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The Cities of South America
Whatever your travel interests may be South America has many diverse travel opportunities. From exploring the ancient ruins, to outdoor adventures, to partying at all the hotspots, a trip to the continent will be a memorable one. Listed below is a brief outline of the best highlights each capital city has to offer.

Buenos Aires

With it's lovely, tree-lined avenues, vibrant café culture, and bustling streets, Buenos Aires is the most European of all the South American cities. For travelers, the city offers a glimpse into the architectural legacy left behind from the colonial days as well as many delights distinctive to the area: the famous Argentine steak, tango clubs, and futbol.

Rio

Called the most beautiful city in the world by travelers and inhabitants, Rio definitely lives up to its reputation. The city is nestled in between lush mountains and the ocean, an unlikely setting of natural beauty in such a lively city. The internationally famous beach culture is also quite an experience. Rio has the rare combination of natural beauty and a bustling metropolis, which makes it a popular vacation destination.

Lima

Lying under a blanket of mist and on a coast lined with sand dunes, Lima serves as Peru's cultural and financial hub. It is also the first stop on the way to the Incan Empire, a national treasure that attracts thousands of travelers each year. Compared to other South American cities, Lima is slower paced, making it seem more like a cluster of small villages rather than a rushed city. On your way to the Incan ruins enjoy dinner at one of many excellent restaurants, shop at an open marketplace, or stop by a pena for a drink and some live folk music.

Santiago de Chile

Still recovering from the Pinochet dictatorship, Santiago continues to reinvent itself, which has resulted in a significant advancement in the arts, nightlife, and restaurant scene. Today it is a popular home base for excursions to Patagonia and the beautiful Lake District. Santiago make lack the charm and sophistication of other South American cities such as Buenos Aires and Rio, but few places are in such close proximity to wineries, beaches, and the Andes Mountains.

Other Capitals of South America

Quito, one of the highest capital cities in the world (9,300 ft), has an interesting mix of colonial era buildings and modern skyscrapers. It is also only two hours away from cloud forests, glaciers, and the world's highest active volcano. 130 miles east of Buenos Aires on the banks of the Rio de la Plata, lay Montevideo, which has one of the richest collections of architecture on the continent. Caracas serves as the cultural and financial center of Venezuela, which is made up of Art Deco and postmodern architecture.

Because of its dynamic past, each city in South America has its own distinct cultural offerings and highlights. What one city lacks in sophistication it makes up for in natural beauty and so on, as travelers make their way through a continent still inventing itself while grounded by a rich heritage. Because of its long history, many of the capital cities have layers of architectural and cultural wonders of the colonial era, the indigenous peoples, and the ancient civilizations.
About the Author
Michael Zurakhinsky has been a professional travel writer for over seven years. He is an editor to the website All About South America Travel - an online travel guide to South America.
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