Yes, the favourite cities roller coaster continues as another sun sets on the weekend. And this time it’s back over to the Americas and moving southwards to South America. I’ve only been there once, that was back in 2016 now which as 2020 splutters along is starting to look further and further back in time.
South America is full of contrasts from deserts to jungles to Rio beats. The amazing Iguazu Falls and the stunning Machu Picchu. The Galapagos Islands and Lake Titicaca, and of course Bolivia’s breath taking Salar de Uyuni. But the cities… well the cities themselves have much to recommend them. Safety is always a consideration for the traveller, especially in South America where I heard more horror stories than the usual, but personally I actually didn’t have an issue and in Quito I even dropped a wad of money accidentally to have people behind me pick it up and return it to me! So anyways, here goes!
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Okay, so this was one I wasn’t sure if I would include because I can’t claim to liking everything about Buenos Aires, in fact this is the one city in South America where I did feel a little on edge. Having said that I walked around with my DSLR which I didn’t do in Quito or Lima so you know, what the heck would I know?
But the fact is that it’s an extremely impressive city, it’s huge, and the architecture is just incredible. We took time to take tours in a number of buildings around town, all of which knocked our socks off from the Palacio Paz to Palacio Barolo. Work mostly from the 19th to early 20th centuries, huge, foreboding in ways, inspired in others.
But there was a lot more to this city. A city that still remembers Eva Peron, has some beautiful open spaces, a great opera house/concert hall which we visited one night, nightlife aplenty, and so much more. Exercise a little caution and you will find Buenos Aires just a brilliant juggernaut of a city!
I was considering putting in Quito. It’s a nice place with a great old city, but there’s a bit of a police presence – to keep people safe I should point out – which just mars the experience a little bit. Cuenca, further south, is more laid back and a really nice place to visit, and I’d highly recommend it for those heading to Ecuador.
It has a number of churches, colonial houses (a popular style of tourist attraction in Ecuador) and more to visit. It’s quite charming with long, thin streets and I stayed in an Air BnB whilst here (private room) with a very friendly host. There were ruins as well, plus a pretty river to walk along and all in all, despite it not being HUGE for tourists (there were still plenty!) I really warmed to this city. If I was to consider staying in Ecuador for a period of time, I would probably have this city on top of my list.
Recommended as far as things to see – the main Cathedral (of the Immaculate Conception) is in the centre of town, and you can climb right up to the top of it and walk on the roof, getting good pictures of the city from there. Walk along the River Tomebamba. The Pumapungo Ruins are the well worth visiting in a big park with loads of llamas!
Cusco is a city high in altitude (as are many cities in this part of the world) which I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. It’s the gateway city to start your Inca Trail, you know, if you’re far fitter than I am and to take the train to Aguas Calientes, which in turn is a much smaller town which is the gateway to Machu Picchu.
It’s an incredibly beautiful mountain city, the most attractive I visited in Peru, and was always buzzing a little bit. There’s no doubt it was my favourite city in Peru, despite having to dig deep to get breaths in from time to time due to its hilly nature and the altitude. It has a beautiful central square, the mountains make for a beautiful backdrop and there is an amazing church and monastery (Santo Domingo) built on top of Incan ruins (Qorikancha) which for me was the highlight. I enjoyed the cocoa museum as well, and there were a couple of other nice monasteries to visit. Hard to find a more beautiful town in all the Andes!
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
And finally it HAS to be Rio. I can list the places to visit – Sugarloaf Mountain, obviously the statue of Christ the Redeemer, Ipanema, Copacabana, a favela, the list would go on and on and I’m sure there’s much more I DIDN’T see. Oh and that amazing cathedral!
But Rio is all that, and more – as I wrote in this post HERE. It fills the senses, it’s built around these jagged mountains, but the beaches are covered in beautiful sand. It has a rhythm you can feel. It’s full of colour and life. There’s a beautiful sea breeze, more roller blades than you can punch a stick at – I wasn’t sure how I would find Rio, and so I guess in a way I surprised myself because I think Rio is my favourite South America city!
So. How about you? What cities would you like to visit in South America, and if you’ve been, what were you top choices? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading, and May the Journey Never End!