The Best Cities in Central and South America in 2018

Bogota, Colombia, South America
Photo: Samantha Mi/Getty Images/Cultura Exclusive

The city of Cuzco, our readers’ favorite urban destination in Central and South America, has long been known as the gateway to Machu Picchu. And while the legendary archaeological site is still one of the most visited landmarks in the world, Cuzco is an appealing city with a rich history and beautiful architecture that’s well worth visiting in its own right. Our voters consistently pointed out the excellence of the cuisine. “The Peruvian food was the best in the world,” wrote one respondent. Others called out the wide variety of street food and Paddy’s, which boasts of having the highest elevation of any Irish pub on the planet. Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value. Related: The 2018 World's Best Awards Over the past year, Rio de Janeiro has been plagued with security concerns, but that didn’t stop readers from voting the Brazilian city into the No. 2 slot. “Rio is underrated because of the politics and crime,” wrote one. “The people themselves are warm, loving, and gentle. They love to share the beauty of their country. It’s one of my favorite places despite everything.” Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, continues to be a favorite for visitors, who cite the European atmosphere, vibrant nightlife, and superb food and wine scene. “Argentina’s economy goes up and down,” wrote one voter, “but the cultural highlights and great steak houses have endured.” Readers continue to be beguiled by Antigua, an intimate city in central Guatemala with a wealth of handsome Spanish-colonial architecture. “All of the cobblestone streets are lined with colorful buildings, shops, museums, cathedrals, and ruins,” wrote one traveler. “If you’re a photographer or a history geek, this place is a must-see.” Read on to see the full list of our readers’ favorite cities in Central and South America, and see how they scored.

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5. Bogotá, Colombia

Bogota, Colombia
John Coletti/Getty Images

Score: 80.49

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4. Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Getty Images

Score: 81.22

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3. Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala
Lucy Brown/Getty Images

Score: 82.49

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2. Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Pintai Suchachaisri/Getty Images

Score: 82.60

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1. Cuzco, Peru

Cusco, Peru
Getty Images/ RM


Cuzco dazzles with its rich layers of history, and its proximity to the Andes, which surround it on all sides, gives it an otherworldly feel. “There’s so much to see in town and just outside of it,” wrote one reader. “Cuzco was the center of the Inca empire, and even the way the city is laid out is a marvel.” No surprise that hotels in Cuzco were also rated highly by our readers: Inkaterra La Casona was voted No. 4 in the world overall as well as the best city hotel in Central and South America.

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2018.

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