Getting there & away
La Serena's Terminal de Buses (224-573; cnr Amunátegui & Av El Santo) has dozens of carriers plying the Panamericana from Santiago north to Arica, including Tur Bus (215-953; www.turbus.com in Spanish; Balmaceda 437), Pullman Bus (218-252, 225-284; Eduardo de la Barra 435), Pullman Carmelita (225-240) and Flota Barrios (222-601).
To get to Vicuña (US$1.75 to US$2.25, one hour) look for Buses Serenamar, Pullman Carmelita and Elqui Bus in the Terminal de Buses, or you can try Via Elqui(312- 422; cnr Pení & Esmeralda). For Ovalle (US$2.75) give Tur Bus, Elqui Bus or Buses Serenamar a try.
Via Elqui has frequent departures to Pisco Elqui (US$3, two hours) and Monte Grande (US$2.85, two hours) between 7am and 10:30pm. Buses Serenamar runs several buses a day to Guanaqueros (US$2, 50 minutes), Tongoy (US$2.25) and Andacollo (US$1.40, 1½ hours).
For Argentine destinations, Covalle Bus (213-127; Infante 538) travels to Mendoza (US$32, 12 hours) and San Juan (US$35, 14 hours) via the Libertadores pass every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. It leaves at 11pm.
La Serena's Aeropuerto La Florida (Ruta 41) is located 5km east of downtown. Lan (600-526-2000; Balmaceda 406; 9am-1:30pm & 3-7pm Mon-Fri, 10am-1pm Sat) flies three times daily to Santiago (US$100, 50 minutes), once daily to Copiapó (US$63, 45 minutes) and twice daily to Antofagasta (US$121). There's another Lan office with longer hours in Mall Plaza.