Top 5 Places We Visited in South America

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Top Places and Experiences:

  1. Top 5 Places We Visited in Asia
  2. Top 5 Experiences We Had In Asia
  3. Top 5 Places We Wished We Spent More Time in Asia
  4. Top 5 Places We Visited in South America
  5. Top 5 Experiences We Had in South America
  6. Future Trips to South America
  7. Top 5 Places We Visited in Europe
  8. Top 5 Experiences in Europe

Like we did for Southeast Asia, we wanted to reflect on the top 5 places we visited while in South America. This is by no means exhaustive of the entire continent, as we put off visiting a fair amount of countries for another trip. However, of the 5 countries we did visit, here were our favorites:

Honorable Mention: Valparaiso, Chile

Stairs or the funicular? Easy choice I think.

Stairs or the funicular? Easy choice I think.

Valparaiso was a really cool seaside town built on a series of hills. As a result, you were almost always walking up or down, but when you did, you ended up with a fantastic view of the city and the sea. They also have several old funiculars that were cool to ride. When you weren’t riding or looking out at the sea, most of the walls were painted by local artists, giving the whole town a very Bohemian vibe. Unfortunately, a few weeks after we visited, a huge fire swept through the town, causing extensive damage.

Number 5: Mendoza, Argentina

So much wine!

So much wine!

Mendoza was a good time for us, largely based on where we stayed. Part of the time we spent locked in the Intercontinental, celebrating our anniversary in an upgrade suite, and the rest we spent at a really fun hostel doing great activities. Among them were learning to drink (and share) mate, and of course renting bikes and riding around to different vineyards. Mendoza is definitely a must-do in Argentina.

Number 4: La Serena, Chile

Beautiful beaches, delicious seafood, stargazing, tsunami evacuations. What’s not to love?

It’s probably important to mention at this point that our top three were far and above the best places. If you have to choose between La Serena and the Galapagos Islands, go to the Galapagos!

Number 3: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

SCUBA diving with a Galapagos turtle

SCUBA diving with a Galapagos turtle

You might be surprised that this wasn’t our number one. It was absolutely a fantastic experience, and we saw a lot of cool animals. However, there were also a lot of stressful aspects (such as long, choppy boat rides, and poor accommodation) that kept this out of the top two spots. That being said, if you either have a lot of money, go to the Galapagos and go on a nice cruise; if you don’t have much money, go to the Galapagos and backpack to the islands. Either way you will see great wildlife and get your money’s worth.

Number 2: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Delicious grilled cheese and sweetbreads

Delicious grilled cheese and sweetbreads

We loved Buenos Aires. But we think the reason we had such a good time there was that we had people to share it with. Former co-workers of mine that live there went out of their way to house us and show us around town. They took us to places we would have never gone to on our own, and ensured we saw Buenos Aires the correct way (which was usually after dark). Plus the excellent food and diverse neighborhoods really made this a city we would love to come back to some day.

Number 1: El Bolson/Bariloche (7 Lakes District), Argentina

2014-03-19 15.38.45As much as we’d like to visit Buenos Aires one day, we would consider living in Bariloche, we loved it that much. First, it was stunningly beautiful. The lakes were a beautiful shade of blue, and the alpine trees were deep green. There was excellent hiking, biking, kayaking, sailing, etc, and when you got home, Bariloche is home to the most microbreweries in South America. And a lot of them were actually good (more than you can say for, I don’t know, all of Asia?).

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