Top 10 South America Travel Destinations
picture of the cover of a sample tour itinerary
  • Get This Itinerary Now! 📬
Brazil Tours

Top 10 South America Travel Destinations

6 min read

Jul 24, 2012


By Annica Gaither

Share This Post

Top 10 South America Travel Destinations

For those of you who are not familiar with South America, I have compiled a list of my top 10 South America Travel Destinations. Whether you like beaches, history, nature, or big cities, there is something for everyone in South America!

#1:  Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu Peru ToursThe “Lost City of the Incas” is the ancient civilization of Machu Picchu.  Located high in the Andes in central Peru, this archaeology buff’s heaven is surrounded by lush green peaks.  Explore the ruins with one of our knowledgeable local guides, on our Essence of Peru trip, or our Travel of the Incas tour.  Both visit the spectacular ruins as well as travel through Cuzco and the Sacred Valley, two of the main points en route to Machu Picchu. View all Machu Picchu tours

#2:  Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, also known as the “Paris of South America,” is a very cosmopolitan city located on the Rio de la Plata, on the eastern coast of Argentina.  Characterized by excellent cuisine, an internationally diverse population, and European architecture, Buenos Aires truly has a different feel than the other major cities in South America.  Enjoy a delicious Argentine steak, take a walk through the Cementerio de Recoleta, or watch a Tango Show, all readily available and easy to do here in this European style capital with a South American feel. View all Argentina Tours

#3:  Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

rio-de-janeiroBeautiful green mountains jutting out from the earth, and meeting the cool waters of the blue Atlantic Ocean, Rio de Janeiro is a city you will never forget. One of Brazil’s largest cities, Rio is home to the Christ the Redeemer Statue, Carnival, Sugarloaf Mountain, Guanabara Bay, and millions of cheerful Cariocas.  Whether it be relaxing on your rooftop pool at your hotel, or swimming in the ocean and suntanning on the beach, Rio is an excellent option for relaxation while also having an active nightlife. Combine Rio and Buenos Aires with the Tango, Samba & Waterfalls tour

#4:  The Amazon Rainforest

amazon-1The Amazon is a must-see for animal lovers.  Here you are able to see a variety of animals, including parrots, macaws, monkeys, alligators, and even pink dolphins!  Enjoy a cruise on the rustic Tucano or the luxurious Iberostar ship, or if you are more interested in one of the many Amazonian Lodges, go for the Amazon Eco Park, the Anavilhanas, or one of the many lodges in the Peruvian Amazon–you will be sure to have an unforgettable stay! View all Amazon Tours

#5:  The Lakes District, Patagonia (Argentina & Chile)

patagoniaPatagonia and the Lakes District is, of course, a must on our Top 10 South America Travel Destinations. Located in both Chile and Argentina, the Lakes District is the region located just above Patagonia. Lakes and mountains create beautiful vistas for nature enthusiasts.  Our Chile, Andes, and Buenos Aires tour takes you on the Lake Crossing, a full-day journey across the border by boat and motorcoach.  Skiing and trekking are also available in this region.  Be sure to bring your camera to catch a glimpse of the amazing scenery!

#6:  Mendoza, Argentina

mendozaMendoza, located in Argentina at the base of the Andes, is a haven for wine drinkers.  The fertile lands and irrigation systems in place have allowed for a flourishing grape and wine industry.  Come to Mendoza to enjoy the delicious Malbec grapes grown, fermented, processed, and bottled into excellent Argentine wines.  In Mendoza, there are also a wealth of adventure activities such as trekking, rappelling, rafting, horseback riding, and zip line to name a few. View the In-Depth Mendoza Wine Tour

#7:  Cartagena, Colombia

colombiaNo list of the Top 10 South America Travel Destinations would be complete without Cartagena. Cartagena de las Indias, a Caribbean city located on the northern coast of Colombia.  Beautiful beaches, colonial architecture, delicious food, and eclectic people make this coastal city an excellent vacation spot.  On your Cartagena city tour stop by the local fortress, a UNESCO world heritage site, take a cruise over to the tropical Islas Rosarios, or even party on a “chiva,” a local bus that operates as a pub crawl. Try our Colombia Intense tour to visit this exciting Caribbean hot spot!

#8:  Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

galapagos-crabAnother top location for animal enthusiasts, the Galapagos is the ultimate destination.  Hop on a plane from Quito to Baltra, and begin your cruise immediately.  Ranging from smaller boats to larger vessels, see it all by doing day trips to the various islands, viewing the blue-footed boobies, aquatic iguanas, giant tortoises, and other various birds.  It is here that Charles Darwin did his studies on evolution.  Another option is to do island hopping, where you can stay on a different island from day to day, or for scuba divers, ask one of our travel consultants about a diving oriented tour. View all Galapagos Islands Cruises

#9:  Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

boliviaNext up on our list of the Top 10 South America Travel Destinations is Salar de Uyuni. The largest salt flat in the world, Salar de Uyuni, is truly a sight to see.  In the dry season you have a vast expanse of flat salt-covered plains, and in the wet season, the plains flood and create a mirror effect, the reflection of the sky on the flat water is a spectacular sight.  Our Classic Bolivia tour will take you to Uyuni, and you may even stay in a salt hotel!

#10:  Patagonia (the Southern Cone)

Torres del Paine Chile Patagonia Tours

Located in the very south of Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is home to jaw-dropping landscapes and stunning sights.  If you are traveling through Chile, don’t miss the Torres del Paine National Park or the penguin colonies near Punta Arenas.  In Argentina, mini-trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier near El Calafate or visit the “End of the World” in Ushuaia, home to the Beagle Channel as well as more penguin colonies. Patagonia is an excellent option for the outdoorsy type or those interested in photography.

See Yourself in South America!

While there is a never-ending list of fabulous and interesting South America travel destinations, these are my top picks. Wines, nature, wildlife, outdoor activities, or beaches, South America has it all! Are you ready to begin planning your South America adventure? Complete the form below and a member of our Travel Team will contact you to begin working on your itinerary!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Create Your Own Custom Tour

Click your preferences: Destinations & Activities. Be as specific or general as you like - or click Help Me Decide! We'll spice it with hidden gems & personal tips to create your perfect trip.

Choose Amazon destinations (optional)
Choose destinations (optional)
Choose Bolivia destinations (optional)
Choose Brazil destinations (opt)
Choose Chile destinations (opt)
Choose Colombia destinations (optional)
Choose Ecuador & Galapagos destinations (optional)
Choose Paraguay destinations (optional)
Choose Patagonia & Antarctica destinations (optional)
Choose Peru destinations (optional)
Choose Interests
Choose activities
What category of accommodation?

You can choose more than one!

When would you like to go?
How many travelers?
age groups
age groups
Review my trip summary





Highly recommended - Phone: We ❤️ to talk! A brief chat with your personal Travel Consultant helps us create your perfect trip!

Hooray! Thanks for Sharing!

If you have an additional 30 seconds we’d love to learn more about you…

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Custom Form Blue Popup

  • Including accommodations, transportation and activities/tours.
  • One Moment Please

    We are matching your tour idea with the right Travel Consultant
    who will be in touch shortly.
    Thank you for your request!