Attractions of South America e-Book

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6 Must See Cities of South America

The Cities of South America are vibrant and exotic, colonial and imperial and they all have one thing in common... they welcome you with open arms. It's time to get out your backpack and experience these wonderful cities for yourself.

Some are blessed with the most famous beaches of the world; others are cradled by the majestic Andes. Explore them as you've never done before and return to your friends and family with amazing tales full of life and passion.


1. Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

Rio de Janeiro - Brazil Rio de Janeiro is called the wonderful city (a cidade maravilhosa) and is an absolute highlight if you travel in South America.

The city is commonly divided into the historic downtown (Centro); the tourist-friendly South Zone, with world-famous beaches; the industrial North Zone; the West Zone; and the newer Barra da Tijuca region.

Rio de Janeiro is famous for its beaches Copacabana and Ipanema, for the giant Jesus statue known as Christ the Redeemer (O Cristo Redentor) on the Corcovado mountain, for the Sugar Loaf Mountain and... for its unequaled nightlife.

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2. La Paz (Bolivia)

Witches Market - La Paz, Bolivia La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, lies on an altitude of 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) and is the highest capital of the world. The city lies in an impressive valley with the snow-capped mountain Illimany watching in the horizon.

It's a very pleasant city that displays a kaleidoscope of traditional and modern life.

La Paz is famous for its Witch Market, Gold Museum, for being the highest capital of the world and for its gentile people.

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3. Cuzco (Peru)

Cuzco - Peru Cuzco, The Imperial City of the Incas, lies in the heart of the Sacred Valley at an altitude of 3,399 meters (11,000 feet) in Southeastern Peru. The city was built in the shape of a puma (a sacred animal for the incas).

It was the capital of the Inca empire and hosts one of the most astonishing juxtapositions of Inca and colonial architecture in South America.

Cuzco is famous for its ruins Saqsaywaman and Kenko, the Stone of 12 Angles, the Sun Temple and the nearby Lost City of the Incas: Machu Picchu.

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4. Quito (Ecuador)

Quito - Ecuador Quito is the capital of Ecuador. The name means, in the language of the Tsáchila or Colored Indians, center (Quitsa) of the world (To).

It has not only the biggest historical center in South America but also one of the most beautiful historical centers of the Americas.

Its cultural heritage was so important that it was the first city in the world to be declared World Heritage Cultural Site by UNESCO in 1978. Quito is famous for its historical center, Parque Metropolitano (biggest urban park in South America), Spanish schools and El Panecillo (Virgin monument).

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5. Cartagena (Colombia)

Cartagena - Colombia Cartagena is the most beautiful city of Colombia with very well preserved colonial buildings in the Old City.

St. Peter Claver, patron saint of the slaves, worked in and from the Jesuit college. Just outside the city walls, you can see the "India Catalina" statue, a local Indian hero.

Cartagena is famous for its Palace of the Inquisition, the cathedral, the Convent of Santa Clara (now a hotel), the Jesuit college and the San Felipe de Barajas Castle.

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6. Ushuaia (Argentina)

Ushuaia - Argentina Ushuaia, which in the yámana language means “bay overlooking the West”, is the Southernmost city of the world (that title earns it the right to be in our list) and is enchanting and mesmerizing.

It's all the way down in Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire), Patagonia (Argentina), and is the perfect place to embark on wonderful sightseeing trips on the Beagle Channel and to explore the waters that reach Antarctica not too far away.

Ushuaia is famous for its prison, lighthouse, boat excursions and a never ceasing tranquility.

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Next: Hiking Tours of South America

© All photographs by Mark Van Overmeire

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