Antofagasta is the biggest city in the northern part of Chile, and works more as a hub for travellers than as a destination. This is the halfway point for most travellers between the cities of Arica and Iquique to the north, San Pedro de Atacama to the east, and La Serena and Santiago to the south. Most skip through town quickly not easily enticed by the rough exterior of this port city. However, those who choose to spend a day in town will also be able to find a number of ways to occupy their days and entertain themselves. Although not exactly a tourism hot spot, Antofagasta is well worth a day if for nothing else than to catch your breath after one of many long journeys to cross this extremely long country.
Time Needed: 1-2 days
Budget: 35-50$ / day
Things to do in Antofagasta
- Historical Center: The historical center in Antofagasta is surprisingly picturesque and is worth a little bit your wandering and photography time. There is even a Big Ben replica which is called Torre Reloj.
- Fish Market: If you plan of visiting the fish market, called Terminal Pesquero, get there early in the morning to watch them setting up. The Saturday market is by far the busiest and most entertaining.
- La Portada: This is the famous arch that you see in the photo at the top of this guide. This is the iconic natural element of Antofagasta, despite the fact it is about 15 minutes north of town. You can get there by taking bus #15.
- Botanical Gardens: A botanical garden in the desert might not tickle your senses, but it should. The Jardin Botanico Aguas de Antofagasta is a beautiful display of the desert flora and is a great spot to go out and grab some photos.
Where to Eat in Antofagasta
I am a huge fan of the Chilean hot dogs, which usually come with corn, chips, sauces and pretty much whatever else you can think of. There are a number of stalls where you can get these in town or at the central market, which also serves cheap seafood and fish dishes. If you’re in the mood for a more sit down type meal try the seafood at the Club de Yates.
Where to Stay in Antofagasta
The only cheap accommodation in town that I would trust I was led to by my faithful Lonely Planet guidebook. I stayed at Hotel Rawaye for about 10US$ a night, and although my single room was basic, you can’t beat the price and the location was decent as well.
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