European style buildings in Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Best Cities in Latin America

written by
N black orange
Niarra Travel

Think of Latin America and your mind will jump to any of this extraordinary continent’s world wonders. Might be the Amazon, or the Andes, could be Machu Picchu, the Galapagos or Patagonia. While its true that Latin America is packed with some of the world’s most epic nature, an incredible array of cities call this part of the world home, too.

The best cities in Latin America are laid back, full of unique rhythms, bursting with vibrant life, and a bustling mix of world influences that makes them a journey of discovery in their own right. As you explore them you will be able to unravel history, experience a conglomeration of cultures, taste the very best of its nation’s food, and find many other, endless reasons to fall in love.

Read on for some of our favourite, most iconic and awe-inspiring Latin American cities…

Rio garden

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Of course, a list of best cities in Latin America wouldn’t be complete without Rio de Janeiro! With the power to seduce even the most vanilla characters, Rio is probably the most perfectly set city in the world, intricately sprawled between beach, lagoon, mountain and forest.

With a culture of its very own, derived from a blend of both indigenous and international peoples, Rio life is laidback and playful, helped along by the sun-filled tropical climate.

Visit the iconic sights, like Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) and Sugarloaf Mountain, explore history and architecture in Centro and poke through a couple of world class museums.

Afterwards, take a leaf out of the book of the Cariocas (Rio residents) and spend your days on the golden sands of world-famous beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema and your nights following that irresistible Brazilian samba beat through atmospheric barrios like Santa Teresa, Lapa and Leblon. It isn’t called the Cidade Maravilhosa for nothing.

Private Tour of Rio Shutterstock

Buenos Aires, Argentina

The city where the fiery Tango was born in its backstreets is bound to be hot-blooded. Buenos Aires has passion by the bucket load, and the more you explore it, the more you’ll get drawn in by its irresistible beat. As a port city, it is wonderfully diverse, but it’s the European influence that shines through in everything from the food to the wide boulevards.

At first glance exceedingly elegant, you don’t have to look far to find the city’s enchanting and atmospheric grit. Fading colonial façades, vibrant old barrios and an obsession with football bring both culture and colour to the mix.

Don’t miss the brightly hued houses and street art of La Boca and the classical charms of Recoleta and its extravagant cemetery, winding up the day with what Buenos Aires does best, eating well and dancing passionately – a tango show is a must – on a night that carries on until morning.

European style buildings in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Quito, Ecuador

At the foot of the mighty Pichincha Volcano in the Andean foothills, with an altitude of 2,850 metres, making it the highest of the best cities in Latin America, Quito is breathtaking in every sense of the word.

Boasting the largest and best preserved colonial centre on the continent (the Centro Historico is so awe-inspiring that it’s UNESCO-listed) this is a city that deserves so much more than a one night stop over en route to the Galapagos Islands.

The many ornate, gilded churches and cathedrals, given extra grandeur by the mountainous backdrop, are unmissable. Their cool, atmospheric interiors a welcome escape from the sun, or the mist, depending on when you’re visiting.

When your explorations are done, it is best to fall in step with the laidback Andean pace of life, sitting and watching the world go by in large leafy plazas, slowly strolling cobbled streets and discovering any of the countless hidden gems that exist on the narrow backstreets.

Rooftop view of Quito, Ecuador

Valparaiso, Chile

Ramshackle, off-beat, a bit bohemian and downright wonderful, the port city of Valparaiso is the sort of place that stirs dreamers, inspires poets, artists and writers and makes visitors fall in love with its roguish charms.

Endlessly cool with just the right amount of edge, it is a city of two halves, divided by steep hills (cerros), connected by antique funicular lifts that raise the heart rate in more ways than one. The old, working part of town is naturally at sea-level, while the cliffs above are piled high with crumbling mansions, brightly painted wooden houses and narrow streets lined with a kaleidoscopic array of boutique shops and cafes.

The hilltops are a delight to wander with plentiful street art displays, quirky bars and inviting restaurants to stumble across. The perfect way to sustain explorations that last many hours longer than intended.

Colourful apartment buildings in Valparaiso, Chile

San José, Costa Rica

The fact it gives access to Costa Rica’s incredible nature is a sound reason to put San José on a list of best cities in Latin America, but there is far more substance to its addition than just that.

Not a place of conventional beauty, San José is buzzing, full of joie de vivre. A place where art flourishes, the food is delicious and people are welcoming.

It’s setting in Costa Rica’s Central Valley might just have a lot to do with its vibrancy, because here, ‘escape the city’ has a wholly bigger meaning. Ringed by mountains and volcanoes, residents have easy access to incredible nature and endless adventure.

In San José itself, the historic barrios are the places to be, where grand colonial architecture houses contemporary art galleries, cafes, bustling bars and the city’s very best selection of restaurants.

Colourful historical barrio in San Jose, Costa Rica

If you are looking to plan a once in a lifetime trip to Latin America that bring together ultimate comfort and exuberant luxury with projects that make a difference in your destination, contact our expert travel team on +44 (0) 20 3821 5994 (UK), +1 (833) 215 9353 (US) or at explore@niarratravel.com and start creating your unforgettable Latin American experience today.

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