Stunning South America Sites

Five must-visit attractions for cruisers to South America

The Orient-Express Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu is an easier, faster alternative to a 4-day Inca Trail hike.
South America is full of startling contrasts for travelers: one day may be filled with ancient sites and mysterious cultures of the past, while the next offers modern marvels and hip, contemporary cities. The following five sites are some of the best the continent has to offer, making them must-visit attractions during a port call or a pre- or post-cruise stay.

Cartagena, Columbia: Cartagena is a city on the rise. Dramatic growth in restaurants, hotels, and attractions are transforming this city into an increasingly popular tourist destination, particularly in the Ciudad Amurallada, the oldest part of the city where renovations are most apparent. Beachfront hotels are also launching along the coast, making modern Cartagena a must-see city.

Beaches of Punta del Este, Uruguay: This is the place to grab a towel and spend a day laying out on the beach. Punta del Este is one of South America’s most elite and elegant destinations, attracting jet-setters from around the world. Some of the coastal town’s best beaches include La Barra in the Mondono district, though there are many other popular options. In summer, small restaurants operate beach service in most areas.

Cristo Monument (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil): Rio’s Statue of Christ the Redeemer is one of the most recognizable sites in the world, and one well worth seeing in person. And while the impressive statue is the main draw, the stunning panoramic views from its perch make this excursion a must.

Machu Picchu: Imagine the majestic Andean mountains descending into lush green valleys along the edge of the Amazon rainforest. This is the setting of Machu Picchu, one of the world’s most famous ancient sites. The 15th-century Incan capital can be reached by a challenging four-day hike, or via the retro yet luxurious Orient-Express Hiram Bingham train. However you get there, the Lost City of the Incas is not to be missed.

Ipanema Beach (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil): This world-famous beach is the ideal spot to get a taste of the Rio de Janeiro lifestyle. While it may be crowded, the scenery is beautiful and the people watching offers added entertainment value. The compact neighborhood surrounding the beach is a great place to wander, full of hip shops, restaurants, bars, and nightlife.

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