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Top 10 Things to Do in Latin America

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The great Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

The top 10 things to do in Latin America, all shaped by heritage and landscape, bring the diversity of the countries, cultures, and histories to life.

Wander beneath dense rainforest canopies in search of wildlife, explore ancient temples connected to former empires, walk through colorful cities connected to colonial history but thriving with contemporary life, or lounge on a world-class beach and enjoy the tropical sun.

From the Amazon Rainforest to the pampas of Patagonia, the top things to do in Latin America demonstrate scenic splendor, remarkable ecosystems, and endless opportunities for adventure.

  1. 1. Visit Incredible Ancient Civilizations
  2. 2. Discover Fantastic Beaches
  3. 3. Savor Delicious Cuisine
  4. 4. Taste Magnificent Wines
  5. 5. Indulge in Beautiful Landscapes
  6. 6. Bask in Unforgettable Adventure
  7. 7. Explore Unique Urban Life
  8. 8. Witness Unforgettable Wildlife
  9. 9. Enjoy Impressive Views on Marked Trails
  10. 10. Witness the Starlight
  11. Experience the Top Things to Do in Latin America

1. Visit Incredible Ancient Civilizations

Moais statues in Easter Island, Chile

Easter Island, Chile

Visiting an ancient city unveils information about a people, an empire, or the daily lives of locals spanning centuries or even a millennium. With unique opportunities to explore the ruins of past civilizations, Latin America features glimpses of epic battles, communities lost to time, and past imperial reach.

From Incan ruins crowning the Andes Mountains to remote corners of the world featuring facial features carved in stone, citadels covered in jungle to perfect spheres carved with unknown resources, each offers a new and exciting way to experience local, national, and regional heritage.

You can find more ideas on the variety of treasures left behind by previous civilizations in our best places to visit in Peru.

Best Places for Ancient History: Machu Picchu, Peru • Ciudad Perdida, Colombia • Xunantunich, Belize • Isla del Caño, Costa Rica • Ingapirca, Ecuador • Easter Island, Chile

2. Discover Fantastic Beaches

Praia do Sancho, Brazil

Praia do Sancho, Brazil

Latin America is known for its exceptional coastlines along the Pacific, Caribbean, and South Atlantic oceans. With a combination of tropical jungle overlooking crystal-clear waters with white or golden sands, it’s easy to imagine each country providing access to dream-like beaches.

The diversity of shores from Ecuador to Colombia, Costa Rica to Belize, Chile to Argentina, and Peru to Brazil only enhances an ambiance shaped by secluded coves, remote islands, and long stretches of coast featuring historical escapes for contemporary aristocracy.

Zicasso’s list of the best beaches in South America focuses on the shared beauty and diverse options of celebrated shores, while destinations like Costa Rica and Belize contain their own world-class beaches.

Best Beaches in Latin America: Tamarindo, Costa Rica • Praia do Sancho, Brazil • Playa Roja, Peru • Playa Blanca, Colombia • Placencia Peninsula, Belize

3. Savor Delicious Cuisine

Traditional Peruvian ceviche

Traditional Peruvian ceviche

The flavors of Latin America share certain characteristics, but each nation has particular tastes that shape dishes undeniably connected to its heritage. Seasonal, local, and passed down from generations tend to define the recipes used by communities, while chefs find inspiration in their personal histories to reshape how a national cuisine is viewed.

From the aromas of the sea to the typical ingredients of the high-altitude plains, tropical fruits to ingredients found only in particular areas, each dish can feel comforting or a break from tradition, can focus on a national custom, or demonstrate a new international focus on the importance of a particular ingredient in the daily diet.

With cultural influences connecting Spanish and Portuguese colonialism with indigenous ingredients, the slave trade with contemporary European immigration, each country has developed its own distinctive cuisine that you can discover more of with our world’s best cities for street food and top foods you should try when visiting Buenos Aires.

Best Places for Food: Buenos Aires, Argentina • Sao Paulo, Brazil • Bogota, Colombia • Lima, Peru • Santiago, Chile

4. Taste Magnificent Wines

Vineyard in Mendoza with the Andes mountain in the background, Argentina

Mendoza, Argentina

Wine takes on the personality of the area in which it is cultivated and the regions producing national and internationally celebrated vintages demonstrate the diversity and natural beauty of the local landscape featured in every glass. Soil, sunlight, and access to water can severely alter the characteristics of a grape, even on a minute scale by shifting a crop from one area to another.

Many countries in Latin America have thriving wine regions where excellent combinations of textures, flavors, and aromas are developed to create unforgettable experiences.

The best wine regions in Argentina offer a glimpse of bold and proud wine-producing areas or those that stray from the traditional ideals of cultivation and creation.

Best Places for Wine: Mendoza, Argentina • Maipo Valley, Chile • Cachapoal Valley, Chile • Campanha, Brazil • Catamarca, Argentina

5. Indulge in Beautiful Landscapes

View of Vinales Valley, Cuba

Vinales Valley, Cuba

The scenery of Latin America is enchanting and enriching, home to idyllic beaches and radiant jungles, epic rugged mountains and vast plains. Glaciers and icebergs reflect in the placid waters of remote lakes and wildlife brims in the canopies of protected rainforests.

The landscapes across Central and South America can feel cinematic, a representation of nature’s power, delicateness, and opulence. Whether standing on a mountaintop overlooking the meandering waters of a wild river or enjoying a sunset over the black sands of a volcanic island, the landscapes of Latin America are unforgettable and a reason for adventure.

The best places to visit in Patagonia capture the famous landscapes of Latin America, acting as a microcosm of beauty, drama, and prestige that visitors can experience during an adventurous exploration or a quiet retreat.

Best Places for Scenery: Patagonia, Chile & Argentina • Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica • Tobacco Caye, Belize • Iguazu Falls, Argentina & Brazil • Paracas Natural Reserve, Peru • Vinales Valley, Cuba

6. Bask in Unforgettable Adventure

 Tayrona National Park, Colombia

Tayrona National Park, Colombia

Adventure in Latin America can take the form of horseback riding through open plains or hiking on cliffside trails, trekking up secluded glaciers or searching for hidden ancient cities covered in jungle. No matter your idea of thrills, you can easily find adventure activities in Central and South America that take you whitewater rafting around mountains blanketed in rainforest, canoeing down the Amazon River, abseiling beside a waterfall, or climbing to the top of a volcanic rim.

How every traveler chooses to adventure is up to them, but each experience in Latin America provides an unforgettable journey, connection to local life, and memory shaped by the combination of unparalleled scenery and opportunity.

The top things to do in Patagonia represent a number of adventures you can enjoy during your time in Latin America and the endless adventures for which the region is renowned.

Best Places for Adventure Tours: Tayrona National Park, Colombia • Arenal, Costa Rica • Patagonia, Chile & Argentina • Huacachina, Peru

7. Explore Unique Urban Life

Quito city with Cotopaxi volcano in the background in Ecuador

Quito, Ecuador

Cities in Latin America have their own personalities and introduce visitors to contemporary life and culture that’s often different from that found in the countryside. The urban landscape can shape how travelers engage with a new country, especially when first arriving.

From metropolises set against the backdrop of picturesque beaches to colonial architecture overlooking vintage American cars, and colorful facades and marketplaces brimming with daily life, the cities in Latin America reflect a more authentic picture of a nation, demonstrating how locals interact as a community and the ways visitors can better engage with new perspectives.

When visiting a new city, you can always learn how to best experience the culture, traditions, and pace of life. Our top things to do in Cuba offer examples of how to enjoy a city like Havana during your travels.

Best Places for City Tour: Havana, Cuba • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil • Buenos Aires, Argentina • Medellin, Colombia • Quito, Ecuador • Cusco, Peru • Santiago, Chile

8. Witness Unforgettable Wildlife

Capuchin monkeys in Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica

Witnessing wildlife in its natural habitat is exciting, especially when traveling through the remote, dense, and hard-to-reach areas of Latin America. The wilderness protects endangered species, from the volcanic islands of the Galapagos to the dense canopy of the Amazon River Basin, the high-altitude plains of Patagonia to the world’s largest wetlands at the Pantanal.

Travelers can view manatees in Belize, spider monkeys in Costa Rica, jaguars in Brazil, penguins in Argentina, blue-footed boobies in Ecuador, the Andean condor in Peru, the golden poison dart frat in Colombia, and guanacos in Chile. Even when in similar environments that cross borders, you will have different opportunities to witness and experience something new.

The top things to do in the Galapagos Islands offers ideas and inspiration on how to experience the volcanic archipelago, while also witnessing the exceptional wildlife of the remote region.

Best Places to View Wildlife: The Pantanal, Brazil • Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica • Patagonia, Chile & Argentina • Galapagos Islands, Ecuador • Amazon Rainforest, Peru & Colombia

9. Enjoy Impressive Views on Marked Trails

El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina

Hiking in Latin America is a great way to balance the remarkable landscapes, wildlife sightings, and opportunities for adventure while reaching remote corners of the world. Trails can lead to spottings of sloth lingering in the treetops or give way to the epic ruins of a lost civilization. When traveling on foot across Central and South America, you can weave through mountain passes, climb to the tops of volcanic peaks, venture beneath towering coconut palms, and reach the pristine sands of hidden beaches.

Each hike around Central and South America has its own purpose, providing visitors with adventure or relaxation, the sounds of singing birds or the dramatic panorama of looming granite towers. Find waterfalls, enjoy quiet views, or embrace the possibility of a rare wildlife sighting.

When looking for wildlife and opportunities for adventure, you can find exceptional ways to hike, walk, and explore the lush rainforest scenery and coastlines with our top things to do in Costa Rica.

Best Places for Hiking: Sacred Valley, Peru • Patagonia, Chile & Argentina • Valle del Cocora, Colombia • Arenal Volcano Park, Costa Rica • Las Terrazas, Cuba • Cockscomb Basin, Belize

10. Witness the Starlight

Atacama Desert, Chile

Atacama Desert, Chile

Latin America is a vast region with a dense population concentrated in specific areas. This unveils the natural beauty of an inky night. Stargazing in Latin America will provide a blanket of near-infinitesimal stars and sightlines to nearby planets.

With the sky so open, the light can reflect against the snowcapped peaks of the Andes, off glistening lakes, or even imitate the spread of white along salt flats, creating mirror images above and below. Stargazing in Latin America is awe-inspiring, combining the landscapes' essential natural beauty with the sky's intimidating expanse.

One of the most notable places to stargaze in Latin America is the Atacama Desert in Chile and you can find more ideas on where to go with our best places to visit in Chile.

Best Places for Stargazing: Atacama Desert, Chile • Galapagos Islands, Ecuador • Patagonia, Chile & Argentina • Lake Titicaca, Peru • Caye Caulker, Belize • La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Experience the Top Things to Do in Latin America

Tropical beach in Placencia Peninsula, Belize

Placencia Peninsula, Belize

Stunning wildlife excursions, impressive hiking adventures, and delicious cuisine paired with celebrated vineyards add to the illustrious experiences of visiting Latin America. From Belize and Costa Rica to Argentina and Brazil, the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador and Peru to Chile, Colombia, and Cuba, Latin America brims with treasures that reach beyond expectation.

Find the right inspiration for your trip using our itineraries to Latin America for a first-timer or enjoy discovering new insights into what you can see and do with sample itineraries from our Latin America tours and vacations. Zicasso’s Latin America travel guide can give you plenty of information on where to go and more when planning your vacation.

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