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Coquimbo is the gateway to the beautiful resort of La Serena, where ancient history and traditional artistry meets colonial style and elegance. Widely regarded in Chile as both a beautiful beach resort and the site of some of its richest native culture, La Serena embodies the country’s charm and artistry. With so many things to experience, this could be the destination that makes your time in South America truly unforgettable.
Shore excursions around La Serena can reveal a great number of things to do during your time ashore. Trek within sight of the Andes in the beautiful Elqui Valley, or try the local wine and grape brandy in the region’s vineyards. See the stars with a tour of the Tololo Observatory complex, take a trip to the area’s beautiful beaches, or discover Chile’s past in the local museum and among ancient rock carvings in the Enchanted Valley.
Wander collections of more than ten thousand artefacts in La Serena’s Archaeological Museum – home to maps, ceramics and even a Chilean mummy. The majority of the exhibits illustrate the ancient Antofagasta and Tarapaca cultures native to the region; however the star of the show has to be the incredible moai from Easter Island – staring with haunted eyes from its platform; one of only two of the iconic stone statues to be found off the island.
Take a trip from Chile’s ancient history to the ultra-modern observatory complex on Mount Tololo. Here you’ll be able to get a real look at the stars thanks to the clear skies of rural Chile – the sea of distant suns can make for an incredible sight, especially if you’re used to cloud cover and urban light pollution back home hampering your view of the night skies.
La Serena city
The popular city of La Serena combines elegant architecture with spectacular surrounding beauty. The Plaze de Armas is home to gorgeous parkland and public art, and a vast array of stone churches and palatial colonial-era buildings. A shore excursion might typically take you to the La Recova marketplace too, where you’ll find a wealth of traditional arts and crafts for sale.
The stalls of the Mercado la Recova often teem with shoppers, and here you’ll find everything you could think of when it comes to finding souvenirs. Browse row upon row of sweets, preserves, grape brandy and fruit straight from the surrounding valley, or buy some colourful locally-made hats and clothing for some exotic winter woollies once you get back home.
As Chile’s second city you’ll find a great choice of places to eat during your time in La Serena – many of which line the beach and give incredible views of the bay while you dine. Here you’ll find fresh, delicious seafood dishes cooked in traditional style, where butter and a simple salad garnish allows the flavour of the fish to come to the fore. Alternatively, try the local ceviche – typically consisting of cuts of raw fish with a chilli salad, marinated in lime or lemon juice.
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