Everyone wants to visit cool places. No one fills their bucket list is filled with mediocre destinations; what would be the point?

Instead, travelers often seek adventure, beauty, and unique experiences.

National Geographic understands the desire to explore places that are both popular and off the beaten path. Thus, they’ve created their 2024 Cool List, with some of the world’s most exciting places to visit.

If you’re looking for some new places to add to your 2024 travel list, then here are four countries, Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Mexico, that offer fun and remarkable experiences.

1. Atacama Desert, Chile

You may be wondering why a desert made this list. Surprisingly, it’s not because this area hosts festivals and other wild parties similar to the desert areas of Burning Man and other music festivals. Instead of an empty wasteland, nature puts on its own show, which, of course, makes this place cool. 

The Atacama desert is home to what is known as a super bloom, a natural phenomenon in which hundreds of flowers sprout from the parched ground.

Because of this rare event, this desert has received national recognition. The government of Chile named the area a national park to protect the delicate blooming ecosystem.

guy sitting in a desert looking up at the night sky filled with stars

When travelers come to this area, they mostly gravitate to the San Pedro de Atacama area because of its wide assortment of things to do. If you’re more of an adventure traveler, you can enjoy mountaineering, biking, off-roading, paragliding, and sandboarding.

For visitors who are more relaxed when traveling, the area offers a vibrant downtown center with unique shops and authentic restaurants. You can also enjoy yourself by visiting natural hot springs.

However, the main attraction is stargazing in the desert at night.

Remember that if you want to visit this desert oasis from abroad, you’ll have to fly into a major city such as Santiago and fly locally or take a bus.

2. Lima, Peru

Lima makes the cool list for many tasty reasons. The city is filled with Michelin-starred restaurants and trendy rooftop bars, which is one of the reasons this city made the list.

In addition to pleasing tourists with tasty local dishes such as ceviche and picarone (Peru’s healthier version of donuts), visitors can also learn how to make famous Peruvian dishes.

aerial view of lima. peru

In the vibrant neighborhood of Miraflores, you can spend time with local Peruvian chefs to learn how to make the country’s signature dishes.

Lima also offers you the chance to experience history and culture with pre-Inca ruins at the center of Huaca Puccllana.

And the city has as much to offer during the day as it does at night. When the sunsets, the district of Barranco becomes a party capital.

3. Iberá Wetlands, Argentina

A once-abused wetland that endured years of cattle ranching and commercial foresting has since been transformed into an exotic place filled with wildlife. How can a place known for being home to over 4,000 animal and plant species not be considered cool?

small alligator in the wetlands

From the indigenous Guaraní language, I–Berá being “shining waters”, it is home to deers, alligators, monkeys, and various species of birds. The wetlands are also home to several indigenous communities that have lived there since the 9th century—a refreshing fact since over-tourism has stripped many places of their authentic beauty.

Located in the northern and tropical area of the Corrientes Province in Argentina, the location is somewhat remote. Fortunately, it is accessible by plane from Buenos Aires to the Posada airport.

bridge above water

4. Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Mexico has risen in popularity with digital nomads and travelers alike. It’s no wonder that the Yucatan Peninsula, home to the infamous Mexcian Riviera, has made the cool list. Made up of four states, Tabasco, Quanta Roo, Campeche, and Yucatan, the Peninsula is a place of diversity and beauty.

Merida, Mexico. Plaza Grande, charming spanish colonial city downtown in Yucatan Peniunsula colored houses architecture

From pink lakes to cenotes, the area has endless natural wonders visitors can explore.

While the main attraction in the Peninsula tends to be popular beach towns such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen, there are many other attractive towns that can captivate visitors.

The Pink Colored Las Coloradas Lake Near Rio Lagartos, State Of Yucatan, Mexico

Tucked into the Peninsula are magic towns such as Izamal, known for its vibrant yellow walls.

There is also Tekax, home to caves and Mayan ruins. And, of course, there are the stunning beaches in Merida along what is known as the Emerald Coast.

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