Arica, Chile

The Iglesia de San Marcos
Playa El Laucho and Playa La Lisera
The green Azapa Valley

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The northernmost port of Chile

Arica, Chile’s northernmost city, 316km north of Iquique, benefits greatly from tourism, with foreign visitors flocking to its pleasant sandy beaches in the summer, and with a smattering of good museums.

Aside from its own attractions, Arica makes a good base for the beautiful Parque Nacional Lauca.

The compact city centre is easy to explore on foot, though a visit to Arica isn’t complete without climbing El Morro, the dramatic cliff that looms high over the city. From the clifftop, home to a number of turkey vultures and a giant Jesus statue that lights up at night, you can enjoy a magnificent panoramic view of the entire city. Also up here, with cannons stationed outside, is the Museo Histórico y de Armas, with displays of weaponry, uniforms and other artefacts from the War of the Pacific.

Below El Morro is the large, palm-tree-lined Plaza Vicuña Mackenna, and alongside that lies Avenida Máximo Lira, the main coastal road. On the east side is the attractive Plaza Colón, decorated with pink flowers and ornate fountains. 

The plaza is home to one of Arica’s most celebrated buildings, the Gothic Iglesia de San Marcos, designed by Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame), made entirely out of iron and shipped over from France in 1876. 

The excellent Museo Arqueológico lies instead 12km from Arica in the green Azapa Valley. The museum traces the history of the valley’s inhabitants, from the earliest hunter-gatherers, via a remarkably thorough collection of regional pre-Hispanic artefacts. 

A twenty-minute walk south of the centre will bring you to the sandy Playa El Laucho and Playa La Lisera, both popular with sun worshippers and good for swimming, followed by the pretty Playa Brava and the dark-sand Playa Arenillas Negra, which has rougher waves.

Must see places in Arica

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    Lunar Valleys and Glasses of Wine
    Lunar Valleys and Glasses of Wine

    Sandwiched between the snowy white peaks of the Andes and the waves of the Pacific Ocean, Chile is the perfect country for outdoor activities and nature lovers thanks to its stunning national parks and reserves, which protect an incredible variety of plants and animals.

    An MSC World Cruise will take you to the very end of this extremely long country – over 4300 km – from Arica, on the Chile- Peru border, to Punta Arenas, on the border between Chile and Argentina, including everything else on the way! 
    During a cruise you may not get to see the driest desert in the world – the Atacama desert with its fascinating Valley of the Moon –, the high trails in the Parque Nacional Lauca, all at an altitude of between 4000 and 6000 metres, or the volcanic peaks and verdant landscapes of the Región de Los Lagos (very similar to the European Alps), but you will definitely have the opportunity to enjoy the wilderness of Patagonia and the statues carved by the Rapa Nui on Easter Island. 
    An MSC day trip will take you to the capital of Chile, Santiago, which is easily reachable from the colourful port of Valparaiso. The city is located in the country's central valley, near an area that is characterised by its vineyards, for example Colchagua Valley, and ski resorts.