5 Latin American Cities to Add to Your Future Travel Bucket List

Plaza de Armas in Cusco, photo courtesy of Sharptoyou / Shutterstock Inc

Like many, we’re dreaming of the time when we freely can explore new places again. The region making it to the top of our must-visit-soon list is Latin America, where historical city squares, white-sand beaches, and breathtaking natural wonders beckon to those seeking both outdoor adventure and urban centers. These five cities deliver on all counts, and will inspire your next excursion.

Cusco, Peru

Historic church in Cusco, photo courtesy of JeremyRichards / Shutterstock Inc.

The history of Cusco goes back to the Incas, who built the city in the shape of a puma. With its iconic Spanish architecture—particularly evident in the city square Plaza de Armas—Cusco is a must-see destination for the cosmopolitan traveler who appreciates rich cultural history. Visit the Cusco Cathedral for diverse artistic styles, which include both Spanish and Incan influences, and schedule a tour to the Qorikancha, or Temple of the Sun, which was once the heart of the Incan Empire. 

Cusco, Peru | Nella PoncePerú Sotheby’s International Realty

Set not far from the city in the Peruvian countryside, this estate offers ideal accommodations for the discerning traveler. Distinctive architectural details like stonework walls, timber beams set in white plaster, and a grand stone staircase mirror the natural splendor of the surrounding Ancasmarca and Huamanchoque mountains. After a day of exploring local history, relax in one of the many ensuite bathroom jacuzzis or decant a bottle of wine on the terrace. 

Montevideo, Uruguay

Ciudad Vieja in Montevideo, photo courtesy of Globe Guide Media Inc / Shutterstock Inc.

A small city set along the Río de la Plata, Montevideo is nothing less than charming. With its riverside promenades and inviting cafés, the city is laid back and quiet, partly due to its smaller scale but also because Uruguay has largely remained off the beaten path for travelers. Spend an afternoon wandering the historically preserved Ciudad Vieja, the old section of the city where boutiques and street art meet colorful buildings and vibrant markets.

Montevideo, Uruguay | Carlos Garcia ArocenaMontevideo Sotheby’s International Realty

The city was developed with an emphasis on its waterfront, with homes like this Tuscan-style property set on a private lake. For those who prefer to lounge poolside, a terrace and turquoise swimming pool face the lake and private dock. The home embodies the spirit of Montevideo, with understated details like French doors, farmhouse-inspired fixtures, and its elegant use of organic materials—a rustic yet sophisticated home for the intrepid traveler. 

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Pier at Puerto Vallarta, photo courtesy of Cinthia Aguilar / Unsplash

With one of the fastest-growing art scenes in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta is quickly becoming a top destination for the luxury traveler. In addition to its glamorous resorts, crystalline waters, and abundance of fine dining, Puerto Vallarta is on its way to becoming a major cultural center. The city is home to more than 30 galleries, where work ranging from folk art to contemporary art, by both local and international artists, is on display.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico | Ana Paula ArceGuadalajara Sotheby’s International Realty

With room for more than a few guests, this Spanish-style multi-unit guesthouse is an ideal stopping point for those looking to take in the city’s many offerings. With 17 bedrooms, multiple common areas, and a courtyard pool, the property serves as its own oasis. Spend the day touring Puerto Vallarta before returning for a dinner with friends on the covered dining terrace, where terra-cotta-colored tiles and reclaimed wood detailing set the tone for the rest of the home’s design.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Skyline of Old San Juan, photo courtesy of ESB Professional / Shutterstock Inc. 

While still in recovery from Hurricane Maria, San Juan remains a colorful and alluring destination. Spanish Colonial architecture defines the streets here, especially in Old San Juan, where legacy cafés and curated boutiques lead to the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, one of the oldest Spanish forts in the Americas. History buffs will enjoy the many notable sites in San Juan, while those seeking natural wonders won’t be disappointed: the nearby shoreline provides ample opportunity for excursions to Culebra and Playa Tortuga.

San Juan, Puerto Rico | Oriana JuvelierPuerto Rico Sotheby’s International Realty

Embodying San Juan’s cosmopolitan side, this luxury townhouse is the contemporary answer to island living. Floor-to-ceiling windows let the light in, while high, angled ceilings and glass railings keep the space airy and bright. With Sonos technology throughout and a common swimming pool and jacuzzi area available, the home serves as a space for both work and play.

Santiago, Chile

Plaza de Armas in Santiago, photo courtesy of David Ionut / Shutterstock Inc.

Set at the foot of the Andes Mountains, Santiago is the kind of city where five-star restaurants, street music, and hidden garden patios easily win over anyone who visits its streets. You’ll find bistros lining historic avenues, lush green parks, and a selection of art galleries and museums, not to mention distinctive neighborhoods with a flavor all their own. For a taste of the countryside, head out of the city for views of the Andes, rolling vineyards, and the Pacific Ocean, just an hour and a half out of the metropolitan center.

Santiago, Chile | Cecilia SolaChile Sotheby’s International Realty

Santiago is quickly becoming a top destination for the design-minded, and this house fits the bill. Designed by architect Carlos Alberto Cruz, the contemporary, European-style home boasts impressive views of both the mountain range and the city. Its elegant combination of large, modern windows, marble floors, and classical design makes the home feel both romantic and urbane—ideal for the aesthete looking to call Santiago home.

For the traveler seeking new horizons, these five Latin American cities should be top of mind for future adventures—or for taking up permanent residence. 

Dive further into the flavors of Latin America in our interview with top chef Leonor Espinosa.

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