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11 Beautiful Latin American Cities With Top Universities

Not studying abroad while being a university student? You are certainly missing out on all the fun. It’s time to reconsider your future as an exchange student. Believe me, it’s worth it. Especially for those who study abroad in Latin America. This part of the world has some crazy, funny people whom I assure that you will fall in love at first sight. And I didn’t even mention the gorgeous cities these people are living in. Oh, and the great universities Latinos can be proud of!

We’ve collected the top 11 cities with the best-of-the-best universities (based on World University Rankings) in Latin America. Let’s dive in!

1. Campinas, Brazil

Credit: CampinasSP. Digital Image. Wikimedia. July 2011.

Campinas isn’t the most populous city of Brazil. It’s actually the 14th largest city by population in the South American country. Located at the heart of São Paulo State and the Southeast Region of Brazil, Campinas features a large, well-developed metropolitan area that is buzzing with numerous successful businesses.

University of Campinas

Credit: Main buildings. Digital Image. Wikimedia. 2005.

You can be really proud of yourself if you are among the almost 35,000 students of this university. Considering the fact that this is the best university in Latin America. The University of Campinas, commonly called as Unicamp, is an integrated research center, which was designed from scratch in December 1962. It’s certainly a huge university with 153 graduate and 70 undergraduate programs you can select from.

2. São Paulo

Credit: Flickr @ julioboaro

Name one person who wouldn’t want to travel to São Paulo! Just one. There you are, you can’t! While São Paulo is one of the most beautiful cities in Brazil, it is also the country’s most populous municipality. Over 12 million people are living there! Just imagine that… With those gorgeous beaches and a city full of life.

University of São Paulo

Credit: Cidade universitária da Universidade de São Paulo. Digital Image. Wikimedia. January 2005.

Ranking around the 100th place among the top universities of the world, the University of São Paulo is a great choice for those who want to experience the “big city life” while studying at a well-respected university. The University of São Paulo is even bigger than the Unicamp, featuring over 58,000 undergraduate and almost 30,000 postgraduate students.

3. Santiago, Chile

Credit: Flickr @ fotourbana

Located in the central valley of the country, Santiago is one of the largest cities in the Americas with a total population of 7 million people. Founded in 1541 by Spanish conquistadors, Chile’s capital is the center of the country’s most populated region. This city is just excellent for sightseeing, featuring different styles, such as neoclassical and neogothic architecture, dated back to the 19th century.

Pontifical Catholic University of Chile

Credit: Casa Central Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile. Digital Image. Wikimedia. December 2014.

Found in different Latino countries, these Catholic universities stand in the top schools of Latin America. The Pontifical Catholic University of Chile is considered as the best-of-the-best here, reaching the 3rd place on our list. We’ve great news if you are considering to study law or education at this university as it ranks the 38th and 33rd worldwide.

4. Monterrey, Mexico

Credit: Flickr @ 51314692@N00

Monterrey is considered as one of the wealthiest city in Mexico. The city features the third-largest metropolitan area in the country, serving as the central business hub for Northern Mexico. If you are looking for a great mix of American and Mexican culture, Monterrey is your choice!

Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education

Credit: ITESM Campus Queretaro. Digital Image. Wikimedia. August 2007.

Did you know that the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education was the first university in Latin America that connected to the internet? True story. If you fancy to study technology and/or business, the ITESM is a no-brainer. This university has been praised by high-reputation magazines, such as the Economist that ranked the ITESM among the top business schools.

5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Credit: Flickr @ nanpalmero

Who wouldn’t want to visit and study in Rio? Seriously. With its emblematic Jesus sculpture looking down to this city, Rio is considered as a top location for both citizens and tourists. A part of the city has been awarded the World Heritage Site name and considered as a cultural landscape by UNESCO.

Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro

Credit: Rio de Janeiro – Pontifical Catholic University – House of Auguste Henri Victor Grandjean de Montigny. Digital Image. Wikimedia. July 2013.

The second most prominent POC school is located in Rio, which serves as the place for 17,900 students. With accredited faculties ranging from law and economics to computer science, the POC-Rio has participated in exchange programs with prominent names, such as Harvard and UC Berkeley.

6. Bogotá, Colombia

Credit: Flickr @ pedrosz

The Colombian capital serves as the home of a little over 10 million people. Founded also by conquistadors in the 16th century, Bogotá is a great place to visit if you want to feel the experience of the thriving life of a Latino city.

University of Los Andes, Colombia

Credit: Universidad de los Andes. Digital Image. Wikimedia. February 2009.


Located in the heart of Bogotá, the University of Los Andes, Colombia (or commonly known as Uniandes) was founded by a group of Colombian intellectuals in 1948. This university takes research seriously. It has given birth to over 120 research groups, mostly in the field of mathematics, social sciences, physics, and engineering.

7. Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Credit: Flickr @ antoniothoma

While it’s “only” the sixth largest city in Brazil, Belo Horizonte has a population of over 2.5 million people. If you like to take a hike, Belo Horizonte is a great place since the city is completely surrounded by mountains. Just call your friends, pack everything in a large backpack, and enjoy the great view from the top of the mountains!

Federal University of Minas Gerais

Credit: Vetustanew. Digital Image. Wikimedia. October 2008.

The largest federal and fifth biggest university in Brazil, the UFMG has a student population of almost 50,000. The Federal University of Minas Gerais is among the fifth best universities in Brazil, featuring 57 PhD programs as well as 66 MSc, 79 Post-Baccalaureate and 41 medical residency programs.

8. Porto Alegre, Brazil

Credit: Flickr @ jorgebrazilian

Porto Alegre, or the Joyful Harbor, was founded in 1769 by the Portuguese military and colonial administrator Manuel Jorge Gomes de Sepúlveda. A Latino city full of people of European descent, Porto Allegre lies on the Eastern bank of the Guaíba River that forms the Lagoa dos Patos, a beautiful lagoon formed by five rivers.

Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul

Credit: EREDS. 2018

Featuring over 2,500 professors and 60,000 students, it is said that admission is hard to the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. UFRGS applicants have to pass a yearly competitive exam, which is called the vestibular. In exchange for the competition, students don’t have to pay any tuition at this university (which is really-really cool).

9. Mexico City, Mexico

Credit: Flickr @ kc_aplosweb

Mexico’s capital has been leading the way in the world among cities with the largest population density. While it has the second place among the most populous cities in the world, Mexico City is the largest city by population in North America.

National Autonomous University of Mexico

Credit: Flickr @ ellenmetter

Due to its extensive research and innovation, the National Autonomous University of Mexico has great ranks among other universities. The UNAM is an elite school, the dream of university students. Every year, numerous students apply for admission, but only 8% gets accepted.

10. Lima, Peru

Credit: Flickr @ 9567466@N05

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean from a hillside view, the capital of Peru has the most-populous metropolitan area in the country with over 9 million urban citizens. Based on the statistics, approximately one-third of the national population lives in the metropolitan area of Lima.

Pontifical Catholic University of Peru

Credit: MacGregor. Digital Image. Wikimedia. March 2009.

Another Pontifical university on this list? That’s right. These universities really are THAT great. Founded by the Catholic priest Father Jorge Dintilhac, the PUCP is ranked as either the first or second best university in Peru.

11. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Credit: Flickr @ deensel

Known for its gorgeous-looking preserved European-style architecture, Buenos Aires is a top tourist destination in the world. It is worth to note the city’s rich cultural life too, with the Argentinian capital being the top city in Latin America based on the quality of life.

National University of General San Martín

Credit: Campus Miguelete. Digital Image. Wikimedia. November 2011.

While it is located just in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, the UNSAM was created due to two reasons. To decentralize the largest universities in Argentina, and San Martín’s desire to have a local university in the city.

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