If your expat assignment takes you to – or near – South America, why not travel to these recommended places in your time off?
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The birthplace of the tango is, like the dance itself, captivating, seductive and bustling with excited energy. Atmospheric old neighbourhoods are rife with romantic restaurants and thumping nightlife, and Buenos Aires' European heritage is evident in its architecture, boulevards and parks. Cafe Tortoni, the city's oldest bar, will transport you back to 1858, and the spectacular Teatro Colon impresses just as it did in 1908. The Travellers' Choice #8 Destination in the World this year, Latin America's shopping capital offers the promise of premium retail therapy along its grand, wide boulevards.
Incan majesty and Andean baroque exist side-by-side in Cusco's stone streets, epitomized by the Qoriacancha palace and the church of Santo Domingo flanking the Plaza de Armas. In this Travellers' Choice Destination, a high-altitude melting pot of Amerindian and mestizo culture, you'll find extraordinary textiles, lively summer festivals and archeological wonders.
The small Brazilian village of Gramado is a quaint and woodsy respite that boasts some delightful surprises. After you’ve fully enjoyed the paddleboats and surrounding Black Forest pines of Lago Negro, pay a visit to the peaceful Chagdud Gonpa Khadro Ling, a Tibetan Buddhist center and temple. Kids will love a visit to Mini Mundo, a miniature park that features tiny replicas of famous landmarks.
San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina
Nipping at the ankles of the Andes, San Carlos, the largest ski area in South America, also offers thrilling boating, trekking, paragliding and climbing. The truly brave at heart can take the plunge into icy Lake Nahuel Huapi, which, even in summer, never rises above a chilling average temperature of 57°F. Beaches like Playa Bonita and Villa Tacul are stunning, but try to avoid the city in July, when the town is inundated by high-school students.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Whether your curiosity is piqued by the International Olympic Committee’s selection for the 2016 Games, or you’re heeding the call of the famous twin beaches Copacabana and Ipanema, Rio offers more than you can imagine, and offers it at all hours. With breathtaking views from Corcovado Mountain and breathtaking deals in the city’s endless malls and markets, Rio de Janeiro is a holiday paradise, whatever it is you travel for.
Cartagena, a gorgeous fishing village on Colombia's Caribbean coast, has excellent beaches, a historic old town (that's entirely walkable) and beautiful colonial architecture. It's also one of the safest places in the country, so it's no wonder it's a popular port of call for cruise ships. Need a break from exploring the cobblestone streets? Stop at an outdoor cafe for excellent pastries and people-watching.
Known best for its wine, Mendoza is a bustling city to the east of Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere. Although it draws its share of adventure travellers, lured by the climbing, skiing, hiking and rafting opportunities within an easy drive of downtown, the area’s more than 1,000 vineyards bring oenophiles in even greater numbers.
Santiago is one of those metropolitan joys where the more you look, the more you find. Funky cafes and dance clubs dot Bellavista, Forest Park art collections range from pre-Columbian to contemporary, and architecture runs the gamut from the 16th-century San Francisco Church to mirrored office towers. Shop with the locals at Mall Panora¡mico and give your palate meals to remember with hearty Chilean fare.
Lima, founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535, is a fascinating city and a treasure trove of history. Explore ancient Incan archaeological sites, or stroll through the elegant cathedrals and opulent palaces dating from Spanish colonial times. Downtown Lima is crowded, but you'll enjoy exploring the city's neighbourhoods—especially the beachfront areas, which have great shopping and dining and fabulous hotels.
Ten million people call vibrant, passionate, sprawling Bogota home. The energy of this metropolitan heart of Colombia is in part fueled by its hundreds of eclectic and authentic dining hot spots, fantastic wines, and frequent foodie festivals. Ask the locals where they like to eat, then walk off your empanadas and aji with a stroll through the historic district of La Candelaria or during an indulgent shopping adventure on the North Side.
Source: Travellers’ Choice Awards 2015, Tripadvisor