Published on October 24th, 2013 | by Mark Chesnut
Where To Travel Next: 6 Hot Cities in Latin America for 2014
A colleague at a major travel publisher recently asked me to name the cities in Latin America that I’m most excited about visiting in 2014. That got me thinking about the variety of new hotels, new attractions and overall upgrades that are taking place around the region (it also got me thinking that’s it’s time to start sketching out my own travel plans for the new year). As a result, I came up with this, my short list of travel tips for six hot Latin American cities that should be on your wish list itinerary for 2014.
1. Panama City, Panama: This Central American metropolis (which I’ll be visiting again in November/December 2013) seems to be on an endless growth trajectory. With new international luxury hotels like the Waldorf Astoria Panama debuting, as well as the popularity of stylish boutique hotels like Las Clementinas (I’ll be staying at both next month; stay tuned to LatinFlyer.com for detailed reviews), Panama City has more noteworthy hotels than ever (check out my round-up of the LF Awards for the Best Hotels in Panama City from last year’s visit), room rates are becoming more reasonable thanks to the increased competition. The historic Casco Antiguo district continues to become ever trendier, while a new metro rail system is in the works to alleviate the city’s hectic traffic. But the most eye-catching new developments — and the ones likely to be tourism icons for Panama — are the expansion of the Panama Canal, as well as the opening of the BioMuseo, the museum dedicated to natural history and the environment, set in a futuristic, Frank Gehry-designed building.
Panama Travel Inspiration: Top 5 Reasons to Visit Panama City
2. Bogota, Colombia: Increased safety, continued economic growth and a Free Trade Agreement with the United States has helped Colombia‘s capital attract new investment, including several worthwhile hotels like the Hilton Bogota and boutique properties including Click Clack and B.O.G. (stay tuned to LatinFlyer.com for a roundup of some of the hottest urban boutique hotels in Latin America). But doing business isn’t the only reason to visit Bogota. The weekly Ciclovía — when many streets are closed to all but bicycles and pedestrians — is an example of the greening of the city. And the local creative scene is a big draw for leisure travelers, with local designers making their mark and artists exhibiting impressive works in the artsy district called La Macarena.
Colombia Travel Inspiration: 5 Reasons to Visit — and Love — Bogota
3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: With the World Cup landing in Rio in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, all eyes are on Brazil‘s sexiest beach metropolis. And while safety and behind-schedule upgrades and construction may continue to be a concern, this legendary jet-set getaway is sure to attract lots of visitors in 2014 and beyond. Major works include a renovated and upgraded Maracana stadium (see LatinFlyer’s video preview of the improved Maracana Stadium here) and a revamped waterfront downtown with the stunning new Museum of Tomorrow, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Additional new museums and cultural venues are planned for downtown, Copacabana and Barra da Tijuca. Plus, there are great restaurants in Rio and, of course, those sexy beaches. One thing is sure: If you plan to visit in 2014 or 2016, plan early.
Brazil Travel Inspiration: Top 5 Reasons to Visit Rio de Janeiro
4. San Juan, Puerto Rico: The Isla del Encanto is aiming to recast itself as an upscale paradise. In addition to an ever-creative upscale restaurant scene, Puerto Rico has in recent years welcomed new luxury hotels, including the Olive Boutique Hotel and the Ritz-Carlton Reserve, and the pending opening of the still-delayed Condado Vanderbilt will result in additional choices (although the beautiful restaurant, bar and event spaces are already open). Add to this the plans to open the upscale Mall of San Juan by 2015, and you might see Puerto Rico as a very different alternative for luxury Caribbean vacations.
Puerto Rico Travel Inspiration: LF Weekend Vacation: A Perfect Getaway in San Juan
5. Quito, Ecuador: The increasingly restored historic city center in Ecuador‘s capital is attracting fans of history, culture and cuisine. And the brand-new Mariscal Sucre International Airport that serves Quito is designed to allow for new nonstop flights from more, further-off destinations (when they finally complete the highway between the city and the airport, travel time will improve greatly). Will the increased accessibility — combined with the ever-more-beautiful historic center — make it more of a hot spot? Watch for additional flights and, with any luck, more competitive airfares as traffic grows.
Ecuador Travel Inspiration: Culture, Nature & Adventure: 3 Great Reasons to Visit Ecuador
6. Mexico City, Mexico: It’s the largest city in Mexico, the largest city in North America and one of the three largest cities in the world. So it’s no surprise that Mexico City never fails to come up with new reasons to visit. The continued growth in the business-oriented Santa Fe district — with new luxury hotels like the Hilton Santa Fe/Mexico City and restaurants in the works — makes it the hottest place to do business in Mexico’s capital. As Mexico City aims to attract more leisure travelers, we’ll have to see if Santa Fe also gains traction with vacationers seeking new-build hotel luxury as well. Regardless, new attractions elsewhere in the city — like the Museo Soumaya and Museo Jumex, two cutting-edge museums — make this city worth discovering all over again. (I’ll be heading there in December 2013, so stay tuned to LatinFlyer.com to read the latest reports and reviews.) And if just thinking about visiting Mexico City has you thirsty for some of the city’s great cocktails, be sure to check out LatinFlyer’s new book, Mexico Cocktails: Libations & Inspiration from Top Hotels, Bars & Restaurants around Mexico, which features mouthwatering recipes from the capital and around the nation.
Mexico Travel Inspiration: City of Surprises: 5 Unexpected Things to do in Mexico City
MORE LATIN AMERICA TRAVEL TIPS & INSPIRATION
• How to Get Cheap Flights & Hotel Deals in Latin America, with LatinFlyer.com
• Worst Tourist Ever: 5 Easy Steps to be an “Ugly American” Traveler
• Tying the Knot: Gay Marriage & Destination Weddings in Latin America
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