Top 5 South American Vacation Destinations

Travel to South America This Fall



Buenos Aires, Argentina

Photo by Travel and Leisure

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[Updated] If you’re planning a vacation outside of the US but don’t want to deal with the hassle of flying to Europe or Asia, South America is an all-too-overlooked travel destination. It offers everything from shopping, hiking, some of the world’s best beaches, and a rich cultural history that has been gaining more and more notoriety among the tourists and explorers worldwide. Its size and diverse cultural makeup make it the perfect place to go to encounter multiple people, places, architecture, and landscapes. Below are five top-rated South American travel destinations, each offering its own distinctive experience. 

Buenos Aires, Argentina

If you’re looking for a sensual, cosmopolitan, European-inspired city with vibrant nightlife and shopping, Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, may be worth looking into. It is, after all, the birthplace of the Argentine Tango. Buenos Aires is considered one of the most diverse cities in South America and is extremely tourist-friendly given the hoards of tourists that the city attracts each year. Visit the “Paris of South America” as it’s often called for one of the most lively theatre scenes in the world. Buenos Aires is home to the Teatro Colon, a world-renowned opera house and a must-see. Its thriving arts culture and world-class botanical garden and zoo can’t be missed and are a large part of its reputation as a bustling cultural mecca. Lastly, and of arguably equal importance, its grand European-inspired boulevards are home to some of South America’s most high-end shopping, so be sure to pack lightly!

San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

When you think of South America, the Swiss Alps probably don’t come to mind, but San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina––nestled in the foothills of the Andes by a glacial lake––is reminiscent of the Alps given its Alpine architecture and climate. Bariloche is a world-renowned ski and snowboard destination during the South American winter, but its breathtaking landscape offers more than just a place to hit the slopes. Hike, ride horses, or bike through the scenic Nahuel Huapi National Park, Cerro Otto, or Refugio Frey, or explore the region’s surrounding lakes. As if out-of-this-world mountain views aren’t enough, the town also specializes in the production of fresh chocolate, and artisanal chocolate treats line the Bariloche’s streets in almost every store window. 

Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru

Cusco, the former capital of the Incan Empire, Cusco has remained high among the Andes through various conquests and is often visited for its ancient archeological remains and panoramic views of its Sacred Valley. Visit Cusco to marvel at the combination of Incan remains and Spanish colonial architecture, a rare and beautiful hybrid. The city offers multiple art, culture, and history museums to acclimate you with its rich past as well as, of course, its ancient ruins. Trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is something that can’t be missed, but be sure to acclimate yourself to the thin mountain air before embarking on any athletic endeavors. Other examples of magnificent Incan construction are the Sacsayhuaman, an ancient fortress, or the Puca Pacara offering superb views over the countryside. Go for a lively summer festival and stay for the spicy Peruvian cuisine.