Chile (IFMSA-Chile) - La Serena
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The Greater La Serena is one of the loveliest and liveliest cities in Chile’s northern region of about 412,586 inhabitants. Its attractions include excellent hotel and dining options, beaches, historic tours and proximity to the Elqui and Limarí Valleys. The city’s pictures, colonial-style old quarter makes for an interesting visit, with buildings that offer plenty of terrific photo opportunities. Visit its Museo Arqueológico and the churches and bell towers that makes this city so distinctive, including the Cathedral, the San Agustín Convent, the Church of San Francisco (a national monument dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries), and the Church of Santo Domingo (18th century). You can wind up your tour with a visit to the Parque Japonés, the largest Japanese park in South America..
There’s not better way to discover the authentic culture and cuisine of a city than at its markets. Ask anyone in La Serena, and they’ll point you to La Recova, where you’ll find a host of products made with the area’s typical fruit, the papaya, including juice, liquor, syrup and candy. You can also buy papaya dried with sugar or the fruit in its natural form.

The beaches of La Serena are truly stupendous, with Peñuelas, El Faro, Mansa and Cuatro Esquinas offering excellent water sports. At night, Avenida del Mar becomes an epicenter of social interaction, with a variety of pubs, restaurants, bars and night clubs.

Currently, the city has its own architectural style (known as "neocolonial"), which is differentiated from other cities, preserving old buildings in colonial style, with many important National Monuments, mixing it with modern buildings but each one in turn follows the regulatory framework in the construction of these structures which should each have features to maintain the colonial style of the city. In the center of the city until 2008, is still not possible to identify buildings over 8 stories high for a municipal status. However, towards the coastal area of the Avenida del Mar, one begins to see a great real estate boom that is distinguished by observing high-rise buildings, ranging from Serena north to the neighboring city of Coquimbo.
Hospital San Juan de Dios de La Serena

Hospital Clinico San Pablo de Coquimbo

2 projects available at Universidad Catolica del Norte.
Provided by Host family.
Provided by Host family.

by plane
There are daily domestic flights from and to Santiago de Chile through Sky Airlines and LATAM Chile and the trip lasts around 1 hour to the Aerodromo La Florida which is 6km away from the city center. There are bus shuttles (transfers) leaving from the Aeroport to the city center for about $3.000 and there are also taxis available.

by bus
There are buses leaving from Santiago de Chile to La Serena every hour from companies like TurBus, Flota Barrios and Pullman Bus. The trip is around 7-8 hours. The buses arrive to Rodoviario La Serena Bus Station and prices vary greatly depending on the time of the year.
Also, you can find several buses leaving every hour from La Serena to Valle del Elqui for around $2.000 and the trip lasts around 1-2 hours.
  • La Serena city tour
  • Coquimbo city tour
  • International dinner
  • Mamalluca observatory
  • Valle del Elqui trip


  • In the Archeologigal Museumthere is the only rapa nui moai head to have toured Europe. Entry CLP$600.
  • The nearby observatoryis also open to the public.
  • If you are around in early Spring you might be lucky enough to see the desert in bloom. It happens in occasional years and is stunning.
  • Elqui Valley, one of the most beautiful, clear and brilliant nightsyou will ever see. Here you will find the main villages that you can easily do on a bike. Vicuña (where Gabriela Mistral was born, and where you can get to see how the Chilean Pisco is made) Pisco Elqui (ideal for a romantic escapade) Cochiguaz
  • For more detailed information regarding the observatories go the webpage Region
  • Isla Damas[1]On Isla Damas, you can swim, walk along trails and to lookout points or go scuba diving and snorkeling. Once back on the mainland, stay the night at Punta de Choros, where cabins and campsites will allow you to enjoy warm seaside evenings. [2]
  • You can enter the Fray Jorge National Park from the South by taking the North Pan-American highway to mile 241.7, and then taking a long side road to the West for 13.6 miles up to the main Park’s gate. This is a dirt road, but in good conditions year round.The best time to visit is on weekends from late October to November, during the entire flowering period. It will take you at least 4 hours to visit.
  • The japnese style (indeed, laid out by a Tokyo landscape architect) garden Jardin del Corazonis just west of the center. It celebrates the 450th anniversary of La Serena, its ties with its Japanese friend Tenri and the export of Chilean ore to Japan. Plenty of ducks and geese in the pond, some fish and the odd turtle. Entry CH$600.
  • Beaches- La Serena has some of the country's longest stretches of beach. You can take a whole day walking from one end to another.
  • Observatory tours. The Elqui Valley outside La Serena has some of the best conditions for observing the sky, hence the many observatories, some open to the public doing tours from La Serena city at night. Tour prices including transport are about $15000.
  • Observatorio Mamalluca[3]For more information: – Address: Calle Gabriela Mistral 260, oficina 1, Ilustre Municipalidad de Vicuña. Phone (51) 411352 / 209138 Fee: 4500 CLP ($9 usd) for adults and 1500 CLP ($3 USD) for kids from 3 to 12. Transportation (opcional)2000 CLP ($4 USD)
  • Observatorio La Silla[4]For more information: mail: Address La Serena: ESO, Casilla 567, El Santo, 1538, La SerenaPhone:(56-51) 225387, booking (56-2) 4633280. Fax (56-51) 215175
  • Tololo[5]More Info: CTIO, Casilla 603, Colina El Pino s/n, La Serena. Phone: (56-51) 205200 Fax 205212
  • For more detailed information regarding the observatories go the webpage Region
  • There is a cinema[6]at the Mall Plaza, by the bus terminal
  • There is a casino[7]at Av. El Mar
  • Papaya Juice- Sold all over the city but especially at markets, the papaya is grown locally here
  • Pisco- The national drink of Chile is brewed in the nearby Elqui Valley and is a must-try for every traveller, enjoyed either as a Pisco Sour (Pisco with limon juice, sugar, and egg-white) or Piscola (Pisco with Coke)
  • Handcraft - Nice handcraft markets are held every summer
The densest cluster of restaurants and fast food joints is around the intersection of O`Higgins and Eduardo de la Barra.
  • "Daniella II" A set lunch may only set you back, 1500 CLP ($3 USD), you might find it's not worth it. This goes for home-made food, and not getting all sick.
  • "Casona Dell 900" Has great BBQ meats served on a coal heated plate.
  • "Gary" Good lunch, home-made food, and far cleaner than other places. The full menu goes up to 2000 CLP ($4 USD) including entrée, main course and dessert. Sodas, 800 CLP ($1,6 USD)
  • "Subway La Serena" is not as big as in the US, prices are slightly lower.
Loads of bars near the intersection of O`Higgins and Eduardo de la Barra. At least a couple of them will be busy even on a Monday night thanks to the town`s students.


Go around
  • A few hours to the south is Fray Jorge National Park.
  • At Isla Damas it is worth seeing the penguins and sea lions. From La Serena it is 120 km north at a coastal village called Los Choros. Dolphins also frequent the area.
  • The Valle de Elqui is a beautiful valley in the otherwise arid region. Equestrian tours are available that climb into hills going in among the papaya farms and looking down on valley. Taste some pisco sour at a distillery and stay the night.