Last Updated on 20th February 2023
South America is a continent that is full of vibrant cultures, diverse landscapes, and unique cities that are waiting to be explored. Whether you’re a history buff, an adventure-seeker, or a foodie, South America has something for everyone. Here are ten must-visit cities in South America that you should add to your travel bucket list.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is a city full of life, culture, and passion. This bustling metropolis is the largest city in Argentina and is known for its European-inspired architecture, tango music and dance, and delicious cuisine.
Some of the must-visit attractions in Buenos Aires include the Teatro Colon, one of the world’s most fantastic opera houses, the colourful La Boca neighbourhood, and the Recoleta Cemetery, where many famous Argentines are buried.
Whilst you are there why not go to a football match and watch the great Boca Juniors play. The stadium turns itself into an impromptu carnival on match days where the supporters are just as fun to watch as the players.
Visitors can also enjoy a night out in one of Buenos Aires’ many tango clubs or indulge in a delicious steak dinner at one of the city’s many top-notch restaurants. Argentina is infamous for its beef and the myriad of great steak restaurants will dazzle you.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is a city that is famous for its stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and iconic landmarks such as Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain.
This coastal city is known for its lively samba music and dance, as well as its delicious street food. Some must-visit attractions in Rio de Janeiro include Copacabana Beach, Ipanema Beach, and the famous Carnival celebration.
Tours of the Favellas are now a popular attraction for tourists and can be arranged at your hotel by the concierge. Always use an approved tour guide as some Favellas are not for the faint-heated.
Santiago is a city that is full of culture, art, and wine. This cosmopolitan city is home to many world-renowned museums and art galleries, such as the Museum of Memory and Human Rights and the Museum of Fine Arts.
Some of the must-visit attractions in Santiago include the Cerro San Cristobal, which offers stunning views of the city, and the Central Market, where you can sample some of Chile’s famous seafood dishes.
Visitors can also take a day trip to the nearby Maipo Valley, where they can taste some of Chile’s delicious wines and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Cartagena is a colourful, vibrant city located on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. This city is known for its colonial architecture, vibrant nightlife, and beautiful beaches.
Some of the top attractions in Cartagena include the historic Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, a 17th-century fortress that offers stunning views of the city.
Columbia’s reputation has been improved over the last ten years and a government push for the tourist trade has made it much safer and easier to visit.
Visitors can also take a boat trip to the nearby Rosario Islands, where they can enjoy some of the best beaches in the Caribbean.
Montevideo is a city full of charm, history, and culture. This capital city is located on the banks of the Rio de la Plata and is known for its beautiful beaches, stunning architecture, and delicious cuisine.
Some of the must-visit attractions in Montevideo include the historic Ciudad Vieja, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Palacio Salvo, which is a beautiful art deco building that offers stunning views of the city; and the Mercado del Puerto, which is a lively market where you can sample some of Uruguay’s famous meat dishes.
La Paz, Bolivia
La Paz is a city that is located high in the Andes Mountains and is known for its stunning mountain scenery, vibrant culture, and unique cuisine. Bolivia has long been overlooked as a must-visit destination in South America but huge investment into infrastructure has opened it up for the tourist trail.
This city is home to many world-renowned museums and art galleries, such as the Museum of Ethnography and Folklore and the National Museum of Art. Some of the top attractions in La Paz include the historic Witches’ Market, the beautiful Valle de la Luna, and the Chacaltaya Ski Resort, one of the world’s highest ski resorts.
Visitors can also take a cable car ride to the nearby city of El Alto, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Medellin is a city full of life, culture, and innovation. This city is known for its vibrant nightlife, beautiful parks, and unique architecture.
Some of the must-visit attractions in Medellin include the historic Pueblito Paisa, which is a replica of a traditional Colombian village; the Parque Explora, which is a science museum that is fun for all ages; and the Botanical Garden, which is a beautiful park that is full of exotic plants and flowers.
Visitors can also take a cable car ride to the nearby Parque Arvi, which offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding mountains.
Lima is the capital city of Peru and is known for its rich history, culture, and cuisine. The city is on the Pacific coast and offers stunning ocean views.
Some of the top attractions in Lima include the historic Plaza Mayor, which is the main square of the city and is surrounded by beautiful colonial architecture; the Larco Museum, which showcases some of the best pre-Columbian art and artefacts; and the Miraflores neighbourhood, which is known for its beautiful parks and trendy restaurants.
Visitors to Lima should also try the local cuisine, including ceviche, lomo saltado, and ají de gallina.
Caracas is the capital of Venezuela, a city with a rich cultural heritage and a vibrant atmosphere. The city is situated in a valley surrounded by mountains, which gives it a unique natural setting.
There are many places to visit in Caracas, including the beautiful Avila National Park, which offers hiking trails and panoramic views of the city. The Old Town is another must-visit attraction, with its colourful colonial buildings and historic plazas.
One of the most famous landmarks in Caracas is Bolivar Square, named after Simon Bolivar, the liberator of Venezuela. The square is home to the National Pantheon, where Bolivar’s remains are interred, and the Capitolio Nacional, which houses the National Assembly. Other places of interest include the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Teresa Carreño Cultural Complex, and the Botanical Garden.
It is essential when travelling to Venezuela to check with your embassy as there have been issues in the last few years that have made it difficult to apply for travel visas.
Paramaribo is the capital of Suriname, a small country in South America that tourists often overlook. The city has a unique blend of Dutch and Creole influences, which can be seen in its architecture and cuisine.
One of the must-see attractions in Paramaribo is the historic centre, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The buildings in the centre are characterized by their Dutch colonial architecture, and many have been restored to their original condition.
Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral is another highlight of Paramaribo, a beautiful wooden structure that dates back to the 19th century. The city is also home to the Suriname Museum, which showcases the history and culture of the country, and the Presidential Palace, which is open to visitors. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve is a must-visit attraction for nature lovers, with its pristine rainforest and abundant wildlife.
Georgetown is the capital of Guyana, a country on the northern coast of South America. The city has a unique blend of Indian, African, and European cultures, seen in its architecture, cuisine, and festivals.
One of the must-see attractions in Georgetown is the St. George’s Cathedral, which is one of the tallest wooden buildings in the world. The cathedral has a Gothic Revival design and is a beautiful example of colonial architecture.
The Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology is another must-visit attraction in Georgetown, which houses an extensive collection of Amerindian artefacts and exhibits on Guyanese culture. The city is also home to the National Museum of Guyana, which has exhibits on the country’s history and natural resources. For nature lovers, Kaieteur Falls is a must-visit attraction, a stunning waterfall that is five times higher than Niagara Falls.
Overall, South America is a continent that is full of unique and vibrant cities that offer something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, cuisine, or nature, there is a city in South America that is sure to capture your heart and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.
When travelling to any new destination it is essential to check which vaccinations you will need before entering the country.