When planning a trip to South America, you might find that there are so many wonderful and unique places to see, that it is difficult to reduce the list to just a few options. To help you out, and in order to avoid the typical itinerary, we’ve created an exciting tour through Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico, highlighting some of its most important and impressive sites. We start with a journey through The land of Silver.
Argentina is one of the biggest countries in the world, where all manner of climates, wildlife and geography can be found. We’ll explore the country from East to West, covering some of Argentina’s major attractions. Get ready for its amazing culture, unforgettable beaches, exotic rivers, picturesque mountain ranges, the sunshine and good wine!
Stop One: Buenos Aires
The cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires will remind you, with its ornate architecture, of Europe’s most popular capitals, plus, if you love music, food, dancing and shopping, you’ll find plenty of options to spend your free time after the all important sightseeing. Don’t miss the San Telmo Market, the Zoological Gardens, Museo Evita, the National History Museum, Casa Rosada, and La Feria Mataderos.
After visiting the city, it is worth to make time to visit the interesting areas surrounding Buenos Aires. We’ve listed the ones that should definitely be on the bucket list!
What to see near Buenos Aires:
The Paraná Delta
After the Amazon, the Paraná is the largest river system in South America. In fact, its name means “as big as the sea” in Tupi Indian language! The Tigre region, a part of the Paraná Delta formed by thousands of little islands, is very close to Buenos Aires, making it popular among locals and tourists alike. It is a great chance to spend a pleasant day by the water in a tropical setting.
The Humid Pampas
This is Argentina’s most fertile land and covers most of the Buenos Aires province. Picture a green horizon, sometimes interrupted by clusters of trees, grazing cows, windmills, and picturesque villages with beautiful squares. Get the idea? Luján, Mercedes, Lobos, San Antonio de Areco, and Tandil stand out as the must-see towns to explore and are conveniently located close to the city.
Sierra de la Ventana
The Sierra de la Ventana is located in Argentina’s Western Pampas, southwest of Buenos Aires. The best starting point to explore the area, known as the Parque Nacional Ernesto Tornquist, is the village of Sierra de la Ventana. From here, you can choose among many of the indicated hikes and enjoy a day discovering the local fauna and flora. Greet the guanacos on our behalf!
Stop Two: Córdoba
The vibrant and thriving city of Córdoba is the capital of the Argentinian province that goes by the same name. It’s located in the Central Sierras, Argentina’s largest cordillera after The Andes. Córdoba’s main highlights are the beautifully decorated, and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jesuit Block church, the San Martin Square, the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, the massive Parque Sarmiento and the neo-gothic style Sagrado Corazón church.
What to see near Córdoba:
After visiting the city, our journey takes us to Córdoba’s endless green areas. Dreamy woodlands and unique natural scenes adorn the landscape in Sierras Chicas, Sierras Grandes, Traslasierra and Camino de las Altas Cumbres. The most scenic towns are Villa Carlos Paz, Cosquín, La Cumbre, and La falda, in the Calamuchita and Punilla valleys. Yes, we want to move there, too!
Want to travel a bit off the beaten track? Then head to an area a little bit further away from Córdoba, but well worth the visit: the Salinas Grandes Salt Flats. This spectacular white desert is a beautiful and less concurred place than Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. Don’t forget to bring your sunglasses!
Stop 3: Mendoza
Our last stop in Argentina takes us to Mendoza, a city located in the southern half of El Nuevo Cuyo, western Argentina, with the Andes as a backdrop. And what to see here? First, we’ll start with a brief but intense tour of Mendoza city. We recommend hopping on the Mendoza City Tour sightseeing bus for a first impression of the city, and then grabbing a delicious ice-cream, or trying a yerba mate drink at Plaza de la Independencia.
After this little break, head to the Plaza San Martín and stroll around the city’s historical streets, towards the Plaza Chile and Plaza España squares. Other Mendoza must-sees are the beautiful oasis Parque General San Martin, Mendoza’s Museo Fundacional, San Francisco Church, and the great Anna Bistro Restaurant. At night, opt for one of the many bodegas for a fantastic wine-tasting experience and enjoy an evening wandering the warm, vibrant streets!
What to see near Mendoza:
The stunning mountain range of Los Andes is conveniently close to Mendoza city, making it a popular one-day excursion among tourists visiting the area. You cannot leave Mendoza without marveling at the magnificent scenery of Aconcagua, the Christ Redeemer of the Andes, the Inca Bridge, and Uspallata. Just spectacular! But be warned, it is much colder than in Mendoza so make sure to pack appropriate clothing.
This beautiful place is hidden in the middle of the Andes Mountains and is perfect for adventure seekers, as well as for those who look for a place to relax and breathe clean and pure air. On the way to the dam, you’ll enjoy a beautiful view of Aconcagua! The best time to visit is probably the weekend when most bodegas in Mendoza are closed.
As for activities to do in the area, visitors of Potrerillos Dam can choose between Mountain Bike adventures, trekking, kayaking, rafting or… just sit back and relax.
Valle de Uco
Any visit to Mendoza should include a visit to one of Argentina’s top wine regions. If you’re a lover of good wine, this is the place to be! Let the aroma of the vineyards guide you to renowned wineries like Tupungato or San Carlos. See, swirl, sniff, sip and savor!
From tropical beaches to dreamy coffee farms in the mountains, Colombia is one of those countries you might not think of visiting at first, but you should definitely consider it for a once in a lifetime experience, you’ll be surprised at how inviting it is! The country has gone through an impressive transformation over time, and more and more visitors are discovering its diversity and the welcoming atmosphere with each passing year.
Stop 1: Cartagena
This colorful port town is your first stop in Colombia. Located by the sea, and with a tropical climate, Cartagena welcomes you to a world of worn out cobblestone streets, colonial buildings, and beautiful palm tree lined beaches. Although it is very easy to walk around the city, you might spice up your visit by renting a bicycle and discovering Cartagena’s cultural and architectural heritage on a bike tour. One of the places you can’t miss is the sweet Portal de Los Dulces, you won’t be able to resist the temptation of trying a homemade sugary treat made of papaya or pineapple!
Other highlights in Cartagena include Monumento Pedro de Heredia, Museum of Modern Art, the Sanctuary of Saint Peter Claver, the beautiful St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, a tour through Rosario Islands and Centenario Park.
What to see near Cartagena:
Corales del Rosario Natural Park
This national park is the perfect place to enjoy nature and unwind after a few days of sightseeing in Cartagena. Located only 45 km away from the historical city, this idyllic protected area includes the four islands of Islas del Rosario Archipelago and is one of the three parks in Colombia with coral reefs in its territory. Feel like getting lost in the Caribbean for a while?
Stop 2: Barranquilla
After a soothing time soaking in crystal clear waters, we move on to Barranquilla, also located by the Caribbean Sea. The city and a perfect base to discover the surrounding areas as well. But before we move on to nearby treasures, we’ll make sure to visit Barranquilla’s hot spots such as the Catedral Metropolitana, San Nicolás Church, and Museo Romántico. A great time to visit Barranquilla is, without a doubt, the month of February. During four days, the city hosts one of the biggest street parties in South America: the great Carnaval of Barranquilla!
Your hotel in Barranquilla
What to see near Barranquilla:
The Lost City
Only 2 hours and a half away from Barranquilla, and surrounded by Colombia’s Sierra Nevada mountains and tropical forest, an ancient city awaits you, lost in the leafy jungle, offering visitors an unbelievable sight. The enigmatic Lost City, also known as Teyuna, is older than Machu Picchu and the hike to get there, through the land of the Kogi, is considered by many as one of the bests in South America. Amazing yet challenging!
Parque Nacional Tayrona
One of Colombia’s most popular national parks makes another unique discovery near the city of Barranquilla. Bathed by the Caribbean Sea, this protected area covers about 12.000 hectares of land and 3.000 of the sea. Picture rainforest steep hills plunging into isolated and pristine beaches… Can you hear the sound of the waves calling your name? It will surely amaze nature lovers!
Our advice: the best time to visit is during low season (February to November), and make sure you make a reservation to enter the park in advance, otherwise you may being rejected the entrance.
A very popular activity among the park’s visitors is a hike to 9 Piedras, horseback riding, and snorkeling.
Stop 3: Medellín
Our journey in Colombia will be complete after visiting vibrant Medellin and its surroundings. The city is the capital of the Antioquia department, located in the beautiful and colorful Aburrá Valley. And did you know Medellin is also known as “The City of Eternal Spring”? Mainly thanks to its kind climate throughout the year.
One of the highlights in Medellín is Parque Berrio and its Fernando Botero’s sculptures, in the city center. Parque de las Luces, Veracruz church, and the Antioquia Museum should also be included on your list, and don’t forget to stroll around in Bolivar Park! As for what to do in Medellín, it is very popular among visitors to take the Medellín Metrocable up to Parque Arvi and enjoy an excellent overview of the entire city… Postcard-like pictures guaranteed!
If you’re looking for an adrenaline shot, in Medellín you’ll have the chance to join a paragliding group and surf the sky. Ready to enjoy the spectacular views of Medellin’s surrounding mountains? Mountain biking and ATV tours are other sought-after options among the adventure sports offered to tourists. And last but not least, if you want to watch a real spectacle, join local soccer fans during a match between Atlético Nacional and Independiente Medellín!
What to see around Medellín:
If you’re looking for a view that can’t be found anywhere else, then you definitely need to head east of Medellín and drive the short distance that separates the city from Guatapé, a paradise filled with artificial freshwater lakes, also known as “The Hamptons of Medellín”. Popular activities offered in this memorable oasis are waterskiing, scuba diving, jet skis, kayaking and fishing, and the most exciting one… A canopy zip line that crosses the lake!
Piedra del Peñol
Located in the Guatapé Reservoir, El Peñol is a huge must-see in Colombia. To be more specific, a 10 million-ton monolith worshiped by the Tahamies Indians in the past. To climb up The Peñol, first, you have to overcome the 650 steps that will most likely make your legs burn and quake. But don’t worry, the incredible views from the top are well worth the effort! Hint: go early in the morning to avoid crowds.
Pueblo de Zócalos
The reservoirs town, Guatapé or “Pueblo de Zócalos”, opens the door to a world of color and narrow streets. The town is famous, among other things, for its bright plinth decorated houses that narrate everyday scenes and the history of the place.
No visit to Colombia would be complete without getting to the legacy left behind by the notorious cartel boss Pablo Escobar. Among the many mansions he owned, one of the fincas was named after his daughter, Manuela, and can be visited by tourists joining one of the many tours offered by local companies.
Coast, jungles, volcanoes, charismatic cities, and chili-spiced cuisine, Mexico has it all! The country offers something for every type of traveler, from pampering resorts to wildlife-rich lagoons, perfect to get away from everyday stress. Our journey begins in Mexico’s third-largest city, Monterrey, before arriving in Ciudad de Mexico.
Stop 1: Monterrey
The capital of Nuevo León is set in a bowl of mountains, surrounded by stunning peaks and national parks on every side, except for the North. The city was founded in 1596 by Diego de Montemayor, and part of its colonial legacy is still palpable in the city’s older areas. Some of Monterrey’s highlights are the Gran Plaza, the great and beautiful church of La Virgen de Guadalupe, and the small Metropolitan Cathedral Nuestra Señora de Monterrey. After a long day of sightseeing, a good place to relax at is the stunning promenade of Paseo Santa Lucia or Parque la Fundidora. On Sundays, don’t miss the Corredor del Arte market!
What to see around Monterrey:
Cumbres de Monterrey National Park
The park covers the northern area of the Sierra Madre Oriental and offers the visitor various climbing, rappel, swimming, and hiking adventures. The highlight of the park is the iconic Cerro de la Silla, one if its highest peaks and easily recognizable for its “u” shape. Another popular sight within Cumbres de Monterrey National Park are the spectacular “Cola de Caballo” waterfalls.
Stop 2: Ciudad de México
Ciudad de Mexico is a beautiful city that is becoming increasingly popular, whether it is for a weekend visit or a longer trip. The best time to visit Mexico City is the month of April! And what to do here? From museums and galleries for the artsy travelers to the floating Gardens of Xochimilco, its Centro Histórico, or the most delicious Mexican Culinary Tours, the city offers many activities for a vacation to remember.
For food, don’t miss out on La Fonda Margarita and its chicharrón, El Parnita for excellent tacos, and the cozy and welcoming Cirene for the best ceviche and seafood.
For colorful and Instagram-perfect pictures, visit Casa Luis Barragán, the amazing Museo Soumaya, and the National Fund for the Development of Artisans (Fonart). The Frida Kahlo Museum is also a must in this list!
What to see around Ciudad de Mexico:
Puebla and Cholula
Close to Ciudad de Mexico, our wandering shoes take us to Cholula, a UNESCO-listed city that is home to the world’s largest pyramid, the Pirámide Tepanapa. On the way there, marvel at the picturesque countryside, Cholula’s and Puebla’s beautiful cathedrals, and the local markets.
Outdoor enthusiasts should not skip the hike that starts at the base of the Iztaccihuatl Volcano, walks through the Valley of Mexico and, before getting to La Joya, leads the explorer across the mountain pass Paso de Cortés and the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. Get your camera ready for some amazing views!
This UNESCO-listed zone, also known as the City of Gods, is one Latin America’s most popular religious sites. The Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe are well worth the visit, and the pyramids of Teotihuacan will leave you without words to describe them. While in the area, you’ll also have the chance to learn about the Aztec history and customs, and visit the Avenue of the Dead, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, and Temple of the Feathered Serpent.
So tell us, which of these new destinations would you pick for your next trip?