail starts climbing. The trail in this section consists of boulders and rocks.

If you are doing this as a day hike, then you will have to take the ferry from Pudeto to get to Paine Grande. Try to catch the earliest ferry out. You will need to get to the station at least 45 minutes before to ensure departure on the 1st ferry out.

Camp Italiano, at around the 7.5km point is currently closed. The only thing you can get here is drinking water from a faucet. Bring your own snacks and food!

Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
The back of Cuernos in front
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
By Mirko Thiessen – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Personal Experience

The weather was not in my favor the day I did this hike. The wind was so strong this day. Although I got to the ferry station a little early, there was already a massive line of people. The wind was making the water really choppy so the ferry company reduced the number of passengers they were going to take on the first trip out. The usual 30 minutes trip took longer each way and by the time I got to Paine Grande, I was already short 2.5 hours. With this limited time, I could not make it all the way to Mirador Valle Francés and had to turn back at the first viewpoint of Glacier Frances. The bad wind meant even the flat parts of the trail were a challenge, especially near Lago Skottsberg. It was a little scary as the wind gushed from the mountains towards the lake, passing me in the process. Any area where the path was open to the lake was particularly challenging.

Ferry to Paine Grande

I could write an entire thesis about why I think the ferry to Paine Grande is not great and how I think it can be fixed BUT I’ll spare you!! 🙂

  • Starting Point: The ferry starts from Pudeto ferry station and ends at Paine Grande
  • Schedule: See picture below
  • Cost: $30 USD or CLP $25. CASH only
  • Crossing time: ~30 minutes (more during bad weather)

Notes on the Ferry

  • There is only 1 ferry and it goes back and forth
  • As mentioned before, any delays in the ferry crossing, either due to the weather (in bad weather the 30 minutes takes much longer) or due to crowds can throw a wrench in a day hike
  • Come at least 45 minutes early to Pudeto if you want to catch the 1st ferry out. If you miss this first one, you will have to wait in line until they do the drop off and come back (at least an hour)
  • The 4:35 pm ferry to get back seemed super popular. The lines to get on it were insane.
  • If the line is long for the 6:35 pm ferry back from Paine Grande, they will keep going up and down until the last passenger from Paine Grande is transported back to the Pudeto station but you have to be there and in line at the last departure time.
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine

Alternative to the Ferry

So you want to do both Mirador Glacier Grey and the French Valley but you don’t want to do the full W and you also don’t want to pay $120 for the ferry ($60 round trip x 2). One alternative is to stay in Paine Grande which is at the bottom of the first V in the W (Grey is the top left point and French is the middle point). Paine Grande has both camping and refugio options (See my detailed post on accommodation in Torres del Paine HERE), but you need to book early.

Weather in Patagonia

Before I left for Patagonia, I read how bad the winds were and how unpredictable the weather was but I don’t think I fully understood this until I was actually in Patagonia. The wind was so bad, it was knocking down grown men and women. It even shattered the passenger window of my car. No one in Patagonia was surprised by this. I was told they had seen cars topple over. Bring trekking poles. I used them more as wind aids than hiking aids. How? Whenever I was faced with a strong gust of wind, I dug my trekking poles strongly to the ground and crouched over.

The weather too is super unpredictable. It can go from sunny to raining to even snowing in a matter of minutes. I had bad weather through out my Patagonia trip which was unfortunate but I rolled with the punches (literally! the wind knocked me over!)

Final Thoughts

Be flexible with your plans. Since all these hikes are day hikes, prepare to switch them around depending on the weather if needed.

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Best Day Hikes in Torres del Paine

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Welcome to my blog and thank you for visiting! Believe it or not this blog is not my full time job! I work 8-5 in Supply Chain and run this blog after work!  I’ve dreamed of traveling the world since I was a child and at 44 countries and counting, I am so grateful to get to live that dream.

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