With the holidays fast approaching it’s time to start planning your best vacation ever! After spending the last 20 months at home due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, we’re all eager to get out into the world again. We’re ready to walk amongst history, indulge in local cuisine, and completely immerse ourselves in cultures other than our own. Travel is food for the soul, and we’re hungry! So here are Cocina’s top 3 picks for the best cities in Latin America to to travel to this holiday season!
For Charm & Romance on your Holiday Vacations
If you and your partner are looking for a romantic getaway with beautiful weather, look no further than Cartagena, Colombia! This city balances being wildly vibrant and colorful while being delightfully charming. From quaint colonial centers lined with cobblestone streets, to island paradises surrounded by crystal blue waters, to some of the world’s best street art, there is no shortage of things to see, do, and explore in Cartagena.
Aptly nicknamed “The Magic City” Cartagena has so much to offer travelers. There are beautiful beaches, sprawling old markets, and contemporary art museums. The city is a wonderful blend of Colombian, Spanish, Caribbean, and African cultures. Travelers can sip rum cocktails along the seaside at sunset, enjoy dance performances at Plaza Bolívar, and eat like Bourdain at La Cevicheria, the late great chef’s favorite restaurant in the city.
Pro Tip: If you are planning to go out for Christmas or New Year’s Eve, be mindful of booking in advance your restaurant reservation, they usually fill up quickly and people stay after hours for the sobremesa.
If you don’t get a spot, don’t let that bring you down! After midnight, most restaurants and bars bring their parties out into the cobblestone streets. Take a stroll around the Ciudad Amurallada (Downtown) and you’ll get a chance to toast and dance to vallenato, salsa and merengue with locals and tourists alike. Imagine a big block party, but surrounded by XVII century buildings decorated with Bougainvillea (a.k.a. Santa Rita) plants, the sweet smell of Jazmines del Paraíso flowers and the Caribbean Sea’s breeze.
For Holiday Vacations Sorrounded by Beautiful Tropical Beaches
Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
A beach and nature lover’s paradise, Santa Teresa is quickly becoming one of the hottest travel destinations in Latin America. The vibe of this small but emerging beachtown is laid all the way back! Everything seems to happen at half speed here. However, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice luxury or comfortable modern accommodations in return. This place has it all!
The sand and sun never end and neither do the perfect waves, which means your fantasies of an Endless Summer are at your fingertips in Santa Teresa. You can spend the morning doing yoga and meditation on the beach before heading into town for a beautiful cup of local Costa Rican coffee and fresh tropical fruit. After breakfast, you might connect with a local surf school or scuba diving master to enjoy the water. The town’s best restaurants have incredible menus featuring fusion cuisine from all over the world and rather chic ambience via candlelight and natural wood furnishings set in the Costa Rican jungle.
For Adventure & History on Your Holiday Vacations
Home to one of the world’s most treasured and beloved wonders, Cusco is a place every traveler hopes to cross off their list some day. Obviously, the main attraction here is the one-in-a-lifetime trek to Machu Picchu. The former capital of the Incan empire boasts some of the most epic and well-preserved ancient ruins in the world. You will want to book a guided tour that ranges from multiple days of glamping to a one-day trip by train.
For foodies, Peru is a world wonder in its own right. The gastronomy of this small, but mighty nation is one of the most interesting and delicious. A fusion of Spanish, Indigenous, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine, there is no shortage of absolutely incredible food to be enjoyed. Don’t leave Peru without enjoying ceviche, lomo saltado, and papas a la huancaína!
Bonus Tip: Machu Picchu is at a very high altitude, so you’ll want to take your time acclimating to it before your visit. While doing so, you can enjoy bonus ruins in the Sacred Valley!