With the Amazon Rainforest and Andean peaks, celebrated beaches and intriguing ancient ruins, South America is a diverse destination that offers a mixture of natural majesty and captivating heritage.
With exceptional outdoor adventures and cultural experiences, warm and welcoming locals, and unique highlights in each top South American destination, your vacation will begin with a friendly welcome and end with fantastic memories.
Whether sipping wine in Argentina or visiting the giant tortoises on the Galapagos Islands, explore the top reasons to put South America on your travel wishlist.
From the Andes Mountains to South America’s best beaches, colorful towns in Argentina to the coffee plantations of Colombia, you are spoiled for choice when exploring outdoor adventures and cultural experiences.
With surprising luxury and exclusive opportunities abounding, travelers are often surprised by the high-end experiences and endless possibilities. Cross the Argentinean pampas on private horseback riding tours, explore the snow-white sands of the Atacama Desert, stay in premier lodgings, or venture into the wilderness to find unobstructed views of Incan ruins.
Whether looking for cosmopolitan charm in vibrant cities like Colombia’s Cali or eager to witness the fabulous wildlife of the Galapagos Islands, you can embrace the diversity that stretches from artistic heritage to traditional culture, untouched nature to mouthwatering cuisine.
From the moment you set foot in South America, you will find yourself embraced by the hospitality of the locals.
Whether you're exploring the bustling streets of Bogota, wandering the historic neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, or relaxing on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, you will encounter friendly locals at every turn. You can join traditional dance celebrations, taste authentic local cuisine, and engage in conversations that go beyond the typical tourist experience.
The locals’ willingness to connect with travelers can make for a life-enriching journey as you create lasting memories beyond exploring the attractions and landmarks.
No matter what kind of traveler you are, South America can bring you an exciting adventure or unforgettable luxury. Each destination is unique and provides distinctive experiences based on the local culture. Here, we share what to expect as you consider explorations of its top destinations:
Argentina is geographical diversity on display and preserved cultural heritage in action. With unique ecosystems that range from soaring Andean peaks to harsh desert sands, remote tropical jungle to glistening Patagonian glaciers, the unforgettable architectural traditions only enhance their surrounding natural wonders.
With Spanish colonial towns, expansive high-altitude vineyards, the quintessential neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, and remarkable plains known for ranches and gauchos, Argentina defies singularity. Celebrate traditional marvels that range from the tango to Iguazu Falls, penguins to iconic food and wine.
Learn more: Argentina Travel Guide
Peru is a complex combination of diverse cultures, distinctive ecosystems, and impressive history that creates an unforgettable experience. Ancient settlements, fantastic museums, and mouthwatering cuisine all embody the country’s cultural diversity and demonstrate Peru’s wonder.
From the highest navigable lake in the world to the legend of Machu Picchu, the mysteries of the Nazca Lines to the enticing wildlife of the Amazon, luxurious Pacific beaches to traditional Andean towns, Peru is an endless delight.
Learn more: Peru Travel Guide
Galapagos Islands & Ecuador
Ecuador is timeless in its beauty and distinction, with colonial towns, white-sand beaches, Andean culture, the Amazon Rainforest, and renowned Galapagos Islands. Whether exploring the grandeur of the entire country or discovering the wonders of the Galapagos, you can find endless adventure in the heritage, wildlife, and scenery.
With highland haciendas or remote island lava fields, you can experience cultural and geological diversity, search for tropical birds, or witness the famous blue-footed boobies, with each new experience accentuating what makes Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands fascinating.
Learn more: Galapagos Islands & Ecuador Travel Guide
Exotic plants, vibrant wildlife, colorful culture, and golden- to white-sand beaches create the captivating ambiance of Brazil. Metropolises move to a specific rhythm and the natural landscape exudes an otherworldly beauty. With red-rock canyons and crashing waterfalls, tropical islands fringed with coral to dense rainforest supporting pink dolphins and scarlet macaws, your senses will be in overload.
The range of possibilities spans captivating flavors and idyllic beaches, jungle exploration and world-class museums to create a tropical paradise perfect for the experiences any kind of traveler craves.
Learn more: Brazil Travel Guide
Colombia is a land of surprising treasures and remote corners, where contrasts converge to show you Andean peaks and tropical jungle, idyllic Caribbean beaches and deserts blanketed with the sun. Colonial towns, cosmopolitan cities, coffee culture, and salsa music demonstrate a spirited ambiance across the country, while the alluring outdoors provides countless opportunities for adventure.
Whether looking into colonial history or eager to watch for whales along the Pacific coast, interested in trekking to a forgotten Incan temple or eager to lounge on a tropical beach, Colombia can feel unspoiled and enchanting.
Learn more: Colombia Travel Guide
Chile is an enchanting country of extraordinary nature. The snowcapped Andean mountains disappear along the edges of the white-washed sands of the Atacama Desert and the towers of Torres del Paine National Park fade behind the horizon when visiting Easter Island. Chile feels like an exciting adventure that urges you to slow down and enjoy the experience.
Vineyards spread across the lavish wine region. Museums and art galleries line the neighborhoods of Santiago. The reputation of Pablo Neruda looms large in the preserved architecture and design of the poet’s homes. From ancient forests to parched dunes, fjords to volcanic slopes, Chile is equal parts pristine and enticing.
Learn more: Chile Travel Guide
The best countries in South America display a wide variety of cultural and natural diversity that can introduce you to Andean villages or Amazonian boom towns, cosmopolitan cities or colonial settlements that feel immersed in the landscapes.
With the marvels of nature spanning snowy peaks to hanging glaciers, penguins to caiman, you can learn more in our South America travel guide or explore our featured South America tours and vacations to inspire your custom trip.