The experts in boutique travel To Peru and South America
51 Best Places to Visit in South America
December 14, 2023
Ancient cities. Exotic destinations. Breathtaking natural
wonders. If you’re planning to travel around South
America, these are the places you should visit. Keep
reading to discover the 51 best places to visit in South
America and make sure to add them to your bucket list.
1. Machu Picchu (Peru)
Most people have heard of it, or glanced at a passing
photo, but not everyone has seen
in person. This majestic ancient Inca citadel is one of
the New Seven Wonders of the World, and you can get there
by hiking the famous
or by taking the train.
The ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.
2. Iguazu Falls (Argentina and Brazil)
As they say, don’t go chasing waterfalls because you’ll be
chasing over 275 of them at Iguazu Falls. Combined, these
falls make up the largest waterfall in the world and are
best viewed from the Argentinian side where you can get up
close to the misty views.
A boat floats near the incredible Iguazu Falls.
3. Christ the Redeemer Statue, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
In order to fully experience Rio de Janeiro, you have to
visit the most incredible tourist attraction in South
America — the statue of Christ the Redeemer. Standing at
125 feet (38 m) with it’s pedestal, this colossal statue
is one of the most-recognizable landmarks in South
America, and one of the best places to view the city.
The Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking the city of
4. Sacred Valley (Peru)
For those whole love sweeping views mixed with ancient
Sacred Valley of the Incas
is the perfect destination. Located in one of the most
popular countries to visit in South America, the Sacred
Valley holds ancient Inca agricultural testing sites, salt
mines, ruins and so much more.
A view of the rolling mountains and sweeping green
land of the Sacred Valley. Photo by Ana Castañeda for
Peru for Less.
You could say this is one of the coolest places to visit,
but it’s also one of the hottest. This desert plateau that
stretches nearly 995 miles (1600 km) along Chile’s Pacific
coastline is one of the best places in the world to view
the Milky Way. Additionally, it’s the driest desert in the
world, so make sure to come prepared.
The Atacama desert — the world’s driest desert.
6. Salkantay Mountain (Peru)
Keen on trekking during your travels? Save a few days for
Salkantay Mountain trek. This trek takes you up to the Andes, near massive
glaciers, and through the cloud forest into the
rainforest. Added bonus — it leaves you off at Machu
The snow-capped peak of Salkantay Mountain looms in
7. Laguna Verde (Bolivia)
This high-altitude lake rests at the foot of two volcanoes
in Bolivia. It’s brilliant color ranges from emerald green
to a bright turquoise depending on how windy it is, but
it’s not a place to swim so leave your swimming gear at
For a peaceful retreat, make time to visit the Monasterio
de Santa Catalina in
Arequipa. In fact, this historic convent was built in 1580 and is
still active today. You can take a guided tour
(recommended) with one of the expert tour guides at the
The Monasterio de Santa Catalina in Arequipa is known
for its vibrantly-colored walls and beautiful arches.
9. Colca Canyon (Peru)
Colca Canyon, one of the most beautiful places to go on vacation, is
nearly twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and is designated
as the second deepest canyon in the world. Hard to imagine
anything deeper than the Grand Canyon, but this one takes
the cake. Not to mention, you can spot one of Peru’s most
interesting birds: the Andean condor.
Tourists watch as condors soar over the Colca Canyon.
Photo by Ana Castañeda for Peru for Less.
10. Buenos Aires (Argentina)
If you’re in search of one of the more popular vacation
spots in South America, Buenos Aires should be at the top
of your list. This artsy-bohemian city is full of places
to explore and has an exciting night life. As a matter of
fact, if you’re a self-proclaimed foodie, you’ll love the
The intricate and stunning architecture of Buenos
Aires. Photo by
11. Potosi (Bolivia)
Potosi is one of the highest cities in the world and also
one of South America’s most wealthy cities due to its
history of silver mining. As an added bonus, Potosi is the
jumping off point for the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia’s famous
As soon as you’ve explored Potosi, head over to one of the
most famous places in Bolivia, the Bolivian salt flats of
Salar de Uyuni. Many people like to bring props along to
take a popular reflection photo similar to the one below.
A man stands on the reflective surface of Salar de
Uyuni, or the Bolivian salt flats.
13. Barranco, Lima (Peru)
Another bohemian/artsy destination. This quirky
is perfect for art lovers and foodies and has access to
the nearby Miraflores Boardwalk and beach.
19. Amazon Rainforest (Peru)
The Amazon is one of the
best places to visit in South America and
most easily accessible in Peru. It is a vibrant ecosystem
bustling with some of the most diverse species on the
planet. Pick from one of three popular
Amazon destinations: Puerto Maldonado, Iquitos or Manu National Park (and
make sure you bring bug spray!).
A view of the dense jungle of the Amazon Rainforest in
Puerto Maldonado, Peru. Photo by
20. Lake Titicaca (Peru, Bolivia)
Check off two countries at once with a visit to
on the border between Bolivia and Peru. Titicaca reigns
above all other lakes as the highest navigable lake in the
world, and it’s filled with so many things to see: The
Uros Floating Islands, Tequile Island and Puno.
People dressed in brightly-colored traditional
clothing welcome tourists to the Floating Islands on
Lake Titicaca. Photo by Alicia Gonzalez for Peru for
21. Galapagos (Ecuador)
Check off this top bucket-list item with a
cruise in the Galapagos. See where Darwin researched
On the Origin of Species and explore the islands’
diversity with an unparalleled opportunity for wildlife
observation. For this reason it is one of our top (and
favorite) destinations in all of South America.
Sea lions relax on the sandy shores of the Galapagos
22. Cartagena (Colombia)
Immerse yourself in the romance and beauty of Cartagena.
This old Colombian city is known for its cobblestone
streets and horse drawn carriages. Take a street food
tour, then relax on the Caribbean coastline.
A photo taken on the lively streets of the vibrant
architecture of Cartagena. Photo by
23. Pelourinho district, Salvador (Brazil)
Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, Pelourinho
promises exquisite colonial architecture, exciting
capoeira experiences and sensational views of All Saints’
Bay. As soon as you arrive, you’ll be sure to fall
A view of the colorful and inviting architecture of
the Pelourinho district.
24. Plaza de Armas, Cusco (Peru)
With any trip to South America, a walk-through of the
Plaza de Armas in
is a must. Though the architecture in the Plaza is
attributed to the Spanish style, it was the Incas who
actually built each massive cathedral. Take in views of
the Andes and the city while enjoying lunch on one of the
many balconies overlooking the Plaza.
The Spanish cathedrals and beautiful green park area
of the main Plaza de Armas in Cusco.
25. Los Glaciares National Park (Argentina)
Los Glaciares National Park is one of the top places to
visit in Argentina. Surprisingly, it is home to the
largest ice cap found outside of Greenland and Antarctica.
With over 47 glaciers in the area, the landscape almost
A panoramic view of the massive glaciers of Los
Glaciares National Park in Argentina.
26. Pantanal (Brazil)
Plan ahead if you want to add Pantanal to your list. This
remote location, nearly the size of Washington state, is
home to the world’s largest tropical wetland and is
another of South America’s designated UNESCO World
Heritage sites. Spot a diverse range of wildlife akin to
what you’d experience in the Amazon, minus the obscured
A birds-eye-view of the tropical wetlands of Pantanal
in Brazil. Photo by
27. Ushuaia (Argentina)
If you’re looking to find the end of the world, look no
further. Of all the places to see in Argentina, Ushuaia
may be the most beautiful and the most remote. This
capital city of the Tierra del Fuego region is the
southernmost city in the world and, for this reason, it is
perfect for whale-watching and penguin-spotting.
The Les Éclaireurs Lighthouse, also known as the
lighthouse at the end of the world, is a popular
tourist attraction in Ushuaia.
28. Tayrona National Park (Colombia)
Warm sandy beaches meet shady palm trees and cozy coves in
this protected national park. Take a walk on one of the
many forest trails and discover ancient ruins built by the
Tayrona civilization between 200 C.E. and 1600 C.E. Then,
enjoy a bit of sun on the beach.
36. Las Lajas Sanctuary (Colombia)
Built in the traditional Gothic style, this basilica
church is situated in the canyon of the Guáitara River.
Due to the location and architecture, many people have
said this is the most beautiful church they have ever seen
— and it’s not hard to see why.
Tourists enjoy the beautiful scenery and architecture
at las Lajas Sanctuary in Colombia. Photo by
Jerzy Andrzej Kucia on Pixabay.
37. Caño Cristales (Colombia)
Caño Cristales, also known as the “River of Five Colors”
or “Liquid Rainbow” is a must see in Colombia. Though the
river is just average in size, its vivid colors highlight
the yellows, blues, greens, reds and blacks of the flora
and sediments within.
If Caño Cristales wasn’t enough color for you, head over
to Laguna Colorada in Bolivia. This vibrant red salt lake
spans around 6,000 hectares and sits within the Eduardo
Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve near the border of
Chile. In other words, it’s a truly colorful