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One of Chile's best-known city markets, La Recova, lies on the square at the corner of Prat and Cienfuegos just 3 blocks from the plaza. Many of the handicrafts are pretty tacky and most feature goods imported from Peru or Bolivia, but you can sample some of the local sweets and liquors for an authentic taste of the area. You'll also find items in lapis lazuli and combarbalite, a unique, gray-green semi-precious stone found only around Combarbalá, a village to the south. In January and February, it's open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 10pm and Sunday from 10am to 5pm; during the rest of the year, Monday through Saturday from 10am to 9pm, and Sunday from 10am to 3pm.

Downtown, the main shopping area includes Cordovez and Prat streets departing from the plaza. You'll find several handicraft stalls selling local honey and folkloric dolls and knickknacks along Cordovez. A shopping mall straddles La Serena's colonial center to the south next to the bus station, while a large strip mall lies to its west just across the train tracks, each keeping the neocolonial style and each featuring retail chains common in Chile, including clothing and athletic goods stores. There's a jumbo supermarket of a similar ilk to Costco, with a little more polish -- it's a convenient place to stock up on food or camping equipment. They also sell some electronics, such as memory cards and cellphone batteries, as do several stores in the downtown shopping district.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.