Antofagasta is a city in Northern Chile. The Atacama desert rises in the east and the Pacfic Ocean provides a western limit. This is an industrial centre in the region and is perhaps the least pleasant city in the north. Current works (2008) to refurbish the seafront will probably render this city increasingly attractive, also for tourists. Travellers heading to San Pedro de Atacama and between far north and central Chile might find it a convenient stopover.
Sernatur, Paseo Prat 384, just off Plaza Colon. Helpful tourist information with maps on the city and the region.
There is no real centralized bus terminal, but all the major companies have their grounds within a block or so of each other, centered on the crossing of La Torre and Bolivar. Many daily departures/arrivals:
Calama, San Pedro de Atacama (5 hours, $7.400, Tur-Bus), Iquique, Arica, Copiapó, La Serena (12 hours, $10.000) and Santiago.
As of July 1st 2009 a new terminal has opened up within Antofagasta and buses no longer run from downtown. The new terminal is called 'terminal carlos oviedo cavada' and is located north of town.
Georgio pizza, 14 de febrero 2403 (in the corner with Calle Boliviar), +56 (0)55 789157. Great pizzas in an unpretentious and pleasant atmosphere. Take away available. Pizza and drinks for two is Ch$7000. No beer.
More than a dozen tiny restaurants at the Mercado, Plaza Sotomayor. All offer set lunches at $1500. Number 67 is good.
The bars in the center are either strip clubs or purely male workers´ hang-outs (the girls you see are at work).
The pedestrian Paseo Arturo Prat has a couple of pavement cafes, that are good for people watching.
A few decent spots along Av. O´Higgins (a.k.a. Av. Brasil), and also the seafront parallel to it.
The otherwise standard hellish food court of the Mall Plaza has a neat outside area with a couple of bars and restaurants.
Wally´s Pub, Antonio Toro 982 (By the South end of O´Higgins). A genuine ex-pats hang-out, neatly laid out, with a full restaurant menu. Warm and friendly with a great atmosphere.Small beer $2000, main course $9000. edit
Many options in the area near the bus terminals. If you get further inland from here, it can get seedy at night.
Casa de Huesped Cataluna, Bolivar 572 (Half a block from the bus terminals), ☎ 780001. Clean rooms, shared bathroom (bring towel and toilet paper), big, comfy beds, thin walls let you here the birds sing in their cage in the hall.Single $9000, double $13000. edit
Hotel Rawaye, Calle Sucre 762, +56 (0)55 225339. Run down old building with steaming hot showers and birds nesting in the ceiling. Fascinating amount of headroom in the bathrooms. Some rooms are quieter than others. Single $9000, double $15.000.
Beware of pickpockets at the busterminals when leaving. They'll try to snatch your belongings when you load your bags into the buses. Always park your private vehicle in guarded estacionamentos. The free guarded parking at supermarkets is not safe.