Arica, Chile is affectionately nicknamed the “city of eternal spring” for its year-round pleasant weather and verdant landscape. The snowmelt from the Andes Mountains flows into the valley, which is part of what makes the beauty of Arica so unique. It’s also famous because it rarely rains in this part of Chile, though a heavy fog can sometimes descend over the town. On any South America cruise, a stop in Arica is a must for surfers. After all, this region of Chile is known for its gnarly waves. Grab your board or paddles and catch some waves. Arica is also famous for seafood, so be sure to seek out the fresh catch of the day on local menus. Don’t forget the Chilean wine!
On your cruise to Arica, there’s something for every activity level, whether you’re strolling through hundreds of years of history at the Museo Historico y de Armas or seeing the beautifully gothic Catedral de San Marcos, which was designed by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel of Paris’ Eiffel tower. Modern luxury isn’t far away in Arica, where the beaches are ideal for swimming, like at Playa El Laucho, or cave diving at Playa Corazones.
Your Arica cruise will be incomplete without a trip to the city’s most famous landmark, El Morro. Walk or drive to the top of this massive hill, which is over 400 feet tall. El Morro offers one of the best views of Arica and symbolizes the city’s role in the War of the Pacific.
This is one of Chile’s most beautiful and secluded beaches, perfect for an afternoon of lounging and sunbathing. Playa La Liserilla is also an ideal beach for families (or your inner kid). Play at the park or pay just a few pesos to jump on the nearby trampoline.
It’s less than three hours to get to Lauca National Park in the northern part of the Andes Mountains, one of Chile’s most memorable natural sights. This world biosphere is located at the foot of not one but two volcanos. Spot llamas, alpacas, and flamingos while you’re here.
Looking for a jaunt to the countryside mixed with some history? San Miguel de Azapa offers beautiful landscapes and a village of quaint olive farms. You can catch a glimpse into thousands of years of local history when you see the geoglyphs outside the museum and at the nearby Pucará de San Lorenzo.
Hop on a rented bike or enjoy a stroll along the Cuevas de Anzota, a stunning, winding network of caverns and caves. The cliffs offer an incredible seaside view and a chance to find peace and quiet among some of Chile’s most beautiful natural sights.
Located within Lauca National Park, this 17th century adobe village offers a history of the area. It’s also a beloved national monument. You can walk through the stone church or learn about the practices of alpaca wool weavers while you’re there.
While on your cruise to Arica, don’t forget to try the area’s regional delicacies. Empanadas are a must during your time in Chile, whether they’re stuffed with meat or cheese. Pastel de choclo is one of the traditional dishes of Chile, which is a corn casserole typically stuffed with meat. Ceviche, made with locally sourced seafood from the area, promises a delicious and lemon-y taste that’s bound to pair well with the region’s favorite cocktail, the pisco sour. A Chilean completo is like a hot dog, which makes for an easy lunch after a day of surfing.
People have been living in the part of Chile that we now call Arica for thousands of years. The Spanish came to the area in the 1500s. In the early 20th century, Arica officially became a Chilean territory. Today, Arica is rapidly becoming known as a vacation spot thanks to its dramatic landscape, incredible surfing, and beautiful beaches. Culturally, meal times are unhurried, and it’s not the Chilean way to rush from one thing to another. Each year, citizens of Arica and thousands of visitors celebrate the Carnaval Andino Con la Fuerza del Sol, which includes native dance and cultural traditions dating back hundreds of years.
The Arica cruise terminal is just a 15-minute walk or short taxi ride to the center of town. There are also local “microbuses” that can take you from the terminal to the cruise port. Duty-free shopping is available at the port.
In Arica, the standard transportation options are there for you, like rental cars, bikes, and taxis. Shared taxis called colectivos run frequently and tend to be less expensive than a private taxi. There is also a local bus system in the city.
The port of Arica is a duty-free cruise port, so you’ll be hard-pressed to find better or more convenient shopping in the nearby area. Local goods like clothing and handcrafted goods are commonly sold in the boutiques here, and Chilean wines are readily available to bring back to the cruise ship with you. The local stores scattered along 21 de Mayo Street and the Feria Sangra market are other shopping hubs.
The official currency here is the Chilean peso, and it is recommended that you carry a few pesos with you when venturing beyond the port. Some businesses near the cruise port will accept U.S. dollars. Banks and currency exchange areas are located within the town center.