Best Colonial Towns in Latin America

Places such as Antigua, Trujillo, Cartagena, and Cuzco are without a doubt, some of the most popular colonial cities in Latin America where you can appreciate the rich Spanish colonial past.

However, if you really want to enjoy a glimpse of colonial life without the huge crowds, there is no doubt that the smaller colonial towns are the best bets because of their much more laid-back and friendlier atmosphere. Below we've rounded up some of the must see colonial towns in the Americas. They are as follows:

San Sebastian, Mexico

San Sebastian is located in the province of Jalisco, just two hours drive from the touristy spot of Puerto Vallarta Mexico. San Sebastian is definitely one of the best colonial towns in Latin America where you can get a great colonial feel of days gone by. Less than 900 people live in San Sebastian, and while the town hasn't been touched in over 100 years most of the building and cobblestone streets are still in good condition.
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You can easily explore the town on foot and visit the town’s church, and shops where you can buy hand made goods such as silver jewelry, paintings, and traditional garments. There are also various tour companies based in the San Sebastian so you’ll be able to book all kind of tours including bus, horseback, and ATV tours of the surrounded area.

Trinidad, Cuba

The town of Trinidad is located in the province of Sancti Spiritus, and just a few miles from the beautiful waters of the Caribbean Sea.Trinidad isn't just one of the top destinations in Cuba, but it’s also one of the best colonial towns in Latin America where you can admire the beautiful colorful houses, and walk along centuries-old cobblestone streets.
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Trinidad boasts lovely churches and museums you can visit such as the National Museum of Fight Against Bandits, which boasts a climbable bell tower where you can get nice views of Trinidad and the countryside in the distance.

Diamantina, Brazil

Diamantina is located in the state of Minas Gerais, and it’s another of the best colonial towns in Latin America as it is one of the few diamond mining towns built in the 18th century.

The mountain town of Diamantina is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which isn’t surprising since Diamantina is one of the most pristine colonial towns in Brazil. Diamantina boasts lovely cobblestone roads and stunning houses and mansions such as “Casa Chica da Silva” which is open to the public for tours.

There are also other attractions in and around Diamantina that you can visit such as:

-the Diamond Museum: boasts interesting artifacts from the colonial era such as weapons, gold coins, grading diamond equipment, etc.

-Salitre Cave: is a stunning quartzite cave located 3 miles southeast of Diamantina that resembles the appearance of a fortified castle.

-Slave Path: is a six miles paved road built by the slaves in the 18th century to transport the precious metals found in Diamantina to Aracuai.

Nicoya, Costa Rica

The town of Nicoya is located in the province of Guanacaste, half way between the national parks of Diria and Barra Honda. Nicoya is without a doubt, one of the best colonial towns in Latin America as it was one of first colonial settlements built in the region known today as “Central America”.
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Nicoya is a small town when compared to other colonial towns, though it does boast one of the oldest churches in the Americas (Nicoya Church). Nicoya Church was built in late 1600’s and boasts a neat museum with interesting religious artifacts on display such as the midden, and the votive offering.

Las Tablas, Panama

The town of Las Tablas is located in the province of Los Santos, just 30 minutes drive south of the city of Chitre, and it's no doubt one of the hidden gems in Panama. Las Tablas is definitely one of the best colonial towns in Latin America because of its colonial countryside feel and its close location to Playa Blanca beach.

If you do plan to visit Las Tablas, be sure to travel to Las Tablas during February to coincide with carnival season as the town really comes alive. You’ll get to see amazing parades and people dressed in beautiful costumes, as well as mingle with locals and have an amazing time.

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