Arica, The Alternative Guide Tour





(Sorry for my faults and my Tarzan-like english, remember that I AM NOT a native english speaker)

Arica is located in north border of Chile, in middle of desert of Atacama, the driest place in the world, as states the Guinnes book of records. Never rains here, however the city is quite green, because is near to Azapa Valley which cross the desert from altiplano to the Ocean Pacific. Wehater is warm and every day of the year sun shines. Years ago, an hotel entrepeneur offered in middle of the winter, refund cash for each day without sun during the staying at hotel. Contrary to statistics fron hundred of years, this time was one full month cloudly (Murphy...) and the guy loss lots of money

Arica is not a tipical touristic destination as Cancún or else, but among our touristic offer is the near  altiplano (you can visit Lake Chungará an Lauca National Park in one day), near border with Perú (frontier is 18 km far from downtown) and near Bolivia (a spectacular paved road to La Paz, in 7-10 hours). We are also an ideal rest place in the road to Arequipa-Cusco-Macchu Picchu.

Arica offers for tourists:

  • Good hotels and hostales, all kind of prices and comfort
  • Nice beaches
  • An strategig location as base for many good touristic destinatios in andine area
  • A small, clean and quiet city (170.000 people about), in the coast of Pacific Ocean. An ideal place to relaxed life
  • Great archeological museum and ruins everywhere
  • Cheap, compared to others places in Chile

The Drawbacks:

  • Nigthlife, is very poor
  • Gastronomy, no really great places
  • Lack of traditional touristic infraestructure (no Resorts nor mass touristic accomodations, etc.)

Besides its sunny wehater and beaches, Arica is on the travel route called "El Camino del Inca" (the Inca Road) made by the ancient Inca Emperors to comunicate the empire, which includes San Pedro de Atacama - Arica - Cuzco - Machu Picchu. All over the year you can see gringos traveling "in a budget" with the S.American Handbook on his pocket. They are the kings of art of lite spending, and they have crated an ensemble of places when you can economically sleep and eat. In my view, I think that a visit to Arica Must include at least the following:

A trip to the altiplano; Putre and neigborhood is the most easy to do, but if you dare and not afraid of puna (heigt sickness) Lago Chungará is far most impressing (but only if you are nature lover).

A visit to Tacna (Perú), baths in El Laucho o La Lisera Beach, the Isla del Alacrán for weeckends at nigth, also the Bar Barrabás, and discos Soho or Sunset, visit to Casino (for dinner and trow some chips), visit to Playa Corazones (with the huge caverns when lived Chinchorro people), the Valle de Azapa and Museo San Miguel with archeologic history of the zone, to the Feria del Domingo and, of course the Morro de Arica with his museum on War of Pacific.

If you are whealty, the peruvian cities of Arequipa, Cuzco and mitical Maccu Picchu are very near by plane, Bolivian city of La Paz is 511 Km. of pavimented road and about half hour of fligth from Arica, and the very beauty city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra (in Bolivia) is about one hour fligth. You can go there by bus or train also at a fractional cost.

a MUST for Travelers! is The South American Handbook (click here)

The BEST info source on our country Chile Handbook (click here)


Visit to Tacna (Perú)

- The border with Perú is about 20 Km of downtown Arica, and is very easy to visit this city, as alien, you only need your passport and in rare cases a visation (only from certain countries)

In Tacna the best place to lunch that I know is the Rancho San Antonio, it´s not easy to find, but answering you will reach it, it´s a nice place and worth to taste the choclo con queso, the pisco sour (with homemade pisco is delicious and not harm your stomach) and steacks and beef. BEWARE OF BOTH POLICEMAN AND ROBBERS both are same as dangerous in Perú so watch your steps, don´t carry cameras or other goods easy to catch etc. Peruvians in general terms are people extrematly open and hospitalaries. Taxi drivers and waiters are courteous and honest, but also there are lots of pickpockets in the streets and in police abound corruption. So try to keep away of troubles.

The best alternative to visit Tacna is in shared taxi (colectivos) the round trip from Arica cost about 11 U.S.D. A more economic alternative is the bus, but it´s not too confortable. To pass the nigth the best hotels are Hotel Turista and el Camino Real, the last has a fine disco in underground (Hot Steel) but also abound other places smaller and far more economic (8 to 10 U.S.D. per nigth). An economic alternative to luch or tea is El Viejo Almacén. If you like tropical juices, and you are not so scrupulous in Mercado de Avda. Las Palmeras, second floort are lots of small post which offer huge juices for a small amount of money. I go always there and I am still alive.

To complete your visit to Tacna you must go to the mercadillos, there are all kind of goods from all over the world, the chapest liquors (Chivas Regall 3/4 at 15 U.S.D. same for Jack Daniels, Bacardi at 8 U.S.D. etc.) Argentinean leather jackets at 60 U.S.D., jeans at 20 U.S.D. etc. Also medicines and prescription lens are extremely cheap.

Where to e-mail

In General Lagos with Maipu streets there are a place when you can send e-mail and go trough the web. Also in Parque Colón (Colón with Chacabuco) there are several small computer shops wich offer e-mail service. And, if you want save your $ you can contact me here and send your e-mail from my place at no cost, well, a can of beer would be apreciatted anyway, so I can take you some shots with my digital camera to attach if you want.

Tips for watch your budget in Arica

- To lunch good an cheap it is Casino del Hospital de Arica, in 21 de Mayo street front to colegio Santa Ana, is not very accesible but it worth. I lunch sometimes there (about USD 1.50)

- To pass a good time at weekend nigth (past 1 A.M.) with few $$, you can rent a car in Reinco (about 20 U.S.D. a day) purchase some packs of Budweisser or anything so and go to the Isla del Alacrán: if you go there with someone you´ll entertained chatting as most of people from Arica does it, if you go there alone, is a nice place to pick some chicks (or guys). If your budget not allows you to rent a car, you can go there at foot also.

- In 18 de Septiembre with Baquedano streets, there are an chinesse´s store named Li Shanzú. They sell chinesse food to carry very cheap and good spiced, so you must go up 23.30, they close later.

- For the cheapest sandwich there are a food chain called "Miranda" when you can eat a good "churrasco" (bread, steack, tomato, mayonaise) for only 1,40 U.S.D.the most accesible "Miranda" is at Maipú street in the first square.

Cost of Living in Arica (In US Dollars aprox)

1 kg bread 0.60, 1 kg bananas, pears, apples etc. 0.50, Coke 2 Lt 1.36, hostal economy 8.00 to 12.00 (common bathroom), bed & breakfast 18.00 (private bathroom), lunch economy 2.00, lunch medium price 8.00, airfare Santiago-Arica-Santiago 165.00, Santiago-Arica-Santiago via pullman bus 80.00, Tour Arica-Altiplano-Arica 24.00 to 50.00 (meals not includes), rent a car 60.00 daily (30.00 from particular owners) plus gas, 300c.c. can of beer 0.60 to 0.80 (Budweisser), botlle of beer 1 lt. 1.00 (Royal Guard, Guinnes), 1 lt. bottle of economic wine 2.00 (120 de Santa Rita), 750cc bottle of expensive wine 6.00 to 20.00 (Don Melchor de Concha y Toro)

(If you have any doubt on prices post me and I will inform and publish there)

Where to Dinner

- Good an economic place to eat is "Don Floro" a very small restaurant with traditional / home cuisine. Is the choice for us when we go out to dine. Don Floro is at Vicuna Mackena, between Chacabuco and Juasn Noe St. almost in front of the ugliest building of the city: the "Comandancia de Bomberos" (fire departament), so you can´t miss it

- In 21 de Mayo with Baquedano St. (downtown), at second floor is the restaurant Casanova, with stupendous fish dishes. Ask for my friend Stanko Mestrovic, who is in charge and tell him that you are friend of mine (maybe he cut a little the prices)

- Casino de Arica: Velazquez 955 (for the nigth, dinner, boite, casino $$$)

- Los Aleros de 21: 21 de Mayo 736 (Steacks and beefs $$$)

- Maracuyá: Costanera Sur 321 (The most conspicuous of Arica very good and expensive, international cuisine and seafoods $$$$)

- Caballito de Mar: Mercado Colón loc. 22 (the cheapest seafood, good and economic, order the "Copa Martínez" only if you are not alone $)

Ice Creams, Tea Rooms

- Di Mango: 21 de Mayo 244 (in my opinion, the best ice creams and coffe in Arica), also in Chinchorro Beach (see photo)

- El Altillo: 21 de Mayo 260 2º piso (also very good pizzas, and cofee)

- Barrabás restaurant: in front of Di Mango (very good prices and quality, to lunch simple order "menú del día")

Discos, Bars,

- Soho (disco all ages, at Chinchorro Beach)

- Sunset (disco for youngsters, km. 3 1/2 Valle de Azapa it has also a bracnh for we the veterans; the Swing in the same place)

- Adobe (disco for very youngsters, underground of restaurant Maracuyá)

- Avant Premiere (disco in Cerro Sombrero s/n)

- Boite del Casino de Arica (all ages, mainly veterans)

- Barrabás (Bar/Pub, 18 Septiembre con Lynch, very good, the must for pick chicks or guys, from 1 A.M. to dawn, plenty of funny people and solitaries also.

- Puesta del Sol (Bar/Pub, most indicated if you had also someone and want to chat in a relaxed enviroment.

- Donde Aliro (Bar in Chinchorro Beach cheap for youngsters)

- Las Vegas (bar in front of Casino de Arica, full of prostitutes, if you had a bad luck day with girls)


Hotels/Boarding Houses

- Hotel Arica ex Hostería: Costanera Sur 599 (most conspicuous, on the seashore just for $$$$)

- Hotel El Paso: Velasquez 1109 (also good and expensive)

- Hotel King: Colón 376 (2 star prices and quality, good)

- Motel Saucache: Guillermo Sanchez 027, entrada Valle de Azapa (apart hotel, 4 to 6 persons per cabaña $$)

- Hotel del Rey Robert: Velasquez 792 (hotel/boarding house, basic services but good prices, nice quality/price rating, negotiable fares)

- Residencial Leiva: Colón 347 (traditional boarding house in Arica, owned by a frenchman who falled in love with the city years ago, good service and reasonable prices)

- Residencial Blanquita: Maipú 472 (ditto the former)

*** Good Tip *** In Patricio Lynch street, between O´higgins and Maipú St. there are a good amount of boarding houses at very reasonable fares, basic, but clean and experienced to attend gringos, many of them are recomended by "South American Handbook"



In general terms, Arica is a pacific and quite safe city, however there are two specific places when pickpockets and catch runners currently "works". Those two "workplaces" are Paseo Bolognesi and Maipu with Colón Streets. So when you going those places watch your bags and cameras, there are usually many cops there but they operates whith distracted people (i.e. one person talks and distracts you while the other catch your bag)

Taxi drivers usually receive commisions from boarding houses and hotels, specially the ones who work in airport and land terminals, so don´t trust much his advises, usually is a wise idea ask them they left you in downtown (i.e. 21 de Mayo with Patricio Lynch Streets) and then look for yourself for the most affordable place to stay. Chilean cops (carabineros) are truly honest and helpfull, so don´t hesitate to ask them for any doubt or problem.



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