The Top 10 Cities in Mexico & Central & South America in 2017

Antigua Guatemala
Photo: Kryssia Campos/Getty Images

T+L readers’ passion for traveling to countries throughout Central and South America remains strong, as evidenced by the fact that winning cities can be found in places like Colombia and Peru. But half of this year’s top urban centers were located in one country alone — Mexico — proving that politics and walls aside, our readers love to travel south. 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. San Miguel de Allende, a city with manicured gardens, colonial architecture, and a vibrant arts scene, stole voters’ hearts this year, earning it the No. 1 slot not only in this regional category, but also on our overall World’s Best Cities list. “San Miguel is Mexico’s reward to those who wander into the interior highlands,” said one reader. “The city has a new cosmopolitan feel that certainly feels welcoming to everyone.” It was joined by another Mexican-interior city, Oaxaca, a destination with an alluring indigenous history and deeply rooted traditions that span from rich heritage foods to beautiful handicrafts. Mexico City also ranked among the top five winners, no doubt thanks to its reemergence as a cosmopolitan ciudad brimming with chic hotels, like the St. Regis (a World’s Best winner this year), elegant shops, and innovative chef-owned restaurants. Cuzco, which took the No. 3 slot, was once best known as the jumping-off point for Machu Picchu. But with a pre-Columbian temple and fortress and streets lined with colonial buildings, the UNESCO World Heritage site has earned its own bragging rights. “Everyone must travel to Cuzco,” said reader Susan Bhati. “The buildings are a mix of Incan and European design, and there’s fun shopping. We loved the restaurants and cobblestoned streets — it’s a great city to travel by foot.” Antigua, Guatemala, another history-rich city, came in at No. 5. Scroll down to discover our other winners.

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10. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires - Argentina
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Score: 83.96

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9. Mendoza, Argentina

Pedro Del Castillo Square; Mendoza Argentina
Getty Images/Perspectives

Score: 84.00

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8. Bogotá, Colombia

Colombia, Bogota
John Coletti/Getty Images/AWL Images RM

Score: 84.68

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7. Mérida, Mexico

Independence Square, Merida, Yucatan State, Mexico, North America
Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery

Score: 85.67

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6. Guadalajara, Mexico

Guadalajara's Main Square, the Plaza de Armas and La Merced church.
Luis Davilla/Getty Images

Score: 85.80

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5. Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala
Kryssia Campos/Getty Images

Score: 86.65

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4. Mexico City

Mexico City
Fito Pardo/Getty Images

Score: 88.30

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3. Cuzco, Peru

The Cathedral in Plaza de Armas, Cuzco, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Peru, South America
Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery

Score: 89.36

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2. Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca Mexico
Kim Steele/Getty Images

Score: 90.41

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1. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

San Miguel de Allende
Thomas J. Story

Score: 92.12

Take a Tour of San Miguel de Allende

Having been in 850-plus cities in 43 countries, this is one of my favorite places to visit anywhere in the world,” wrote in one reader. The UNESCO World Heritage site has certainly earned high praise from such a frequent traveler. Mexico’s colonial-era jewel is renowned for its art galleries and handicrafts markets, which sell everything from papier-mâché and hand-blown glass to beautiful antiques, as well as historic attractions like the late-19th-century Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción. Many of our readers highlighted that it was ideal for couples. “This is a city full of magic and culture, colors and flavors,” added another fan. “It’s perfect for a romantic getaway.

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