Jun 2, 5 years ago

Cities Not to Miss in South America

http://blog.ailolalatino.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/5043733874_0918050732_z1.jpghttp://blog.ailolalatino.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/5043733874_0918050732_z1.jpghttp://blog.ailolalatino.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/5043733874_0918050732_z1.jpghttp://blog.ailolalatino.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/5043733874_0918050732_z1.jpgCities Not to Miss in South America

Cartagena, Colombia

Located on the northern Caribbean coast of Columbia, this city is one of South America’s most visually stunning and romantic cities. Established as a Spanish port, the city was fortified with forts and elaborate walls that still stand. Do the tourist thing by visiting Castillo de San Felipe, a 17th century fort, which is set upon the 150 meter La Popa hill or simply head to the beach at Playa Blanca. You can never go wrong seeking out a hole-in-the-wall seafood joint and chatting it up with the friendly local crowd.

Quito, Ecuador

Nestled in an Andean valley and surrounded by snow-capped volcanoes, Quito’s Old Town is the biggest in the Americas and has been aggressively restored over the last decade. Take in the colonial charm of Quito’s churches and plazas by day and head to La Mariscal by night for drinks and dinner. Head to, Mercado Central, for a cheap and delicious lunch and fresh squeezed juice.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago de Chile, as it is officially known, is the commercial and political hub of Chile and a noteworthy cosmopolitan city. Santiago’s abundance of museums, theaters, plazas and restaurants are easy to explore using the modern, efficient metro system or on foot. Spacious pedestrian walkways called paseos are common in the center of the city and lined with shops, restaurants and cafes. Stroll up Cerro San Cristóbal or Cerro Santa Lucia at sunset to get the best views of the city set against the Andes. All this and you’re only a stones throw from skiing or wine country.

Cuzco, Peru

Incan wall in Cuzco, Peru

CC Image courtesy of dann toliver on Flickr

Too many travelers pass through Cuzco in pursuit of Machu Picchu and miss the splendor and charm of this historically rich city. The former capital of the Inca Empire, Cuzco is an incredible mix of cultures. Spanish cathedrals flank ancient Incan walls and the indigenous Quechua culture thrives in the city and surrounding area. Head to the local markets to buy the most beautiful hand woven textiles in the region. Cuzco is also the perfect base to explore all of the ruins of the Sacred Valley.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

This city has it all, literally. Fantastic cuisine, European architecture, shopping and arts are just the start in Buenos Aires. Learn Spanish at Ailola Buenos Aires, check out an evening tango show, a football game or head out for a night on the town. Make friends with some locals and partake in the ritual of afternoon mate, a kind of rough-cut tea (yerba mate) that is sipped through a metal straw called a bombilla.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

They call it “the marvelous city” for good reason. Famous for its Carnival celebration, Rio has it all including white sand beaches, mountains and rainforests. Climb to the Christ the Redeemer statute known to locals as “concrete Jesus” for fantastic views of the city or people-watch all day at one of the pristine beaches that front the city. A suggestion to the more adventurous, get lost walking in the cryptic and maze-like favelas, or shanty towns that are scattered around Rio.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

CC Image courtesy of Charlie Phillips on Flickr

Mendoza, Argentina

Mendoza is a charming small city filled with parks, cafes, and plazas. After the last major earthquake in1861, city planners reconstructed Mendoza with wide, tree-lined streets to allow rubble to fall safely and enormous plazas for evacuated residents to gather in anticipation for the next quake. Lucky for everyone, there hasn’t been another quake and these remodeled features set Mendoza apart. Its plethora of Universities mean the city is alive with young people making the nightlife lively. As the center of the Argentine wine industry, the city prides itself on first-rate food and wine. On the outskirts of town, rent bikes from the gregarious Mr. Hugo and bike between the many vineyards, or bodegas, that provides tastings and tours. Make sure to take a tour of the fascinating wine museum at Bodega La Rural.

Wine cellar at a bodega in Mendoza

CC Image courtesy of Paula Iannuzzi on Flickr

Lead Photo: CC Image courtesy of Pedro Szekely on Flickr

ryan

Ryan is a writer, photographer, and teacher living and volunteering throughout Latin America.

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