I've compiled a list of what I believe to be the best cities for a tourist to visit in Latin America. The list is based on the criteria outlined on my cities guides, so you'll want to click on the link to the city to get a thoroughgoing breakdown on the destination to find out why it ranked the way it did.
I rank each city based on the following:
OVERVIEW: A short, Wikipedia-style introduction to the city. Includes things like location, history and interesting facts.
POPULATION: How many people live in the city proper. Allow for a slight margin of error.
WEATHER: Includes the climate classification and a temperature range.
SAFETY: Explains whether or not the city is safe for tourists.
MUST DO: Names one thing that every tourist should see or do in the city.
RENT/MONTH (1BR IN CITY CENTRE): Gives the price of a month's rent in the city. All prices listed here represent good value and are cheaper than what will be listed on sites like Airbnb. It is always possible to pay more. The point here is to show you a price closer to what the locals pay, and what you are able to get if you take the time to look.
HOSTEL DORM BED/NIGHT: The typical price for a dorm bed in the city.
NIGHTLIFE RATING: A rating of the city's bar and club scene. Takes into consideration things like logistics, music, prices, girls, crowds and libations.
BOTTLE OF BEER: Price of a bottle of beer in a bar or restaurant. Obviously will vary depending on the quality of the establishment you are going to, but the prices in the city should, for the most part, always be within a dollar or two of this listed price.
CHANCE OF HOOKING-UP: To put it simply, refers to the chance you have of taking a girl home. This will always depend on a variety of factors, so take the rating with a grain of sand. Assume the rating here is based off of an average-looking white male with basic Spanish skills who is spending one week or more in the city.
ATTRACTIVENESS OF WOMEN: How pretty the girls are. It's a rating out of ten...I know, how cliche. Again, this will vary depending on your taste, but the rating here is based off fairly universal standards of beauty.
GROCERIES: The cost of common groceries in the city, like milk, eggs, bread, water and cigarettes.
JOB OPPORTUNITIES: Whether or not there are opportunities to work in the city. If there are, the guide will say what they are.
TAXI: The cost of taking a cab a short distance in the city.
NOTES: Final comments about the city. Whether it is better for a short stay or longer stay, and more information on why it is good or not etc.
OVERALL RATING: A rating out of 10 for the city. Takes into consideration everything listed above, as well as any other factors that make a city enjoyable or unenjoyable for a tourist or expat.
Here's the list, ranked 1-67, of the best cities to visit in Latin America.
*Click on the link to each city for a full description.
(N.B. Not very mobile-friendly...Sorry, I'm working on this.)
Best Cities in Latin America
- Rio De Janeiro
- Buenos Aires
- Mexico City
- Sao Paulo
- Belo Horizonte
- Panama City
- Santo Domingo
- Santa Clara
- Santiago De Cuba
- San Francisco
- Puerto Plata
- Isla Margarita
- San Jose
- San Juan Del Sur
- La Ceiba
- San Pedro Sula
- Bocas Del Toro
- Guatemala City
2018 UPDATE: I'd move all Brazilian cities lower due to the rising crime rates. After going back to Lima, I'd definitely bump it up as well. Not sure why I ranked Havana so high...tough place to live. The rest is more or less OK.
The nature of these lists is always contentious - I expect to be challenged (Why did Havana rank so high? Why did Lima rank so low? etc.). All I can say is that travelling is highly personal. Although, I have heard really positive things about Lima, Peru in the past year, so I admit I may have given it an unfair shake.
Until next time,
Want More Information About Latin America? Check Out My City Guides