La Serena – Chile (the North)
La Serena is the 2nd oldest city of Chile. It has its own architectural style, and these old colonial style buildings have been carefully conserved as National Monuments. Visit the Archaeology Museum, which has a collection of objects from pre-Hispanic cultures, and St. Agustin’s Church with its impressive eclectic style. Avenida del Mar has the majority of restaurants, pubs and clubs, and La Recova Market is the best in La Serena for typical food and crafts.
La Serena also has an excellent sky for star-gazing, so head to one of the many observatories outside of town. The most popular is Mamalluca in Vicuña village, in the Elqui Valley. Make sure you visit Isla Damas for the wildlife – you can see Humboldt penguins, sea lions, pelicans, dolphins, as well as go kayaking, sailing, fishing, scuba diving or picnic in the park!
Just 12km south of the city you’ll come to Coquimbo, the most important port of the area. You can take a boat trip around the bay, go up the giant cross Cruz del Tercer Milenio for an excellent view or grab a beer in the Barrio Ingles, the lively bohemian section of town.
This region has some excellent beaches for swimming and water sports, which makes La Serena the summer hot spot for tourists. It can get very crowded in season, so make sure you reserve your accommodation in advance.
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