It can be difficult to decide where to travel on a South America vacation, especially since South America boasts 12 countries with over 60 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and Brazil alone has over 7000 miles of beautiful coastline. How to choose the perfect itinerary for your budget, trip style, and time frame? Here are our 3 Must-See South America travel destinations that you simply shouldn’t miss.
South America Travel Destination #1: Machu Picchu, Peru
Named one of the 7 New Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is a South America travel destination for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Whether you travel to Machu Picchu by train from Cusco and the Sacred Valley, or if you hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, this magnificent city of stone is nothing short of marvelous. Perched high up in the foothills of the Peruvian cloud forest, Machu Picchu was once an Inca city, undiscovered by the Spanish conquistadors and thus the best-preserved Inca archeological site today.
On a Machu Picchu Peru Tour, you can walk among the Inca stone buildings, many of them with stones still perfectly intact. Gaze out over the iconic Incan farming terraces and the lush Urubamba River valley. And if you’re feeling adventurous, take a half-day hike up to Huayna Picchu, the cliff towering above Machu Picchu – it’s a fun hike and affords great views of Machu Picchu from above.
Insiders Tip: Make sure to purchase your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu and the optional Huayna Picchu hike ahead of time. And try to get to the entrance of Machu Picchu early, to beat the crowds!
South America Travel Destination #2: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
With it’s dazzling white-sand beaches, sunbathers, samba music, and delicious Brazilian cuisine, Brazil a world-famous South America travel destination – and Rio de Janeiro the most famous of them all. Highlights include a cable car ride to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, and a cogwheel ride to the top of Corcovado, where the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue overlooks the city with outstretched arms. Then there are the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, where you can go surfing, swimming, play beach volleyball, go rollerblading on the sidewalks, or just work on your tan.
And every February, Rio de Janeiro is transformed into the World’s Biggest Party, as it hosts the Rio Carnival Parade. During Carnival season, samba schools compete to participate in the Champion’s Parade, by putting on the best samba music, most colorful and daring costumes, and most appealing dance moves. It’s a rowdy and lively event that is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Insiders Tip: If you’re looking for a quieter beach getaway, take a weekend trip to Buzios, just north of Rio de Janeiro.
South America Travel Destination #3: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Thrilling, dramatic, stylish, and romantic. These words all describe Buenos Aires, sometimes nicknamed “The Paris of South America” because of the strong European cultural influence – and the porteños’ penchant for shopping. On a Buenos Aires Argentina Tour, you can go shopping in downtown Buenos Aires, especially in the posh Palermo district. The San Telmo Antique Market is a wonderful place to find unique treasures.
Buenos Aires is most famous for its tango dancing clubs, where you can go out for dinner and enjoy a live tango dance show as well. Buenos Aires is also well-known for its wine and steak, as many of the Gauchos from Argentina’s pampas region are cattle herders, and beefsteak is one of Argentina’s largest export. And soccer, or futbol, particularly in the Boca Juniors stadium, is nothing less than a passion for porteños.
Insiders Tip: Take a day trip from Buenos Aires to the Tigre Delta, where elite porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) have their summer homes on the beautiful Tigre River Delta.
Check out our Tango, Samba, & Waterfalls Tour, which combines the South America travel destinations Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, as well as the Iguassu Falls. Love what you’re reading? Download our FREE South America Travel Brochure E-Book!