Latin America is a destination increasingly known and visited by Canadians. For decades, the south was only related to beaches, the sun, leisure and rest in resorts or areas of strong tourist presence.
However, in recent years there has been growing interest in exploring other latitudes of the region and exploring beyond the crowded beaches. Canadians have discovered the immense heritage and cultural wealth of cities such as San Miguel de Allende, Buenos Aires, Quito or Cusco, where history looms in every corner.
It’s also surprising the economic dynamism and the architectural avant-garde that breaks into places like Panama City, Medellin or Santiago de Chile, which has also allowed the tourist interest to be transferred to the business scene, where relations are increasingly narrow and fluid.
We have chosen 10 cities that have a special relationship with Canadian travelers. These are the reasons.
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Old Havana is one of the most visited and charismatic corners of the Cuban capital. It has the status of a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because there are some of the best elements of the city’s rich architectural heritage, a varied mix of influences and styles. In some corners, time seems to have stopped and an air between nostalgic and bohemian remains, which defines the personality of a unique city.
A walk through its characteristic cobblestone streets will lead you to excellent examples of Baroque and Neoclassical architecture such as the Cuban Cathedral of Saint Christopher or the historic Bodeguita del Medio, an old restaurant that turned the American writer Hemingway into a universal icon.
Also worth noting is the Castillo de la Real Fuerza [Castle of the Royal Fortress], a military fort, or Plaza Vieja [Old Square], a beautiful area that serves as an excellent place to enjoy a mojito in the sun.
SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE (MEXICO)
Every day more Canadians choose this Mexican city for their vacations and even for their retirement. San Miguel has been chosen as the best city in the world by Travel + Leisure for its life quality, its bohemian atmosphere and its impressive colonial heritage.
Located in the central state of Guanajuato, San Miguel has a charming historic center, top-level restaurants and a lively arts scene for expatriates. The city’s architecture and the relaxed atmosphere is so appreciated that it was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2008.
The capital and largest city of Panama, is an attractive concentration of modern high-rise towers that stand out in the middle of a formidable tropical jungle environment. Panama is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, with great economic dynamism thanks to the Panama Canal, the country’s true economic engine.
The Panamanian capital has become one of the preferred destinations in Central America and a place of retirement for many Canadians and Americans for its special tax benefits and medical coverage. The Panama Canal is one of the main tourist attractions, especially since its expansion, it’s highly recommended to also explore the historic center’s cobbled streets and colonial buildings, a contrast to the modern city of great skyscrapers.
SALVADOR DE BAHIA (BRAZIL)
Salvador de Bahia has a spectacular historic center with formidable examples of colonial architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Brazil, referenced in many songs and books; its rich Afro-Brazilian culture and its vibrant artistic scene shine in a special way, reaching the moment of greatest splendor during the celebration of its famous carnival.
Located in the huge Bahía de Todos los Santos [Bay of All Saints], the city’s surroundings still make the visit more fascinating. Its old town with cobbled streets, historical sites and interesting museums, transforms a calm and relaxed walk into an intense experience. The unique culture of Salvador de Bahía has had a great influence on the rest of the country.
BUENOS AIRES (ARGENTINA)
Buenos Aires is one of the most iconic cities in the world. Filled with vitality, history and literature, it has been written and sung and forms a unique cultural microcosm throughout Latin America. It is also a city of encounters and influences, the colorful European architecture in its most picturesque neighborhoods, the gastronomic richness, the cultural and nocturnal life, the tango… all are elements that define the special and captivating personality of this immense city.
Situated in front of South America’s southeast coast, Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and one of the largest cities in Latin America. This vibrant cosmopolitan city is made up of several neighborhoods. Some of the most visited include the Microcentro, where the iconic Obelisco is located.
San Telmo is popular for its markets, while the multicolored architecture of La Boca and the street tango dance make it a world-famous district.
The capital city is Chile’s political and cultural heart. From the high views of the mountains of the Cerro San Cristóbal Park, to the captivating history of the great poet Pablo Neruda, there is much to see in Santiago and much to learn from its history.
The best options include skiing in the nearby Valle Nevado or Portillo, tasting the excellent wines in Viña Aquitania or visits to some of its main museums such as the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art or the Fashion Museum.
For those who don’t want to spend all their time in the city, there are incredible hiking opportunities such as the steep slopes of Cajón de Maipo.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Medellín was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world, home to the infamous and powerful Colombian cocaine cartel. However, when the drug trafficker Pablo Escobar disappeared in 1993, Medellin began to bury its violent past and was reborn as a modern city, with a vibrant economy and a rich and cosmopolitan cultural scene. It was reinvented.
Now that the city has become a regular destination for thousands of tourists from around the world, they find a welcoming and modern city that boasts one of the best weathers in the country. Its commitment to a new architecture, a network of exemplary museums and services and a highly effective public system also stand out.
Located in the Andes, in the narrow Aburra Valley, the city has average temperatures of 24 ° C / 72 ° F throughout the year, so any time is ideal to visit. Medellin is also a very colorful city due to its beautiful flowers; the city celebrates its flower festival for 12 days every August.
Cusco is Peru’s great jewel. It often serves as a base to explore the famous nearby ruins of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Nevertheless, let us not forget that Cusco was the historical capital of the Inca Empire.
Located in the southeast of Peru, it’s one of the most important tourist destinations in the country. It’s a beautiful and colorful city full of history; it has many well-preserved buildings dating from the Inca and Spanish colonial times.
The heart of the city is the main square or Plaza de Armas, which is surrounded by restaurants, cafes and churches. Just outside the city limits there is an important Inca site known as Sacsayhuaman, a huge walled complex built with large limestone rocks.
At 2,800 meters above sea level, the Ecuadorian capital of Quito is the highest capital city in the world. This cosmopolitan city of 2.2 million people is located in a section of active volcanoes in the Andes.
Quito has one of the largest and best preserved historic districts in South America. Founded in 1534, it contains no less than 20 Catholic churches of the colonial era and, despite the intensive restoration, the old town preserves the spirit of the vibrant popular class and the indigenous character that has always defined it. Carondolet Palace, the headquarters of Ecuador’s government, is located in the historic area.