The third oldest city in Chile, La Serena Port of call was founded in the mid-sixteenth century by Juan Bohon, a Spaniard Captain. Situated on the Pacific Coast, La Serena cruise port enjoys a seasonal climate, with distinct summer, winter, and rainy seasons. The maximum and minimum temperatures are moderated by the sea breeze. About 300 miles from Santiago, this Chilean city has much to offer to all types of cruise passengers. While cruise liners berth at Coquimbo Port, La Serena’s neighboring town, transportation facilities, such as buses and taxis, allow you to explore La Serena as well. Keep in mind that if you are taking a taxi, you will need to negotiate the fare beforehand.
At Mercado La Recova, you can buy anything from handmade sweaters and hats to pottery and food. You can buy dried fruits, jams, and different sugary treats. If you’re looking for nice lapis lazuli pieces at reasonable prices, check out the silver jewelry shop inside La Recova. Keep in mind that the bluer the stone, the better is the quality. You can also pick-up other handicrafts such as soapstone ashtrays. If you’re looking specifically for dried fruits, head to Bodega Rubio.
Outside La Recova, you will find the “totora” (meaning cattail) handicrafts shop. Here, everything is made from cattail, which is a kind of fiber. These crafts make for excellent souvenir choices. Mall Plaza Serena is the only mall in the city. Typical to any mall, there are shops, boutiques, and restaurants that suit every need and every palate. When shopping, keep in mind that the local currency is Chilean Peso, albeit some shops will accept US Dollars.
Things to See
While the ship docks at Coquimbo, where you can stay and enjoy the beaches, a trip to La Serena is definitely worth the while. When in La Serena, your first stop should be the tourist office, Sernatur. Here, you can pick up maps and brochures to get you started. You can also opt for organized tours to explore the city.
Plaza del Armas, the city center, is surrounded by old churches, shops, and municipal buildings. Notably, Iglesia Santo Domingo, which was built in the 1700s and stands in the southwest corner. Also worth a visit are the city’s museums. The Museo Arqueológico displays Chile’s history, including exhibits dating back to the time of the Diaguita Indians. Highlighting Chile’s rich mining history is the Museo Mineralógico Ignacio Domeyco. For a collection of paintings and sculptures, visit the Museo Colonial de Arte Religioso.
La Serena also has many beaches where you can relax and enjoy the sun, sand, and water. Beaches worth visiting are Playa Blanca, Playa La Barca, Playa Las Gaviotas, and Playa La Marina.
Restaurants and Bars
Being a coastal town, the food in La Serena centers on delicacies from the sea. Known for its most inclusive seafood menu, the Grill Bar Serena is a favorite among locals and tourists. El Cedro, with a considerably relaxed and quieter ambience, is also very popular. Surprisingly, La Serena also offers some of the tastiest Chinese food, available at Rincon Oriental. The city also has many nightclubs and bars. In particular, Café del Patio, known for the live performances that take place there, is a must visit. Salon Stylo is good for those who like dance.