South America has some of the most captivating and unspoiled destinations in the world. Whether you’re seeking the lush rainforests of Brazil, the white-sand beaches of Uruguay, or even the mountains of Chile, South America has a destination to satisfy your travel needs. To help you choose where to go on your next trip, here are 10 amazing places to visit in South America.
1) Machu Picchu, Peru
This Incan citadel, whose name means old mountain or old peak, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its rich history has allowed it to stand as one of Peru’s most popular tourist destinations. Be sure to visit during sunrise or sunset for maximum splendor—the view over the Urubamba Valley and down toward Lake Titicaca is breathtaking!
2) Lake Titicaca, Peru
Lake Titicaca is a lake in Peru, Bolivia and northwestern Argentina. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for both cultural and natural reasons. To date, only two of those places are readily accessible from Lake Titicaca: Puno (Peru) and Copacabana (Bolivia). The Uros inhabit an archipelago of 42 floating islands on Lake Titicaca.
3) San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
San Pedro de Atacama, Chile is one of those places that you can’t believe actually exists. It’s just so surreal—and it was one of my favorite destinations in all of South America. The best part is that there are always fresh day trips from San Pedro into nearby national parks where you can see some pretty incredible things like large sand dunes and tons of flamingos. Just be sure to wear sunscreen!
4) Patagonia, Argentina
This breathtaking region is where you’ll find huge expanses of forests, glaciers, and alpine meadows—not to mention it’s also home to an impressive variety of wildlife, like sea lions and guanacos. Located between Chile and Argentina, Patagonia will not disappoint those who want adventure. If you go, don’t miss Torres del Paine National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring two granite towers that can be reached by hiking or via a trip on horseback.
5) Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
This beautiful archipelago is home to countless species of tropical birds, fish, plants and marine life. The Galapagos Islands were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to their stunning landscapes and remarkable wildlife. Highlights include diving with sea lions, snorkeling with colorful sea urchins and visiting Charles Darwin’s research center on Santa Cruz Island. While staying at one of our hotels in Ecuador or booking a Galapagos cruise, make sure you visit these incredible islands!
6) Iguazu Falls, Brazil/Argentina
One of the world’s seven natural wonders, Iguazu Falls is a spectacular series of cascades and waterfalls along Brazil and Argentina’s border. Even before you get there, you can see it from up above. The nearly 1-mile-wide falls span both countries, which means you can head over on a short flight from Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro for an afternoon visit. The views alone are worth it—and that’s before you get below it all to actually explore.
7) Colombia, Ecuador and Peru
Three countries that deserve a spot on your travel bucket list are Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Not only do they offer some of South America’s most fascinating nature experiences, but they also represent important historical centers—like colonial towns built by Spanish settlers—as well as cultural hot spots for Peruvian cuisine and Colombian dance parties. Plus, you’ll get a glimpse of what it’s like to live in a luxury beachfront apartment if you choose an Ecuadorian or Colombian resort for your vacation rental.
8) Rio de Janeiro/Ipanema Beach
The very first thing that pops into people’s minds when they think of South America is most likely Rio de Janeiro. It’s impossible not to picture sultry Brazilian beauties strolling along Ipanema Beach.
9) Buenos Aires, Argentina
Commonly referred to as one of the most European city in South America, Buenos Aires is a fun spot for lovers of fine wine and culture. Located near several vineyards, it is easy for travelers to see why Argentina is known for their wines—and with a wide range of wine varieties available, you’ll find something that suits your taste buds!
10) Santiago, Chile
Santiago is a destination for both foodies and outdoorsy types. It’s rich with culture, surrounded by beautiful nature and located in a country of similar cities that are each unique on their own—not to mention Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Bolivia are all within striking distance of Santiago. With so much to do within an hour or two’s drive from town, you could spend your whole time here without ever leaving Chile…but why would you want to?