As the winter months approach in the northern hemisphere, many travelers start looking south for warmer weather destinations to visit. South America offers tremendous beauty and diversity across its many countries, along with plenty of great options for winter getaways. From idyllic beaches and Amazon jungle excursions to spectacular mountain landscapes and captivating cities, there is something to satisfy every type of travel craving.
- Escape northern winter to sunny destinations like Brazil’s beaches or Argentina’s wine region this summer season in South America.
- Must-see attractions await from Machu Picchu’s peak spiritual vibes to Patagonia’s grand glaciers and alluring wildlife encounters in the Pantanal.
- Get your culture fix wandering South American cities like Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and artsy Valparaíso.
- Flex your adventure muscles climbing Cerro Fitz Roy or tackling Chile’s Carretera Austral scenic highway.
- Broaden horizons by visiting Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands and mysterious Easter Island off Chile’s coast.
This list of the top 30 places in South America to consider visiting this winter takes you on a journey across the best of what the continent has to offer. Prepare to discover renowned attractions like Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands, while also being introduced to hidden gems few tourists experience. Whether looking for culture, nature, adventure, wildlife encounters or plain old rest and relaxation, you’re sure to find temptation in the destinations below. Just be warned – after visiting South America in its shining winter glory, you may never want to spend another northern hemisphere winter at home again!
1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Famed for its dramatic landscape, Copacabana Beach and nonstop energy, Rio de Janeiro shines as a top winter destination. Prepare to be dazzled by the sights of Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer statue towering over the city, and world-famous marquee events like Rio Carnival.
2. Machu Picchu, Peru
No trip to South America is complete without visiting the magnificent and mysterious ruins of Machu Picchu, tucked high in the Andes Mountains. Take a train through Sacred Valley and explore this 15th century Incan citadel, featuring unbelievable stonework and panoramic views. In addition, you can also read an article on- Top 25 Christmas Cities in Europe 2023: Festive Destinations for Your Holiday Getaway
3. Easter Island, Chile
This remote Pacific island holds the legendary moai – stone statues that have intrigued visitors for centuries. Fly into Easter Island’s airport or arrive by cruise to explore the moai archaeological sites and learn about the intriguing native Rapa Nui culture.
4. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Full of European architecture, bohemian cafes, vibrant nightlife and top-notch steakhouses, the Argentinian capital offers an irresistible blend of the classic and contemporary. Don’t miss visiting one of BA’s many museums or watching a sultry tango show.
5. Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Patagonia
Crisp air and roaming guanacos set the stage for adventures within Chile’s premiere national park. Take your pick of hiking through the rocky granite spires and turquoise lakes or horseback riding through the Patagonian steppe while surrounded by breathtaking mountain vistas.
6. La Paz, Bolivia
Based high amidst the Andes lies the world’s highest capital city. Explore fascinating markets and Spanish colonial architecture before breathing deep among the otherworldly rock formations of Moon Valley. Don’t miss a chance for an adventure tour taking you down the thrilling road to Death Road.
7. Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
For animal lovers, topping your South America travel list should be spotting giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas and even dolphins in one of the most biologically diverse places in the world – the Galápagos Islands.
8. Atacama Desert, Chile
Not your average desert, Chile’s Atacama provides one of the world’s clearest viewings of the Milky Way galaxy at night. Daytime activities involve flamingo spotting on lagoons, sandboarding down iron-oxide dunes or exploring Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley).
9. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
The world’s largest salt flat transforms into the world’s largest mirror after rains, creating dream-like scenes of clouds drifting along the flat horizons. This magical place is full of photo ops – don’t miss seeing the cacti-studded salt mounds or the famous salt hotel. Additionally, you can also read about- Spanning the Globe: 20 Most Beautiful Bridges in the World
10. Iguazú Falls, Argentina/Brazil Border
Roaring water cascades in unforgettable glory all along the Argentina and Brazil border at Iguazu Falls, a massive waterfall system comprising 275 separate falls across over 2 kilometers. Walk the trails and access incredible viewing platforms with panoramas sure to leave you breathless.
11. Cartagena, Colombia
Soak up some tropical vibes in Cartagena, Colombia’s #1 tourist city for a reason. Join walking tours of the colorful colonial streets and formidable protective walls before cooling down with fruit cocktails at open air cafes inside walled courtyards.
12. Sao Paulo, Brazil
Visit South America’s largest city for a bustling metropolis vibe full of art museums, symphony halls, gourmand delicacies and interesting architecture left over from the coffee boom era of the 1920s. Don’t leave without stopping at the historic municipal market.
13. Auckland Island, Chile
Live out your Antarctic explorer dreams with a cruise stopping at one of the planet’s most remote inhabited islands, Chile’s Auckland Island. Spot elephant seals or sinking coniferous forests straight out of Lord of the Rings as you sail Patagonia’s Strait of Magellan.
14. Angel Falls, Venezuela
Imagine massive cascades of water dropping uninterrupted nearly 1 kilometer into the lush jungle below – now you have a picture of Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall. Though Venezuela faces security and economic challenges, visiting Angel Falls and Canaima National Park is still on many bucket lists.
15. Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
A tropical island paradise offshore of Brazil, Fernando de Noronha charms with its tranquility, intimacy and natural beauty. Divers and snorkelers thrill at the chance to encounter sea turtles, spinner dolphins and even hammerhead sharks. Hiking trails and beautiful beaches offer relaxation between adventures.
16. Lake Titicaca, Peru/Bolivia Border
The highest navigable lake in the world has supported Andean cultures for millennia. Take a boat tour to learn more about the floating Uros Islands used by the Uros people while taking in dramatic high-altitude views of the sparkling blue water set against the Cordillera Mountains.
17. Palácio da Alvorada, Brazil
The official residence of Brazil’s president, Palácio da Alvorada provides a look into Brazilian contemporary architecture. The riverside structure features floor to ceiling windows, floating ramps and a layout emphasizing openness and bringing the outdoors inside. Stop by for a tour on your next visit to capital Brasília to admire its unique style. If you want you can also read- The Cost of Luxury: Unveiling Bali Cruise Prices for a Premium Island Getaway
18. Cuzco, Peru
Built amid Incan foundations, the vibrant city of Cuzco provides a gateway to iconic Machu Picchu as well as a look into Peru’s Spanish influence. Visit striking Baroque churches and convents, Shop at the artisan market for alpaca knits or attend the Fiestas Patrias celebration in late June to experience the culture.
19. Los Roques, Venezuela
If getting away from it all ranks high on your winter vacation list, then add Los Roques to the possibilities. This Venezuelan archipelago National Park offers pristine islands with turquoise water, coral reefs and laidback Caribbean vibes perfect for truly unplugging.
20. Valparaíso, Chile
Dubbed an “urban art lab,” this Chilean port city serving up steep colorful hillsides speckled with unusual street art, a bohemian cafe culture, fascinating graffiti and charming funicular elevators. The best views in town are free, seen from vantage points on one of the 44 hilltops.
21. Positano, Brazil
Nicknamed the “vertical village” tucked between cliffs on Brazil’s southern coast, Positano enchants through its small pebbled beach bordered by soaring vibrant houses. The town specializes in artisan leather production and features great hiking trails with outstanding ocean panoramas.
22. Patagonia Region, Chile and Argentina
Spanning more than one million square kilometers across southern Chile and Argentina, Patagonia offers glacier trekking, horseback riding under the shadow of the Andes Mountains and possible penguin encounters, making it one of South America’s premier outdoor adventure destinations.
23. Cerro Fitz Roy, Argentina
Part of Patagonia’s alluring landscape, the iconic sharp granite peak of Cerro Fitz Roy has long attracted daring mountain climbers and photographers alike. Even if not summiting, hiking or horse trekking through the area provides unparalleled mountain and glacial lake views perfect for capturing Instagram-worthy travel photos.
24. San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Setup base in this tiny Chilean village, doorway to the world’s driest desert, to experience silence and stillness hard to find elsewhere as you gaze upward at some of the clearest night skies providing epic stargazing opportunities from Earth.
25. Caño Cristales River, Colombia
Colombia safeguards one of nature’s magical wonders – Caño Cristales, a liquid rainbow river sprouting crimson plants, yellow flowers and green algae turning bright blue under certain river conditions during a short span between July and November. Time your travel plans to see this astonishing phenomenon in central Colombia’s lava bed terrain.
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26. Araucárias National Park, Brazil
Stands of the distinct monkey puzzle tree, actually a type of araucaria not native to these lush Brazilian highland forests, make for great photo compositions and hiking. Keep your eye out for parrots, toucans and monkeys as you traverse trails and suspension bridges.
27. Carretera Austral, Chile
Considered one of South America’s greatest road trips, Chile’s nearly 1,250 kilometer Carretera Austral highway passes through forests, glaciers, mountain ranges and remote Patagonian villages. With lots of stops for hiking and sightseeing, allow at least two weeks to tackle this iconic roadway through some of Chile’s most pristine landscape.
28. Mendoza Wine Region, Argentina
What better way to spend a winter vacation than sipping acclaimed Malbec wines while soaking in jaw-dropping views of the Andes Mountains? Mendoza sits at the heart of Argentina’s legendary winemaking region, offering exceptional vineyards and charming wine lodges providing tastings with unforgettable vistas.
29. Casa Luis Barragán, Mexico City, Mexico
Architecture and design buffs need to add Casa Luis Barragán, iconic Mexican architect Luis Barragán’s personal residence and studio, to their must-see lists. The meditative colorful home interspersed with tranquil gardens and fountains provides insights into one of the world’s most influential modern architects.
30. Wildlife Viewing – Pantanal Wetlands, Brazil
Teeming with magnificent wildlife, Brazil’s Pantanal Wetlands offers exceptional biodiversity spotting from August to October during seasonal floods. Book a boat safari or ranch stay to witness stunning South American fauna like jaguars, giant river otters, hyacinth macaws and capybaras roaming the lush landscapes.
With its dazzling cities, stunning scenery encompassing everything from glaciers to deserts, captivating culture and legendary bucket-list attractions, South America promises unforgettable experiences for winter travelers looking to escape northern hemisphere cold, snow and grey skies. Use this list of the top 30 places to enjoy in South America this winter as inspiration when making your own warm weather getaway itinerary. Just be prepared to fall hard for the continent’s vibrant destinations brimming with beauty, adventure, wildlife and nonstop cultural allure unlike anywhere else globally! Additionally, you can also read about- The Most Beautiful Streets in the World [You Must See]
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What places should I visit in South America during winter?
Some top places in South America to visit during the winter months include Rio de Janeiro and Fernando de Noronha in Brazil, Machu Picchu and Cuzco in Peru, Angel Falls in Venezuela, Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, and Iguazú Falls on the Argentina/Brazil border.
2. What is the best time of year to visit South America?
The winter months of June, July and August offer ideal weather for visiting many South American destinations, though the timing may vary by country. For example, snowbirds may prefer heading to places like Brazil, while skiers visit Chile and Argentina during their winter peak from June to September.
3. What should I pack for visiting South America in winter?
Even with sunshine, temperatures can get quite cool in many parts of South America during winter nights. Be prepared by packing light layers and a jacket/sweater, along with typical summer travel gear like sun protection. Those heading to specialty climates like Patagonia or Iguazu Falls will need extra warmer winter apparel.
4. What kinds of winter activities are popular in South America?
Top winter activities across South America’s varied climates include skiing and snowboarding in the Andes Mountains, wildlife viewing in Brazil’s Pantanal Wetlands region, trekking to Machu Picchu’s ancient ruins, penguin spotting off the Patagonia coast, discovering vibrant cities like Rio and Buenos Aires, and sipping prominent South American wines in the Mendoza region.
5. Is South America safe to visit?
While certain regions of some countries pose security risks, major tourist destinations and attractions in South America are very safe to visit, especially if precautions like booking reputable tours and knowing basic safety tips are followed. Use common sense and check government websites for current advisories on specific destinations.