Concepción was founded by Pedro de Valdivia in 1550 north of the Bío Bío River, at the site which is today known as Penco. At that time it was given the name Concepción del Nuevo Extremo.
More than once the city has been destroyed by earthquakes and tsunamis. One in 1570, another on the 25 May 1751, at which point it was decided to move Concepción further from the sea to its present location in the Mocha Valley.
Today Concepción is the second largest city of the country. The Universidad de Concepción, founded in 1919, and with its main campus in the city became the first private university in Chile. The neighbouring harbour of Talcahuano holds the largest naval base in the country.
The Gran Concepción is the name that receives the whole metropolitan area, which includes Talcahuano, Hualpen, San Pedro de la Paz, Chiguayante, Hualqui and Penco.
The famous Pan-American Highway, referred to locally as "Ruta 5" or the "Norte-Sur", connects Santiago south to near Chillán (approximately five hours), meeting international standards for the most part. Outside of Chillán then take the "Autopista del Itata" (Ruta CH-152) west for about an hour.
Buses end at the main terminal in the center of Concepción, the Terminal Collao. Buses depart every half an hour from Santiago. Buses are the quickest form of public transport in Chile. Unlike Europe, train services are scarse and the journey take 2-3 times longer than by bus.
There are at least two non-stop express services that connect Santiago and Concepción, EME Bus and Pullman Tur (not to be confused with Pullman Bus), which take no more than six hours. Fares can vary from CLP$6000 CLP (USD$12) to CLP$14000 (USD$28 USD), depending on the season, seat and day of the week.
The TerraSur train links Santiago to Chillán in 4.5 hours. Previously a bus transfer to Concepción included in the ticket price was available, however this service was suspended indefinitely on 5 January 2009 and now must be purchased separately.
The transportation system has buses and shared taxis services that reach every single place in the metropolitan area. there is a comnmuter train service (BioTren) that reaches the surrounding areas.
The following is the list with the public transportation services in The Gran Concepcion:
Talcahuano (through Concepcion-Talcahuano Highway) Vía Láctea (Line 10), Via Futuro (Line 11), Via Siglo XXI (Line 13), Chiguayante Sur (Line 14), Via Universo (Line 16), Nueva Llacolen (Line 20), Ruta Las Playas (Line 30), Buses Campanil (Line 50),Las Bahías(Line 70), Las Galaxias (Line 80)
Talcahuano (through Colon Avenue) Vía Láctea (Line 10), Via Futuro (Line 11),Nueva Sotrapel (Line 12), Vía Siglo XXI (Line 13), Chiguayante Sur (Line 14), Via Universo (line 16), Nueva Llacolen (Line 20), Ruta Las Playas (Line 30),Ruta del Mar (Line 31), Buses Ruta Del Mar (Line 32), Buses Campanil (Line 50) , Buses Geminis Sur (Line 52), Base Naval (Line 56), Denavi Sur (Line 57), Mi Expreso (Line 62), Las Bahías (Line 70), Las Galaxias (Line 80), Via Del Sol (Line 81)
Hualpén (through Concepcion-Talcahuano Highway) Las Golondrinas (Line 40), Buses Mini Verde (Line 41) and Mini Buses Hualpencillo (Line 42).
Hualpén (through Colon Avenue) Nueva Sotrapel (Line 12), Ruta Las Playas (Line 30), Las Golondrinas (Line 40), Buses Mini Verde (Line 41), Mini Buses Hualpencillo (Line 42), Flota Las Lilas (Line 43), Flota Centauro (Line 44), Buses Tucapel (Line 60), Buses Cóndor (Line 65), Buses Puchacay (Line 71), Vía del Sol (Line 81), Among others.
San Pedro de la Paz Nueva Llacolen (Line 20), Riviera Bio Bío (Line 21), San Pedro (Line 22), Buses San Pedro del Mar (Line 23), San Remo (Line 24), Las Golondrinas (Line 40) and Rengo Lientur (Line 63).
Chiguayante Vía Láctea (Line 10), Via Futuro (Line 11), Nueva Sotrapel (Line 12), Via Siglo XXI (Line 13), Chiguayante Sur (Line 14), Via Universo (Líne 16), Expresos Chiguayante (Line 17), Buses Palomares (Line 18), Las Galaxias (Line 80) and Vía del Sol (Líne 81).
Penco Expresos Chiguayante (Line 17), Ruta Las Playas (Line 30), Ruta del Mar (Line 31), Buses Ruta del Mar (Líne 32) and Mi Expreso (Line 62).
Hualqui = Las Galaxias (Line 80) and Vía del Sol (Line 81).
just inside Concepción Buses Pedro de Valdivia (Line 72), Buses Tucapel (Line 60 Z & M) and Rengo-Lientur (Line 63).
Universidad de Concepción, (University of Concepción). A beautiful university with big gardens. Must see La Pinacoteca.
Museo Hualpén, (Hualpén museum). A beautiful old house that was converted to a museum holding the pieces of Mr. Pedro del Rio Zañartu, a world traveller.
Old mining operations. 40 km south of Concepción is the old mining town of Lota that offers tours of an old coal mine.
Chivilingo. Near Lota is the Chile´s first electric plant, today a beautiful museum and picnic area.
The Huascar, at the naval base in Talcahuano, the Huascar is a ship that was captured from the Peruvian navy in the War of the Pacific. It is a symbol of Chilean national pride and is the oldest floating historical relic in the world. Visit the museum to learn more.
Learn Spanish, because of its weather, friendliness of its people, and many students around, this is a great place to learn Spanish. Several schools are available. I did a course with HelloChile (firstname.lastname@example.org) and it was really good. The boss (Gerhard, an Austrian who is since decades in this region) also helps out with every question concerning tourism and traveling and has been to almost every tiny town in Chile.
Regional Stadium, it is the main and biggest stadium in the metropolitan area. It hosts Universidad de Concepcion and Deportes Concepcion matches, ticket prices vary from CLP$2000 (USD$4) to CLP$5000 (USD$10) depending on the match.
CAP Stadium, inaugurated in 2009, it is a new and modern stadium that hosts Huachipato matches, ticket prices are more expensive at CLP$4000 (USD$8) as it has a very comfortable accomodations.
El Morro Stadium, a historical English design stadium, is the host for Naval matches. During the 60's the Brazilian superstar Pele, played with his team Santos here. Destroyed by the 2010 earthquake/tsunami it is not advisable to visit.
Federico Schwager Stadium, The host for Lota Schwager, its abandoned condition makes it not advisable to visit. No info about prices.
Concepción is not a touristy city so if you are looking for cheap and cheerful souvenirs you will have to use your imagination.
Mall Plaza Trebol, on the highway to Talcahuano. Take a bus from Concepción centre or a colectivo. A large North American inspired shopping mall complete with food court, cinema and amusement arcade. Home to shops like Zara, Puma, Lacoste and Lush aswell as several larger department stores.
Galerías, these are various shopping arcades located within the centre of the city mainly on Barros Arana and Maipú close to the Plaza de Independencia ( de Armas). Full of inexpensive little clothing stores, beauty salons, hairdressers and any other kind of store you can imagine. Clothing etc tends to be poor quality and the bargain prices reflect this. Popular with locals and worth exploring on a rainy day.
La Fuente Alemana, O´Higgins with Rengo (a block or so from the Plaza de Armas and Cathedral)- the go-to place to eat the completos which Chileans love so much. (FYI completos are a hotdog with mayonnaise, tomato, and avocado). Go downstairs for a quick snack or upstairs for table service.
Waya´s Gyros, Plaza Peru, Greek inspired salads and wraps. Healthy and delicious food. Kuntsmann beer is also available by the pitcher so bring some friends, grab a table outside and enjoy!
Mercado Central, the city´s main market is full of little restaurants serving up good seafood dishes and other Chilean traditional meals qith fresh produce. Comfort food in a an albeit slightly grubby looking location.
30 Express, Plaza Peru, empanada specialists serving every flavor combo imaginable. Good beer is also readily served up here. Clean, good service and friendly staff.
La Fina Estampa, San Martin with Angol, Peruvian restaurant serving good fresh seafood and great Pisco Sours. Quite a sophisticated place but the pricing is reasonable.
Tijuana, On the way to Santa Juana (take a car/taxi), Mexican food. All you can eat on Thursday nights and Sunday lunchtime. While the food is more like a Chilean take on traditional Mexican food, it is delicious and has a great atmosphere with lively music and friendly staff. Tijuana express is in the Plaza Peru - a much smaller venu and limited menu but just as good.
Concepción is full of bars and nightclubs so try the traditional Pisco Sour cocktail, a Piscola or even a beer from the German-settled south of the country.
Pub Quebec,Janequeo 115, Located next to the main entrance to the Universidad de Concepción, this place cannot be missed! Beer deals before 9PM - 2 for 900 pesos and free popcorn for every table. Full of students and young people. Great atmosphere.
Latitud Sur, Víctor Lamas 401, probably one of the more sophisticated bars in Concepción´s centre. Great artesenal beers made in the on-site microbrewery, beautiful interior and a decent food menu. The price reflects the atmosphere though.
Reggio, great pub located in Pedro de Valdivia- best night to go is on Thursdays.
Bar Bonita, Rengo 1624, great bar, you cannot really notice it's a bar from outside, but once you'll get in you'll love it. Live music and sketches on Wednesdays for a small entrance fee.
Gala, located in the Barrio Estacion, this place is always packed on weekends and is frequented mainly for it´s nightclub located in the basement. Usually drinks deals are available on Piscolas.
Choripan, probably the only bar with a pub feel in the Barrio Estacion. Decent live band playing covers of the Doors, Pink Floyd etc. Drinks can be pricey so come for happy hour before midnight.
Pub Neruda, on the Diagonal (close to the Plaza Peru) a really relaxed bar which is usually full of a lively young crowd taking advantage of the good prices on litres of beers. The bar´s interior is inspired by the poetry of Pablo Neruda and gives the place a chilled, cool atmosphere.
Blass, Orompello 269, A no frills interior leads to a relaxed crowd of 18-30s that frequent this place. Happy hours are extensive and can be found in evenings and in the early hours of the morning. Their homemade ponche is worth a try. []
Be aware of pickpockets and avoid wearing expensive-looking jewelry or watches, even during the day.
Do not visit Talcahuano's seaport, Hualpen and nearby areas at night, especially on weekends.
Other residential areas such as Chiguayante, San Pedro de la Paz, are worth visiting but have their dangerous places also, so be careful when going unaccompanied by people who live there or know the place well.
As the rest of country, this city has a largely conservative Catholic and Protestant population but Freemasonry has here, an important influence in culture, education and business.
Very strong social movements and political activity, sometimes heavily polarizated, be careful while discussing topics such as Pinochet's regime or the War of the Pacific.
Travellers should be aware of the recent political history of Chile as the country was under the rule of Augusto Pinochet for many years following the 1973 military coup over the Socialist president Salvador Allende. Foreigners should be respectful when approaching this topic and in fact it is best avoided unless you are in the company of Chileans you know well or those who bring the subject up willingly themselves.
Mind your manners, in contrast with the rest of Chile, Concepción is highly populated by university students, so they can understand if you are talking in English. Avoid unnecessary comments about the city and its people.
Tomé, a seaside town about 30 mins from Concepción centre by bus. Go in the spring/ summer to enjoy the beautiful beach. the town itself is fairly forgettable.
Reserva Nonguén, a Natural Reserve, just 20 minutes by car from the city center. Untouched native forests and endemic animals such as the Rana de Darwin, Pudú, etc.
Península of Hualpén, visit an old whale factory in Chome or a white sanded bay called Ramuntcho.
Lenga, go and eat seafood in this seaside town about 15 mins from Concepcion by car and 35 mins by bus (Puchacay, Line 71). This will take much longer as it doesnt take the highway, but is cheaper (0,80 USD). Try some seafood empanadas or mariscal caliente in one of the numerous eating places. Note that these restaurants cannot process payments by credit card, so bring cash. El Viejo Lobo del Mar is recommended.
Hualpen Museum and the Desembocadura (rivermouth of the Bio Bio river, located inside "Parque Pedro del Rio Zañartu" this museum has a big variety of archaeological, natural and historical pieces of collection. The only way to get into this place is by car or taxi, do not pay more than 20 USD or 10.000 CLP for a single ride, in this case ask the taxi driver for "Museo Hualpen".
Parque Pedro del Rio Zañartu, located ten minutes from downtown it offers beauty natural landscapes and recreational places. Five minutes far you can see the confluence of the Bío Bío River and the Pacific Ocean, you can get into by car or taxi (same fare as Hualpen Museum).
Marina del Sol Casino,a new building for gambling and entertainment, located five minutes from the airport and fifteen from downtown. It offers a big variety of games and shows for adults and kids.
external view of Marina del Sol Casino
Termas de Chillán or Las Trancas, a ski town located about two hours from Concepción. Home to a large volcano with great skiing so visit in the winter or enjoy the the thermal spas heated by the volcanic waters year-round.
Isla Mocha is an island that can be reached from Tirua, a journey five hours south by bus.
Santiago, the capital is just a six hour bus journey away and buses run frequently so if you need a taste of the big city life, it´s not too far.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!