Antofagasta is a city in Northern Chile. The Atacama desert rises in the east and the Pacfic Ocean provides a western limit. This is an industrial centre in the region and is perhaps the least pleasant city in the north. A refurbished seafront makes this city more attractive for tourists. Travellers heading to San Pedro de Atacama and between the far north and central Chile might find it a convenient stopover.
The city of Antofagasta is closely linked to mining activity. Half of the copper produced in the country comes from here. There has been a steady growth in the areas of construction, retail, hotel accommodations, population growth, and remarkable skyline development.
- 1 Sernatur Tourism Office (Servicio Nacional de Turismo), Arturo Prat 384 (just off Plaza Colon), ☏ , , , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–F 08:30–18:00. Helpful tourist information with maps on the city and the region.
In the 1870s, Chilean miners found rich deposits of saltpeter (nitratine) in the field of Salar del Carmen, to the east of the present Antofagasta. The region was part of Bolivia at this time, and the growth of mining led to the settlement of La Chimba, which was designated as a port in 1868, and was soon renamed Antofagasta.
Ten years later, the War of the Pacific broke out between Chile and Bolivia, and Chile occupied Antofagasta in 1879. While a truce was signed in 1884, sovereignty over the area was not settled until a 1905 treaty assigned it to Chile "in perpetuity".
In 1991, a mudslide devastated much of the city, undermining land, damaging 2,464 houses and destroying 493 buildings. The disaster left 92 dead, 16 missing and about 20,000 homeless. In 1995, the city was hit by an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter Scale. It left three people dead and hundred injured, but structural damage was minor for the magnitude of the event.
Get in Edit
By car Edit
Route CH-5 connects the city with the rest of the country and is part of the Panamerican Highway. This route connects to the city by Route CH-26 in the north of the city, and Route CH-28 to the south. In addition, the city is connected to the north of the country by Route CH-1, a way that also allows access to Andrés Sabella Gálvez International Airport and the natural monument La Portada.
By bus Edit
- 1 Terminal de Buses Cardenal Carlos Oviedo Cavada, Avenida Pedro Aguirre Cerda 5750 (north of town). Buses do not run downtown but here.
By plane Edit
- 2 Andrés Sabella Gálvez International Airport (ANF IATA) (in Cerro Moreno, north of the city). It is served by three airlines that offer domestic flights only.
Destinations and airlines:
Get around Edit
On foot Edit
The area of interest for most visitors is easily covered by walking.
By bus Edit
Several lines of minibuses, with a capacity of fewer than 30 people, serve the city. 590 pesos (April 2023).
By taxi Edit
Taxis lines, served by black sedans. make their way through the urban area through fixed routes.
By 4WD Edit
Renting a truck here or in Antofagasta is a great idea if you are 3-5 people and want to explore the region on your own. This will save you a lot of money on expensive tours, especially in San Pedro de Atacama, and rental cars are much cheaper here and even more so in Antofagasta. But due to the rough terrain, it is strongly recommended to get a 4WD or truck, instead of a regular, unless you plan to stay on proper roads.
- Cinemas in the two large seafront malls.
- Walk the pedestrian mall that links the two main squares, Plaza Sotomayor with its market, and Plaza Colon with its Big Ben replica.
- A nice sunny weather, make going to the multiple artificial beaches along the coast an enjoyable activity for any season, e.g. Balneario Municipal.
- Sea lions, pelicans and smaller birds getting fed on fish waste in the fishermen´s harbour.
- The sunset from the seafront walk to the south.
- Georgio pizza, 14 de febrero 2403 (in the corner with Calle Boliviar), ☏ . Great pizzas in an unpretentious and pleasant atmosphere. Take away available. No beer! Pizza and drinks for two is 7,000 pesos.
- More than a dozen tiny restaurants at the Mercado, Plaza Sotomayor. All offer set lunches at 1,500 pesos. Number 67 is good.
- The otherwise standard hellish food court of the Mall Plaza has a neat outside area with a couple o
- The bars in the center are either strip clubs or purely male workers' hang-outs (the girls you see are at work).
- The pedestrian Paseo Arturo Prat has a couple of pavement cafes, that are good for people watching.f bars and restaurants.
- A few decent spots along Av. O´Higgins (a.k.a. Av. Brasil), and also the seafront parallel to it.
- Wally´s Pub, Antonio Toro 982 (By the South end of O´Higgins). A genuine ex-pats hang-out, neatly laid out, with a full restaurant menu. Warm and friendly with a great atmosphere. Small beer 2,000 pesos, main course 9,000 pesos.
Many options in the area near the bus terminals. If you get further inland from here, it can get seedy at night.
- Casa de Huesped Cataluna, Bolivar 572 (Half a block from the bus terminals), ☏ . Not so clean rooms—bugs and smell from joss sticks, shared bathroom (bring towel and toilet paper), big, comfy beds, thin walls let you here the birds sing in their cage in the hall and also everything else. Single 10,000 pesos, double 13,000 pesos.
- Hotel Rawaye, Calle Sucre 762, ☏ . Run down old building with steaming hot showers and birds nesting in the ceiling. Fascinating amount of headroom in the bathrooms. Some rooms are quieter than others Single 9,000 pesos, double 15,000 pesos.
Stay safe Edit
Beware of pickpockets at the bus terminals when leaving. They will try to snatch your belongings when you load your bags into the buses.
Always park your private vehicle in guarded parking lot (estacionamiento). The free "guarded" parking at supermarkets is not safe.
Go next Edit
- Calama – A convenient hub for trips in the region and further to San Pedro
- San Pedro de Atacama – A tourist hot spot, which has the most popular attractions in this region such as Salar de Atacama, El Tatio Geysers and Valle de la Luna
- Mano del Desierto – A sculpture of giant hand rising from the sand, 75 km away.