With its gorgeous beaches, fascinating forests, vibrant cities and captivating cultures, South America is a real winner with the whole family. Whether you’re travelling with tricky toddlers or bored adolescents, Latin America will keep you coming back for more.
This blog runs through a few of the most kid-friendly options in our favorite top South American destinations. If you’d like more detailed info for a city or region, simply hit up one of our Destination Experts – that’s what we’re here for…
Nicknamed the ‘Paris of South America’, Buenos Aires is a thriving cultural mecca if ever there was one. Many of its main attractions are kiddy-friendly and there are also loads of spots designed specifically for little ones. Spots like the Museo Prohibo No Tocar (the ‘Forbidden Not To Touch Museum’) and the Buenos Aires Toy Museum will make you feel young again…
Museo Prohibido No Tocar
Youngsters also dig the Casa Rosada (free tours in English on the weekends), the striking pink building that’s home to the Argentine President’s offices and is most famous for being the place where Eva Perón addressed the crowds of supporters gathered in Plaza de Mayo. If Junior’s in need of some fresh air, the Costanera Sur is a wonderfully wild green lung in the heart of the city. Alternatively, catch the atmospheric Tren de La Costa to Tigre, where you can enjoy a boat cruise that’ll redefine your understanding of the term ‘urban jungle’.
With myriad children’s museums and parks, not to mention events and classes aimed specifically at kids, Santiago de Chile is a top destination for family holidays. The climb to the top of Santa Lucia Hill in the heart of downtown Santiago won’t just give you great views of the city, it’ll also burn off some much-needed energy. If your kids are a bit older, outdoor markets such as Centro Artesanal de Santa Lucia and the street market on Calle Pio Nono have loads of interesting stalls to explore and plenty of bargains on hand.
Inside Artequin (Photo: Taecilla)
Housed in a striking, centuries-old steel and glass palace, Artequin is all about introducing young ones to the world’s best paintings, while Junior can lie on a bed of nails at the Museo Interactivo Mirador or paint with light at La Moneda Cultural Center. For more detail (and loads of other ideas) check out this great blog on kiddy-friendly Santiago.
Rio may be best known for the all-night partying during carnival (and the other 11 months of the year!) but with perfect beaches, soaring cliffs, super-friendly people and a whole host of outlets for adrenaline junkies of all ages, it really is the ultimate family city. Spend a day (or four) on the beach at Ipanema or Copacabana, or – if you’re feeling a little more energetic – rent bikes and ride along the beachfront. Boasting an incredible cable car ride and dizzying views from the top, Rio’s most famous landmark, Sugarloaf Mountain, is a real hit with the kids. Less well-known, but just as cool is the idyllic Jardim Botânico: great playground, stunning gardens and loads of walking trails.
Soccer on the beach (Photo: Nan Palmero)
In Cusco – the gateway to Machu Picchu – the Choco museum offers delightful chocolate workshops for kids while the hotel Palacio Manco Capac runs Peruvian cooking classes for all ages. Besides most of the city’s main attractions are great for families: There’s always plenty going on at the Plaza de Armas and kids love spotting the guinea pig in the Last Supper painting in the cathedral.
Cacao fruit and seeds in the Choco Museo (Photo: Shriram Rajagopalan)
Located at an altitude of 11,000ft, Cusco is higher than most children (and adults!) are used to. If you’re traveling with really young ones you should probably consult with your pediatrician before you travel. But either way, it’s a good idea to bring some medication and to be on the lookout for symptoms which include dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting.
The Amazon rainforest is one of the world’s most incredible natural classrooms and – in recent years – many of the lodges have upped their games with specialized family programs. Refugio Amazonas, for example, gives kids the chance to explore local trails while following the engaging story of Ania, a young girl who calls the rainforest home. Not only does this program offer great entertainment for children, it also teaches them to value their connection to the earth.
Kids’ programs aside, what’s not to love about the haunting call of a howler monkey or the picture postcard cuteness of a family of squirrel monkeys? The natural kaleidoscope that is a macaw in full flight and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with giant river otters.
Like the Amazon, the Galapagos is a truly mind-boggling natural classroom. That said, many of the cruise boats have age restrictions which is why we often recommend a land-based itinerary for younger families. From exciting bird sightings to snorkeling and kayaking, there’s plenty to do on the islands themselves. The Charles Darwin Research Station runs engaging educational programs which offer children the opportunity to learn more about conservation. A visit to the turtle breeding ground is a once in a lifetime experience for all ages.
A family affair (Photo: Pete)
If you’re set on a cruise, La Pinta offers fun kids programs, while the Legend has a glass bottom boat on board so that families can explore the fascinating underwater world without going snorkeling.
The lodges in both Argentine and Chilean Patagonia are used to accommodating families. In Torres del Paine you can choose between a 30-minute stroll in the mountain and a multi-day horseback riding adventure depending on the age of your party, while the primary attraction in El Calafate (Arg. Patagonia) is the shimmering Perito Moreno glacier, which consists of short, kiddy-friendly pathways to lookout points and a boat ride all the way to the face of the glacier. Penguins, horses and llamas make traveling in the region fascinating of for kids and adventurous teens can enjoy kayaking, rafting and top-notch fly-fishing…
Guanacos (Photo: Payayita)
Now that you know more about travelling in South America with kids, contact us to plan the ultimate South American family adventure. We’d love to craft a bespoke itinerary for you.