Chasing warm destinations in South America
While the northern hemisphere prepares for the shorter days and colder nights of fall, people south of the equator are venturing outdoors to soak up the sun. Boasting in most of South America, spring is about to arrive in the Southern Hemisphere — and now is the perfect time to visit.
Travel south now and you’ll beat the heat — and crowds — of these destinations’ summer months. You’ll also find that most places offer extraordinary travel deals this time of year. Instead of raking leaves and adding layers, come check out the best cities to visit in South America this fall.
What better place to start this list than with the city in the middle of the world? Quito was the first city in the world registered as UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 1978. A city located in the heart of the Andes, blessed by a spring climate all year round, surrounded by fabulous landscapes and mountains, surrounded by stunning nature.
History is seen everywhere, and its development has occurred around historical monuments that have been kept intact since its construction. Quito not only has many churches, but all its churches keep incalculable treasures of culture and history from the colonial era of the best-preserved place in the world. The fact that the city was an especially prominent place of the Inca empire, made the Spaniards undertake with particular care the construction and design of a fabulous religious architecture and iconography.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Not to be outdone, Buenos Aires boasts its own jacaranda blossoms. Check them out along Avenida Figueroa Alcorta on your way to stretch your legs with locals in the Bosques de Palermo.
Grateful for the warmer temperatures, Porteños move their mate-drinking outdoors to the balconies and patios. Tables and chairs migrate from inside the bars and cafes toward the middle of the streets as friends and family gather to enjoy the drier spring weather. The start of spring in late September coincides with Student’s Day. See if you can join the students for an asado (Argentine barbecue) followed by dulce de leche for dessert.
Buenos Aires provides easy access by plane down to the epic mountains and lakes of Patagonia daily. You’ll find a quieter, less expensive Patagonia coming to life in spring, which is the best time to avoid the crowds and high winds of summer. If you go, make sure to visit Punta Tombo on the coast to catch the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in South America as they waddle ashore in late September.
Much like in Buenos Aires to the east, the people of Santiago embrace a dry spring after staring out at skeletons of trees in the rainy winter months. Spring is the best time to sit outside and enjoy the lush greenery and wisteria blooming while you taste famous Chilean wines in the central valley — or sip on Pisco Sours, made from the national liquor, which is produced just north of Santiago in the Valle de Elqui.
Snowcapped Andes and the Chilean Coast Range surround Santiago, making a beautiful backdrop for photos of the city. It’s especially lovely in spring, when snow still covers the mountaintops, but the inversion phenomenon that can cause winter smog loses its grip — making for much clearer skies. Hiking trails just north of the city abound (although the trails aren’t always well marked), and fewer than two hours away by car, you can reach the coastal town of Viña del Mar.
While you’ll find many opportunities for hiking further south, the city of Santiago provides easier access to the Atacama Desert up north — the driest in the world. Multiple flights a day get you up to Calama where buses run to San Pedro de Atacama. Weather in the desert stays dry and mild year-round, but nights still get chilly in spring. Throw on your jacket and sprawl out on the plateau to see a sky untainted by the presence of clouds or light pollution — a photographer’s dream.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Paulistanos shed their light jackets and raincoats as they say goodbye to winter and welcome spring. From art-house theaters and underground bars to upscale restaurants and film festivals, this innovative hub of South American culture has something for everyone. The streets of Sampa, as locals know, swell with crowds as events run full swing during the drier, warmer months of late September through November. This includes the thrilling Formula 1 Grand Prix at Interlagos racetrack — considered by many to be the most challenging track in the F1 circuit.
Of particular interest this year is the 33rd edition of the Bienal de São Paulo, the second-oldest art biennial in the world after the Venice Biennale. In an unprecedented move, curator Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro has allowed the group of artist-curators to establish the look and feel of the show set up inside the Oscar Niemeyer-designed Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion. You’ll find the building in Ibirapuera Park, South America’s most visited park and a wonderful place for a spring stroll.