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South America

Expert travel guides and holiday advice

This fascinating continent of contrasts is home to some of the most spectacular landscapes and landmarks on Earth. Vast rainforests teeming with wildlife; towering, snow-slathered Andean peaks; the mighty Amazon River; Incan ruins steeped in history; cream-coloured beaches and pulsating cities: the only question is, where to begin? South America’s nations offer a wealth of experiences to suit every style of traveller, from skiing in Chile to trekking the Andes in Peru, from learning to tango in Argentina to donning feathers and sequins for Carnival in Brazil. Our travel experts have pulled together guides and features on this attraction-packed region to help provide inspiration and information for your next trip.

Popular destinations in South America

Latest articles and South America travel guides

South America’s best cities

  1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

    Its Carnival and New Year’s Eve celebrations may be legendary, but Rio’s allure goes way beyond these signature events. This is a city generously blessed by geography and climate, with miles of beachfront, forested mountains and more than its fair share of global icons: from Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer to the great, sandy sweep of Copacabana.

  2. Buenos Aires, Argentina

    They say Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America – but to be precise, it’s more like Madrid cut with a generous dollop of Manhattan. The exuberant old architecture of the Spanish capital is present and correct, but the city’s steroidal scale is what clinches the magnificence. Awesome multi-lane avenues run through it, and buildings are often so high they’re cloud-wreathed.

  3. Santiago, Chile

    Pinned more or less to the middle of this implausibly long sliver of South America, the leafy, Chilean capital is within easy reach of the Pacific coast, the Andes and the country’s best vineyards. The snow-dusted peaks of the Andes dominate the Santiago skyline to the east, providing a dramatic backdrop from all over the city, while the historic centre remains the city’s heart, with colonial architecture and neoclassical gems.

FAQs about South America


The largest country in South America and Latin America, Brazil offers everything from adrenalin-fuelled adventures in the Amazon to the party to beat all parties when Carnival comes around in February. Rio de Janeiro combines world-famous sights like the Christ the Redeemer statue with miles of inviting coastline for a beach flop meets city break holiday, while Sao Paulo, South America’s most populous city, thrums with 24-hour life for an urban experience that hits all the senses.

<p>Such is its fame that Rio de Janeiro is sometimes mistakenly thought of as Brazil’s capital </p>

The best things to do in Rio de Janeiro

The ‘Marvellous City’ has become Brazil’s tourism capital thanks to beautiful beaches, amazing natural surroundings and a delightfully vibrant way of life


Colombia is the only country in South America to enjoy both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines and has some of the most spectacular biodiversity in the world thanks to its multiple altitudes, biomes and terrains. The immensity of Colombia’s nature, from Andean peaks to silky deserts and sapphire seas, is matched only by the warmth, vibrance and resilience of its people.

<p>Crystalline rivers and verdant jungle are just some of the many environments to find in Colombia </p>

Colombia travel guide: Everything to know before you go

Colombia’s expansive beauty and diversity means that there’s a region to suit every preference – pair that with a climate that is welcoming year-round and you’ve got an extremely tempting country to explore


Compact Ecuador is heaven on Earth for fans of the natural world, home to a staggering array of ecosystems, from Andean highlands and active volcanos to Amazonian rainforest and the renowned Galapagos Islands, stuffed with one-of-a-kind flora and fauna. There are 40 national parks and reserves to discover, plus capital city Quito, set at 2,850m and replete with Colonial architecture.

<p>Ecuador has an abundance of natural sites </p>

The best places to visit in Ecuador

Delightful colonial cities, active volcanoes and sections of the Amazon await you in the land of the Equator

Two beaches on Bartolome Island off the Isla Santiago

How the Galapagos Islands became a guilt-free paradise

This year marks 60 years since the Galapagos Islands were designated a National Park. James Draven looks at the impact our travels have on this legendary archipelago and what’s being done to protect the world’s most famous wildlife wilderness 


Exceptionally long and thin, Chile’s unique geography means it spans a range of climates, leading to an exceptionally diverse array of terrains; the Atacama deserts in the north are a world away from the frozen tundra and glaciers of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the south. Plus you’ll find volcanos, vast lakes of astounding purity, ski slopes and vineyards producing world-beating wines.

<p>Chile’s wine producers are having to adapt because of climate change</p>

How to do a sustainable wine tour of Chile

From megadrought to malbec: Frankie Adkins charts the dream trip for oenophiles that’s still responsible

<p>Lake Pehoe, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile</p>

How to visit Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park sustainably

This swathe of pristine Patagonia wilderness is well worth a place on your bucket list – but make sure you tread lightly, says Steph Dyson


Tango, steak, football, Maradona, Evita… a whole host of stereotypes are attached to Argentina, but what makes the South American country really special is its contrasts and diversity, from mountains to lakes, beaches to forests and jungle. Metropolis lovers will relish the culture and architecture of capital Buenos Aires, but a two-hour flight in any direction can land you in wine country, high-altitude plateau, sub-tropical jungle or ski resorts.

<p>Buenos Aires, Argentina</p>

The ultimate Buenos Aires guide

A 14-hour flight from the UK, Argentina’s thrilling capital is a mix of Europe and America, with currents traditional and trendy in its bloodstream, says Nick Redman


A country where the past seems just as immediate as the present, Peru is stacked with the ruins of ancient civilisations. World-renowned Machu Picchu may be the best known, but this Incan site is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mystery-infused sacred spots built thousands of years ago. As well as temples, there are mountain ranges and jungle landscapes to discover, plus the thriving capital of Lima.

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