Top Popular South American Cities

Check out this definitive list of most popular South American cities. In many cases, they are points of entry, capital cities, representative of their countries or distinctive for particular attractions. Each has its own charm and ambiance.

01 of 10

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Argentina, Buenos Aires, Skyline
Jeremy Woodhouse/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Big, sprawling Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is cosmopolitan and yet retains a neighborhood feel in the barrios. Sightseeing, nightlife, including the sensual tango, is a must in this sophisticated city.

For culture ​seekers, Buenos Aires is one of the most popular South American cities to visit.

02 of 10

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

Truly a cidade maravilhosa, Rio is spectacularly located, and to live up to the scenery, cariocas and visitors enjoy a vivid lifestyle nestled between fabulous beaches and rainforested hills.

Rio de Janeiro is known for its nightlife and it's possible to party until the sun comes up. Plan your vacation around Carnavale and you'll experience a party like no other.

03 of 10

Santiago, Chile

View of Santiago with Andes in background
Henry Lederer/Getty Images

Chile's capital city is cosmopolitan, the financial, cultural, and political center of the country. It's graced with tree-lined streets, parks, distinctive neighborhoods, ample assortment of restaurants and hotels.

In addition to its own attractions, Santiago is near ski resorts, beach resorts and the ideal base for excursions into the Central Valley and either extreme of Chile.

04 of 10

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Ponte Estaiada Octavio Frias de Oliveira in Sao Paulo
Carlos Alkmin/Getty Images

The city is South America's largest, Brazil's center of trade and industry. Paulistanos work hard and play hard. Here are some of the things you'll enjoy when you visit São Paulo.

While it's not considered one of the most attractive South American cities, there is plenty to do in Sao Paulo.

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

Bogota, Colombia

Colombia, Bogota, 16th century Iglesia de San Francisco, Bogota's Oldest Restored Church, Intersections of Avendia Jimenez and Carrera Septima
John Coletti/Getty Images

Nestled high in the Andes at 2620 m. (8646 ft), Santafé de Bogotá is a city of contrasts. It's a city of high-rise buildings standing next to colonial churches; a city of universities and theaters with great galleries and museums in Bogota. It is a mixture of influences, Spanish and English and Indian.

It's a great city to arrive in and move onto other areas of Colombia. There are plenty of discount flights that can take you to Cartagena, the coffee triangle and the white city - Popayan.

06 of 10

Lima, Peru

El Malecon park in Miraflores, Lima, Peru
Greg Vaughn/Getty Images

Lima is called the City of Kings for the day it was founded. A vastly important colonial city, Lima now suffers many of the ills of modern South American cities, but visitors who rush through it on the way to Peru's other attractions are missing a wealth of history and culture.

Don't miss out on cool neighborhoods like Barranco or the markets where you can buy freshly made ceviche from vendors.

07 of 10

Caracas, Venezuela

View of downtown Caracas, a valley of skyscrapers.
Krzysztof Dydynski/Getty Images

Venezuela's capital and largest city is the center of commerce, culture, economics and the base for touring the country's attractions, including Angel Falls and the Llanos.

08 of 10

Cartagena, Colombia

Historic center of Cartagena
 Taylor McIntyre / TripSavvy

The old walled city and fortress repelled invaders and pirates in its early days. Now it welcomes visitors to its colonial charm, energetic nightlife, and nearby attractions.

Cartagena is often referred to as the jewel of South America as it is one of the most beautiful South American cities. It's also a great stopping point before moving onto The Lost City and Taganga or onto Playa Blanca, which is considered one of Colombia's most beautiful cities.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Quito, Ecuador

Gothic Quito
John and Tina Reid/Getty Images

Ecuador's capital is a mix of colonial history and modern enterprise, a city in the middle of the world, and a delight to visitors. Tour the city, then venture out on the Pan-American Highway, north and south.

Like most South American cities you should be wary of pickpockets and petty thieves. Keep an eye on your belongings at all times as it's common for tourists to be robbed in Quito in crowded areas.

10 of 10

Salvador, Brazil

Brazil, Bahia, Salvador, Pelourinho, old town
Slow Images/Getty Images

Impressions of this lively city include Candomble, Baina do Acarages, the water, streets, Cairinhas, architecture, and lots of beach time.

Final Thoughts

This is just a small list of so many South American cities that would be wonderful to visit. Choose your adventure, whether it be a culture quest or beach tour and you'll find the right region for you.