THE BLOG

6 Surprising Facts About South America

06/19/2017 08:59 EDT | Updated 06/19/2017 08:59 EDT

You don't need to travel across the pond to be surrounded by world-class architecture, sophisticated culture and Michelin-star dining. You can find all of this in the diverse cities of South America, each with something unique to offer travellers. From majestic waterfalls and Amazonian jungles, to unparalleled cuisine and historical sites, these cities are just begging to be explored.

If that wasn't reason enough we have uncovered some fascinating truths about some of the continent's most breathtaking cities, sure to ignite some serious wanderlust. So, say au revoir to your basic Euro summer trip and hola to your epic South American adventure.

1. Did you know, there's a World Cup for Tango and it's in Buenos Aires, Argentina?

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Every August Buenos Aires holds the world's largest festival dedicated to the passionate dance where elite dancers come to compete. Spanning two weeks, performances, dance classes, art exhibitions and milongas (dance parties) compile the festivities to showcase the sensuality of the Argentine people (And its completely free!) The classic architecture of Buenos Aires provides a beautiful backdrop to the celebrations and makes it a fantastic city to just get lost in.

Where to stay: At the centre of all the action is the appropriately named Tango De Mayo Hotel. Although set within a building that dates from the 1910's, the property's modern interior and rooftop terrace, will make this a stay to remember.

2. You probably won't believe that street art is legal in Bogotá, Colombia

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There aren't many places in the world where street art is legal, let alone encouraged! In Bogota, local businesses and even the government openly support the work that Graffiti Artists do. This has resulted in the street art scene thriving here and the city is now recognized as one of the top places to see quality street art in the world. Bogota is covered in colourful and meaningful artwork that is constantly changing and completely free for visitors to discover and enjoy.

Where to Stay: The lounge at the modern W Hotel Bogotá was designed by street artists and the hotel has a state of the art spa, making this hotel the perfect place to rest your feet after pounding the pavement in search of the latest masterpieces throughout the city.

3. Attention Foodies: Lima, Peru is the food capital of South America

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Lima is the international gateway to Peru and often recognized for being the first stop for adventurers travelling on to Machu Pichu. However, Lima has established itself as a major player in the international culinary community and is now known as the foodie capitol of Latin America.

Highly acclaimed restaurants like Maido and Astrid y Gastón have helped put the city on the map along with the growing food Festival, Mistura, which showcases the best the city has to offer. Taking place at the end of the summer, Mistura 2017 promises to be the festival's biggest year yet making it the perfect excuse to experience Lima for the first time.

Where to stay: The stylish Lot Boutique Hotel suits its trendy neighbourhood of Miraflores perfectly. This area of Lima is home to the world-famous Michelin star restaurant Central, designer shopping and is walking distance to the beach.

4. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has a thriving contemporary art scene

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Rio De Janeiro is best known for it's iconic beaches and vibrant Carnival Festival but there is a lot more to discover in this city. Rio is filled with quirky museums, from the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum that's shaped like a UFO to the futuristic looking Museum of Tomorrow dedicated to climate change and sustainability. You can even take a day trip from the city to Inhotim, an outdoor contemporary art museum built by an eccentric millionaire and surrounded by botanical gardens.

Where to stay: One of the most exciting hotel openings in Rio De Janeiro for 2017 is The Gran Meliá Nacional Rio de Janeiro. Designed by the award winning modernist architect, Oscar Neimeyer, the property has touches of the old and new with restored original art pieces, including a huge sculpture of a mermaid, and contemporary designs throughout.

5. You can see the Milky Way from Copacabana, Bolivia

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Copacabana is technically a town but it's easily accessible from Bolivia's capitol city La Paz and well worth the journey for an experience that's out of this world. Copacabana is the perfect base for exploring the sites of Lake Titicaca where on a clear night you can see the Milky Way with the naked eye. If this experience isn't already on your bucket list, it should be.

Where to stay: In between stargazing, relax at the Hotel Rosario Lago Titicaca. You'll be able to fully immerse yourself in the culture thanks to the colonial architecture of this hotel, which has impressive views over the Lake.

6. Penguins, swimming lizards, and over 400 species of fish call Ecuador's Galapagos Islands home.

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Visiting Ecuador's Galapagos Islands is like stepping into a National Geographic documentary. Each island offers something unique and ranges from barren black volcanic rock to white sand beaches surrounded by gemstone-blue waters. For wildlife lovers, there's plenty to see including penguins, fur seals, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, hawks--the list is endless. Hikers can take pleasure exploring the volcanoes while aquatic enthusiast can swim with the tropical fish. Finally, history buffs can visit the Charles Darwin Research Station and learn why this cluster of islands served as the inspiration for his Theory of Evolution.

Where to stay: The award winning Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel on the island of Santa Cruze is ideally located in the middle of the Galapagos. Set on a private beach the property offers incredible hospitality, Cordon Bleu gastronomy, beach front living and a hammock in each room to truly savour this incredible experience.

All photos are courtesy of Booking.com