La Catedral de León. Photo © Carles-Amalaric Navarro Parcerisas/123rf.

A Walking Tour of León’s Churches

A walking tour is the most enjoyable and effective way to treat yourself to the impressive architecture of León’s churches. Ranging from the 16th to 18th centuries, these churches showcase colonial, baroque, and neoclassical styles, and sometimes combine two or even all three with brilliant results. Start at La Catedral de León, near the central park, then head either northeast or southwest.

Parque Nacional El Imposible in western El Salvador. Photo © Jaime Jacques.

Planning Your Time in Western El Salvador

Four to five days is a good amount of time to really enjoy western El Salvador. Here you’ll find El Salvador’s perennial favorite the Ruta de Las Flores, a 40-kilometer winding road framed with wild flowers and punctuated by charming towns. To plan your own travels, our expert author has advice on where to go, when to go, and what not to miss.

A painted lion statue in the Plaza de Leon. Photo © Micah Craig, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Ponce’s Plaza de las Delicias

Ponce’s Plaza de las Delicias is a bustling Spanish colonial plaza surrounded by many lovely 19th-century buildings. Filled with vendors of all kinds by day and music every evening, here’s what to see and do in this beautiful gathering spot.

The Camino Real between Barichara and Guane. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Traveling Barichara’s Camino Real

A must-do activity in Barichara is to take the 5.3-kilometer Camino Real path to the pueblo of Guane. It’s a lovely path that zigzags down from the plateau of Barichara through farmland, affording nice views of the countryside. You don’t need a guide: It’s well marked, well trodden, and safe.

Iglesia San Francisco in Old Town Quito. Photo © Paul Prescott/123rf.

Sights in Quito’s Old Town

Quito’s Old Town is what makes the city famous, containing a huge number of colonial churches and religious buildings set around elegant plazas. Old Town is cleaner, safer, and a joy to wander around following a recent multimillion-dollar regeneration. While there are excellent guided maps and multilingual tours to be had, independent travelers will find exploring easy with expert author Ben Westwood’s account of the area.

Quito Ecuador 123rf

Discover Quito, Ecuador’s Capital City

Ecuador’s capital is a city that scales many heights, not least in terms of elevation. Quito is an intriguing mix of old and new: colonial squares and concrete office blocks, traditional markets and modern malls, indigenous artisans and fashion-conscious professionals—and this diversity allows visitors to have the best of both worlds.

View of Antigua from Cerro de la Cruz. Photo © Al Argueta.

Planning Your Time in La Antigua, The Old Guatemala

The former capital of Guatemala destroyed by earthquakes in 1773 is now known as Antigua, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rather than rebuild, the country’s aristocracy opted for a fresh start. What remains today is a pleasant mixture of Mayan and Spanish colonial influences. Plan your time around exploring the town, its ruins, museums, and churches, maybe climbing a volcano, visiting a coffee farm, and some shopping.

Antigua's lovely Parque Central. Photo © Al Argueta.

Sights in Antigua’s Parque Central

Antigua’s Parque Central is easily the most beautiful plaza in Guatemala and forms the hub of activity for shoe shiners, strolling lovers, tour groups, ice cream vendors, and foreign visitors. A great place for a stroll or people-watch, there are also plenty of sights to see, from historical cathedrals and incredible architecture to informative museums.

Colonial-era church in San Rafael de Escazú. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Spending Time in Escazú, Costa Rica

Though officially part of metropolitan San José, Escazú is divided from the capital by a hill range and river canyon and is so individualistic that it functions virtually as a sister city. On top of that, there are actually three Escazús, each with its own church, patron saint, and character worth exploring. Learn about the individual vibes of San Rafael, San Miguel, and San Antonio, and the sights to see.

Parque Gran Colombiano. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Where to Go in Norte de Santander, Colombia

In the department of Norte de Santander, visitors are drawn to Pamplona, a charming and cool highland town that was important during the colonial era, and Cúcuta, a large, boiling hot commercial city and gateway to Venezuela. Here are notable sights, highlights, and things to do.