Looking to escape the winter chill in Middle and South America but aren’t sure where to go? I’ve got you covered. I’ve done some digging and found three winter getaways that offer abundant sunshine and warmth in December.
These are the results from our survey where we asked our visitors for the top 3 best Middle/South America winter sun destinations in December.
The top 3 best Middle/South America winter sun destinations in December are Costa Rica, Chile, and Uruguay. These three countries offer an exceptional combination of stunning landscapes, rich biodiversity, diverse natural and cultural attractions, and perfect weather for outdoor fun.
Read on to learn why each of these countries makes the cut in today’s roundup of the top three winter sun getaways in December.
My top pick for the best winter sun destination in South and Central America for people looking to travel in December is Costa Rica, a small country sandwiched between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. This country is brimming with biodiversity, scenic landscapes, lush rainforests, stunning waterfalls, active volcanoes, and pristine beaches.
While other countries in Central America have plenty of natural attractions, Costa Rica stands out due to its commitment to eco-tourism and the conservation of natural ecosystems. That, along with its investment in safety and tourism infrastructure geared toward both older and young travelers, is why it snags up the top position in today’s round-up post.
Let’s dig deeper into why I think Costa Rica is the perfect winter sun destination in December, especially for snowbirds and 50+ visitors.
Weather is a critical consideration when choosing a winter sun destination. After all, it’s the main reason why many people travel from colder climates to warmer parts of the world in winter.
December marks the start of the dry season in Costa Rica. Days in most parts of the country are warm and sunny with minimal showers. They’re pretty humid too, but that’s usually not a problem given the kind of weather many of us have back at home around this time of the year.
It’s worth noting that temperatures may vary slightly from one part of the country to the next due to topographical differences:
- The coastal areas are the warmest, with average daytime temperatures ranging from 80°F (27°C) to 90°F (32°C) and nighttime temperatures of about 70°F (21°C).
- The Central Valley region (where the country’s capital city is located) is slightly cooler, with average daytime and nighttime temperatures of 70°F (21°C) to 80°F (27°C) and 60°F (16°C), respectively.
- The Caribbean region experiences average daytime temperatures of 75°F (24°C)ー85°F (29°C) and nighttime temperatures in the mid-70s to low 80s°F range (around 24°C to 28°C).
Even with these variations, it’s safe to say that Costa Rica’s favorable conditions allow for all kinds of outdoor fun activities.
This might not be too big of a deal for some people. But if you’re an older person on a restrictive travel budget, it can swing the odds in this country’s favor when you’re choosing a winter sun travel destination.
Costa Rica’s senior discounts are better compared to many parts of Central America (Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, just to name a few), and I can tell you from experience that the little sums they save you can add up over time.
A few examples of places that offer senior discounts in the country include:
- National Parks, such as Manuel Antonio National Park and Arenal Volcano National Park.
- The local bus system.
- Museums and Cultural Sites such as the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica or the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum.
- Hotels and Resorts, particularly those catering to older travelers.
- Certain tour operators and excursion providers, especially during senior-specific promotions.
The size of the discount and eligibility terms and conditions may vary depending on the location and service provider.
If you’re looking to save some money through these discounts, you might want to check ahead of time with the specific service provider you’re going to be dealing with. This way, you’ll know in advance whether you qualify for a senior discount and what documents you need to have with you to do so.
If you love nature, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better location in Central America than Costa Rica. The country’s conservation and sustainability efforts have transformed it into the region’s hub of ecotourism and biodiversity.
More than half of the country is covered in lush forests, most of which are virgin and primary rainforests. That’s not to mention its three UNESCO World Heritage Sites (which are part of its 28 national parks), a coastline stretching over 800 miles (1287), and up to 300 beautiful beaches.
Some of Costa Rica’s top natural attractions include:
- Cahuita national park.
- La Fortuna waterfall.
- Manuel Antonio National Park.
- Tortuguero national park.
- Monteverde cloud forest biodiversity reserve.
- Ecotermales Fortuna.
- Arenal Volcano National Park.
It’s worth noting that the above list doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the country’s long list of natural wonders. Rather, it’s meant to serve as a starting point when you’re trying to figure out what natural attractions make your must-visit list.
Costa Rica’s long-standing reputation as one of Central America’s safest countries is one of its main selling points as a tourist destination. According to the latest Global Peace Index rankings, it’s the most peaceful country in Latin America and the Caribbean. The other two destinations in today’s roundup, Uruguay and Chile, grabbed the 2nd and 3rd positions in the same rankings, respectively.
Keep in mind that some parts of the country are safer than others. And while the country’s crime rate may be lower than many parts of Latin America, you still need to take precautions to avoid falling prey to minor crimes like petty theft.
One of the main benefits of visiting Costa Rica in December is that you get to experience its holiday season. Costa Ricans are known for their hospitality and laid-back, positive outlook on life, and they’re always open to letting visitors indulge in their festivities.
Christmas in Costa Rica is celebrated with a unique blend of religious traditions and cultural customs. Nativity scenes and fireworks are standard, and many towns host parades and street festivals leading up to Christmas. These celebrations usually involve dancing, dressing up in traditional costumes, and processions.
Once Christmas is over, many Costa Ricans turn their attention to the end-of-year Fiestas de Zapote. This week-long festival is held in the last week of December in Zapote, a town not too far east of San Jose (the capital city). It’s packed with all kinds of entertainment and unique experiences. Some of the highlights to look forward to include:
- Traditional Tico bullfighting, locally known as“Toros a la Tica."
- The carnival.
- The country’s largest equestrian parade.
Other festivals to look forward to include Festival de la Luz, Festival de la Yeguita, Fiesta de los Diablitos, and Festival de los Negritos. These are all held in December, but the exact day may vary from year to year.
Uruguay is the perfect winter sun destination for those looking for a more relaxed, sophisticated atmosphere. It’s generally less crowded than many neighboring popular winter sun destinations throughout the year, including the peak season (which begins in December).
The country’s relatively small size also contributes to its reputation as a prime location for those looking to enjoy life at a slower pace. It makes it easier to travel between different regions and puts the various attractions closer to one another. This way, you can explore the country without having to put up with long travel hours.
Uruguay’s weather in December is perfect for outdoor exploration. Thanks to its location in Southern Hemisphere, it experiences summer at the beginning of December (a time when many parts of the Northern Hemisphere are experiencing winter).
In Montevideo, the country’s capital city, the average daytime temperatures range from 67°F(19°C) to 88°F(31°C). Meanwhile, the average nighttime temperatures range from 54°F(12°C) to 70°F(21°C).
Of course, there’s more to Uruguay than great weather. This winter getaway boasts a host of natural attractions, a well-maintained infrastructure, a robust healthcare system, accommodation options for every budget, and a rich, diverse culture. It’s also one of the safest countries in Latin America.
Rounding up our list of the top winter sun destinations in December is a South American country famous for having a little bit of everything as far as tourist attractions go. It’s home to some of the most stunning natural attractions, diverse landscapes, distinguished wine and beer, unique culinary offerings, rich culture and art, and exceptional biodiversity.
Chile is also one of the safest countries in South America. December is a particularly opportune time because it’s the festive season and the start of the summer. Most of the country is warm and sunny, but the exact conditions may vary depending on what part you visit.
Here’s a table summarizing the kind of weather to expect when visiting different parts of the country in December:
Weather conditions in December
Daytime Temperatures: 15°C (59°F) to 30°C (86°F).Rainfall: little and occasional.Sunshine: 8 to 10 hours of sunshine per day.
Daytime Temperatures: 30°C (86°F).Rainfall: very little.Sunshine: 10 to 12 hours of sunshine per day.
Daytime temperatures: 10°C (50°F) to 20°C (68°F).Rainfall: Slightly more frequent than in other regions.Sunshine: 6 to 8 hours of sunshine per day
How this Top 3 list was made
The top 3 list was derived from a survey where we asked about their top destination for a particular month and region. From these results, we made each month a top 3 for North America, the Caribbean, Middle/South America, Europe, and Asia (including the Middle East). Sometimes, we have combined several individual destinations from a single country into the country itself.