Is La Serena Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On April 5, 2024
La Serena, Chile
Safety Index:
* Based on Research & Crime Data

La Serena, Chile, is home to some of the longest beaches in the country.

It’s located on the Northern coast of Chile.

It’s a great place to relax and explore.

It’s the second oldest city in Chile, founded in 1544.

It boasts charming colonial architecture, plenty of nightlife, and beaches to enjoy.

In recent years, it’s grown into a popular tourist destination.

Before you pack your bags, however, it’s important to know how safe La Serena is.

Should you go here for your next vacation?

Warnings & Dangers in La Serena

Overall Risk


La Serena is overall a very safe city to visit. There's a reasonable police presence, a thriving economy, and a strong infrastructure. There is some risk due to natural disasters, however. While the beaches are a popular destination, you should be aware that the water will be cold year-round. This is due to the Humbolt current.

Transport & Taxis Risk


Public transportation in La Serena is surprisingly safe. The bus system offers several levels of comfort you can choose from, and the buses are likely the nicest in Latin America. The roads, at least in the towns and cities, are well maintained. You can also hire a taxi easily. You should be sure to get an official taxi to avoid getting scammed, however. Renting a car is another option. However, La Serena is a very walkable city. Unless you plan to explore outside the city as well, renting a car is unnecessary.

Pickpockets Risk


Pickpocketing isn't particularly common in La Serena, but it does occur. Petty theft, including pickpocketing, is the most common crime in La Serena. This isn't because pickpocketing occurs often, but simply because more serious crimes are very rare here.

Natural Disasters Risk


Mother nature is arguably the biggest danger in La Serena. Earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions are big concerns. Forest fires and severe storms also occur. In February of 2024, La Serena was affected by a 5.0 earthquake. In 2010, an earthquake occurred. This caused a tsunami that resulted in 500 deaths. Wildfires can be fatal as well. In February of 2023, wildfires killed more than 130 people. The natural disaster risk shouldn't keep you from visiting La Serena, or Chile as a whole. However, you should be aware that they can occur.

Mugging Risk


The risk of being mugged in La Serena, Chile is very low. Crime rates are typically not that high in Chile, and La Serena's crime rate is much lower than the national average. Security features including a strong police presence and CCTV cameras help keep crime at a minimum. However, the local people's friendly personalities probably have the biggest impact on preventing high crime rates.

Terrorism Risk


The U.S. Department of State recommends using increased caution when traveling in Chile due to crime and civil unrest. We've already discussed crime, which is low in La Serena. Civil unrest is also unlikely to occur in this area, although it's not unheard of. There's also a very low risk of terrorist attacks.

Scams Risk


You should always be vigilant when traveling, but the risk of scams in La Serena is low as well. Credit card and bank fraud do occur in Chile, so be careful when using a card reader. You should also avoid letting anyone handle your card and be discreet when entering your PIN. Telephone scams are sometimes an issue as well. Scam callers may attempt to get your personal information or banking details. Of course, this is unlikely to occur while you are visiting.

Women Travelers Risk


The low crime rate, friendly local population, and secure infrastructure make La Serena a great place for women to travel to. You should stay vigilant, but you can feel safer here than you would in many U.S. cities.

Tap Water Risk


When traveling to another country, the water can be a concern. Your body won't be familiar with the microbes that may be in the water. This means the locals can drink the water, but it can cause stomach upset for you. This isn't an issue in La Serena. Chile has excellent water filtration and sanitation. You can drink the tap water there, just as you do in the U.S. You should avoid drinking water from local streams or lakes, including accidentally swallowing it while swimming, however.

Safest Places to Visit in La Serena

La Serena is a safe city overall.

However, there are some places that you should visit.

The Cathedral of San Bartolomé de La Serena is the first cathedral built in La Serena in 1544.

It’s a breathtaking piece of architecture.

You should also visit the Archeological Museum and the Monumental Lighthouse.

Places to Avoid in La Serena

The one place you should avoid in La Serena is La Antena.

This is the area where most drug buying and using takes place.

You are also more likely to be robbed in this area.

La Antena is a mile or two outside of the city center.

Safety Tips for Traveling to La Serena

  1. Travel With Others. Even though La Serena is a safe city, it’s still a good idea to travel as part of a group. If you are exploring the city, at least have one person with you. If you are alone, you may want to avoid being out at night. Stay in well-lit areas that are well-populated, particularly at night.
  2. Avoid Demonstrations. Civil unrest is a concern in Chile. Since 2019, there have been ongoing demonstrations and protests. They started in Santiago and spread throughout the country. The U.S. Department of State currently recommends exercising increased caution when in Chile due to these issues. Chilean authorities have been strongly criticized for their response to the protests, which are often violent. La Serena is generally peaceful. However, if you see any type of demonstration, steer clear of it.
  3. Pack Properly. You don’t want to over pack, but be sure to pack everything you are likely to need. The weather is mild here, so you won’t have to worry about packing a huge wardrobe.
  4. Respect the Wildlife. Chile doesn’t have any venomous snakes and few dangerous animals. However, they do have two venomous spiders. The black widow is the most concerning, and bites can be fatal. These spiders can be found in the city, so keep an eye out for them. You may encounter ocean wildlife, including whales and dolphins. This is a great experience, but use common sense. Don’t attempt to pet or feed any wild animals.
  5. Get Up to Date on Vaccines. Chile doesn’t carry the risks that some South American countries do, so you won’t need to worry about Zika or Yellow Fever. However, you should be up to date on routine vaccinations, including chicken pox, measles, and pneumonia. You should also consider Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines before traveling to La Serena.
  6. Plan Ahead. Spontaneity is part of the fun when traveling, but it’s wise to plan ahead. You should have accommodations and transportation booked before your trip. If you want to take a tour or travel to different locations around La Serena, do your research ahead of time. This will allow you to get the most from your trip.
  7. Keep Your Belongings Close. Pickpocketing can occur in La Serena. You should never leave your bag unattended. When you are sitting down, place your bag between your feet. You can also use a cross-body bag or money belt to reduce the chances of theft.
  8. Don’t Display Valuables. When traveling, you should leave any valuables that you don’t need to bring at home. If you are displaying valuables, you can become a target for robbers. If you don’t look like you have anything worth stealing, you have less to worry about.
  9. Keep Personal Information Private. To prevent bank fraud and identity theft, you should be careful with your personal information. Don’t leave your bank or credit card unattended. If you leave any personal information in your hotel room, be sure to use a safe.
  10. Enroll in STEP. One of the easiest things you can do is to enroll in STEP (Smart Traveller Enrollment Program) before your trip. It’s a free service offered by the U.S. Embassy. You’ll be connected with the nearest Embassy. You can receive alerts, and it’s easier to contact you in an emergency.

So... How Safe Is La Serena Really?

Overall, La Serena is a very safe city.

It has a thriving tourist industry, particularly during the summer months.

If you go in the off-season, you’ll find the city is peaceful and relaxed.

You can enjoy nice facilities, a peaceful community, and white sand beaches.

The weather is typically mild. Natural disasters are a concern, but this is true to some degree no matter where you are.

How Does La Serena Compare?

CitySafety Index
La Serena76
Santiago de Chile71
Punta Arenas77
Sofia (Bulgaria)73
Siem Reap (Cambodia)63
Phnom Penh (Cambodia)61
Niagara Falls (Canada)87
Calgary (Canada)82
Buenos Aires (Argentina)60

Useful Information



If you are planning to stay in La Serena for less than 90 days, you won't need a visa. However, you will need a passport that is valid for the duration of your stay. When you arrive, you are given a tourist card. You must return this card when you plan to leave. Failure to return the card can delay you leaving Chile. If your card is lost, you must get a replacement card. If you stay longer than 90 days, you'll need to pay a fine before leaving Chile. You won't be able to leave until you pay the fine. You'll need to visit the Departamento de Extranjería to pay the fine. If you want to stay longer, you can get a 90 day extension for a small fee. Just be sure to get the extension before the 90 days are up. If you are traveling with a child, you must bring their birth certificate. You won't be allowed to leave Chile without it. This may seem extreme, but this law is in place to prevent child trafficking and kidnapping.



The currency in La Serena is the Chilean Peso. The currency exchange rate is 648 pesos to $1. Exchange offices are easy to find in La Serena and throughout Chile. There are plenty of ATMS which are available 24/7. Most businesses in La Serena will accept major credit cards, including American Express, Master Card, and Visa.



La Serena has a mild climate. The average temperature is usually between 47°F and 70°F. Temperatures are rarely higher than 73°F or below 43°F. Summer lasts from late December through mid-March, with an average temperature of 68°F. Winter is from June through September, with an average low of 48°F and a high of 61°F.



The nearest airport is La Florida. It's a regional airport, so you'll need to fly into a larger airport to arrive in Chile. Most tourists choose to fly into Santiago, and then take a flight to La Florida airport. La Florida is just a few miles from La Serena.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

It's a great idea to get travel insurance before setting off on your journey. You can get coverage for common travel hazards, including lost luggage and canceled flights. You can also get health coverage, which will cover any unexpected medical expenses during your trip.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

La Serena Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan 19° C
Feb 19° C
Mar 18° C
Apr 16° C
May 14° C
Jun 13° C
Jul 12° C
Aug 13° C
Sep 13° C
Oct 14° C
Nov 16° C
Dec 17° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

Chile - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
La Serena76
Punta Arenas77
Santiago de Chile71

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