Everyone’s all abuzz about the 2014 FIFA World Cup, especially with Team USA set to face off against Belgium today.
And while all eyes are on Rio at the moment, this quadrennial event has a history of being hosted in great locations around the world — beside everything from golden sandy beaches to destinations framed by a colossal mountain range. Check out our list of the best World Cup host countries worth visiting – and start hatching plans for your next trip.
Having hosted one of the earlier World Cups in 1962, Chile blew up on the international travel radar. Obscured by an intriguing history of Inca rule and indigenous Mapuche tribes, this long narrow strip of South America encompasses a diverse terrain, from parched deserts to mesmerizing fields of glaciers.
So good it’s been selected to host the World Cup twice – in 1970 and then again in 1986 – Mexico is a destination for all kinds of travelers. If you’re the intrepid exploring type, venture through the jungles and snow-capped volcanoes, or explore the towering pyramids and ancient Mayan temples. Or simply take your pick of beaches, and go snorkeling amid the tropical coral reefs.
Between the buzz of Buenos Aires and the culture of Córdoba, everyone loves an excuse to escape to Argentina. Following the 1978 FIFA World Cup that was hosted here, visitors also began to open their eyes to what lies beyond the city: the natural wonders of Patagonia, the terrific Iguazú Falls and the towering Andes to name a few things.
It goes without saying, there’s no place like France. This alluring nation of vineyards and chateaux contains one of the proudest soccer teams in the world, which hosted both the 1938 and 1998 World Cups. The country is divided into subcategories of pockets and regions, from the relaxed lifestyle of le Midi to the Celtic influence of Bretagne. Paris is a world all its own, where the some settle down into elegant Haussmann mansions, while artists philosophize on the banks of the Seine.
Still topping our travel bucket list since the last FIFA World Cup in 2010, South Africa is perhaps the ultimate destination. Between Cape Town’s vibrant nightclubs and the epic safaris at Kruger National Park, hippos in the Limpopo River and the famous Stellenbosch vineyards, this place has it all. And that’s not to mention the iconic Table Mountain – or the penguins on the beaches at Cape Peninsula. We’ll take it.
Featured image: © CelsoDiniz/iStock/Thinkstock
Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to… whose guides cover all the best hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, sights, shops and spas.