Updated: Aug 23, 2020
South America is abounding in culture with historical cityscapes and vast landscapes for as far as the eye can see. In this post I'm sharing with you the top ten places that I visited in South America. There are definitely so many more that I didn't get the chance to see but hope to some time in the future. Let your mind wander and your senses run wild as you are captivated by all that South America has to offer.
1. Buenos Aires, Argentina
The bustling and busy beating heart that is Argentina's capital, is nothing short of a cultural hub, with so much going on there's never a dull moment in this lively city. I've written a whole post on my Top 10 Things to do in Buenos Aires, so I won't rattle on too much about how much this city has to offer but I definitely wish I had more time to relish in all its splendour.
2. La Paz, Bolivia
This sprawling city will be nothing like you've ever seen before. An immense valley lined with brown brick houses as far as the eye can see, with a rich history and markets here, there and everywhere, La Paz is a one of a kind place. Its iconic cable cars allow you to really see how spectacular this city is, and the Red Cap walking tour is a brilliant mix of culture, history and local finds.
3. Medellin, Colombia
Definitely one of the most underrated places in South America. Medellin was once one of the most dangerous cities in Colombia around 20 to 30 years ago, but it has transformed into a lively city, with Colombians who are proud to show you their heritage. Definitely check out the famous Comuna 13 and all the cool bars and restaurants in El Poblado. Purple Monkey Hostel was the best!
4. Mendoza, Argentina
Argentina's wine country, this stunning region is home to the Andes Mountains and some of Argentina's finest vineyards and wineries. The best way to explore is catch a bus out to Maipu, and rent a bike for the day and cycle round to the different wineries, stop in for some delicious pasta and red wine for lunch. Then there's plenty of night life going on in town as well, with plenty of bars and restaurants on Avenida Colón.
5. Iguazu Falls, Argentina
If you want to see one of the most breathtaking sights on the planet, I definitely recommend paying a visit to Iguazu Falls. One of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, the pictures will never do it justice, nothing like the sound of the roaring falls and the spray of the rushing water. My best tips are to go early, and to book a small tour group through your hostel if you can. Some tour groups operate with up to 40 people and things can get pretty hectic on the narrow walk ways!
6. Cusco, Peru
Home to the very famous and slightly overrated ancient Incan site of Machu Picchu, this town has much more to offer than that. If you love small restaurants, cobble stoned streets and colonial architecture this place will be your bread and butter at least for a few days.
7. Isla del Sol, Bolivia
This place has that kind of other worldly feeling to it, where you can really sit back, relax and switch off from the world. My Best suggestion is to get a bus from La Paz to Copacabana then a ferry across to the Island. The walk to the top consists of many steep steps, stop half way and enjoy a beer looking out across the lake. Book some accomodation in advanced so when you reach the top you can leave your bag there and head to one of the local restaurants. While it's still daylight sit outside and gaze out at the vast lake while sipping on your favourite beverage. Once dark head inside the restaurant and order your dinner, a deck of cards is an awesome way to help pass time! Wifi is scarce and so is anything after dark so make sure to buy enough water before leaving the restaurant to last until the next day!
8. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio is famous for its hot weather, gorgeous beaches, wild nightlife and of course the Christ the Redeemer statue. I just couldn't not put Rio on this list if you know what I mean, its such an iconic hub that it would be a shame to miss it.
9. Cartagena, Colombia
This town that was once a Spanish port is brimming with Afro-Caribbean culture and life. Small cobble stone streets are lined with street food stalls around each corner, and colourful flags fly overhead. There are plenty of fantastic day trips to some of the most beautiful Caribbean beaches and excellent nightlife as well. The best thing to do is head to the local square, for example, 'Plaza de La Santísima Trinidad', grab a beer from one of the corner shops and some street food from a local stall and enjoy some local music from the near by bars.
10. Lima, Peru
Lima is a huge city, but it definitely has a few gems among the stones. Head to the old quarter to explore the beautiful colonial buildings and cool cafes, or head to China Town for some delicious Chinese food and don't forget the Chinese bakeries! Miraflores is the main neighbourhood where most foreigners tend to stay, but its also full of restaurants and even some quirky local craft beer bars.
I hope what I've shared above can help give you an idea of all the kinds places that you can find in South America, in particular all the culture, history, architecture and amazing food!