Arica is a seaside resort town, known for its surfing beaches (170,000 pop) located at the tip of Northern Chile. Arica has a mild, temperate climate year-round with some of the lowest annual rainfall rates anywhere in the world. It's quiet, relaxed and safe, with several nice beaches and sun virtually every day of the year. You will rarely find any clouds in the sky above Arica. This city is the northern gateway to Peru and Bolivia.
Numerous buses arrive daily from centers further south in Chile, for instance San Pedro de Atacama, Calama and Iquique. 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.
Walking will get you most places in town, although numerous buses run along the major avenues for those in a hurry. They are also handy for getting to and from the bus station. The fare is $400 CLP (May 2016). They will have their general route listed on a sign on the windshield.
Colectivos are also extremely numerous and average $700 CLP per trip. They are small or mid-sized black and yellow cars (usually Hyundais and Kias) and can be hailed at bus stops labeled PARADA MIXTO. They will have their route listed on the sign on top of the car.
Taxis and radio taxis are also an option. Taxis will have a blue light on in the windshield which says LIBRE if they are free. Radio taxis can be called by restaurants and hotels.
- 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.
- El Morro The views from the top of the giant rock overlooking town 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. Entry to El Morro is free, but there is a war museum on the hill commemorating military victory over Peru at this site ($1000 CLP).
- 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.
- Harbour tour Take a 45 minute boat ride around the harbour and out into the ocean led by a Spanish speaking guide. Goes over the history and current activity in the port, and views many birds and sea lions. $2000 CLP but sometimes one must wait for the boat to have a dozen or so people before it will leave. Enter the port via the pedestrian path on the right side under the arch and walk to the water to find the tour. There are two boats, Marimar and El Porteño.
- San Miguel de Azapa Archaeological Museum
- Trekking "Playa Corazones" area
- Visit nearby valleys w/ olive trees plantations
- Bolognesi This little alley off the main street (21 de Mayo) sells handcrafts and local goods, such as silverware, lapis lazuli and souvenirs.
- Feria Dominical Every Sunday Chacabuco street (in the centro) is converted into a market selling everything from souvenirs to old clothes to kitchenware, as well as local food and drink.
- El Agro Arica's major fresh food market, selling local produce. Also the site of many stalls selling clothes and homewares. Catch the number 8 colectivo to get there.
- El Argo Patio Comidas (food court) on Santa Maria just north of Diego Portales has many delicious options for breakfast and lunch. Look for the ones that seem to have the most locals, and if you are on a budget there is usually a cheaper menu on the back of most menus which includes many hearty local dishes. In times when it is not particularly busy, prepare to be swarmed by hosts aggressively (but in a friendly manner) vying for your business upon entry to the building. Don't be afraid to look at a few menus before deciding or blowing them off to go to a particular eatery!
- Argo Boulevard is a small food court with highly affordable lunch (almuzero) plates. Most include a soup with an entree for $2000-2600 CLP. Located on Av. Comadante San Martin at the intersection of Manuel Rodriguez, close to the port.
- Mercado Mariscos on Av. Comadante San Martin directly across from the port entrance. Here you can buy fresh ceviche for $1000 CLP from most of the fish mongers.
- Chifa Maxi, Baquedano 494. Delightfully slow and nonexistent service at this authentic Chinese place with vegetarian options. Popular. Take away available.
- La Casa del Coctel, San Martin 495, +56 (0)58 250400. The best cheese empananas in downtown Arica. Fastfood from Ch$500.
- La Nanu, Av. Santa Maria 1182, +56 (0)58 312399. Great empanadas (21 different kinds). Between the bus station and the centre. Also pizza. Good for vegetarians.
- Lider Supermercado, 18 de septiembre 401. Well stocked supermarket in a convenient location. Good for stocking up on cheap mineral water, as the tapwater in the area is not recommended for drinking.
- Los Aleros de 21
- Don Floro
- Restaurant La Gran Familia, Los Pelicanos #2060 (diego portales), ☎ 058-222426. this restaurants have the best fish,seafood, salads and beaf. attention only Sunday at lunch hour.
Vibrant night life - a good night out for every night of the week.
You can also enjoy a world-class caipirinha or other beverages in the menagerie of bars peppered around the town centre.
- '''Hostal Ponderosa''' (chilloutbeachhouse.com), Ponderosa Lote 1 esq. Av. las Dunas, ☎ 65394445, . Spectacular ocean view. Just north of Arica, Chile. Free pick-up from bus terminal available. Spotless dorms, doubles and matrimonial rooms. Hot (Solar Powered) Showers 24/7. Breakfast included 7:30 to 10:30. "Café Woodstock" on premises - Wine & Beer. Free Wi-Fi. Bike rental, book exchange and laundry service. Safe party location. 10000.
- Residencial Ivonne Clean double rooms with private bathroom for 34 USD per night as of June 2012. Very Safe , no Breakfast, patchy WiFi, Laundry. Walking Distance To The Beach. Just a couple blocks from the bus station. Tele.(58) 265 482. [email protected]
- Hostal Ecuador, Juan Noé 989, +56 (0)58 251934. Quiet place a short distance from the centre. Breakfast included, use of kitchen Ch$ 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 protected]), . 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 rooftop Dorm bed Ch$9,000 per person. Room with shared bathroom Ch$ 10,000 per person and with private bathroom Ch$12,000 per person.. (S 18° 28 ' 06.6,W 070° 18 ' 17.5)
- Hotel Plaza Colon
- HI Arica, Manuel Rojas #2864 (Chapiquina con Blest Gana), ☎ +56-58-248108-226372. very friendly hostel, clean rooms, kitchen, with breakfast, dorm 8 US-$, double with private bathroom 6000 ch$ p.P.; nice and helpful staff; [email protected] ch$ 6000 double.
- 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.
- Arica Unite Hotel, Vicente Dagnino 117, ☎ +56 58 247 702 ([email protected]), . Hostel close to the bus station and the beach. Very good atmosphere, perfect for those looking for fiestas. Rooms are new and clean. Hot showers, excellent breakfast and friendly staff. Ch$ 6000.
- 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.
Buses and shared taxis (colectivos) to Tacna, Peru leave regularly all day and take 1.5 to 2 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. As of September 2014, colectivos cost 4,000 pesos, or 18 Peruvian soles, and leave as soon as they are full (4 or 5 passengers); the driver also helps you through immigration and customs. 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$7,000 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), Tur-Bus (Ch$13,000, 11 hours) and Espresso Norte (Ch$10,000, but you need to change buses in Calama).
- 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.