Welcome to La Serena, Chile!
Visitors to Chile will usually head straight from the capital, Santiago, to the tourist haven San Pedro de Atacama, or the colorful, bustling Valparaiso. However, this means missing out on La Serena, one of Chile’s genuine hidden treasures, filled with stunning architecture, blessed with some glorious beaches, and surrounded by pisco vineyards.
Worldwide locals can really witness a country in all its glory, explore authentic experiences, and seek out the lesser known spots that are off the beaten track. This is an insider’s guide to the best attractions in La Serena.
Things to Do in La Serena, Chile
La Serena’s city center is a peaceful paradise of picturesque stone churches, leafy tree-lined streets, and beautiful plazas. A stroll around town, taking in the eye catching neo-colonial architecture, is a wonderful way to start the day. La Serena is reputed as having the best cafe culture in Chile. The town center is liberally sprinkled with charming little cafes that serve some of the highest quality coffee in the country.
Worldwide Local Tip: The Lighthouse Cafe, right in the heart of downtown, is a cute and cosy little place with superb brews and a top notch breakfast menu. They also have a second location right on the beach, which is perfect for refueling after catching some waves.
A Chilean Beach Town
One of the most attractive things about La Serena is its stunning coastline. It showcases around 24 kilometers (just short of 15 miles) of glorious golden sand. This gives the whole city a, wonderfully, calm and restful “beach town” vibe, and makes a day at the beach a naturally easy part of every day. The Playa el Faro is a straight shot west from the center of town. It is named the iconic red and white lighthouse, the most famous landmark in La Serena. Chile weather can vary, but here, it feels like the sun is always shining.
Worldwide Local Tip: The hidden bay at Playa Herradura is a little south of the city, and is tucked away behind the town of Coquimbo. It’s amazingly quiet, with one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in the area, and the two peninsulas provide incredibly calm, sheltered, and safe waters for swimming.
Eat Like a Local
La Serena’s seaside setting means one thing for its restaurant scene--unbeatable seafood. The center of town is full of superb cevicherias and full-on seafood restaurants. The boardwalk on the beach is lined with excellent options, and as an added bonus, you can enjoy the beautiful ocean views of La Serena. Chile restaurants are always delicious, but locals especially love the generous portions at Daniela’s II, the beachfront location of Cardamomo, and the beautifully tiled courtyard setting of Donde el Guaton.
Worldwide Local Tip: For something a little alternative yet rather special, a visit to Jack Fish is a must. This brilliant little joint serves up ceviche, sushi, and heavy metal in equal doses. Most of the dishes are named after rock legends. The owner is hands-on and immensely welcoming. He even waits tables, while shooting the breeze with the customers, which just completes the experience.
Enjoy Your Stay!
La Serena oozes elegance and charm, with a delightful city center, an unbelievable stretch of beach just minutes from town, and a laid-back, relaxed, and welcoming attitude. While many tourists will skip straight to the better known destinations, a worldwide local seeks out these undiscovered spots for a more authentic and unforgettable experience.