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We will be on Celebrity this December, stopping at La Serena (Coquimbo), Chile , for the day. Is there anything to do at the port itself? We will be just coming off a 3-day Machu Picchu excursion and prefer to have an easy day at this port, if possible.
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Though we did not visit it, we saw in the distance the very large concrete cross ("Cruz del Tercer Milenio") higher on the hilltop. There is reportedly an elevator to the top of the cross. On a clear day, there would be a great view from there.
The Lonely Planet guide for Chile also (briefly) mentions a modest archaeological museum just north of the Plaza de Armas, a hilltop mosque, a War of the Pacific-era fort just west of the town's centre, hour-long boat tours of the harbour, and nearby beaches.
In March 2012 we had an excellent tour of the Elqui Valley with Daniel and Judith Russ. Contact: email@example.com It was a very easy, laid-back day in comfortable vehicles with charming and informative hosts providing a great insight into living in this part of Chile.
Alternatively, beyond the immediate port area, there was a long waterfront park and "beach" as well as a train linking the port town to the larger city.
On Sundays, Coquimbo has a market with fruit, fish, clothing etc. in walking distance of the pier and the beach. It seems that everybody in the valley was there. (April 2013)
La Serena is a nice Spanish colonial town with several universities. On our Sunday, downtown was almost empty and the stores closed except for a small handicraft market and a small museum. They might have opened for the ship's passengers.