La Serena

1. Shopping & Miscellaneous tips
2. Travel & entertainment
3. Travel agencies
4. Movies - Cines
5. Dining out in La Serena
6. Pubs & Discoteques
7. Marquet Place "La Recova"
8. Archeological Museum
9. Nearby Places of interest
10. Elqui Valley

La Serena is a seaside town, capital of the Coquimbo Region in the Elqui Province. Is one of the oldest city, founded in 1544 after Santiago and Arica. Is located 475km north of Santiago, with a population around 191,000.

La Serena, a city with a marked neocolonial architectural style, has its own undeniable image. It always abounds in multicoloured gardens and many beautiful churches, whose bell chiming traces the passage of time. The city's development can clearly be seen on Avenida del Mar, a coastal stretch located only 2 kms from the centre of La Serena. Thanks to the modern streetlighting system this avenue is also an attractive place for a nocturnal stroll. In addition to the city's constant cultural activity, business life is also fervent. Along with handicrafts and typical products from the region, such as pisco and papaws in all their varieties, sold at a good price in the popular "La Recova" market, can be added the trip along the central streets where all kinds of national and imported products can be found. Coquimbo means "place of calm waters" and its large seaside resorts, among which Penuelas and La Herradura stand out, are its main attraction as well as the entertainment provided by the Casino which is located in Peñuelas. Coquimbo and its surroundings take the visitor back to the XVI and XVII centuries with their pirates and filibusters. 


Shopping and miscellaneous tips

Shopping Hours : Closing and opening hours are approximate, but in general you can expect stores to be open from 10:00am until 2:00pm, and 4:30pm to 8:30pm.

Supermarkets are open all day 9:00am to 10:00pm, including Saturday, Sunday and holidays.

Supermarkets – Supermercados

LIDER: Mall Puerta del Mar (open till 11:00pm)
UNIMARC (ex DECA): Balmaceda 1350
SANTA ISABEL: Cienfuegos and Cordovez

Tip : When initially buying beer and soft drinks in returnable bottles, you need to pay a deposit equal to the price of an empty bottle. Upon the next purchase you turn in your empties and receive a receipt which will discount the deposit at the register.

Bottled water is available with or without carbonation.  Wine, beer and liquor are all available in the supermarkets listed above.

Note : Many La Serena residents wash fruit and vegetables with some drops of disinfectants such as “Zonalin” or “Cloro” (Clorex or Clorinda), which you can find in the supermarkets listed above.  The use of these disinfectants is recommended for raw vegetables, such as lettuce, especially during the summer months.


Street Market – Feria

The Feria is quite picturesque.  It takes place at two different locations:

Sundays, Tuesdays & Thursdays:  Juan de Dios Pení with Esmeralda (“Plaza de Abastos”)

Saturdays:  Gabriel González Videla with Los Perales, about ten blocks south of Huanhualí.

You can by fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, plants housewares, and many other items there.  Stands are usually set by 8:00-8:30am and the vendors gradually pack around 1:30-2:30pm.,  go if you like more of a variety, cheaper prices and fresher foods.  Here is a list for translations of the most commonly used fruits and vegetables.

La Feria in “Plaza de Abastos” on Sundays is particularly lively, colorful and bustling. There are more stands and more people buying the products in comparison with week days.

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Fish and Shellfish Market – Pescados y Mariscos

Terminal Pesquero La Serena:  Vicuña near Cantournet, La Serena

Terminal Pesquero Coquimbo:  La Costanera, Coquimbo (best place to buy fish)

La Jaula:  Av. Varela, Coquimbo

Supermarket Lider has a nice fresh fish section.

NOTE:  It is wise to inspect the fish carefully before buying so as to make sure that is completely fresh.  The flesh should be firm, the eyes clear and the gills bright red inside.  It is highly advisable for newcomers to eat only cooked seafood and shellfish.

Here is a list of more common fish and shellfish sold locally.


Shopping Malls

Mall Plaza La serena  Huanhualí w/Pan American Hwy.

Puerta del Mar   Av. Francisco de Aguirre w/Pan American Hwy.


Drugstores – Farmacias

Ahumada - Cordovez 651

Ahumada - (at UNIMARC)   Balmaceda 1350

Ahumada - Balmaceda 3463

Botica Nilsson - Balmaceda 674

Cruz Verde - Balmaceda with Cordovez

La Serena - Balmaceda 457


Bookstores and Stationary Stores – Librerías

Good places to purchase books, toys, games, plastic bags, postcards, etc.

Books & Bits (Books, some English) - Balmaceda 1162-A

Lápiz López - Mall Plaza

Clip (Stationary) - Prat 670

Clip (stationary) - Balmaceda 489

Multilibro (books only) - Serena Oriente, Store 107

Rojas (stationary) - O’Higgins 439

Andrés Bello (books only) - Matta 510

Supermarket Lider - Mall Puerta del Mar


Flowers, Planta, Garden Supplies – Florerías, Viveros

La Feria - on Feria days, cur flowers and potted plants

La Pérgola - Domeyko 580

La Recova - Cienfuegos w/Cantournet

Las Añañucas - at the end of Matta to the north

Homecenter Sodimac - Mall Puerta del Mar

Supermarket Lider - Mall Puerta del Mar


Dry Cleaning  and Laundromats

Silvana - Eduardo de la Barra 495

Roma - Los Carrera 654

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Travel and entertainment

La Serena is a tourist city, therefore it has a lot to offer to the visitor, it has cultural and natural resources. The city has a distinctive architecture, preserving colonial building that are National Monuments, and being close to the coast has beatiful beaches.


Travel Agencies – Agencias de Viaje

Lan Chile - Eduardo de la Barra 435

American - Cienfuegos 463

Torremolinos - Balmaceda 437

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Movies – Cines

CINEMARK - Mall Plaza La Serena

Blockbuster Video (Video Rental) - Balmaceda 1397

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Dining out in La Serena

Most restaurants open for the lunch hours, then close for the afternoon until they begin serving dinner at 8:00 – 8:30.

Bakulik  (International) - Avenida del Mar 5700

Hotel Costa Real (International) - Avenida Francisco de Aguirre 170

La Mia Pizza (International) - Avenida del Mar 2100

La Serena Club Resort (International) - Avenida del Mar 1000

Tololo Beach Pub (International) - Avenida del Mar 5200

Trattoría Pizzeria (Italian) - Avenida Peñuelas 167

Zapoteco (Mexican) - Avenida los Pescadores 63

Tai Sung (Chinese) - Avenida del Mar 2900

Deli Cafe (Buffet & Sandwiches) - Mall Plaza La Serena

Food Court - Mall Plaza La Serena

McDonalds - Mall Plaza La Serena


See also La Serena/Coquimbo Restaurants

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Pubs & Discoteques

Brooklyn’s (Pub & Disco) - Avenida del Mar 2150

Kamanga (Pub) - Avenida Costanera

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Market Place “La Recova”

The Recova is essentially a small shopping center with an assortment of butcher shops, fruit and vegetable stores, small restaurants specializing in fish, bakeries, a supermarket and many shops around the inside patios selling the work of Chilean artisans (pottery, weavings, clothing, baskets, wood and stone carvings, toys, etc.). Other forms of regional art are carvings made out of Guayacán wood (a shrub that took more than a century to grow to its full size and is now in extinction) and Steatite “Soapstone” carvings.

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Archeological Museum – Museo Arqueológico

This museum contains collections of findings that date up to 6,000 years ago, including a complete collection of the Diaguita culture that originated in this province.  This culture was conquered by the Incas and in 1536 by the Spaniards.  They developed agriculture, fishing, and domesticated the llama.

The Diaguita culture became famous for its beautiful ceramicware which was developed to a high degree.  The museum is open as follows:

Tuesday through Friday  09:00am – 01:00pm,  04:00pm – 07:00pm

Saturday  10:00am – 01:00pm,  04:00pm – 7:00pm

Sunday  10:00am – 01:00pm

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Nearby Places of Interest

A trip through the Elqui Valley, where Chilean pisco is made, brings you to the towns of Vicuña, Rivadavia, Paihuano and Montegrande.  The Chilean poetess Gabriela Mistral, Nobel Prize Winner in 1945, was born in Vicuña and buried in Montegrande. 

El Molle:  A picturesque village on the road to Vicuña.  There is a pleasant hosteria with a restaurant and pool.

Vicuña:  (60 Kms)  Located just a few kilometers past the Tololo gate, this town has a wonderful dry climate, and boasts a commemorative museum to Gabriela Mistral.  There is an active inn (“Hostería”) with a restaurant and swimming pool.  Gasoline is not available beyond Vicuña.

Chapilca:  (96 Kms)  At Rivadavia the road forks, and the left fork leads to this village where rough hand weaving work in natural or bright colors is done.  Knock on several doors to get an idea of the selection.  You may special-order items.

Paihuano Montegrande & Pisco Elqui:  (90 Kms)  The right fork leads south through the picturesque pisco-distilling area which makes these towns so famous.  Paihuano has a lovely river-side picnic area and campsite.

Paso de Aguas Negras:  (250 Kms)  The pass of Aguas Negras to San Juan, Argentina, is situated at the end of the road to Baños del Toro.  This road is normally open during the summer months.

Fray Jorge National Park:  About 90-minute drive south, unusual weather phenomenon has preserved this fores between the ocean and desert terrain.  Has a hiking path and a ranger to answer questions  Also has a nice picnic area with tables, barbeque and toilet facilities.  Best time of the year to go is spring when the wild flowers are out (if there has been rain during winter!).

Pichasca Petrified Forest:  National park along the road between Ovalle and Vicuña.

Enchanted Valley National Park:  (“Valle del Encanto”),  located a few kilometers from Ovalle, site of settlement of indigenous cultures.  Many hollowed-out grindstones (“piedras moledoras”) to be seen.  Walk to the old Inca bathing place (“Baño del Inca”).

La Pampilla:  (Coquimbo), every year on the 18th, 19th and 20th of September, tents and “ramadas” are installed on the Pampilla.  Large crowds gather to enjoy the typical folklore, food and dancing in celebration of Chile’s independence from Spain.  There is no water on the Pampilla, premises to please be cautious of what you eat there.  Don’t go if you don’t like crowds and dust.

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Elqui Valley

In the heart of the region there is the Elqui River,  made up from tributaries of minor gorges that only provide it with water during the winter, and which reaches the North of the city of La Serena. The main characteristic of the Elqui river basin is the abundance of underground water, which provides productive potential for agriculture. This, along with its mild climate and landscape invoke contemplation due to its peaceful nature. Many esoteric groups have found a place of special interest in this valley. Towards the mountains, following the course of the river, is the vicinity of Vicuña, founded in the posthispanic era around the year 1821. It is a place where the dry mountains meet with the abundant vegetation of the narrow valleys arising out of the passage of the river.

Monte Grande, beloved village of the Chilean Nobel Prize winner poet, Gabriela Mistral, is also on the bank of the river Claro. Here is her grave which she chose when she was alive. The Tololo Hill, on which sits the largest astronomical observatory in the southern hemisphere, is a few kilometres off the road to Vicuna. It is striking to see the Andacollo village, which is a pilgrimage point for its sanctuary, a basilica which lodges the virgin Rosario's statue brought from Peru in 1676. The Fray Jorge National Park, where cinnamon trees, terebinth shrubs and ferns which cover the tops of its hill survive thanks to the typical mist in the area.

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