An hour by bus inland from La Serena, VICUÑA is a neat and tidy agricultural town ringed by mountains and laid out around a large, luxuriantly landscaped square. It’s a pleasant, easy-going place with a few low-key attractions, a good choice of places to stay and eat, a couple of pisco distilleries just out of town and two visitor-friendly observatories on its doorstep. If you’re looking to stretch your legs, there are panoramic views of the town and entire Elqui Valley from the top of Cerro de la Virgen, north-east of the centre.

Life revolves firmly around the central Plaza de Armas, which has at its centre a huge stone replica of the death mask of Nobel Prize-winning poet Gabriela Mistral, the Elqui Valley’s most famous daughter. On the square’s northwest corner stands the Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción, topped by an impressive wooden tower built in 1909 – take a look inside at its vaulted polychrome ceiling, painted with delicate religious images and supported by immense wooden columns. Right next door, the eccentric Torre Bauer is a bright-red, mock-medieval tower prefabricated in Germany in 1905 and brought to Vicuña on the instructions of the town’s German-born mayor, Adolfo Bauer; the adobe building supporting it houses the Municipalidad.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Chile features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

A journey along Chile's Route of Parks

A journey along Chile's Route of Parks

Chile has long lured the intrepid traveller but in 2018 things have stepped up a level. The newly created Route of Parks – a string of Patagonian national par…

12 Feb 2018 • Steph Dyson local_activity Special feature
Why you should visit Chile in 2018

Why you should visit Chile in 2018

A sliver of a country that somehow manages to encompass barren desert, knife-edge mountains and fertile river valleys, Chile has long attracted intrepid travell…

08 Jan 2018 • Steph Dyson insert_drive_file Article
Video: the 1 minute guide to Chile

Video: the 1 minute guide to Chile

Chile is an outdoor adventurer's paradise. From the parched peaks of the north's Atacama Desert to the storied wilderness of Patagonia in the south, the nature…

30 Nov 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right