Top Popular Cities South American Cities

Gothic Quito
••• Quito, Ecuador. John and Tina Reid/Getty Images

The definitive list of most popular South American cities which are ranked because 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
    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 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 fiesta 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.

    READ: Don't Miss These Day Trips from Santiago.

  • 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
    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
    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 Baranco or the markets where you can buy freshly made ceviche from vendors.

    READ: How to spend 24 hours in Lima

  • 07 of 10
    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 old colonial style street
    ••• Mariusz Kluzniak/Getty Images

    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
    Gothic Quito
    ••• John and Tina Reid/Getty Images

    Ecuador's capital is a mix of colonial history and modern enterprise, a city at the middle of the world, and a delight to visitors. Tour the city, then venture out on the PanAmerican 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.