Tourist places around La Serena, Chile

Translated By: Raúl Silva M. 

Colonial architecture, La Serena, Chile.La Serena, capital city of the Coquimbo Region is one of the most important tourist destinations in the country. Its historic center is remarkable, with a preserved neo-colonial architecture characterized by balconies, small squares and centuries-old stone churches, in addition to the long, cozy beaches. It is part of the Province of Elqui and limits to the South with Coquimbo and Andacollo, to the North with La Higuera, to the West with the Pacific Ocean and to the East with Vicuña.

Founded in 1544, it is the second oldest city in Chile, after Santiago, the Chilean capital. On the other hand, it constitutes part of a conurbation with the neighboring port city of Coquimbo, totaling a population of more than 486,000 inhabitants, according to the 2012 Census, which places it as the fourth most important urban area in the country. 

The city is an important tourist hub, especially in Summer, when people make it one of the most recognized destinations for vacationing in Chile, mainly for its beaches, architecture, green areas and gastronomy, in this field, the city is famous for the production of papaya and derivatives. 

During the rest of the year, its activity is focused on being a place of university studies, because here is located the main campus of the Universidad de La Serena and several other private universities. In addition to being the regional economic capital, the city is home to the Archdiocese of La Serena, one of the five Catholic Archdioceses of Chile. 


How to Get There

By Air: The "Aerodromo de La Florida" is a modern air terminal that serves La Serena and surrounding communes. It is located six kilometers East of the city. The airport is recognized in Chile because from this place, in 1951 departed the first flight to Easter Island. Currently, the most important domestic flights to and from this terminal are Santiago and Antofagasta.

Since the end of 2018, the air terminal has the character of International, with seasonal flights to cities in Argentina by JetSmart low cost airline.
The airlines currently operating at this airport are LATAM Airlines, Sky Airline and JetSmart.

Bus Terminal:  Address: 107 Amunategui Ave. The bus station is one of the largest in northern Chile, located in an urban sector, close to many shopping centers and accommodation. The companies operating at La Serena Bus Terminal are numerous, connect with Santiago and the main cities, especially of Northern Chile. Among others can be mentioned Buses PlussChile, Expreso Norte, Buses Romani, Pullman Bus, Serena Mar, Buses Palacios, Atacama Vip, Condor Bus, Buses Libac, Buses Los Corsarios, Buses Nueva Andimar Vip.


Tourist Attractions


Tour along Avenida del Mar

A view of Avenida del Mar, La Serena, Chile.
Walking along Avenida del Mar is one of the typical activities to do in La Serena, the waterfront begins at the famous Faro Monumental (Monumental Lighthouse) at the North end and runs through several beautiful beaches. 

A great idea, but it could be even more entertaining. To add extra fun, along this avenue you can find electric scooters, family carts or roller skates rental stands, among others. No matter how old you are, here you have the option of touring the coastline by some of them.


"La Recova" Municipal Market

Address: #370, Cienfuegos St.
With more than one hundred stores, all kinds of merchandise and typical products, La Recova is one of the most attractive municipal markets in the country and surprises visitors with its diversity of services and products.

Its name is due to the fact of being surrounded by arches, following the colonial tradition of the time of its construction. Under these arches works the Craft Fair that characterizes La Serena. It is distributed in two large central courtyards, while on the second floor you will find a series of Restaurants always offering fresh seafood, local wines and the traditional, centuries old local recipes.

Faro Monumental

La Serena, Faro Monumental (La Serena's Monumental Lighthouse).
  Lighthouse built between 1950 and 1951 by the Chilean Navy according to the design of the civil engineer of the University of Chile, Mr. Jorge Cisternas Larenas, part of La Serena program, carried out by President Gabriel Gonzalez Videla.  

The Monumental Lighthouse because of its location, dimensions, architectural line, great urban and tourist value constitutes an emblematic element of the city. The construction is located at the intersection of Francisco de Aguirre and Avenida del Mar.

"Jardin del Corazon" Park

Address: #336, Eduardo de la Barra St. 
Also known as the Parque Japones, it was built thanks to the contribution of several mining companies of Chile and Japan in order to represent a typical Japanese landscape, as part of the brotherhood agreement signed by the commune of La Serena with the Japanese city of Tenri in 1966 .

It has several plant and animal species from that country, being the largest Japanese park in South America. It was inaugurated in 1994, for the celebration of the 450th anniversary of the city.

Inside there are several attractions, including a Cherry blossom path, Bamboo trellises, a stone garden, a jetty in the artificial lagoon, a traditional Japanese bridge, cascades and small forests. You can also watch various species of Swans, Ducks and Goldfish.

Discover "The City of Bell Towers" 

Before the current boom in tourism and beaches, La Serena was known as La Ciudad de Los Campanarios ("The City of Bell Towers"), due to the large number of churches that can be found throughout the city. So, if you like to explore the city more thoroughly, another activity that can be done in La Serena is to visit the churches located in its historic center.

Some landmarks of this route are the Cathedral of La Serena, San Francisco and San Agustín churches, the latter dating from almost 500 years ago. Some of the bell towers of these constructions are very high, so they stand out in the urban landscape and can be seen from a great distance.

Avenida Francisco de Aguirre

Its name comes from the Spanish captain Francisco de Aguirre, who refounded the city in 1549. The current Avenue runs from Balmaceda St. with its Portada de Marmol (Marble Arch), donated in 1910, to the Faro Monumental. Also known as Museo al Aire Libre (Open Air Museum) or Paseo de las Estatuas (Statues Promenade), Avenida Francisco de Aguirre began as a public walk in 1855 when Poplars, Acacias and Oriental Planes were planted. Between 1946 and 1952, under the government of former President Gabriel Gonzalez Videla, born in this city,  were donated the Carrara Marble statues that embellish the place, replicas of famous sculptures, brought from Italy.   

Valle de Elqui

Elqui Valley, near La Serena, Chile.
Elqui Valley, is a river basin located in the Province of Elqui, Coquimbo Region, Chile, one of the favorite destinations by nature lovers and those looking for different relaxation experiences.

Each of the tourist places along the Elqui Valley Route is a must-see, from the beginning departing from La Serena. Notable in the area are the Pisco Processing Plants, where you can learn in person the processes of Pisco, taste and buy the best brands. Just 30 minutes from La Serena, tourists can go to small towns such as El Molle and Vicuña, with a wide variety of tourist offer.

According to statistics, more than three hundred clear nights a year have made the Coquimbo Region an obligatory destination for those who enjoy Astronomical Tourism. It is impressive the night view of the sky, which the numerous observatories installed at Elqui Valley, either of scientific or touristic character take advantage of. In Elqui there are many tours that you can take because here are concentrated 50 percent of the private Observatories.

Isla Damas Tour 


Another of the most popular tourist destinations departing from La Serena and available in most of the local Tourism Agencies.  

Isla Damas is one of the three islands part of the Pinguino de Humboldt National Reserve, at the northern end of the Coquimbo Region, La Higuera Commune, Elqui Province. Of the three islands that make up the Reserve, Damas is the only one that can be visited, the others are Choros and Chañaral. It has an area of 60.3 hectares and its name "Damas" (Ladies), is due to a curious rock formation, which becomes more visible as you approach it from the pier of Punta de Choros. The rock resembles the profile of a woman leaning against the island.  

There are two beaches, La Poza and Las Tijeras, of white sand and emerald green waters. Damas has a 1800 meters trail and 9 stations with information on flora and fauna in Spanish and English. Pinguino de Humboldt National Reserve is part of the National System of Protected Wild Areas of the State of Chile, administered by CONAF, National Forest Corporation.

The seabirds that nest on the numerous cliffs, rocks and beaches of the island include the Humboldt Penguin, Cormorants, Piqueros (Chilean Gannet), Red-legged Cormorants and many others.The rest of the marine fauna is mainly composed of Marine Otters, Seals, Bottlenose Dolphins, Sperm Whales, Whales.

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