Top 50 Places to See in South America

South America is a continent that has a huge wealth of places to visit, and while some places draw millions of visitors every year, these locations across the continent will certainly get those feet itching to be back on the road. 

  • 01 of 50

    Machu Picchu, Peru

    Looking down on Machu Picchu

    The iconic hilltop city in Peru is the destination of the Inca Trail, and has amazing architecture in such a remote place, with the spectacular Andean peaks around the area making this a very special place. 

    More: How to Visit Machu Picchu on a Budget

  • 02 of 50

    Iguazu Falls, Brazil and Argentina

    Argentine Falls, Iguazu Falls
    Peter and Jackie Main

    One of the largest waterfalls in the world, this amazing sight can be viewed from both Brazil and Argentina, and the Devil's Throat is a viewpoint with a 270 degree panorama of waterfalls. 

    More: 10 Best Things to Do at Iguazu Falls in Argentina

  • 03 of 50

    Cartagena, Colombia

    Ayngelina Brogan

    This historic colonial city is one of the most impressive on the continent, and the historic center is an UNESCO World Heritage site that provides a wonderful insight into colonial history.

  • 04 of 50

    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Beach in Rio de Janeiro
    Alex Schwab

    The party capital of Brazil is the home of the annual Carnival celebrations drawing nearly two million people, while the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema are truly glamorous beaches. 

    Continue to 5 of 50 below.
  • 05 of 50

    Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

    A natural highlight that lie off the Ecuadorean coast, this is a great destination for scuba diving and for spotting unusual species such as the giant Galapagos turtles.

    More: How to Visit the Galapagos on a Budget

  • 06 of 50

    Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Buenos Aires Plaza
    Ron Miller - author of Escape from the Happy Cannibal

    The cosmopolitan Argentine capital is a lovely place to visit, with some wonderful districts for food and entertainment, and is a great place to learn the tango.

  • 07 of 50

    Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

    Fernando de Noronha
    Luis Veiga / Getty Images

    A beautiful island archipelago that is noted for some wonderful beaches and the excellent quality of the water around the islands.

  • 08 of 50

    Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

    Salar de Uyuni jeep Bolivia
    Peter and Jackie Main

    The home of the salt flats is an amazing place to visit, and after a rain shower, the flat surface reflects the sky for an amazing view. 

    More: Questions You Need to Ask Before Choosing a Salt Flats Tour

    Continue to 9 of 50 below.
  • 09 of 50

    Easter Island, Chile

    Easter Island Moais
    (c)Arian Zwegers

    Famous for the giant stone heads of the indigenous culture, this island is a fascinating and haunting place to visit.

    More: How to See Easter Island on a Budget

  • 10 of 50

    Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina

    Los Glaciares National Park, Moreno Glacier
    Kevin Schafer / Getty Images

    Famous for the giant stone heads of the indigenous culture, this island is a fascinating and haunting place to visit. 

  • 11 of 50

    The Amazon Basin

    This area is amazing for its biodiversity and the great range of river cruises and hikes you can take in the area.

  • 12 of 50
    Angel Falls
    Peter and Jackie Main

    This remote waterfall in the Canaima National Park is a stunning sight, and once there the view of the 979 meter waterfall is spectacular.

    Continue to 13 of 50 below.
  • 13 of 50
    Andes seen from Lake Titicaca

    In the Andean highlands between the two countries, Lake Titicaca has a fascinating indigenous population that live on small floating islands on the lake.

  • 14 of 50

    Salvation Islands, French Guiana

    Devil's Island French Guiana

    A short distance off the coast of French Guiana, these islands were a penal colony, but today they are a laid back haven with some lovely beaches and great wildlife.

  • 15 of 50

    Tequendama Falls, Colombia

    This waterfall sees a huge amount of water crash on to the rocks over 150 meters below, while the nearby museum in an eerie mansion is certainly worth exploring too. 

    More: Best Waterfalls in South America

  • 16 of 50
    Image (c)

    Widely known as the adventure sports capital of the country, Banos lies in the shadow of a volcano, and has facilities for white water rafting, canyoning, kayaking, mountain biking and hiking. 

    Continue to 17 of 50 below.
  • 17 of 50

    Fort Zeelandia, Suriname

    Dating from the seventeenth century, this Dutch fortress shows off some of the ways that colonial forces could make it a pleasant as well as a secure place to be.

  • 18 of 50

    San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

    Ayngelina Brogan

    This town on the Atacama desert is a great base from which to explore the wonders of the desert, with great views of nearby volcanoes.

  • 19 of 50
    Sucre Cathedral Tower
    Peter and Jackie Main

    The constitutional capital of the country, Sucre is a beautiful city with a wonderful colonial architecture at its heart, with the House of Freedom and the Cathedral among the highlights.

  • 20 of 50

    Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

    Waterfront, Colonia del Sacramento
    Thomas Schmitt / Getty Images

    This charming city overlooking the ocean has a wonderful historic quarter, which is one of the best preserved in South America.

    Continue to 21 of 50 below.
  • 21 of 50

    Rosario Islands, Colombia

    Famous for stunning beaches and clear water, this small archipelago is a great place to explore, with activities such as scuba diving and swimming very popular.

  • 22 of 50
    Los Roques
    Paolo Negri / Getty Images

    This archipelago is a national park that draws many visitors, particularly those who enjoy yachting and those who come to enjoy the superb scuba diving around the coral reefs.

  • 23 of 50

    Kaieteur National Park, Guyana

    Most famous for the spectacular Kaieteur Falls, this national park is home to remarkable natural species and some pristine jungle. 

  • 24 of 50

    Death Road, Bolivia

    Death Road in Bolivia
    (c)Matthew Straubmuller

    This road skirts the dangerous cliffs for over sixty miles, and has now had a great lease of life as a mountain biking destination.

    Continue to 25 of 50 below.
  • 25 of 50

    Top 10 Things to Do in Cusco

    Cuzco Plaza

    One of the most important settlements in the country even before the arrival of the colonial forces, Cuzco is a beautiful city and is a gateway to places such as Machu Picchu.

  • 26 of 50

    What To Do In Valparaiso, Chile

    (c)Sharon Hanh Darlin

    A city set on a lovely curved bay, Valparaiso is best known for the series of funicular railways used to carry workers up to the hilltop suburbs.

  • 27 of 50

    Near the border with French Guiana, this lovely reserve is where people can see the amazing Sea Turtles on the beaches between February and April.

  • 28 of 50

    Mount Roraima, Guyana, Brazil and Venezuela

    Roraima Rock Formation
    Peter and Jackie Main

    A tabletop mountain in a remote location, hiking this mountain is challenging, and provides sensational views of the surrounding forest.

    Continue to 29 of 50 below.
  • 29 of 50
    Torres del Paine Chile
    Peter and Jackie Main

    This mountain range is famous for the very steep peaks that rise up almost vertically into the air, with the W Trek the best way to get an up close look at the site.

  • 30 of 50

    Guiana Space Center, French Guiana

    This space center is a fascinating place to visit with all the infrastructure of space launches along with a lovely location.

  • 31 of 50

    This coastal Brazilian city is a great place to visit, and is within easy reach of several excellent beaches, while also having some wonderful nightlife to enjoy.

  • 32 of 50

    Santiago, Chile

    Barrio Bellavista Santiago Chile

    The Chilean capital is a cosmopolitan and vibrant city, and offers some wonderful historical areas to explore, and some great local wines.

    More: Best Day Trips from Santiago

    Continue to 33 of 50 below.
  • 33 of 50

    The Ancient Chimu City of Chan Chan, Peru

    Administrative area Chan Chan Peru
    Peter and Jackie Main

    A historic city in the north of the country, this dates from the period between the tenth and fifteenth centuries, and is particularly noted for a superbly innovative irrigation and canal system.

  • 34 of 50

    Officially it is the highest altitude capital in the world, and is particularly noted for great colonial architecture.

  • 35 of 50
    Lima Peru cathedral and Plaza de Armas

    Located on the coast, this lovely city is a great place to explore with a vibrant culture, and the amazing Miraflores cliffs where paragliding is popular. 

  • 36 of 50

    A Visit to Ouro Prêto, Brazil

    Ouro Preto
    Peter and Jackie Main

    Once the silver mining capital of Brazil, today Ouro Preto is a sleepier city that has a wealth of historic buildings, and beautifully preserved surroundings.

    Continue to 37 of 50 below.
  • 37 of 50

    National Parks And Nature Reserves In Peru

    Ranrahirca and Huascaran
    Jorge Garcia Duran

    Home to the highest mountain in Peru, this Andean national park is great for those who love mountain scenery.

  • 38 of 50

    Puerto Madryn, Argentina

    Whale Watching, Puerto Madryn
    Roberto Ingledew

     A great place from which to explore the natural species of Patagonia, including penguins and dolphins, with the city being the gateway to the wonderful Peninsula Valdes. 

  • 39 of 50

    Mancora, Peru

    Image © ms.akr

    This beautiful beach town is a haven for those who have a passion for surfing, and it has developed a laid back party culture.

    More: Best Places to Surf in South America

  • 40 of 50

    Tiwanaku, Bolivia

    Tiwanaku Wall

    An important site in the Aymara culture, this ancient religious site has some stunning monuments, and is also home to the annual New Year festival.

    Continue to 41 of 50 below.
  • 41 of 50

    This small town is located in an area that is largely desert, with the buildings located around the oasis lake which sustains this remarkable town.

  • 42 of 50
    Asuncion Skyline

    The Paraguayan capital is an interesting place to visit with some nice colonial buildings and a good nightlife. 

  • 43 of 50

    Santuario de las Lajas, Colombia

    Lajas Cathedral
    ©2006 Ron Miller, All Rights Reserved

    A remarkable basilica built in a steep sided gorge, this building is a beautiful Gothic Revival church in an apparently impossible location. 

  • 44 of 50
    Salta Cabildo
    Roberto Ingledew

    The capital of the gaucho culture in Argentina, this town is a great base to explore, as well as being the station to take the 'Train to the Clouds'.

    More: Where to Find Cowboys in South America

    Continue to 45 of 50 below.
  • 45 of 50

    Jericoacoara, Brazil

    Hailed as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, this remote area has large sand dunes, calm waters that are great for swimming and some nice spots for relaxing.

  • 46 of 50

    Huayhuash, Peru

    This mountain range has some fantastic wildlife including condors and llamas, while the Huayhuash Circuit is a very popular trekking route.

  • 47 of 50
    Montevideo Building
    ©2006 Ron Miller Author of Escape From The Happy Cannibal

    A popular coastal city with a lovely seafront area, Montevideo has great botanical gardens, along with some nice colonial architecture.

  • 48 of 50

    Isla de Margarita

    Isla Margarita, Playa Guayacan
    Nicholas Pitt / Getty Images

    A lovely Caribbean island, Margarita is famous for great beaches and for being a top windsurfing and kitesurfing destination.

    Continue to 49 of 50 below.
  • 49 of 50
    Bariloche and Lake
    Peter and Jackie Main

    A mountain town with a Swiss influence, in the summer it is known for hiking and mountain biking, and in winter it becomes a skiing destination.

  • 50 of 50

    Capurgana, Colombia

    A coastal town with a tropical climate, Capurgana is best known for its fabulous scuba diving available between April and November.