Every traveler heading to northern Chile will bound to stop by San Pedro de Atacama, a famous city in the plateau of the Andes Mountains. Travelers are usually in the city to experience adventures in other natural sites such as Valle de Luna (Moon Valley), Tatio Geysers, Miscanti Lake, etc. However, these adventures require waking up in odd hours and a lot of energy, and sometimes a break is needed. So, if you are one of those travelers who want to take a break but still love to explore, then here are some recommendations of what to do in the city center of San Pedro de Atacama:
1. Try the famous llama dishes at Ayllu
Although San Pedro de Atacama has many restaurants to choose from, there is one in particular that you must dine at: Ayllu. Ayllu is basically a mix of a hostel, a tour company, and a restaurant owned by a Chilean-Brazilian family. What makes Ayllu different is that they offer specially made llama dishes along with locally flavored liquor. The pricing is a little bit more than the average, but it is worth the money since tasting llama meat is something that you might do only once in a lifetime. So, if you are up to trying some different cuisines, why not stop by at Ayllu?
2. Go people watching at the heart of the city
Like many other cities in Chile, or in Latin America in general, San Pedro de Atacama also has its very own plaza central (central plaza). The plaza central at San Pedro is quite small but beautifully decorated with trees and white houses. Travelers who are taking a rest day from their many adventures usually stroll around the plaza and some even sit down and watch their surroundings. People watching at the heart of San Pedro de Atacama is a no-brainer since there is life all around; there are street musicians, people drinking coffee and dining outside restaurants, travelers looking for their next adventures, shoppers, etc. So, sit down, relax, and take it all in.
3. Explore the many coffee shops
For all the coffee lovers stopping by at San Pedro de Atacama, do not worry! When ‘me time’ rolls in, be sure to stop by at the coffee shops in the city and take a break for a few hours. A personal tip when ordering coffee would be trying out the café cortado. A cortado is very popular in the Chilean culture, and the people usually drink this in the mid-morning or after lunch. It is basically an espresso that is cut with milk served in a transparent mug so people can see the colors between the espresso and the milk. As the it gets late in the day, you will see that the cafés in San Pedro will start their ‘happy hours’, so if you want more than just coffee, be sure to check that out! A few recommended cafes in San Pedro include Café Adobe, La Estaka and Café Export.
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4. Stroll around the white houses of San Pedro de Atacama
For those who want to stretch your feet, but don’t want to go on adventures for the day, why not stroll around the city? Along with the crowd of tourists in San Pedro, there might be a lot of tour companies and souvenir shops, but that does not mean that the city has lost its beauty. So, take some time to stroll around and you will see that San Pedro itself is actually quite charming with its rustic houses and small roads.
5. Try out local ice cream flavors at San Pedro de Atacama
Since San Pedro de Atacama is located in the driest desert in the world, ice cream is a common snack in the area. However, the ice creams at San Pedro de Atacama does not only come in your typical flavors. Heladerías (ice cream shops), such as Tierra del Sol and Babalu Heladería offers many local flavors that are must-tries. Some flavors are actually unheard of, such as rica-rica, hoja de coca (coca leaf), algarrobo, chañar chip, and many more, but they are definitely worth the taste. So, if you do find yourself in the city, be sure to taste some local flavor ice cream!
Enjoy San Pedro de Atacama
So, there you have a few suggestions on what to do at San Pedro de Atacama. If you are heading there, be sure to spare a day to explore this small but lively city. Just keep in mind to drink lots of water and try to avoid alcohol the night before extreme adventures. Happy travels!
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