South America destinations: check out a selection of the 70 best places to visit in South America and plan your backpacking trip!
South America has stunning landscapes, with snow-covered mountains, forests, surreal deserts, beaches, paradise islands and much more.
Those who think only Europe can give them unforgettable experiences are wrong. South America is an extremely rich and diverse continent. You can wander at the Andes mountain or visit some Brazilian’s beaches, visit huge megalopolis, tiny fishermen vilas and historical cities, as well as other attractions.
The continent enchants travelers from all over the world because of its diversity spread through latin destinations, places like Rio de Janeiro, Machu Picchu and Buenos Aires are very well known, but South America has much more to offer. Historical cities, castels, snow trips and several unexpected destinations can be found in the subcontinent.
Traveling through South America is a great option, since the continent has itineraries for all travel styles. We’ve separated a list with incredible destinations to visit in South America.
El Chaltén – Argentina
The small and charming city of El Chaltén is in Argentinian Patagonia and is a great alternative for those who like mountains, lakes and enjoying cold weather. Other than unique landscapes, the destination lets you try some sports, like climbing and horseback riding.
Cusco – Peru
Located near the Andes, the city of Cusco is the birthplace of Inca culture. Despite being small, the city has good options of restaurants, commerce and lots of history. The Cathedral Basilica of Cusco and the Sacsaywaman archaeological complex are some necessary stops in this trip.
Cartagena – Colombia
Cartagena is one of the most enchanting cities of Colombia. You can enjoy Las Islas del Rosario, get to know the Cathedral of Cartagena, ride a carriage and so much more.
Los Roques – Venezuela
Can you imagine visiting a 50 island arquipelago in the Caribbean Sea? Los Roques gives its visitors this opportunity. The destination is perfect either for diving and getting to know the aquatic fauna or just for contemplating the landscape and resting.
Places to Visit in South America: Valdivia – Chile
In Chile’s southern region, Valdivia is a city surrounded by three rivers: Valdivia, Calle-Calle and Cau-Cau. The tourists can ride boats, visit Oncol Park, get to know several regional cherry trees among other attractions.
Huaraz – Peru
Huaraz is considered one of the most beautiful places in Peru, with its cinematographic landscapes. There are several natural beauties to enjoy and archeological sites to appreciate. Lake 69, for exemplo, is very sought for by tourists.
Colonia del Sacramento – Uruguai
The calm Colonia del Sacramento is a great destination for those who are looking for peace and quiet. As well as the charming narrow streets, the city is full of museums, churches and other historical monuments. The historical center of the city is considered UNESCO World Heritage.
Purmamarca – Argentina
Purmamarca is a small Argentinian city known as a UNESCO World Heritage. Its main attraction is Cerro de los Siete Colores, a 70 thousand year old natural hill of seven colors.
Chapada dos Veadeiros – Brazil
Chapada dos Veadeiros is an incredible place, covering several cities of the State of Goiás, and is very sought after by people who want to be in nature. And you only need one picture to understand why. There are several waterfalls, lookouts, stone walls, ecological trails and other attractions.
Puerto Natales – Chile
The small town of Puerto Natales is known for being the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. The place is quiet, surrounded by mountains, small farms and interesting museums, like the Freezer Museum and the City Museum.
Tayrona National Park – Colombia
Tayrona National Park is in the city of Santa Marta, surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. The park is in the middle of a natural park at the foot of Serra Nevada, in Santa Marta. It has a great variety of fauna and flora, a true paradise for who wants to be close to nature.
Baños – Ecuador
In the center of Ecuador, the city of Baños is an excellent destination for those who like adrenaline and extreme sports, like rafting, climbing, rappelling and zipline. There are also thermal waters and waterfalls.
Visit in South America: Mendoza – Argentina
Other than tasting good wine, those who go to Mendoza can enjoy several tourist attractions. You can, for example, visit the beautiful provincial park of Aconcágua and try skiing in Las Leñas and Los Penitentes stations.
Uyuni – Bolivia
One of Bolivia’s main tourist attractions is Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt desert on the planet. As well as being a great mineral source for this region, the great white space, taking over 10 thousand square kilometers, enchants tourists from the whole world.
Ollantaytambo – Peru
Ollantaytambo is a village in the Inca’s Sacred Valley. You can explore an important archeological site and impressive monuments, like the Gate of Gods and the Sun Temple.
Buenos Aires – Argentina
Argentina’s capital is a vibrant cidade, with charming architecture and several entertainment options. Casa Rosada, Plaza de Mayo and the National Art Museum are some must-see spots.
Atacama Desert – Chile
The Atacama Desert is right in the border with Peru and it is known as the drying place on Earth. There, you can find volcanoes, dunes, geological formations and other natural beauties. The desert has unique landscapes and is great for those looking for adventures.
Places to Visit in South America: Puna – Peru
In Bolivia’s border with Peru, Puno attracts tourists that visit both countries. The city’s main attraction is the beautiful floating islands of Lake Titicaca, the highest fairway lake in the world.
Galapagos Island – Ecuador
Located in the Pacific Ocean, nearly 1000 km from the coast of Ecuador, the 12 islands that make up Galapagos Archipelago impress for their beautiful waters and the diversity of fauna and flora. Besides exuberant landscapes, the islands are known as important areas of environmental preservation.
Alter do Chão – Brazil
Alter do Chão is in Santarém, in the state of Pará. The place is considered the Amazon Caribbean and the resemblance is uncanny. The fisherman village attracts the whole world because of its sweet water and thin sand beaches.
Ushuaia – Argentina
The capital of the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego is searched for by tourists of various styles. You can find penguins, marine lions, visit Tierra del Fuego National Park and find many other interesting trips.
Lençóis Maranhenses – Brazil
Lençois Maranhenses is in the eastern region of the state of Maranhão and is part of the Rota das Embarcações. Other than wonderful dunes, Lagoa Bonita and Rio Preguiças are also part of the show.
San Andrés – Colombia
San Andrés has beautiful sceneries and is known as the Colombian Caribbean. The sea is known for being 7 shades of blue and you can do several relaxing activities there.
Valparaíso – Chile
The small Chilean commune is one of the most visited places in the country. The colonial houses and pretty hills enchant tourists. The destination is portuary and it has a beautiful view to the sea. The main attractions are Paseo Gervasoni and La Sebastiana.
Fernando de Noronha – Brasil
In Pernambuco, Fernando de Noronha is Brazil’s most famous archipelago. Made up of 21 islands, it is a dream destiny. As well as crystal clear beaches, a diverse vegetation and beautiful rock formations, tourists from the whole world come to see the region’s rich marine life.
El Calafate – Argentina
In Argentinian Patagonia, El Calafate is the closest city to the famous Glacier National Park. The destination is close to the border with Chile and its main tourist attraction is the Perito Moreno glacier, also known as the “frozen giant”.
Huacachina – Peru
Huacachina is a small town close to the peruvian seaside. About 100 people live there and it was built around a lake. The main attractions are buddy rides on the sand dunes and around the lake, which has amazing landscapes.
Tiradentes – Brazil
Brazil isn’t made up only of pretty beaches. Tiradentes, in Minas Gerais, is a historical city founded in 1702. You can find old colonial houses, churches, museums and monuments that help tell the country’s story.
Bariloche – Argentina
The city is surrounded by snowy peaks, typical of the regions around the Andes mountains. Other than having many natural beauty, Bariloche is known as being an excellent place for snow sports. Cerro Catedral, the largest ski station in Latin America, is in Bariloche.
Manaus – Brazil
The capital of Amazonas state is an important tourist destination in Brazil. There are several attractions, like the famous Amazonas Theater, the immense Arquipélago de Anavilhanas and the Museu do Seringal. The visitors can also taste the rich local cuisine, that has several types of fish, tacacá and the tradicional açaí.
Águas Calientes – Peru
Águas Calientes is a lovely village at the edge of a mountain known for being the entrance to Machu Picchu, one of the 7 wonders of the modern world. The name of the city, “warm waters”, shows that it offers warm baths to its visitors.
Easter Islands – Chile
The isolated and fascinating Easter Islands are 3500 km away from the seaside of Chile. Other than beautiful beaches, those who visit the island can see Rano Kau and Rano Raraku volcanoes as well as go shopping in the artisanal market. The local gastronomy is also very surprising.
Paraty – Brazil
Paraty is in Rio de Janeiro state and enchants tourists with its beautiful beaches and the well-preserved state of its natural beauty. The historical center, where the religious art museum and the Casa da Cultura are, also should be seen.
Guatapé – Colombia
Guatapé is a happy and colorful city. The destination is a great place for extreme sports, like ziplining and horseback riding. You can also admire the scenery at Peñol lookout and see the ruins of Pablo Escobar’s old farm.
Esquel – Argentina
Located in Argentinian Patagonia, Esquel is a small city surrounded by mountains and it is ideal for those who want to relax. It is at the foot of the Andes and you can get boat rides, go hiking and look at some wonderful views.
Santiago – Chile
Santiago de Chile is a very interesting, modern and organized city. The destination has many trees and very diverse tourist spots. The city’s Central Market, Cerro Santa Lucía Park and La Moneda Palace, are some of the capital’s attractions.
Places to Visit in South America: Puerto Varas – Chile
Located in the Los Lagos Region of Chile, Puerto Varas was colonized by Germans and it shows in its architecture. The city has a cold climate and the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park are some of its most important tourist attractions.
Viña del Mar – Chile
The coastal city of Viña del Mar is very close to Valparaíso, and has rich architecture and very good restaurants. Visiting the Wulff Castle, the Quinta Vergara Park and the Flower Clock, are some of the coolest walks in the commune.
Cajon del Maipo – Chile
Close to Santiago, Cajon del Maipo is in the Andes Cordillera, a true natural hideout, in winter or summer. The main attractions of the destination are the natural thermal pools and the El Morado Natural Monument.
Lima – Peru
Peru’s capital has almost 8 million inhabitants and several tourist attractions: squares, archeological sites, parks, restaurants. The Reserve Park, known for having several water sources, the imposing Government Palace and the Gold Museum are some of Lima’s main tourist attractions.
Montevideo – Uruguay
Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, has a peaceful and welcoming weather. Most of the attractions are downtown, such as Montevideo’s Metropolitan Cathedral, the Fountain of Lockets and the Teatro Solis. We should also highlight the region’s gastronomy, one of the main dishes is the dulce de leche.
Quito – Ecuador
The historic center of Ecuador’s capital is extremely well-preserved and is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Plus, the city is located in the center of the world and has interesting tourist attractions, such as the Plaza de La Independencia and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Quito.
South America: Arequipa – Peru
Recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Arequipa is a Peruvian city colonized by Spain. The Santa Catalina Monastery and the Plaza de Armas are some of the city’s destiny that impress for their architecture.
Ayacucho – Peru
Ayacucho is in the central Sierra of Peru. The place is also known as the City of Churches, since it receives several important religious manifestations, such as the Holy Week of Ayacucho.
Mancora – Peru
Located on the Peruvian coast, Mancora feels like a small town. It has several beautiful beaches and attracts several surfers because of the quality of the waves. It is a perfect place to relax and enjoy good scenery.
The Amazon – Brazil
How about visiting the largest rainforest in the world? In Brazil, the Amazon is in the following states: Tocantins, Amazonas, Roraima, Rondônia, Pará, Amapá, Acre, Maranhão and part of Mato Grosso. The forest is extremely rich, it has the largest river basin in the world and an immense variety of fauna and flora. Although it is of difficult access, there are companies that offer guided tours and an interesting variety of hotels.
Península Valdés – Argentina
Península Valdés, which is located in the Argentine Patagonia, is the birthplace of a wide variety of animals, including dolphins, elephant seals, whales and penguins. Tourists can get very close to the animals and enjoy incredible landscapes.
Lost City – Colombia
Located in Sierra Nevada, the Lost City is a Colombian archaeological site. It is in the middle of the forest and was built by Tayronas Indians between the 13th and 14th centuries. There, you will be able to see indigenous civilization ruins and check out the past of the region.
Bogotá – Colombia
The capital of Colombia is a charming and extremely cultural place. Cerro Monserrate has a beautiful view of the city and is worth a visit. The historical center is also very interesting and you can see the Plaza Bolívar and the Catedral Primada de Colombia there. The city’s gastronomy is also delicious, the most famous dish is the ajiaco soup.
Minca – Colombia
Minca is a small town from the Sierra de Nevada, in the city of Santa Marta, Colombia. The destination has several trails, waterfalls and an excellent lodging structure for tourists.
La Paz – Bolivia
La Paz, the administrative capital of Bolivia, is in the middle of the Andes Mountains, at over 3600 meters high. Most of the city’s attractions are downtown, such as Murillo Square, the Church of San Francisco and the famous Witches’ Market.
Maceió – Brazil
The capital of Alagoas stands out for its crystal clear waters, its natural pools, and the beautiful vegetation surrounding the beaches. Plus, the city has an excellent kiosk and tent structure. Among the most famous beaches are Ponta Verde, Pajuçara and Praia do Francês.
Death Road – Bolivia
It may sound strange, but the most dangerous road on the planet is also an important tourist attraction in Bolivia. It is only 3 meters wide, over 64 kilometers, and is full of cliffs. Although it has seen many deaths and accidents, the Death Road still attracts many tourists in search of an adventure.
Potosí – Bolivia
Potosí is one of the highest cities in the world and is at the foot of Cerro Rico. It’s worth strolling along its colonial streets, admiring the old houses and taking a tour of the city mines. It is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Sucre – Bolivia
The constitutional capital of Bolivia, Sucre, has a highly preserved historical center and is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is very charming and has several tourist attractions such as Casa de la Libertad, Plaza 25 de Mayo and Parque Bolívar.
Tiahuanaco – Bolivia
Anyone visiting Bolivia can admire the ruins of a prehistoric city. The Ruins of Tiahuanaco are near Lake Titicaca, about 70 kilometers from La Paz. The archaeological site is full of impressive monuments and pieces, such as the Monolith of Ponce and the Akapana.
Foz do Iguaçu – Brazil
Foz do Iguaçu, in the state of Paraná, is a very beautiful city with several tour options. Its main attractions are the famous Iguassu Falls. The set of waterfalls, located in the Iguazu National Park, enchants tourists from all over the world and is one of the most visited natural destinations in the country.
South America: Arraial do Cabo – Brazil
Located in Lake District, Arraial do Cabo is a great destination for those who like the beach and contact with nature. Because of the color of the sea in the region, the city is known as the Brazilian Caribbean. Praia do Pontal, Gruta Azul and Praia do Farol are some of the main attractions of the destination.
Salvador – Brazil
The capital of Bahia is a charming place, full of rhythm, colors and flavors. Among the most important beaches are Farol da Barra Beach, Ondina Beach and Itapuã Beach. One of the favorite things for visitors to do is to walk by Pelourinho, the historic district of the city that is recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO.
Bonito – Brazil
The city of Bonito, in Mato Grosso do Sul, is a great destination for those who want to get in touch with nature. The city really impresses for its beauty and ecological diversity. The Blue Lake Cave, the Bodoquena Mountain Range and the Natural Aquarium are mandatory stops for those who visit Bonito.
Jalapão – Brazil
Although still little known, Jalapão is one of the most incredible destinations in Brazil. The Jalapão State Park, located in the state of Tocantins, is where you can find dunes, waterfalls, river beaches, hot springs and several other natural attractions.
Punta del Este – Uruguay
Punta del Este is Uruguay’s main resort. The main beaches are Mansa and Brava. As their name shows, Praia Mansa (calm beach) has calm waters and Praia Brava (angry beach) has stronger waves, so it attracts many surfers. Besides the natural beauties, the city also draws attention for its casinos, houses and luxury buildings.
Córdoba – Argentina
Cordoba is a lively and cozy Argentine city. Although it has a small town atmosphere, it welcomes many students and has an intense nightlife. Cordoba’s Cathedral and the Jesuit Manzana are some of the main tourist attractions.
Medellín – Colombia
Medellín is the second largest city in Colombia and has an extremely receptive population. Despite its violent past, today the city is considered a great place to live and for tourism as well. Among the main tourist attractions are the Medellín Botanical Garden, the Plaza Cisneros and the Casa de la Memoria Museum.
Iquitos – Peru
Iquitos is an isolated city from the rest of Peru. There are no roads and can only be reached by boat or plane. Nevertheless, it is worth visiting the destination to get to know the Peruvian Amazon jungle. The Belén Fair and the famous Ayahuasca also attract tourists’ attention.
Rio de Janeiro – Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most important cities in the country and is seen worldwide as an important postcard of Brazil. The city has stunning beaches, such as Copacabana Beach and Ipanema Beach, and important monuments such, as the Christ the Redeemer and the Arcos da Lapa, among countless other tourist attractions.
Monte Roraima – Venezuela
Mount Roraima is an incredible place, full of rivers, lakes and other natural attractions. The mountain is much sought after by adventurers from all over the world for its beauty and the difficulty of its trails. The destination is on the triple border between Brazil, Guyana and Venezuela and is about 2,875 meters high.
Pucón – Chile
Located in southern Chile, Pucón is a very charming city that feels very peaceful in the low season. The city was built around Lake Villarrica and is a great place for those who like ecotourism and adventure sports.