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6 Best Countries to Visit in South America

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Plaza de Armas at sunrise in Cusco, Peru

Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru

The six best countries to visit in South America reflect the diversity of the continent and capture the passion of local culture, the spirit of nature, and the wonders of disparate heritage that you can experience whether in a single country or on a multi-country trip.

From the remnants of the Inca to the natural opulence of the Galapagos islands, the splendor of glistening glaciers to the sumptuous flavors of world-renowned wines, South America offers incredible diversity across a landmass nearly twice the size of Europe.

With tropical escapes, open plains, gorgeous beaches, colorful high-altitude plateaus, and bustling cosmopolitan cities, you can experience the surprises and essential charms of South America during your trip as you immerse yourself in the diversity of these countries.

  1. 1. Ecuador
  2. 2. Peru
  3. 3. Chile
  4. 4. Argentina
  5. 5. Brazil
  6. 6. Colombia
  7. Learn More About Your Trip to South America with a Travel Specialist

1. Ecuador

Giant turtles in Galapagos, Ecuador

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Ecuador is a microcosm of South America, as it captures the splendor of the scenery, the charm of colonial architecture, the wonder of the rainforest, and the ecological intensity of the Galapagos Islands.

Andean villages open to the snowcapped peaks of soaring mountains, signs of Incan culture permeate historic cities, and the promise of viewing giant tortoises or large flightless birds on remote volcanic islands create the feeling of adventure, within endless opportunities for luxury.

From dazzling white-sand beaches to the tropical wonderland of dense jungle, Ecuador defies a single definition and celebrates the marvels of its diversity.

Highlights: Quito | Galapagos Islands | Yasuni National Park and Biosphere Reserve

Learn more: Top Seven Must-See Places in Ecuador and The Galapagos Islands | Ecuador Tours & Vacations

2. Peru

Ruins of the great Inca city of Machu Picchu in Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Peru is a country of complexity, with layers that when peeled back reveal magnificent Incan ruins, colorful Andean culture, Spanish colonial architecture, and mysterious artworks etched into the desert.

Intricate and exquisite, delicious and thrilling, Peru can take you down exciting whitewater rapids or have you weave mountain trails to reach renowned Machu Picchu, uncover the stunning colors of a mountain market or sample the favored ceviche of the coast.

Whether visiting pre-Columbian ruins or delving into the Amazon in search of vibrant wildlife, Peru feels authentic, immersive, and compelling.

Highlights: Machu Picchu | Cusco | Sacred Valley | Puerto Maldonado | Nazca | Paracas

Learn more: Top Eight Must-See Places in Peru | Peru Vacations & Tours

3. Chile

Torres del Paine in Southern Chile

Magallanes Region, Chile

Chile provides you with grand nature for a relaxed adventure with intimate panoramas. The landscape welcomes you to the extremes of the natural world as you face southern glacial fields or the driest desert on Earth, sip wine in a fertile valley or wander through an ancient forest.

The humble culture creates a welcoming ambiance among the diverse scenery that can take you on a scenic journey to the edge of Cape Horn, have you cycling along the spine of the Andes Mountains, or horseback riding along the coast. The colossal scale of nature creates an integral connection to the spirit of local life.

Highlights: Atacama Desert | Torres del Paine National Park | Easter Island | Valparaiso

Learn more: Top Seven Must-See Places in Chile | Chile Tours & Vacations

4. Argentina

To the clouds train going through Salta in Argentina

Salta, Argentina

Argentina is endlessly seductive and intense, from the tango to fiery grills, gaucho culture to sprawling vineyards, glacial fields to salt flats, urban wonders to thunderous jungle. Passion creates the connection to the land, food, and wine as it spreads across the country, demonstrated in the perspectives of local culture and tradition that are connected by a national identity.

With the colorful diversity of Buenos Aires’s barrios, the long stretch of golden beaches, the crashing curtain of water from renowned Iguazu Falls, and the wall of ice that demonstrates the raw power of Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina is a wonder of nature, culture, and international historical influence.

Highlights: Buenos Aires | Puerto Iguazú | Salta | Bariloche | Mendoza | El Calafate

Learn more: Top Eight Must-See Places in Argentina | Argentina Tours & Vacations

5. Brazil

An aerial view of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil is an enormous combination of stunning beaches, exotic rainforests, and thrilling metropolises that occupies nearly half of the South American continent.

Portuguese colonial architecture decorates urban jungles and idyllic beaches shimmer with sands that fleck gold to white. The wilderness comes alive with noticeable grandeur along the world’s largest wetlands or within the Amazon.

From the thrills of Carnival to the scintillating aromas of delectable cuisine, Brazil is an adventure of contemporary culture and remarkable biodiversity, where the local rhythm can take hold of you at any moment and reveal the joys of local life.

Highlights: Rio de Janeiro | Foz do Iguaçu | Pantanal | Salvador da Bahia | Amazon Rainforest

Learn more: Top Nine Must-See Places In Brazil | Brazil Tours & Vacations

6. Colombia

Colonial architecture in Gutape, Colombia

Guatape, Colombia

Colombia breaks away from stigma and surpasses expectations to become one of the most fascinating destinations in South America. With the Amazon jungle, Caribbean coastline, Andean peaks, sunkissed deserts, and Spanish colonial architecture, each step you take can uncover a new experience.

The country in its entirety carries a sense of majesty that can immerse you in famous Colombian hospitality as you trek to forgotten temples, lounge on secluded tropical islands, or embrace the fascinating spread of heritage found in archeological sites.

Highlights: Medellin | Cartagena | Cali | Amazon Rainforest | Tayrona National Park | Barichara

Learn more: Experience the Real Encanto: How to Plan a Trip to Colombia | Colombia Vacations & Tours

Learn More About Your Trip to South America with a Travel Specialist

The Sacred Valley in Peru

Sacred Valley, Cusco, Peru

Travel to South America immerses you in a stunning view of dramatic landscapes, provides a different perspective of history, and gives you the chance to explore distinctive cultures and diverse cuisine.

From gauchos to rainforest adventures, impressive ruins to fascinating wines, you have endless opportunities to enjoy where national cultures and the greater South American scenery meet.  Learn how to customize your vacation to South America by completing a Trip Request or by calling 1-888-265-9707 to speak with a Zicasso travel specialist.

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