The music, the food, the language – Spanish culture has fascinated people for hundreds of years. Spain’s cities, like Madrid, are amazing holiday destinations, but if you want your Spanish a bit closer to the equator, you need to get to Latin America.
Luckily, it’s closer than you think. Iberia has regular flights from Birmingham to many Latin American cities via Madrid. With only one stop and good connection times, you can reach your Latin paradise in no time.
Nicknamed the "Paris of South America", Buenos Aires exudes charm and sophistication. Grand tree-lined avenues, glamorous nightlife, a world-class opera house, and packed football stadiums all contribute to this eclectic and elegant city.
Bring on the night: Porteños know how to party. Nights out start with dinner no earlier than 10pm; clubs close as the sun rises. Popular spots include Frank’s, where you’ll need a password to get in, and Florería Atlántico, hidden under a flower shop.
Learn to tango: Buenos Aires is the birthplace of tango. Its popularity has dwindled with younger generations, but older locals still frequent milongas or tango clubs. La Milonga de los Consagrados is a great place to watch them dance. For professional shows, classic venues like El Viejo Almacén and La Ventana won’t disappoint. If you want to join in, you can take classes at La Catedral.
Beef it up: Steak-lovers – rejoice. Argentina produces some of the world’s best beef, and Buenos Aires is the place to try it. Head to a parrilla or steakhouse to indulge your inner carnivore with every cut imaginable. Visit old standbys like Don Julio’s or La Brigada, or try a newcomer like the popular La Carniceria.
Home to more than a third of Chile's population, Santiago is a bustling metropolis. With a steady economy and two decades of political stability, the city has blossomed into one of Latin America’s best places to live.
Get crafty: Artisanal crafts from throughout Chile can be found in Santiago’s markets. The Santa Lucía craft market is great for cheap, mass-produced souvenirs. For top quality crafts, visit Los Dominicos in the wealthy Las Condes district or the Patio Bellavista in the artsy Bellavista neighbourhood. Seek out alpaca wool garments and deep blue lapis lazuli jewellery.
Discover history: The darkest period of Chile’s recent history was the almost 20-year military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Santiago’s Museum of Memory and Human Rights honours the stories and legacies of those tortured. For a lighter side to Chilean history, visit Pablo Neruda’s house in Santiago to learn more about the country’s most famous poet.
Drink a bottle or two: Chile's unique geography and mild climate make it a vinicultural paradise. Just south of Santiago is the Maipo Valley, Chile’s oldest wine region. Here, you can find large wineries like Concha y Toro, as well as smaller producers like the acclaimed Antiyal vineyard. This region is most famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere wines.
Colourful, musical and historical, Havana is a capital city caught between the old guard and the modern world. Havana now is already vastly different than Havana two years ago, before the U.S. eased restrictions on its citizens travelling and spending money there. Go now to experience it before it changes completely.
Appreciate the architecture: Havana Vieja, or Old Havana, is the best place to see the city’s architectural riches. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, this neighbourhood has hundreds of historic buildings, many of which have been carefully restored. Baroque, Neoclassical, Art Deco – they’re all here. Capitolio Nacional, Edificio Bacardí, and Palacio Cueto are all highlights.
See change underway: Havana is changing fast. Its faded beauty remains – car buffs will marvel at the old models still in use, mass development has yet to begin – but perhaps not for long. As Cuba opens up, it’s the perfect place to see entrepreneurship at work. Dine at a paladar or private restaurant, stay at a casa particular or bed and breakfast, visit one of the latest shops or galleries; their owners are charting new territory.
Feel the beat: From son to salsa, from rumba to reggaeton, from timba to jazz to EDM – Havana pulses with music. Spanish, Caribbean and African influences merge to create a distinctly Cuban sound. The beachfront Jardines del 1830 is the place for live salsa, and you can catch top jazz acts at the intimate La Zorra y el Cuervo club.
Geographically, Miami might not be Latin American, but it is culturally. Hispanic immigration has shaped this energetic city, from waves of Cubans in the 1960s to more recent immigration from countries like Colombia, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic.
Fun for the whole family: Children will love Miami. They can play on the beach all day, roller blade down the boardwalk, go biking and canoeing in Oleta River State Park, and catch starfish at Biscayne Nature Center. At night, mum and dad can go out on the town. Check out live music at the legendary club Hoy Como Ayer, or have a cocktail at a bar in one of South Beach’s iconic Art Deco buildings.
Eat, eat, eat: Dining in Miami is like a culinary tour of Latin America. You can sample Peruvian ceviche, visit a Brazillian churrascaria for all-you-can-eat meat, or taste test both Colombian and Venezuelan arepas. For Cuban classics, head to Little Havana – breakfast at the historic Versailles bakery, a Cuban sandwich for lunch, and seafood at El Cristo for dinner.
Hit the beach: No trip to Miami would be complete without a day or two at the beach. Miami’s easily accessible beaches are great for swimming, sunbathing, kite surfing, jet skiing, paddle boarding, people watching and more. South Beach is famous, Bal Harbour is glitzy, and residential spots like Surfside offer a family vibe. Slightly further afield are the beautiful beaches of Key Biscayne.