South America has something for everyone. From snow-capped mountains to white sand beaches and colonial history to Caribbean charm, its landscapes and people never cease to amaze. As a place to escape winter, it has it all!
As summer becomes a distant memory here in the northern hemisphere, things are just hotting up down south. And whilst we can’t complain after what’s been a formidable summer, some of us just can’t bear to swap strappy sandals for cosy boots. If this is you, packing your bags and heading to South America might just be what the doctor ordered. And if it’s all in the name of education, who are we to argue?
We’re excited to offer Spanish courses in some of South America’s most vibrant destinations and, in an effort to help you narrow down the options, here are our top 6 to escape to this winter. Digest, dream…and plan away!
1. Buenos Aires
We say it all the time, but only because it’s true: this elegant capital city of Argentina is quite simply a must-see. Decidedly more European than South American in flavour, Buenos Aires boasts stylish shops, sumptuous restaurants and quaint cafés, and its air is filled day and night with the sultry rhythms of tango and the sizzle of succulent steaks on the grill. Nothing more to do but soak it all up with a glass of local Malbec in hand.
2. Santiago de Chile
On the other side of the continent sits Santiago, the modern and cosmopolitan capital of Chile. Boasting a stunning setting on a plain with the magnificent backdrop of the Andes, Santiago offers a wealth of arts and culture alongside superb outdoor pursuits. Fresh powder skiing one day, wine tasting another, sunbathing on a beach the next…you won’t be stuck for activities to do after class, many of which are included in the school’s brilliant activities programme, along with horse riding, trekking, rafting, cooking lessons and more!
Peru’s capital city was once one of South America’s most powerful and richest cities, and glimpses of its glorious past today mix with its vibrant present. Colonial mansions, impressive museums, cutting edge art and a thriving nightlife are good enough reasons to visit, but Lima is also busy building itself a reputation as something of a gastronomic mecca. Its cuisine is a delightful reflection of the city’s rich cultural history and enviable coastal location, a mix of Spanish, African and Asian influences alongside signature seafood dishes such as ceviche. You might come here to explore the city’s history but your taste buds will thank you for it.
Bogota has turned itself around quite impressively in recent years. Visitors to the city can today enjoy the capital’s colonial treasures, glittering pre-Colombian art, enticing restaurants and diverse intellectual life in a much cleaner and safer environment than of recent years. And those coming to learn Spanish can feel suitably smug that the Spanish spoken here is supposedly the purest in the New World. Even if you’re heading to other parts of Colombia, make sure you spend some time here in its capital to surround yourself in history and chat to the inherently friendly locals.
If your number one objective is to seek an antidote to winter back home, Cartagena is likely to seduce you in a second. This beautiful colonial city on Colombia’s northern Caribbean coast is utterly mesmerising; glistening under the sun, it is a place of dreams and long-forgotten times. Horse-drawn carriages are as common a sight as glorious pink bougainvilla spilling from balconies above, while quaint cobbled streets lead to magnificent churches and shady plazas where café colombiano can be sipped to the distant beat of salsa. Don’t come here with much of an itinerary because this is a place to lose yourself, and maybe accidentally forget to leave.
History, romance and intrigue…it’s all here to lap up in Cuba’s iconic capital. This Caribbean outpost of communism is a must-see for reasons too long to list: elegant colonial palaces, faded pastel façades, classic American cars, the legend of Che Guevara, infectious salsa beats and a non-stop nightlife might well be some. Stepping into the shoes of Hemingway, mojito in hand, could well be another. Whatever your reason for coming, Havana won’t disappoint. As you bask under the Caribbean sun and soak it all up, winter back home will be the last thing on your mind. Winter…what winter?
Cactus offers Spanish courses in countries across Central and South America, as well as in Spain. We also run evening Spanish courses in the UK, which are the perfect way to learn the basics or brush up before you go.