Puerto Madryn in Argentina is THE super gay friendly destination of Patagonia.
It was one of the first cities in Argentina to introduce a Casamiento Express (Express Marriage) package for gay couples in which anyone can get married, with all the formalities in place in just 5 days.
On top of this, there's so much to do here like swimming with sea lion pups and whale. It is also the gateway to Peninsula Valdez where orcas can be spotted throughout the year, as well as to Punta Tombo, which has the largest colony of Magellanic Penguins in Latin America.
This is our gay travel guide to Puerto Madryn featuring the gay hangouts, places to stay, eat and fun activities to do.
Gay tour of Buenos Aires and Mendoza this November!
Limited spaces available. November is Springtime in Argentina and one of the best months of the year to visit. We've teamed up with the excellent gay travel company Ursula Hosting to offer our readers an exclusive 5% discount off their hosted experience in Buenos Aires with an “add-on” to include Mendoza. The tour will take place between 26 November to 3 December 2019.
What we cover in this guide
Gay travel to Puerto Madryn
Whilst Puerto Madryn doesn't have a large gay scene like in Buenos Aires, there are a handful of gay friendly hangouts. It's also super chilled here, with a large gay Porteño community who wanted to move away from the big capital city to be closer to nature.
The waterfront promenade called “La Rambla” was our favourite place to hangout, whether for a morning jog or romantic evening sunset stroll. We noticed a few gay guys hanging out here cruising or using the outdoor gyms.
We found Puerto Madryn to be safe and super gay friendly. We had no issues booking a hotel here as a gay couple and even felt comfortable strolling along the beach promenade holding hands. The city has a very liberal mindset and warmly embraces LGBTQ tourism with open arms.
Just be warned, this is not the place to come if you want big gay parties – stay in Buenos Aires for that. Puerto Madryn is where you should come if you want to embrace wildlife and nature.
Best time to visit Puerto Madryn for:
- Whales: from June to early December
- Elephant seals: all year long but it is interesting to come during breeding season, which happens from December to March
- Penguins: from mid September to mid April but best to come in November when the babies are born
- Sea lions: all year round
- Orcas (killer whales): all year round
- Commerson's dolphins: all year round
Gay friendly hotels in Puerto Madryn
Puerto Madryn is a popular destination for gay honeymooners not only for the variety of nature and wildlife activities, but because of the high quality of accommodation options available both in the city and around. These are the best gay friendly hotels in Puerto Madryn city and in the surrounding area based on our experience and recommendations from other LGBTQ travellers:
Why we love it
- Rooftop terrace for drinks
- Gym, spa and sauna facilities
- Stunning views over the gulf
Dazzler Hotel is one of Puerto Madryn's classiest hotels; modern and chic. It is located on the promenade facing the ocean.
Rooms are clean and spacious with some overlooking the seafront, which we definitely recommend for some killer sunrise and sunset views.
There's a large rooftop space, which is a great spot for perving on the cute boys on the promenade below sunbathing, or just having a romantic cocktail in the evening! We loved the spa with it's relaxing treatment options, as well as the Jacuzzi and sauna. Even the gym features stunning views of the gulf.
The city centre is only 400m from the hotel, so you will easily be able to spend your time shopping and sightseeing. Dazzler is also near some of the best restaurants in Puerto Madryn, such as Nautico Bistro de Mar and En Mis Fuegos.
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, avoiding any nasty surprises when you check in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off your first booking.
La Casa de Silvia
Why we love it
- A true B&B with host Silvia
- In a quiet area walking distance from city centre
- Spa bath in the guest bathroom
La Casa de Silvia is a true bed and breakfast in every sense as you are staying with Silvia in her cosy home.
Silvia is a very welcoming host prepared to go above and beyond for her guests, whether that is speaking to them in English or even picking them up at the airport.
You'll be within walking distance of Puerto Madryn's main attractions, but the house is located in a quiet area a bit out of the city centre. The bedrooms are clean and comfortable, with a spa bath in your private bathroom – perfect for a relaxing soak at the end of a long day exploring!
The shared areas include the kitchen where you will be able to cook for yourself to save costs. There's a lovely terrace for relaxing, BBQ facilities and you can even bring your pet pooch along as well.
Explore Peninsula Valdes
Visit the cute and quirky town of Puerto Piramides before heading off to spot wildlife on the Valdes Peninsula. You'll be able to see animals such as penguins, Elephant seals, sea lions, whales, dolphins, guanacos and even armadillos on this exciting day trip!
Hi Patagonia Hostel
Why we love it
- Only 100 metres from the beach
- Great budget hostel
- Cute terrace with bar, hammock and a climbing wall
- Car and bike rental available
If you're looking for a good budget option in Puerto Madryn then the Hi Patagonia Hostel is an excellent choice.
Hostelling International is an excellent charity and not-for-profit company that encourages travellers to learn about other cultures in order to foster more peace in the world. We can definitely get behind that message!
Hi Patagonia is in a great location just around the corner from Puerto Madryn beach. With car and bike rental available you'll be able to base yourself here to easily explore the Valdes Peninsula and surrounding areas.
We love the cute outdoor terrace which has a funky bar, hammock for relaxing and even a climbing wall. You can choose from bunk beds in the dorm rooms or private rooms with bathroom, everything is clean and cosy.
Swim with sea lions
If you can't get enough of the adorableness of sea lions then don't miss out on the opportunity to go snorkelling or SCUBA diving with these cute little guys! Getting face to face with a baby sea lion is a memory you'll never forget.
El Retorno Hostel
Why we love it
- Clean and comfortable budget hostel
- Continental breakfast included in rates
- Lovely helpful hosts
- Walking distance to the beach
El Retorno is another great choice if you are looking for a comfortable budget hostel in the heart of Puerto Madryn. It's in a quiet location but still close enough to walk to the main beach.
The friendly owners are on-hand to help you organise tours with English speaking guides to see whales or other activities in the area.
A basic but yummy breakfast is included in the price, with dulce de leche! Most rooms have shared bathrooms but for a very decent rate you can also book a room with private bathroom or even an apartment.
There's a shared kitchen space for cooking as well as a rooftop terrace to relax and enjoy the sunset. This is not a luxury hotel but if you want somewhere clean, comfortable and affordable then it's perfect.
Must do: Whale watching tour
Peninsula Valdes is one of the best places in Latin America to see whales and their babies. Make sure you book a boat tour to get as close as possible to these majestic creatures as they nurse their young and play in the water.
El Pedral Lodge
Why we love it
- Beautiful historic farmhouse lodge
- Amazing location for seeing wildlife
- Delicious traditional Patagonian meals
- Feel like part of the family
El Pedral is a charming large historic Patagonian farmhouse manor dating back to 1923, located at Punta Ninfas, 70km East from Puerto Madryn.
It's in the middle of nowhere, which is part of its charm, with a strong focus on outdoor adventure and wildlife – so no internet or TVs here (not a bad thing in our opinion!)
This lodge is very exclusive with only 8 rooms available. Full board packages include all meals, alcoholic drinks, transfers and 3 guided excursions to see the local wildlife. It's an amazing place to get right up close to the Magellanic penguin colony on the local beach, as well as seeing elephant seals and whales.
You will really feel like you are part of the family while staying with the lovely hosts and be able to spend time with other guests (if there are any) over meals or while swimming in the outdoor pool. This is truly an enchanting way to disconnect from the world and relax in nature.
Gay bars in Puerto Madryn
Puerto Madryn is not a party destination. You're better off staying in Buenos Aires if that's what you want. However, there are a few gay friendly bars and clubs recommended to us by gay locals. It is also worth noting that the promenade along the beach is where we saw a lot of gay boys hanging out.
- Margarita Pub: a fun gay friendly resto-bar, open from 7pm every day with drinks promotions if you go early. They have an extensive cocktail list as well as many delicious Argentinean wines. There's also food available such as steak, burgers, pizza, pasta, seafood and even sushi. Margarita is located right on the main beachfront boulevard at Roque Saenz Peña 15.
- La Frontera: one of the oldest clubs in Puerto Madryn going strong since 1997. It attracts a mixed crowd and is the main club the gay boys of the city hang out. They have live bands and free pizzas on Wednesdays and Fridays. La Frontera is located at 9 July 254 and is open every Wednesday and Friday from 10pm and Saturdays from midnight.
- Argentina Bar: gay friendly club near the bus station, playing the best Latino pop tunes and Colombian cumbia. They have live music on some nights, karaoke on Wednesdays and hard-rock themed events on Sundays. They also offer up free pizzas on Thursdays and double happy hour every night. Argentina Bar is open Tuesday – Sunday and is located at Hipólito Yrigoyen 296.
Landing in Puerto Madryn soon?
Landing in a new country can be stressful, especially when you need to travel a fair distance from the airport to your destination. For the easiest access to Puerto Madryn from the airport in Trelew, book yourself an airport transfer with an English speaking guide so that you don't have to worry about finding an expensive taxi.
Gay events / festivals in Puerto Madryn
There are no gay festivals in Puerto Madryn. But the LGBTQ community of the city gets involved in the following events, which are worth checking out:
- Madryn Rock Festival (January): Every January a mega-festival of rock music is held in the town of Puerto Madryn. For three days national and international rock bands take to the stage on the campus of the Guillermo Brown football club. As well as live rock music there are stands and characters related to the event throughout the festival grounds.
- National Cordero Festival (January): Another interesting event that takes place in January is the National Cordero Festival; a celebration of traditional Patagonian livestock practices including rodeo, sheep shearing and sheep-dog trials. Along with seeing demonstrations of these skills you'll also be able to purchase items from local artisans and eat delicious grilled lamb from the traditional (and massive) bonfires.
Things to do in Puerto Madryn
There is so much to do in and around Puerto Madryn, you would need a month to do it all. The activities you can do depend on the season you arrive and the wildlife you want to see. We highlight below our favourite activities to do in Puerto Madryn:
Swimming with sea lions
We had previously snorkelled with sea lions in the Galapagos and will never forget it. In Puerto Madryn, you can get even closer to them with curious, playful sea lion pups climbing on you in the water. This was one of our favourite memories from Puerto Madryn. Sea lion tours can be done all year round at Punta Loma.
We loved whale watching in Sri Lanka and were excited to do the same in Puerto Madryn. This is one of the most famous spots in Latin America where you can see whales and their babies. If you go scuba diving to see the famous wreck near Puerto Madryn, there's also a high chance of seeing whales during the dive. The whale watching season runs from June until early December. You can even go whale watching in a submarine!
Conversations with penguins
Punta Tombo is home to the largest colony of Magellanic Penguins in Latin America. They are less than 50cm tall and absolutely adorable! They arrive in late September to nest and mate. The chicks are born in November and stay with their parents for around 3 months. By the end of April, most of the penguins will have left. Punta Tombo is around 2 hours drive from Puerto Madryn but you can easily join a full-day tour to see the penguins!
See Orcas (killer whales)
After watching the sad Black Fish documentary, we really wanted to see orcas in the wild. They swim past certain spots in Peninsula Valdez to hunt their prey, which are sea lions or elephant seal pups. We were lucky enough to spot them, but not quick enough to take a photo. You can also see them from the water (during the right season) on a whale-watching tour.
Commerson's dolphins can be seen throughout the year with a boat tour from Rawson port. They are smaller than most dolphins with a unique black and white pattern, similar to orcas. It's not always guaranteed to see them, but tours allow you to return on the same ticket if this happens. Rawson is around 1-hour drive away from Puerto Madryn.
Walk near Elephant Seals
Peninsula Valdez is the place to come to see elephant seals in the wild, particularly at Punta Norte, Punta Ninfas and Caleta Valdez. They can be seen all year round, with the highest activity during their breeding season from December to March. If you like hiking you might enjoy this day-trip that will get you up close and personal to these huge seals!
Learn about the history of Puerto Madryn
While you're in Puerto Madryn (in between all your wildlife-watching) you should definitely take some time to learn about the history of this city that was originally founded by Welsh settlers. If you join this Puerto Madryn city tour you'll get to see all the main sights as well as the monument to the Indian Tehuelche; the former indigenous inhabitants of the area.
Visit a Welsh village with a dinosaur museum
Learn more about the Welsh immigrants to the Chubut region by exploring the quaint cities of Trelew and Gaiman as a day trip from Puerto Madryn. You can have some traditional Welsh afternoon tea as well as learning all about the dinosaur remains found in the area at the Museum of Palaeontology in Trelew.
Explore the Valdes Peninsula and the town of Puerto Piramides
If you're using a car on your travels then you'll definitely want to drive into the Valdes Peninsula and see what wildlife you can spot for yourself. Make sure you also stop off at the groovy town of Puerto Piramides, which is full of funky cafes and a museum where you can see whale fossils. If you're not driving yourself then this full-day tour will take you to Puerto Piramides as well as all the main seal and penguin watching sites!
Visit the Ecocentro
Make sure you stop by the cultural centre of the Ecocentro, a beautiful three-storey maritime museum with a lovely lookout tower. The Ecocentro foundation aims to educate visitors about the area and promote respect towards the natural world. There are interactive exhibits including a room where you can be surrounded by the calls of Southern Right Whales and an artificial tide-pool. There's also a bar and a gift shop, but the real drawcard is the amazing view you'll get over the gulf.
Gay friendly restaurants in Puerto Madryn
Since this is a port city you will definitely be able to eat the freshest (and most delicious) seafood! There are a number of cosy pubs, seafront restaurants and Italian eateries to choose from. Most of Puerto Madryn's restaurants also have lovely terraces to relax while enjoying the sunset. Here are our favourite places to eat in Puerto Madryn.
En Mis Fuegos
En Mis Fuegos is one of the best restaurants in Puerto Madryn. The regularly changing menu emphasises local ingredients and the food is mouthwatering. With seafood, pork, veal and even rabbit you are guaranteed to leave with full bellies. The waiters are pretty easy on the eyes too! You will find En Mis Fuegos at 32 Avenue Gales
Nautico Bistro de Mar
For delicious seafood, as well as burgers, pizza, home-made pasta and even breakfast, we just loved Nautico Bistro de Mar. Located right on the beachfront you can sit in the restaurant or on the sand overlooking the beautiful gulf waters. There are also regular live shows to go with your dinner and the little ocean-themed decor pieces are a cute touch. Nautico is located at 860 Boulevard Almirante Guillermo Brown.
Gurupan is a vegetarian bakery/cafe with plenty of vegan options available. Locals and travellers alike rave that this is the best place to get vegan food in Argentina so make sure you stop by for tasty treats like vegan samosas, vegan empanadas, vegetable pies, soy burgers, juices and bread. Everything is homemade and the owner is very friendly and helpful as there's no written menu!
Before you go
We've put together some helpful tips for gay travellers to Puerto Madryn here. These little nuggets of info should help you to plan your own fantastically gay getaway to this Argentinean gem.
How to get there: There are long-distance bus connections from Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata and other locations in Argentina. You can also fly from Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn's airport three times a week. Otherwise, international flights go to the airport in the city of Trelew, which is 60km from Puerto Madryn. From the airport, it is a quick shuttle ride to the city centre.
Visa requirements: Travellers from most EU countries, USA, Canada and Australia can stay in Argentina as a tourist for up to 90 days visa-free. You'll need to show that you have a return/onward travel ticket if you arrive by plane and, of course, a passport that's valid for at least another six months from when you arrive. Go here to find out more about visa requirements for Argentina.
Power Plugs: Argentina uses two main types of power plugs; type C which is common in Europe and type I which is mainly used in Australia, New Zealand, China and the South Pacific. If you are travelling from the United States you will most likely need an adaptor like this one.
Travel insurance: We always recommend you get travel insurance so that you will be protected in the case of injury, illness, theft or cancellations during your trip in Puerto Madryn. We love World Nomads Travel Insurance as their coverage is very comprehensive and it's easy to make a claim online.
Safety and Security: Unfortunately it doesn't matter where you are, you can encounter danger when travelling. We use the CloseCircle “virtual bodyguard” app when we're abroad, as they give support and security alerts worldwide. The service covers everything from advice all the way to evacuation in the case of weather emergencies or terror attacks. Read more about why we love CloseCircle in our article How to Stay Safe While Travelling.
Vaccinations: In general you should be very vigilant about using mosquito repellent when travelling in Argentina, as mosquitoes can be carriers of many diseases. The CDC recommends travellers to Argentina also to be vaccinated for Typhoid and Hepatitis A, especially if you will be travelling to rural areas. For more detailed information check the CDC website here.
Currency: The currency used in Puerto Madryn, and throughout Argentina, is the Argentine Peso. It gets abbreviated to ARS. €1 is worth around 48.50 Argentine Pesos and $1 is about 43.25 pesos.
Tipping culture: Generally tipping is not expected in Argentina, although in hotels you may receive slightly better service if you leave a few pesos out for the staff. If you want to show your appreciation for good service on tours then around 100 pesos (which is only about $2) is considered a normal amount. In restaurants then around 10% of your bill is also appreciated if you thought the service was very good.
Internet access: In general in Puerto Madryn, free fast WiFi is available at most hotels, cafes, restaurants and hostels, although the service can sometimes be patchy depending on how remote you are. If you know you will be needing to use a lot of bandwidth during your trip, pre-order a local SIM card with data.
Accommodation: We nearly always use Booking.com when deciding where to stay because they have an extensive selection of properties around the world and the best prices. They also provide excellent 24/7 customer support and free cancellation for most listings if needed.
Sightseeing and adventure: We've mentioned a lot of the best fun things to do in Puerto Madryn already, but if you're looking for more we love to use GetYourGuide.com. The booking process is easy to navigate, there are many cool activities to choose from and their 24-hour customer support is excellent.
Getting around: The main area of Puerto Madryn is easily walkable, although there are also taxis and a bus service. If you want to explore Peninsula Valdes and other areas nearby then you will need to hire a car or join a tour, although there are two buses a day to the town of Puerto Piramides. The Puerto Madryn bus terminal is located on Avila Drive and has a tourist information desk to help you out.
Gay map of Puerto Madryn
Here we've made a map showing all our favourite gay friendly accommodation, restaurants, bars and things to do in Puerto Madryn. Use it to plan your own fabulous stay by the bay!
Get married in 5 days
Since gay marriage became legal in Argentina in 2010, Puerto Madryn introduced the Casamiento Express. This is an initiative open to all nationalities in which you can get married in just 5 days.
The bonus is that Puerto Madryn is one of the most unique places for a wedding and Patagonia the perfect honeymoon destination for gay couples like us who are passionate about adventure and nature: where else in the world can you get married with the backdrop of swimming whales with their babies?
We've arranged some of our tours with Flamenco Tours, a gay travel agency based in Puerto Madryn. By completing the form below, you can take advantage of an exclusive 10% discount we've negotiated for you or if you decide to contact Flamenco Tours directly, do not forget to quote the discount code NOMADIC10 to get 10% off.
For more inspiration:
- Spotting killer whales at Peninsula Valdes
- Patagonia best gay hotels
- Interesting facts about Patagonia
- Top things to do in Patagonia
- The ultimate gay guide to Buenos Aires
- 15 awesome gay bars in Buenos Aires
- Best gay hotels in Buenos Aires
- Interview with Juan from Buenos Aires
- Cordoba gay travel guide
- A complete gay guide to Rosario
- Mendoza gay travel guide
- Our favourite Argentinian foods
- Interesting facts about Argentina