The southern half of the Western Hemisphere has long been an alluring holiday destination. Encompassing untamed jungles, cerulean blue seas and crystalline sands, ancient ruins and rapidly-developing cities, this continent is home to rich, diverse culture and breath-taking landscapes. Where else could you zipline past a volcano before diving into the ancient mysteries of Mayan ruins?
If you’re looking to visit an exciting destination in 2021 and beyond, Central and Southern America possess all the qualities that you’re looking for. In this guide, you’ll be introduced to the best cities to visit in countries including Brazil, Belize, and, of course, right here in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica can easily be thought of as the soul of Central America. One of the most biodiverse countries on earth, it’s no overstatement to say that we’ve achieved the perfect balance of economic development and green energy investment.
Our “rich coast” is posed on the cutting edge of several leading sustainability-focused measures and trends, and throughout our national parks, you’ll discover awe-inspiring volcanoes and mountain ranges.
Situated on the central Pacific coast and the gateway to the Manuel Antonio National Park, Quepos may be small in size but it’s packed with things to see and do.
The main plaza is a treasure trove of unique souvenir shops, fine cuisine and captivating art galleries. For adrenalin junkies, there’s the opportunity to go kayaking, rafting and horse-riding across the beach, as well as a wealth of surfing options from beginner to more advanced.
The biggest draw of Quepos, however, is the aforementioned national park. Renowned for its diverse wildlife, the Manuel Antonio Park may be Costa Rica’s smallest, but within its 682.7 hectares, you’ll discover verdant forest ranges and peaceful beaches.
If you’re looking for a destination that’s livelier, Jaco is where you should be headed.
Easily the party town of Costa Rica, Jaco is one of the more developed beach towns in the country, providing plenty of dining, shopping and accommodation. It’s also the spot to go if you fancy some truly unique tours – sport fishing, canyoning, hiking, and even crocodile tours can all be booked here.
Situated between the Caribbean Sea and the wild jungle territory of Central America, Belize is a pint-sized destination filled with culture, adventure, and island-hopping opportunities. While you could easily explore the entire country in one vacation, if you really want to enjoy what’s on offer here, take things at a slower pace.
The Cayo district should be your first port of call on a trip to Belize. Located on the western coast of the country, this populous area was once the heart of the Mayan world in the region. The impressive ruins of Xunantunich, including the 39m-high El Castillo pyramid, still stand as a testament to the architectural genius of the ancient civilization. You can even explore several sacred Mayan caves, including Actun Tunichil Muknal.
Further afield, you’ll find the twin towns of Santa Elena and San Ignacio and their unique Old West vibe, as well as luscious jungle territories to explore.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Throughout the Americas, Brazil stands unique as a truly captivating country. Combining those much-sought-after white, sandy beaches, wild and diverse metropolises, and, of course, those verdant rainforests, this is a country you simply must visit at least once in your lifetime.
While the tourists may flock to Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, those in the know head to Sao Paulo. A truly multi-faceted city offering up a diverse mix of things to see and explore, Sao Paulo is one of the most exciting places to visit in Brazil. While still a megapolis (over 20 million residents live here), the overall vibe and culture of the city is much more relaxed and open.
As you might expect from a city renowned for its skyscrapers, there are over 2500 to be found in Sao Paulo, several of which are over 100 meters tall. The most famous skyscraper, Edificio Martinelli, can even be explored with a free tour – the views from here are unparalleled.
If you prefer your delights on solid ground, head over to Ibirapuera Park. The perfect spot for some R&R, the park doubles up as both an urban nature retreat and cultural hotspot. There are a number of museums throughout the park to check out – you could easily spend a whole day meandering through them – and while you can still spot Sao Paulo’s unique skyscraper landscape from every corner, the park itself is still far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the city.