One Day in Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia

by shortgirlontour

Torres del Paine is a must visit site in Patagonia! From majestic mountains to aqua blue lakes, this park is one of the most famous places not only in Chile but also around the world. If you are an avid hiker, then it would be worth it to spend more than one day in Torres del Paine and do either the O Circuit, the W Trek or a few day hikes. But, if you are looking for a Torres del Paine sampler, then this itinerary for one day in Torres del Paine is sure to cover all the places and sites in the park that can be seen or done in a day.

Sampler or One Big Hike?

Say you are an avid hiker but only have one day, then it may be worth looking into doing the hike that is dubbed the crown jewel of the national park and also its name sake, Mirador las Torres. This is a full day hike that covers over 20 km and tough terrain. Check out my very detailed post on this hike below.

The Sampler

So you decided on the sampler! A few notes on this itinerary

  • There is no real public transport inside the park. If you want to see all the places on this itinerary, you need to hire a car
  • A car can be hired from either Puerto Natales or Punta Arena but inventory is limited so book as soon as you can
  • This will be a long day so come prepared with food and proper clothing. I will be publishing a full packing list soon but for now see my suggestions below
  • It is best to start this day at least from Puerto Natales which is about an hour away from the park. It’s better still if you can stay overnight the day before inside or just outside the park. See HERE for more on accommodation. It’s not a deal breaker if you stay in Puerto Natales. Most day trippers do this but be aware that it will be a long day
    • If you are staying for more than a day however, I highly recommend staying within or just outside the park
  • You need to purchase a pass to enter the park. You can only do this online HERE
  • If you visit in the winter when the days are shorter, you may need to cut down on 1 of the 2 short hikes below but I’ve given the times of each activity so you can determine if you have enough time or not depending on the time it gets dark
    • The times may also depend on fast or slow you are

One Day in Torres del Paine Itinerary

Stop 1 – Glacier Grey Boat Tour

Torres del Paine is home to a mighty glacier called Grey. One of the best ways to see it if you are not hiking the O circuit or W trek is to take a boat tour. The first navigation is at 10 am but you have to be there 1 hour early. They have 4 navigations depending on the season but do the first one.

See HERE for tickets

The tour ends at 12:45 pm. Have lunch at Café Rio Pingo or have your own lunch if you brought some.

Note: This tour is extremely weather dependent. If the wind is bad, then they will not go. If they ask if you want to wait or want a refund, my recommendation is to take the refund and not waste time. The wind doesn’t usually die down all of a sudden like that. Also, buy your ticket from the link provided above. This is the direct link to the company. There are other 3rd parties that also sell tickets but if you need a refund, it may take longer.

If the tour is canceled, once alternative is to hike down to Mirador Lago Grey. The start is next to Hotel Lago Grey at the end of Y-150 (search for Café Rio Pingo). This short hike takes you to a beach and lookout point (on the left when you keep walking along the beach) where you may see ice chunks floating away.

One Day in Torres del Paine
Mirador Lago Grey

Drive 30 minutes to..

Stop 2 – Mirador Salto Chico

This boardwalk brings you to a view point with some of Patagonia’s famous mountains in the background and Lago Pehoé in the foreground. It was cloudy when I visited but I could still see the outlines of the mountains. Spend about 20 minutes here.

One Day in Torres del Paine
Hiding behind a cloud on the right is Cuernos
One Day in Torres del Paine
One Day in Torres del Paine
Imagine this view on a clear day

Drive 3 minutes to..

Stop 3 – Mirador Cóndor

This is a 1.5 hour round trip hike. It’s a gradual climb at the start with a slightly steep incline at the end. The views are similar to that of Mirador Salto Chico but you see everything from top so the span is a bit more. Look at the visibility of the mountains before you start the hike. If the mountains are covered in clouds then you should skip this because you won’t be able to see anything. Note that it is very windy up there.

One Day in Torres del Paine
This is what it looks like on a clear day – MARIA JOSE VARELA, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Drive 10 minutes to…..

Stop 4 – Salto Grande Waterfall

This beautiful waterfall is one of the popular sites to visit on a day trip to Torres del Paine. It’s a short and easy walk from the car park. Spend about 20 minutes here.

One Day in Torres del Paine
One Day in Torres del Paine

There is no drive to stop 5. The starting point is next to the waterfall…

Stop 5 – 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 is another icon in Patagonia. 1.5 hour round trip starts to the right of the Salto Grande Waterfall.

One Day in Torres del Paine
Start of the hike to Mirador Cuernos…even from here you can see the mountain relatively closely

Drive 13 minutes to…

Stop 6 – Mirador Nordenskjöld

This lookout has stunning views of Lago Nordenskjöld and its aqua blue waters. It also has a different angle of Los Cuernos. You can pull up to the designated lookout points along the Y-150. Swing a left on to Y-150 when driving back from the Salto Grande/Mirador Cuernos parking lot.

One Day in Torres del Paine
One Day in Torres del Paine

It is a little less than a 2 hour drive from Mirador Nordenskjöld to Puerto Natales.

What to Pack

  • Layers
  • A waterproof jacket
  • Gloves
  • Hiking boots and socks
  • Trekking poles
  • Day backpack
  • Food and snacks
  • Water

Map View of Stops

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One Day 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.

To say travel is my passion is truly an understatement! What I love most about travel is that I get to connect with locals and meet with fellow travelers from around the world. In addition, travel also enables all my other interests like photography, architecture, art, music and food! Please feel free to share any posts or leave me feedback on how I can improve. Thank you and happy travels!


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