The port city of Concepción in Central Chile is best known for its vibrant arts and music scene (we hear that many of Chile’s rock acts were born here). Located about 500 km south of the country’s capital Santiago, the city lies on Río Biobío — Chile’s significant navigable waterway. On our 36-hour virtual tour of Concepción, also known as the “Conception of the Blessed Mother of Light,” we experienced the rich culture of this unique destination. Read on to discover the many hidden gems… from sundowner by a circular lagoon to an indigenous organization, and… dinosaurs!
36 Hours in Concepcion
9:00 AM: Walk Around the Oldest University
Start your journey with a visit to one of the oldest and most eminent universities in the city- Universidad de Concepción. It is not only one of the nation’s leading higher education institutions but is also an architectural wonder. Embark upon a short walking tour of the campus to view the university’s emblematic buildings, the iconic clock tower, and forums with cultural performances.
10:00 AM: Deep-dive into Latin American Culture
Next on the itinerary, check off Concepcion’s must-see attraction from your list: the Pinacoteca — Casa del Arte. A short walk away from the university, it boasts of an impressive collection of murals highlighting Latin American history up till the 1970s. A must-visit for even non-history geeks as the swanky murals can make for great Instagram photos!
12:00 PM: A Taste of Chilean History
With a permanent exhibition center oriented towards the region’s cultural and natural history along with interactive artifacts and modern infrastructure, the Museo de Historia Natural de Concepción is a history lovers’ paradise. The museum has documents, diaries, photographs, and other objects of historical significance to Chile. There are also collections from the areas of natural science, archeology, and the arts.
1.00 PM: Lo Que Mas Quiero
What may easily be termed as the best restaurant in the region for authentic Chilean cuisine, Lo Que Mas Quiero has a secret garden at the back for those who prefer being outdoors. They have options for meat lovers, less adventurous eaters, and also vegans! Don’t forget to try the ají relleno, a stuffed pepper filled with broth, eggs, and rice. The medallones de filete or Steak Medallions are other popular items.
2.00 PM: Visit a Forested Temple
Head over to the beautifully forested area of Quinta Junge, right by the Biobio River, where the Templo de Concepción is located. This beautiful temple follows a neoclassical style consisting of stained glass windows, handmade artifacts, and also a Golden statue of the Prophet Moroni. The temple also offers an on-site housing facility for long-distance travelers to stay during their visit. Hop on to a free guided walking tour of this breathtaking landmark!
4:00 PM: Artists, Ahoy!
Continue onwards with a visit to the Museo de Arte Religioso, which is also attached to the Cathedral. You will not only find basic historical artifacts, but also books, jewelry, and mementos of significant figures. What better place to visit in the art city of Chile, than the Museum of Art itself?
6.00 PM: Artists of Steel
The performing arts theater, Artistas del Acero, is an empowering cultural symbol of Concepción. It is a community that highlights various aspects of artistic creation and contributes to the development of the arts sector. Those interested can experience one of their numerous courses and workshop offerings such as Hatha Yoga, violin and trumpet lessons, and theater.
8.00 PM: Fast-food, anyone?
The decoration and menu at Fuente Penquista restaurant are inspired by the traditional bus routes of Concepción. Although this is a small cafe, their sandwich and Ceviche portions are big enough to share! Their speedy service is another attractive aspect for those that have had a long day of sightseeing.
8:00 AM: The View Is Always Better From the Top
Merged with the famous Parque Ecuador is Cerro Caracal, a paradise for hikers and bikers with various paths and trails. Brimming with large amounts of flora and fauna, a short walk up one of the roads leads to a viewpoint with spectacular views of Concepcion.
10:00 AM: It’s Dino Time
Not very far from the Museo de Historia Natural is Plaza Jurásica, an arena with full-fledged fiberglass dinosaurs and a habitat that reflects the landscape of the ancient ages. This small yet intriguing park is a must-visit for Jurassic Park fans!
11:30 AM: Andean Exploration
Get ready to travel back in time with Trekaleyin, an indigenous organization that offers traditional activities carried out by Chileans in the Andean highlands. Go horseback riding to explore the ancestral practices of the Pehuenche people, an indigenous community of South America inhabiting the Andean regions of Chile and Argentina.
Dine in the open fire with a local Pehuenche family, visit their homes, and get an insight into their local lives and culture as a part of this unique experience.
1.00 PM: Grilled Seasonal Fish for Lunch
Fina Estampa- a lovely Peruvian restaurant, brings the best South American cuisine on an elegant platter for its customers. Don’t forget to try the perfectly cooked ají de gallina, a Peruvian chicken stew that is generally served over rice with a creamy sauce. For those craving a more traditional dish, the restaurant also offers a variety of mouth-watering ceviches.
2:00 PM: Experience Liberation at Hualqui
About 25 kilometers away from Concepcion, the small Chilean town of Hualqui is worth a visit. Not only is the town immersed in Chilean war history, but also boasts a 16th-century fortress that proves to be a symbol of its short-lived, two-day independence from the country!
There are direct buses and trains that frequently connect Concepcion with Hualqui. The journey typically takes anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes one way.
5.00 PM: Cocktails by Rio Biobio
Take a moment to disconnect from city life and enjoy cocktails and wine by the sea with the Sunset Mouth Rio Biobio tour. This is a great way to unwind and take in your final views of Concepcion as you near the end of your 36-hour journey…
7:00 PM: Burgers for the Win!
Continue the happy hour cheers at Madero Lounge, the city’s most happening restaurant, and lounge. Dance along to some groovy tunes with the restaurant’s live music as you enjoy your last meal in Concepcion, Chile!
Concepcion is easily one of the more offbeat and lesser-known parts of Chile. In spite of its “college town” reputation, it has a lot of character owing to its rich history and culture. It also has a vibrant nightlife and is often referred to as the “Chilean Capital of Rock” (it might be worth visiting during the Rock en Conce festival).
For travelers visiting the Patagonian region and the Atacama desert, Concepcion is worth considering for a short stopover as it gives a unique taste of the country’s wealth of art, history, and culture. With its historical bridges, murals, parks, lakes, museums, and other cultural avenues, it has something for everyone.
How To Get There
There are direct flights into the city from Santiago via multiple airlines. Alternatively, you can also take a direct train or bus from Santiago.
Where To Stay
For those wanting a luxurious stay, El Araucano is a great option. For budget travelers, Hotel Diego de Almagro Concepcion offers the best value for money!
When To Go
November to April is the best time to visit Concepcion.
Tourist visas for most countries are not required for entry into Chile. Nationals from the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, the UK, and most other European Union nations do not require a visa to enter Chile and can stay up to 90 days.
Traveling by bus and train is a comfortable and inexpensive way to get around. Given the country’s well-connected road network, renting a car is also a quick and easy way to travel.
The Chilean Peso ($CLP) is the official currency of Chile.
The official language of Chile is Spanish. Most people in the tourism industry understand English.
If you enjoyed reading this post, you might also like our virtual travels to Tuvalu, Liechtenstein, Turkmenistan, Vatican City, Tywyn, Riga, Khovd, Wulingyuan, Samoa, Madagascar, Beppu, Bishkek, Antequera, Niger, Vanuatu, St. Kitts and Nevis, Sarlat-la-Caneda, Staraya Russa, Gdansk, Sheki, Kurdistan, Franschhoek, Matera, Sofia, the Azores, and Karak.