Iquique is a port city in Northern Chile on the Pacific coast. It has a population of about 180,000 people and is the capital of the Iquique province in Chile. A city by the ocean, Iquique is the perfect place to relax on the beach, do some water sports, or explore the bars and duty-free shops.
This city was originally under Peruvian control but was given over to Chile due to the war of the Pacific. Iquique developed in large part due to its high quantity of minerals: these riches of minerals made it a very important city. Copper mining has become one of the principle industries for the economy in Iquique. There a lot of great things to do in Iquique, such as visit the Palacio Astoreca or the Museo Regional Iquique. Below is our Iquique travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
MUSEO CORBATA ESMERALDA – This museum is a replica of the famous Esmeralda, a corvette ship that faced off against the warships of the Peruvian Navy. The now sunken ship was once captained by Arturo Prat. There are guided tours of this replica offered that take you through the captain's quarters and up to the main deck of the ship.
CASINO ESPAÑOL – This casino-turned-restaurant is one of the more noticeable buildings in the area, with its fancy work and beautiful exterior. You can enter and see the beautiful interior that contains murals of Don Quixote.
MUSEO NAVAL – This museum is set in a Colonial style customs house built in 1871. Here you can see the pieces from the sunken Esmeralda. This place which was once controlled by Peru and was used to house prisoners during the War of the Pacific. There were also battles here during the Chilean Civil War.
MUSEO REGIONAL IQUIQUE – This former courthouse is now home to the regional museum of the area. Here you can find a recreation of an Altiplano adobe village, Chinchorro mummies and elongated skulls.
PALACIO ASTORECA – This mansion built in 1904 is now a cultural centre that displays exhibits of contemporary work done by local artists. The building has a beautiful interior of wood, and high ceilings. You can also find a large billiard table and beautiful balconies.
BOAT TOUR OF THE HARBOUR – There are boat tours offered from the quay that take you on a trip around the harbour. The highlight of the tour is when you are taken to the battle waters of the War of the Pacific between Chile and Peru. Here you find the spot where the Esmeralda, a famous battle ship in the war, was sunken.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
There are plenty of great beaches that can be found for swimming and for surfing. It is a great time to take a break from the city and enjoy the ocean. Playa Cavancha is a beautiful beach, and perfect for swimming. Here you can rent sun umbrellas, kayaks, and chairs, as well as other items. At night, many restaurants and bars next to the beach fill up.
Mall ZOFRI/Zona Franca: spend a few hours shopping in this duty-free zone.
The food found here in Iquique has influences from multiple cultures, including that of Peruvian culture. There is a Chinese influence due to immigrants that came here from China in the 19th century to work in the mines, extracting saltpeter. There is also much influence from Peruvian culture as well. There is a China town where you can find Peruvian “Chifa” or Chinese food. One of these is Chifa Nan King (Amunategui 533). For pizza, go to Restaurant San Jose (Manuel Rodriguez 793), and for Mediterranean try Santorini (Av. Emilio Recabarren, 2808), which has a nice garden to sit out in. If you fancy seafood, go to El Wagon (Thompson 85).
Go to Playa Brava (Av. Arturo Prat) to start the night, as here you’ll find several bars offering promotions and happy hour. Restaurants tend to also function as bars and vice-versa; one place to try is Mi Otra Casa (Baquedano 1334), which has a relaxed vibe and serves quirky cocktails. Another place is Lobby (Gorostiaga), which has great music, atmosphere, and drinks.
The average temperature is around 19 degrees Celsius throughout the year. The city has a desert-type climate and experiences very little rain. December through to March are warmer months, with temperatures between 20 to 30 degrees.
Iquique has an international airport, which has connections with Santiago, as well as Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. American Airlines, LAN, TAM, and Sky Airline all operate here. There’s a main bus terminal, located north of the city centre, which offers buses all around Chile, as well as Peru and Bolivia.
Most of the places to stay in the city are found in the central part of the town. The bus terminal is another place where you can find hotels and hostels. You can find a range of places, from low budget hostels to higher end hotels. One option is Hotel Casa Baquedano (Baquedano 1470), which is found right by the beach, and is also within walking distance to the main attractions. Another place is Hotel Jham (Almirante Latorre 426), which is also close to the beach and has a nice patio out back.
Be careful where you go swimming, as some of the currents are strong and can be dangerous.
Take care at night time if wandering outside of the city centre.