Arica, Chile

Arica, Chile Travel Information

According to holidaysort, Arica is sometimes called the “northern gate of Chile”: it is located only 20 km from the border with Peru. And also – the city of eternal spring, because, unlike other cities where it almost never rains, it never gets too hot here. Arica is a quiet, peaceful, safe place with stunning surroundings, rich history, good beaches and sunshine in the truest sense of the word all year round. Perhaps the city itself will not seem particularly interesting, but lovers of active sports and wildlife are waiting for a lot of exciting things.

From Ariki, it is most convenient to go on a tour to Chungara, one of the highest mountain lakes in the world. It is located at 4860 m above sea level. The lake is located within the Lauca National Park, which in itself is a good enough reason to go to Chile at all.

How to get to Ariki

You can get to Arica by one of the many buses that go here from Bolivia, La Paz, Cochabamba and Oruro (with a transfer). However, the city also has an international airport that receives flights from Iquiki, Santiago de Chile and La Paz; it is located about 19 km from Arica and only a kilometer from the Peruvian border.


The first people appeared in these places more than 10 thousand years ago. A variety of tribes lived here until the appearance of the Spaniards in the first half of the 16th century, who, in fact, founded Arica as a city. When silver was found on the territory of present-day Bolivia, the precious metal began to be exported from the port of Arica, which served as an impetus for the rapid development of the city. In the 17th century, Arica was considered the southernmost known city in the world. She also fell in love with the pirates. At the end of the 19th century, the Chileans recaptured Arica from the Peruvians, but for a long time the status of the city remained shaky: only in 1929, with the help of the United States, the city was officially assigned to Chile.

According to globalsciencellc, Arica is one of the driest cities (and places in general) on the planet. It rains here every few decades.

Arica is located in an earthquake-prone area, on the Peru-Chile tectonic fault. Natural disasters are not uncommon here. In 1868, near Ariki was the epicenter of a powerful earthquake of 8-9 points, in which many residents died, and the city itself was pretty much turned into ruins.

Attractions and attractions of Arica

One of the main attractions of the city is the Saint-Marcos Cathedral. It is unique in that it was built of reinforced concrete: this becomes more understandable when you consider that the notorious Gustav Eiffel built the cathedral. The church was completed in 1876 and today is classified as a national monument. Its only non-metallic detail is the wooden entrance doors.

Around the same years, Eiffel also built the Aduana building in Arica, the current House of Culture, which was originally intended for customs. The building survived several earthquakes and tsunamis and is also considered a national monument. This is a small but bright building with contrasting white and red stripes.

The second must-see attraction in Arica is El Morro Hill, a 130-meter cliff with an excellent viewpoint at the top. There is also a military museum dedicated to the events of the Pacific War of the late 19th century, and a museum of history. In addition, Peruvian trenches have been preserved on the top of the hill. At the end of the 20th century, the Cristo de la Paz monument was erected here, on which you can see the coats of arms of both countries that fought for so long. A hiking trail leads here, starting at the southern end of Colon Street, and you can climb to the very top in 10 minutes.

The central square of the city is named after Christopher Columbus – Plaza de Colon. This is the heart of Arica, where all the main holidays and events take place. And the main shopping street of the city – st. May 21st. Handmade goods can be bought at Feria Sangra.

3 things to do in Arica:

  1. See the world’s largest Coca-Cola logo on a hill. It is over 120 meters wide and is made from 70,000 soda bottles.
  2. Try the unique Asapa olives: purple and with a bitter smell. Grab as a souvenir and a bottle of oil from them, which is distinguished by a strongly pronounced non-Mediterranean taste.
  3. Come on Sunday to Chacabuco street, which turns into a market. Here you can buy anything from souvenirs to second-hand clothes, as well as local delicacies and drinks.

In Arica, there is a curious museum of Mar, where you can see more than 700 different species of snails that live not only in the country, but throughout the world. In addition, the museum has an aquarium with a mini ocean ecosystem. Another interesting museum is San Miguel de Azapa, whose collection contains many archaeological finds and artifacts that testify to the habitation of this place in prehistoric times.

The city still operates the second casino that appeared in the country. It was opened in 1960, and you can still play at one of the 16 tables, drink your winnings in one of the three bars or console yourself after losing in one of the three restaurants.

Of course, Arica is rich not only in cultural and historical heritage: there are stunning beaches here. Back in the 19th century, this area was considered unhealthy due to malarial reservoirs, but then they were drained. Now Arica is considered a full-fledged seaside resort, especially popular among surfers. The beaches stretch along the coastline for more than 20 km. The beaches north of the city are good for beginner surfers, while south of El Morro is for more advanced surfers. Also to the north are the best beaches for swimming. It’s cold to swim in winter, but what kind of Russian would stop that?

Neighborhood of Arica

From Ariki, it is most convenient to go on a tour to Chungara, one of the highest mountain lakes in the world. It is located at 4860 m above sea level, about 160 km from Arica, at the very Bolivian border, near Kasiri-Macho. The lake is located within the Lauca National Park, which in itself is a good enough reason to go to Chile at all. On the harsh slopes of the mountains, along which you need to climb to the lake, nothing grows, the road leads through gorges and barren plains, and volcanoes rise around. The lake itself is surrounded by greenery, several sparsely populated villages nestled nearby, and wildlife rages: here you can see many species of animals and birds. One-day organized excursions from the city are organized to the lake.

A little closer on the road to the lake, about 125 km from Ariki, is the town of Putre. It was founded by the Spaniards in the 16th century, and the reconstructed church and several buildings of those times have survived to this day in the village. There are barely 1,500 residents here, but this is a great base camp for exploring the national park on your own. Mountain streams murmur around the village, marjoram grows, which is considered the best in the country, and volcanoes rise behind all this. You should definitely go from here to the salt lakes with flocks of flamingos, vicuñas, Martian landscapes and hot springs for swimming and taking mud baths.

Asapa Valley

Asapa Valley, a kind of green oasis, is located much closer to the city than the wonderful lake. The valley is compressed by two bare hills, and the seasonally drying river San José flows through it. Asapa starts three kilometers from the city, and it is worth a trip here for the unique climate and the huge variety of fruits and vegetables that ripen here all year round. And this is not to mention the specific local olives, the pride of the region.

In addition, there are several interesting settlements in the valley. Perhaps the most attractive of them for tourists is Parinacota, a resort town in the Andes and at the same time a city of artisans. Here you can see (and buy) a huge number of handmade items made of stone and wood, replicas of archaeological finds, ceramics, fabrics, clothing, metal utensils and sculptures. Plus, it is in Parinacota that the famous restaurant The Inn is located throughout the region, where you can try typical Chilean dishes. And not far from the town there is Chunyo hill, where there are many petroglyphs, and Acha gorge with geoglyphs and prehistoric sites.

Another interesting place in the valley is Cerro Sombrero (“Hill Hat”). Geoglyphs were also found here, and an Indian village of the pre-Hispanic period once stuck to the hillside: historians say that five thousand houses stood here about 3000-3500 years ago. Finally, it is worth visiting the town of San Miguel de Azapa (12 km from Arica), where you can see an interesting archaeological museum. It exhibits the mummies of the Chinchorro, a prehistoric civilization that was one of the first on the planet to begin mummifying the dead.

Arica, Chile