We are happy to present you our subjective list of 35 best places to visit in South America. On our list, there are cities, points of interests, wonders of nature and even islands. We hope that this article will inspire you, and, at the same time, you will ensure you that South America is a great destination for adventure holidays.
1. Iguazu Falls, Argentina
You can visit Iguazu Falls from the Argentinian or Brazil side. If you have a chance to stay in the area for a few days, of course, it is worth to explore the waterfalls from both sides. However, if you have to choose, we recommend visiting Iguazu Falls from Argentina. It also should be mentioned that Iguazu is the largest waterfall system what makes it unique. You can find our short guide about Iguazu Falls here.
2. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
One of the most magical places on the continent. Famous salt flats look like an endless white desert during a dry season. During the rainy season, Salar de Uyuni turns into a giant mirror which makes you feel like walking surrounded by the clouds. We think that it is worth to visit this place during both seasons for the unforgettable experience. You can read more about Salar de Uyuni here.
3. Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu Citadel is a trendy tourist destination, and it should not be surprising considering its cultural value. This citadel is elevated 7,900 ft. (2,400 m) and it was built by Inca empire in XV century. For more information about Machu Picchu, check out our guide.
4. Isabela Island, Galapagos, Ecuador
Every Galapagos Island is exclusive, however, from our subjective view, we recommend visiting Isabela the most. On this Island, you can discover Sierra Negra volcano (it’s an excellent trip for hiking fans), or snorkel with wild animals in their natural environment. These animals are, for example, penguins or sea lions. Here is our guide to Galapagos Islands.
5. Buenos Aires, Argentina
The capital of Argentina is a city where you can spend more than a week and still do not explore all its attractions. In the city, you may decide to take some tango lessons or just go for a tango show if you don’t like to dance. In Buenos Aires, there are many museums, Plazas and points of interest (like, for instance, El Obelisco). Found more info here.
6. Huacachina Oasis, Peru
Another magical place. Relax in the little village surrounded by nothing but sand. In the oasis, you will surely take many photos of the small lake which is a centre of the oasis. It’s also a nice destination to choose in you like active holidays – while being in Huacachina Oasis you can try sandboarding or beach bugging.
7. Easter Island, Chile
Mysterious Chilean island where you can see 887 “moi” which are the well-known monuments built by people called Rapa Nui. Beautiful landscapes, volcanoes and cultural & historical value of the place, all are the reason why we put Easter Island on this list.
8. Quilotoa Volcano, Ecuador
A lagoon situated inside a crater of the volcano? Why not! If you like this idea, then, a Quilotoa Volcano is a must-see for you. This volcano is elevated 12,841 ft. (3,914 m) and a crater is 2 miles (3 km) wide. The easiest way to reach this destination is to take a bus from Latacunga.
9. Uros Floating Islands, Peru
Uros Floating Islands are located on Lake Titicaca. They are so famous because native inhabitants made them entirely from the cane. It is worth to visit this place for the valuable cultural experience and the impressive landscapes. You can get to Uros Floating Islands by boat from Puno.
10. The River of Five Colours, Colombia
The Colombian river, Caño Cristales, also known as the River of Five Colours is undeniably a wonder of nature. Some people also refer to it as a liquid rainbow. This name isn’t used without reason – see the proof in the photo below. However, the river has this look only from the late July to November.
11. Valparaiso, Chile
Valparaiso is a Chilean city with a unique architecture and lots of colours. Yes, we recommend this town as one of the best places to visit in South America due to its joyful and colourful appearance. In Valparaiso, you will also have a chance to observe numerous works of street art artists.
12. Death Road, Bolivia
An official name of death road, also known as the road of fate is Yungas road. It leads from city La Paz to Coroico and attracts many mountain biking fans. As this road is located next to the abyss, it’s perilous. Nevertheless, if you are an adventure seeker, it would be hard for you to hesitate whether to experience this attraction.
13. Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
A national park located in Patagonia, where you can see glaciers and lakes as well as mountains and rivers. Regarding wildlife, in the park live, for example, the following animals: Rheas, Andean condors, Chilean flamingos, Guanacos and South Andean deer. This location is a must-see for the nature enthusiasts.
14. Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
An Argentinian Glacier with 250 km2 ice area. According to Wikipedia, “this ice field is the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water” (source). It can be reached from El Calafate by bus and is accessible for tourists. Even if you don’t like trekking, you should be impressed by the size and beauty of the glacier.
15. Montevideo, Uruguay
The capital of Uruguay where you can see telecommunications tower, the old town, Plaza Independencia or parks Prado, Rodo and Batlle. A cultural city with impressive architecture and lots of locations to explore.
16. Baños, Ecuador
A very popular destination for tourists because of the many reasons. Firstly, in Baños, you can try swinging at the well-known Casa del Arbol (A tree house) which provides an experience like swinging above the abyss. Also, there around 60 waterfalls in this town. Finally, it is a perfect place for adventure holidays – zip line, rafting, mountain biking are some of the available sports to try. Our guide about Baños is here.
17. Angel Falls, Venezuela
The highest waterfall in the world (its height is 3,212 ft. / 979 m). Like many other places listed in our best places to visit in South America, this one is also on the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The waterfall is located in Canaima National Park.
18. Los Roques, Venezuela
Visit a real paradise with almost white sand and clear water. Los Roques is a Venezuelan archipelago that consists of around 50 small islands. Coral reef and wildlife attract here many tourists who can relax and try scuba diving or windsurfing.
19. Cotopaxi National Park, Ecuador
In this national park, you can admire a volcano which is elevated 19,347 ft. / 5897 m above the sea level. If you like good trekking or climbing, Cotopaxi National Park is definitely for you. Besides famous stratovolcano, a diverse flora & fauna would also attract your attention.
20. Cusco, Peru
Cusco is a beautiful city founded in XI century. It was inhabited by three different cultures – Killke people, Incas and Spaniards and, for this reason, it has a diverse architecture. You can see there, for example, Plaza de Armas, Saksaywaman citadel or Cathedral of Santo Domingo. If you like museums, you will have an opportunity to visit Museo Inka, Museo de Arte Precolombino and The Cacao and Chocolate Museum. Read more about Cusco here.
21. Moon Valley, Chile
Moon Valley (in Spanish Valle de la Luna) is located close to San Pedro de Atacama desert. In our opinion, this place is a little substitute for Mars. 🙂 The view there is definitely like from another planet because of the formations of stones and sand.
22. Kaieteur Falls, Guyana
An impressive waterfall from Guyana – its height equals around 741 ft. / 226 m. Not surprisingly, Kaieteur Falls, which is higher than Niagara and Victoria Falls together, is a popular tourist destination. It also should be mentioned that the name “Falls” may be a bit confusing as Kaieteur Falls is, in reality, one waterfall (a single drop waterfall).
23. Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Brazil
Another place that is hard to believe that it exists. In the Brazilian Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, you can observe a real wonder of nature – the park area consists of dunes (like on the classical desert), however, due to rain, the naturally occurring sand valleys are filled with water. You can admire the effect on the picture below. The best time to visit this place is between July and September.
24. Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
Listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Colonia del Sacramento is one of the oldest towns in Uruguay. In the town, you will be charmed by La Calle de Los Suspiros, Barrio Historico or Rio de la Plata. What is interesting, Colonia del Sacramento is located just 31 miles / 50 km by ferry from Buenos Aires.
25. Mount Roraima, Venezuela
Mount Roraima has an elevation of 9,220 ft. / 2,810 m above the sea level. Although this height is not so impressive, the mount itself is unique due to its shape. In our opinion, it is simply beautiful. It belongs actually to 3 countries (Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana) but Venezuela is an owner of more than 80% of its area.
26. Salta, Argentina
A charming Argentinian city, friendly for tourists. Founded in XVI century, it offers elegant architecture, a few museums, cable car Teleferico and pleasant temperatures throughout the year. 🙂 If you want to find out more about Salta, you can find our guide here.
27. Iquique, Chile
Iquique is undeniably a gem of Chile although it is relatively unknown among the tourists. This city is built on Atacama desert and situated next to the ocean. Skyscrapers, giant sand dunes and a mix of colonial and modern style – if this sounds for you like a nice location for the next trip, then don’t hesitate to visit this place. It is a great stop if you travel for instance, from Santiago to Arequipa.
28. Sugarloaf Mountain, Brazil
Elevated 1,299 ft. / 396 m above the sea level, Sugarloaf Mountain is a peak located in Rio de Janeiro. Visiting this peak gives you an opportunity to admire the panorama of the famous city. Sugarloaf Mountain is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. You can get there by taking two Teleferico (cable car) lines.
29. Santiago, Chile
The capital of Chile. The city was founded in XVI century – it is located in the valley and surrounded by the mountains. It offers many museums, plazas, libraries and cultural activities. It is also worth to mention that it is one of the largest city in South America.
30. Cocora Valley, Colombia
Located close to the charming town Salento, Cocora Valley is undeniably a must-see attraction in Colombia. The valley is situated in the Los Nevados National Park. You can get to Cocora from Salento by taking a jeep ride shared with other tourists. There are two main trails in the park and they are around 8 km and 20 km long.
31. Cuenca, Ecuador
Cuenca is an Ecuadorian city which by many tourists who view it as a “European one” mainly due to its colonial architecture. In Cuenca, you can try cuisines from around the world, visit New Cathedral and Old Cathedral or go for a trip to a nearby Cajas National Park.
32. Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, Ecuador
An ideal place to explore Amazon rainforest and a perfect destination for people who want to experience being away from the civilisation. During a stay in a Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, you may meet wild monkeys, different kinds of frogs and worms or caimans. Our guide about this wildlife reserve is here.
33. Ushuaia, Argentina
Your gateway to Antarctica. This city is considered to be the southernmost city on the planet, but it’s good to visit it not only due to its exceptional location. It’s also simply beautiful. Among the attractions, there is the End of The World Train which leads you to Tierra del Fuego National Park.
34. Guatape, Colombia
Guatape is a Colombian town surrounded by lovely landscapes. The famous attraction that you can enjoy there is La Piedra del Peñol – a rock formation that can be reached by tourists through a path that consists of more than 640 steps. On the photo below, we present you the view from this rock.
35. Laguna Verde, Bolivia
Laguna Verde in Spanish means as a “green lagoon”, and this name is accurate taking into account the beautiful green colour of this famous salt lake. Green lagoon’s elevation is 14,100 ft. / 4,300 m above the sea level. It is located in Southern part of Bolivia, near to Chilean border.
The best places to visit in South America – the summary
We hope that you enjoyed this list. And, as we mentioned, it’s subjective. Therefore, do you think that some destinations should not be included? Or maybe you want us to add some places? We open to your suggestions and advice. Hopefully, this article will be updated from time to time, and the number of interesting places will rise to 100. 🙂
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