couple walking in colonia del sacramento

Colonia de Sacramento is a Uruguayan Colonial town originally founded by the Portuguese. (Photo: Alamy)

Tips + Trends

Summer in South America Is All Kinds of Hot: Here’s Where to Travel

While winter in North America brings long nights and low temperatures, during the same stretch of months, the continent’s south is heating up for summer — with short sleeves, warm temperatures and fun-filled days. Experience all of South America’s summer diversity at these sun-lover destinations.

Viña del Mar: A Stately Marina

Viña del Mar’s name may sound familiar because the most important song festival in the region is held there. Regardless, this Chilean port offers so much more during the summer. Located just over an hour from Santiago, visitors will find more than 13 quaint beaches surrounded by the Pacific Ocean.

Reñaca is the most popular due to its bars and restaurants. If the plan is to relax, opt for Cochoa, but if accompanied by family, Los Marineros is recommended for its selection of children’s games.

waves crashing along vina del mar coast
You’ll find more than 13 quaint beaches surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. (Photo: Image Source/Getty Images)

By the way, did you know that Viña del Mar is known as the Ciudad Jardín (Garden City)? This is due to its large green areas which rival the beauty of 19th and 20th century mansions flanking the streets of Cerro Castillo—the city’s most charming neighborhood.

In order to imagine how it looked during its heyday, take a stroll by the Mackay or Consigliere mansions—both good examples of European-inspired architecture in America. And speaking of architecture and landscaping, day trippers mustn’t leave without first visiting the Jardín Botánico Nacional (National Botanical Garden)—postcard-worthy for its pavilions and lakes.

Bariloche: Adrenaline in the Mountains

On the other side of the Andes, Argentina’s Bariloche has become famous for its winter parks—perfect for skiing at the highest level. But during the summer, history changes and the snowy tracks of July or August give way to trekking and mountain bike trails from December to February.

The most popular is the Circuito Chico, a route that departs from the city center and borders the beautiful blue waters of the Nahuel Huapi lake before entering the Llao Llao plains—in order to spot forests and panoramic lakes. When electing this circuit, be sure to stop at Colonia Suiza, a picturesque town seemingly extracted from the Swiss Alps.

bikers on bridge in bariloche
Summer brings life to trekking and mountain bike trails. (Photo: Pawel Toczynski/Getty Images)

In Bariloche, the summer heat also makes it possible to practice golf. The most recognized courses are Arelauquen and Llao Llao—both world-class and framed by mountains. But if your idea of summer is synonymous with diving, then take a dip in Lake Gutiérrez and lounge on its beaches fronting a panorama of green forests and kayakers.

Colonia del Sacramento and its Melancholy

Originally founded by the Portuguese, this Uruguayan colonial town features a main street called Calle de los Suspiros (Street of Sighs)—a name that offers travelers a good idea of the town’s bucolic spirit.

Visitors will witness a cobbled avenue flanked with houses boasting more than 200 years of history, that have since been transformed into cafes, boutiques as well as street artists and musicians and the opportunity to visit its art galleries.

The Faro de Colonia del Sacramento lighthouse is also historical and worthy of photos. Instead of attracting ships it is more frequented by tourists, who queue to climb to the top and see one of the most spectacular views of Uruguay. Our suggestion is to visit early in order to avoid crowds.

If you are a beach lover, you should know that Real de San Carlos, Balneario Municipal and Ferrando are the most popular beaches for their calm surf and beautiful sunsets.

Porto Alegre: Perfect Name

Of course, no South American summer destination list is complete without including Brazil. Porto Alegre (Happy Port) is a cosmopolitan and lively metropolis located in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul.

It offers cultural venues, dreamy beaches as well as music, dance and theater festivals for the whole family. In addition, unlike other Brazilian cities, its maximum temperatures don’t generally exceed 30ºC (86ºF), so guests can enjoy the outdoors with ease.

At the Parque Farroupilha park visitors can enjoy the pleasant shade of its meadows planted with flower-sprouting trees and palms, as well as its glistening waters. All the while witnessing many passersby sipping mate—a very popular infusion also found in Uruguay and Argentina.

Another trait that the natives of Porto Bello share with their Spanish-speaking neighbors is the custom of cooking churrascos (steak) and the term gaúchos (skilled horsemen), signaling the lowlands identity they share.