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

    Aerial shot of Machu Picchu

    Marko Stavric Photography/Moment/Getty Images

    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

    Iguacu waterfall and Devil's Throat, Brazil

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    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

    church of San Pedro in Cartagena, Colombia

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

  • 04 of 50

    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Rio de Janeiro landscape showing Corcovado, the Christ and the Sugar Loaf, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, South America

    Alex Robinson/Getty Images

    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

    add_a_photo Embed Share Buy the print Comp Save to Board Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki) at the beach of Espanola island

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

  • 06 of 50

    Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Argentina, Buenos Aires, Elevated view of Avenida 9 de Julio and Obelisk at sunset

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    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

    Baía dos Porcos, Fernando de Noronha

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    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, Bolivia

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    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

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  • 09 of 50

    Easter Island, Chile

    Seven Moai of Ahu Akivi, Easter Island

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

  • 10 of 50

    Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina

    Perito Moreno Glacier, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina

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    This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to several mountains and numerous glacial lakes. More than half of the 600,000 hectare park is covered in glaciers but the most striking, and famous, is the Perito Moreno Glacier.

  • 11 of 50

    The Amazon Basin

    Amazon Rainforest, Basin, Brazil

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    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, Venezuela

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

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  • 13 of 50
    Cha'llapampa Village and Agricultural Terraces on Lake Titicaca.

    John Elk/Getty Images

    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

    Salvation Islands - Devil Island, Off the coast of French Guiana

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    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

    Tequendama falls, Bogota

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    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
    Pastaza River and valley in Banos de Agua Santa

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    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. 

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  • 17 of 50

    Fort Zeelandia, Suriname

    Fort Zeelandia, Monument for Titus van Asch van Wijck, Suriname

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    Dating from the 17th 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

    Scenic View Of Desert Against Sky in San Pedro de Atacama

    Adrian Wojcik/EyeEm/Getti Images

    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
    Houses Against Clear Blue Sky in Sucre, Bolivia

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    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

    Empty street in Colonia del Sacramento

    ​L. Toshio Kishiyama/Getty Images

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

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  • 21 of 50

    Rosario Islands, Colombia

    Islas del Rosario in Colombia

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    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, Venezuela

    Los Roques town seen from the sea, Venezuela

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    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

    Kaieteur Falls, Potaro-Siparuni, Guyana

    Tim Snell/Getty Images

    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

    Boliva's Death Road

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

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  • 25 of 50

    Cuzco, Peru

    Historic architecture of Cusco, Peru

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    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

    Valparaiso, Chile

    View of colorful buildings, Valparaiso Chile

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    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
    Boats next to a tree on the beach in Galibi, Suriname

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    Near the border with French Guiana, the lovely Galibi Nature 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

    Kukenan tepui and Roraima Tepuis, Venezuela

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

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  • 29 of 50
    Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

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    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

    Guiana Space Centre, Kourou, French Guiana

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

  • 31 of 50
    Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro, brazil

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    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

    Clean wide city skyline of Santiago de Chile
    Getty Images/Germán Vogel

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

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  • 33 of 50

    The Ancient Chimu City of Chan Chan, Peru

    The ritual center of the Tschudi Palace in Chan Chan (Peru)

    DEA/G. DAGLI ORTI/Getty Images 

    A historic city in the north of the country, this dates from the period between the 10th and 15th centuries, and is particularly noted for a superbly innovative irrigation and canal system.

  • 34 of 50
    Quito, Ecuador
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    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

    Ouro Prêto, Brazil

    Brazil, Minas Gerais, Ouro Preto. São Francisco de Assis Church

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

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  • 37 of 50

    Huascarán National Park, Peru

    Wildflowers of Huascaran Park, Peru

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    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

    View Of Sea Against Sky During Sunset, Puerto Madryn, Argentina

     Maria Agostina Gundin/EyeEm/Getty Images

     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

    Punta Sal beach in Tumbes district, Peru

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    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

    Outer Wall at Tiwanaku Civilization Site of Kalasasaya Temple, Bolivia

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    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.

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  • 41 of 50
    Desert oasis village of Huacachina in Peru

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    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. A popular activity for tourists is sand boarding on one of the many sand dunes.

  • 42 of 50

    Asuncion, Paraguay

    Asuncion is the capital city of Paraguay.

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    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

    Sanctuary of Las Lajas Ipiales Colombia

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    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
    Cathedral of Salta, Argentina, South America

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    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

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  • 45 of 50

    Jericoacoara, Brazil

    Tourists taking carriage ride on beach, Jericoacoara National Park, Ceara, Brazil

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    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

    Cordillera Huayhuash mountain range, Northern Peru, Peru

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

  • 47 of 50
    Streetview in Montevideo, Uruguay of colorful colonial architecture

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    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

    Venezuela, Nueva Esparta, Isla De Margarita, Hesperia Isla Margarita hotel

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

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  • 49 of 50
    Patagonia, Bariloche, Nahuel Huapi National Park, View of Llao Lllao historic Hotel

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    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

    old houses in Capurgana, Carribean Coast, Gulf of Uraba, Colombia

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