Best Holiday Getaways in South America, Mexico and the BahamasBy Lebawit Lily Girma
From Buenos Aires and Lima to Santiago, Mexico City and the Bahamas, the holiday season’s sunny, temperate weather is excuse enough to venture out and explore in December and January.
And these destinations offer many more reasons and ways to beat the crowds and experience new activities, neighborhoods or landscapes as you wrap up the year and recharge your batteries.
As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.
There is no shortage of relaxing nature escapes across the Bahamas’ archipelago.
In Nassau, go for a history and food walk with Tru Bahamian Food Tours. Or you could head to Potter’s Cay Dock, below the bridge that leads to Paradise Island, where you’ll find dozens of outdoor conch stalls. Enjoy a few hours by the seaside with a fresh conch salad made while you watch, washed down with cold Kalik beers.
Catch a ferry from Nassau to Governor’s Harbour on Eleuthera for a getaway from the bustle. Eleuthera offers one of the most secluded options among the out islands, with spacious beaches and open-air nature wonders like the Glass Window Bridge, where you watch the Atlantic Ocean crash into the Caribbean and gaze at a dramatic rocky landscape and caves.
There’s no shortage of things to do in Mexico City, especially during the holidays. Start the day with a food tour that guides you through La Merced Market, or venture into the section of Mercado de Sonora where secret potions for remedies and talismans are sold.
Take a half day to visit the pyramids of Teotihuacan, less than an hour northeast, built by hand thousands of years before the Aztecs arrived. Hike up the sun and moon temples to appreciate what was once Mexico’s largest city.
For a quick change of scenery, day trip to the hilly, colonial town of Taxco, one of Mexico’s designated “pueblos mágicos.” Just two hours southwest of Mexico City, Taxco is also known as the “city of silver” because it used to be the hub of silver mining. Take your time exploring this historic town on foot, eating and shopping from local silver jewelry artisans along the way.
Make it a weekend of art, shopping and relaxation in Buenos Aires. Head to San Telmo market for outdoor brunch, meandering among the market antique shops afterward.
From there, walk over to Fundación Proa, a contemporary art museum, and pay a visit to its coffee shop, which boasts an outdoor deck with river views and an on-site bookstore. Keep wandering in this vibrant Italian-influenced neighborhood known as La Boca, where in normal times, sidewalks are busy with musicians and dancers. Enjoy the riverside breeze along the neighborhood boardwalk.
Take a late-afternoon walk in Bosques de Palermo park and its gorgeous rose garden before moving over to the adjacent Sivori Café. A Parrilla Tour is also a good idea for meat lovers and a great way to discover new restaurants across Buenos Aires’ eclectic neighborhoods.
For a quick half-day city nature break, visit the town of Tigre, a half-hour drive north of Buenos Aires. Set alongside the Lujan River, this local escape has charming streets and a waterfront boulevard, as well as museums and historic homes. Hop on a private boat tour to take you through the Parana Delta, where you’ll glimpse local riverside homes as well as bird life along the river’s multiple waterways and canals.
Start your day with a hike up San Cristobal for hilly views of Peru’s capital. You could also hop on a free walking tour of Barranco, Lima’s artsy neighborhood lined with eateries, murals and colorful buildings. Head toward the boardwalk afterward and take in the stunning cliff views over the Pacific Ocean.
In the evening, stroll along Parque Kennedy in Miraflores for some holiday vibes and refreshing breezes. December is for beach time, so spend a sea and sand day south of the city — the options abound, from Punta Hermosa to Playa Pulpos, Playa El Silencio, Punta Negra and Playa San Bartolo. Among the least crowded is Pucusana, a quiet fishing village known for its fresh ceviche and relaxing beach. If you’re not up for lazing about, go on an adrenaline pumping adventure by signing up for paragliding over Lima’s stunning Pacific coastline.
A quick trip to the ruins of Pachacamac, an hour southeast of Lima, is another fascinating way to enjoy the outdoors while taking in the rich history of Lima. The ruins predate the Inca and are surrounded by a sandy desert area overlooking the capital. There’s a museum on site as well as guides.
For New Year’s, escape to Paracas National Reserve and the Ballestas Islands for a boat tour of the area’s stunning rocky landscapes, where you’ll be able to spot birds and sea lions. From there, you could continue your adventure with a stop in the small town of Ica, where locals swear by the pisco sours.
Often mistaken for an uneventful city, Santiago offers more than meets the eye when you’re willing to wander its neighborhoods and experience its pace without fixed plans. Meander around its bohemian neighborhood, Bellavista, where you can admire street art and relax in cafés.
For even more street art, head to Museo a Cielo Abierto in the San Miguel District, which houses more than 40 murals. Persa Bio Bio is a fun flea market to dig up a memorable piece to take home before settling down at one of its open-air sidewalk restaurants.
One of Santiago’s greatest perks is its vineyards, which begin less than a half hour east of the city. Take to two wheels on a vineyard by bike tour or hop in the car and drive to either Viña Cousiño Macul or Viña Santa Carolina for a tasting.
To explore further afield, a nature break and fresh air await at Maipo Canyon — a day trip that’s worth it for the stunning Chilean landscape of canyons and valleys you’ll encounter.