Arica is in the Northern Chile. It is a seaside resort town (170,000 pop): quiet, relaxed, safe, with several nice beaches and sun virtually every day of the year. The city of eternal spring is the northern gateway to Peru and Bolivia.
Numerous buses arrive daily from centers further south in Chile. Daily buses come in from Bolivia, La Paz, Cochabamba and Oruro (If you wish to come from Oruro you should note that you will also have to get a bus to Patacamaya to transfer to the bus to Arica, there are no direct buses. It may be best to go to La Paz (they have direct buses) because the transfer is very confusing!). Colectivos (shared taxis) arrive and depart continually from Peru during border opening hours 24 hours day & night, taking passengers from the International Terminal in Arica to the International Terminal in Tacna, Peru. From the National Terminal (alongside) buses come in from other centers in Peru. Note there are no direct buses from Arequipa, Cuzco or Puno to Arica or viza versa.
There are railway lines coming from La Paz (Bolivia) and Tacna (Peru) but neither are operational as of January 2013.
Cathedral of San Marcos is designed by Gustave Eiffel (of the eponymous Tower in Paris). It's a popular attraction. Entry is from Plaza Colón.
The views from el Morro are superb. One can follow the work being done in the harbour closely or gaze at the mountains gradually turning into the altiplano in the east. The hill looks like a giant sand dune from a distance but it is in fact made of solid rock. The paved footpath visible from anywhere in town starts at the south end of Calle Colón. Allow 10 minutes for walking up and enough time for philosophic discussions on top. There is a war museum on the hill for those into uniforms and cannons from the 19th century. Beware of the dishonest Coca Cola vending machines, bring water and snacks from town.
Surfing and boogieboarding is good around Arica. The beaches north of town are good for beginners, while more experienced surfers go south of el Morro. There is a surfshop in the centre, but it's best to bring your own board.
Bathing and sunbathing on the beaches north of town. Summer is the main season, in winter you'll have the beaches for yourself. Water is cold.
Residencial Ivonne Clean double rooms with private bathroom for 34 USD per night as of June 2012. Very Safe , no Breakfast, patchy WiFi, Laundry. Walking Distance To The Beach. Just a couple blocks from the bus station. Tele.(58) 265 482. Bernardaivonne@HotMail.com
Hostal Ecuador, Juan Noé 989, +56 (0)58 251934. Quiet place a short distance from the centre. Breakfast included, use of kitchen Ch$ 4500, hot water mornings only. A twin with bath is Ch$ 10 000, try bargaining.
Sunny Days, (Near bus station, big fruit & veg market and beach.), ☎ +56-58-2241038 (email@example.com), . checkout: 11:00. 20 minutes walk to the center. Excellent breakfast (included). Kiwi owner. Two large guest kitchens, free WiFi & internet, towels provided, hot water and a lovely view from the rooftopDorm bed Ch$9,000 per person. Room with shared bathroom Ch$ 10,000 per person and with private bathroom Ch$12,000 per person.. (S 18° 28 ' 06.6,W 070° 18 ' 17.5)edit
Hotel Azapa Inn
Hotel Plaza Colon
HI Arica, Manuel Rojas #2864 (Chapiquina con Blest Gana), ☎ +56-58-248108-226372. very friendly hostel, clean rooms, kitchen, with breakfast, dorm 8 US-$, double with private bathroom 6000 ch$ p.P.; nice and helpful staff; firstname.lastname@example.org$ 6000 double. edit
Arica Surf House, Bernardo O'Higgins 661, . Excellent hostel close to the city center. Excellent atmosphere and a super friendly and helpful owner and staff.edit
Arica Unite Hotel, Vicente Dagnino 117, ☎ +56 58 247 702 (email@example.com), . Hostel close from the bus station and the beach. Very good atmosphere, perfect for thoses who are looking for fiestas. Rooms are new and clean. Hot showers, excellent breakfast and friendly staff.Ch$ 6000. edit
Mirador el Buey Surf Hostel, Punta del Este 605, La Lisera. Located 200 metres from El Laucho beach, it offers panoramic sea views and features a fully equipped common kitchen, free Wi-Fi and BBQ facilities. It has rooms with private bathrooms, dormitories with shared bathrooms facilities, and suites with sea views. Guests can work out in the gym or relax in the game room. Laundry services and bicycle rentals can be arranged.edit
Buses and shared taxis to Tacna, Peru leave regularly all day and take a couple hours. These can be caught from the international bus terminal, which is only about 100 meters from the main bus terminal, across the car park. Buses cost less, but take much longer. From Tacna, buses go regularly to Arequipa, Lima, and Puno. For Cusco, it is necessary to change buses in either Arequipa or Puno.
Buses to Iquique leaves every hour from the main Terminal Rodovario. Tickets are Ch$7000 and the trip takes 5 hours. Also frequent departures to Santiago and two companies operating a daily service to San Pedro de Atacama (Departing at night).
Lauca National Park. Chungará Lake is the main attraction in this wilderness park surrounded by volcanoes and adjacent to the border with Bolivia. Putre and Parque Nacional LaucaParque Lauca is one of those special places in Chile that should not be missed. You travel up into the mountains through an absolutely barren dessert (nothing grows on the lower slopes of the Andes), through gorges and around hill faces to arrive on a vast plain, complete with a lake, virtually surrounded by volcanoes. This area is unique, an open tussock grassland plain with few people and villages and extensive wild life, birds and animals of a wide range of species.
One day tours from Arica cost $20,000 pesos, for travel guide and meals, but you will probably only spend at most three hours in the park. The rest of the time is travel, visiting interesting sites en route and eating meals.