Visit Iquique, a city that offers awesome shopping
To the west of the magnificent Atacama Desert on the Pacific coast is the fascinating city of Iquique. With one of the largest commercial ports in South America, outstanding beaches, awesome shopping and historical heritage, Iquique is a great destination.
Iquique began as a Chango Indian village. The city was established in the 1500s by the Spanish. Iquique flourished because of its abundance of nitrate and minerals, eventually becoming an important port. In the colonial era, the city fell under the jurisdiction of the Viceroyalty of Peru until the end of the 1800s. Following the 1879 War of the Pacific Iquique came to be a Chilean territory. The name Iquique is derived from an Aymara word which means "laziness" or "sleep".
There are numerous attractions in Iquique, the greatest being the Zona Franca or Zofri. This is a massive shopping area and duty free zone. Whatever you are looking for you will find here. People come from far and wide to shop here and the district is particularly busy at Christmas time.
Palacio Astoreca is a mansion in the Georgian-style dating pack to 1904. The mansion was originally the residence of nitrate magnate. Inside you can view impressive stained glass windows, elegant woodwork and a fine collection of local art. Edificio de la Aduana was a customhouse constructed in 1871 with walls a meter thick. It is now used as a naval museum. Museo Histórico Militar del Primer Cuerpo del Ejército offers exhibits of historical happenings and information on the Chilean army. When visiting the Museo Regional you can examine a miniature version of an altiplano village. There is also a fascinating collection of Columbian fishing equipment as well as Indian crafts.
Spend the day in Iquique's sunshine at one of the beaches. Playa Brava is a good beach for picnicking, tanning or ambling along the soft sands. Swimming is not advisable here due to strong rip currents. Not far away you can explore the dunes of Cerro Drágons. Playa Cavancha is the beach of choice. Swim in the crystal waters or grab a board and go surfing.
Atacama Desert near Iqique is a popular attraction. Tours can be arranged from Iquique to Atacama Desert where you can view interesting desert creatures.
There is a variety of accommodation in the city. Iquique's hotels will give you a warm welcome and offer good service. There are several hotels in Iquique, so check out online reviews before deciding on one. Those with a limited budget there are two cheap hostels in Iquique. These cheap Iquique hostels are well-maintained and offer comfortable lodging.
Iquique is a great springboard into the rest of Chile. Spend a few days here before you leave Chile and take advantage of the duty free shopping district and sunny beaches. Iquique is truly unique.