La Serena is a beautiful city located in the so-called "little north" of Chile; the place forms a conurbation with its neighboring city: Coquimbo. Endless beaches with warm sand, beautiful weather, and artisanal options are what you will find here. If you are a summer person, this is your city to visit! But if you are not, do not worry! There are plenty of other options for things to do in the city or nearby. It could be the starting point for mystical adventures in the Elqui Valley or for a visit to the wildlife paradise: Punta de Choros, which is home to dolphins and penguins.
This is a national monument since 2010! It was constructed in 1948 and started operating in 1951; the Lighthouse is an icon of the city, so if you are in La Serena, it is a must-see! Walk around it and see if you can find the canon, look through the small surveillance towers, or just take a deep breath of ocean breeze and appreciate the view! A few steps away from the Lighthouse is the beautiful beach of La Serena, and it also marks the starting point for the Avenida del Mar.
Located in the most touristic place of the city, the Avenida del Mar is a promenade by the sea. It is approximately 4 km long, and its starting point is the Monumental Lighthouse I mentioned above! This place is very popular because of the beautiful beach next to it and the many restaurants, bars, and dance clubs, located around it. If you are hungry, I highly recommend you eat in the "Mar Adentro Restaurant," a small restaurant in Coquimbo, where fresh seafood is served. One of the favorite dishes in the place is the savory "machas a la parmesana" (Parmesan Clams)! But if what you want is to chill and have a drink with a fantastic view, visit "El Muelle," a very well-known bar in the area. Do not forget to try the "poncherazo," the refreshing drink of the summer!
A few minutes away from the city's square, is La Recova, a must-see of the city. It is a market, initially built as a food market and craft fair, composed of two courtyards. The place is well known for selling delicacies made with papaya, a local sweet fruit! I highly recommend you try the papaya artisanal sweets and candy or buy a jar of papayas to eat at home. Regardless of how good papaya products are, La Recova is much more than that; it is a hotspot for finding artisan products and good affordable seafood. It has the status of being one of the most recognizable places in the city, and it also a cultural center. As locals say: "If you did not visit La Recova while in the city, you did not come to La Serena!"
Close to La Serena is the Elqui Valley. If you like adventures outdoors, this is your place to be. The Valley holds many activities, such as visiting the Puclaro Dam, where you can practice water sports, and check out the Dam itself (which has an amazing view!). You can also walk through Vicuña and visit the Museum of Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature! The Elqui Valley is also well-known for its vineyards and Pisco factories, where you can see how those drinks are made. While in the Valley, do not miss the clearest skies of the world - have an astro-tourism tour, I highly recommend you visit the Mamalluca Observatory or the Tololo Inter-American Observatory. Last but not least, I propose you bring a tent and enjoy the fantastic camping facilities located in the Valley. Feel the energy of the place and get connected to the earth.
Punta de Choros is located approximately one hour away from La Serena. From there, you can grab a tour to the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve. The tours can be made by boat or -if you dare- diving. The national reserve is composed of three islands: Choros Island, Damas Island, and Gaviota Island. The Choros Island is home to the Humboldt penguin and many other species. Damas Island is the only island you can actually walk in. It has a lovely beach to chill after a long boat trip and finally the Gaviota Island is the biggest one- close to it you can see dolphins and coral formations. If you are in La Serena, do not miss Punta de Choros!
La Serena is a place where you can experience many adventures, from sunbathing in the beach to feeling the mystical vibes of the Elqui. I highly recommend you come in summer to make the most of its beautiful beach and maybe camp in the Valley to recharge your adventure batteries!
Did you like the travel story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.