South America is often overlooked as a year-round travel destination. Many perceive it as only worth visiting during the peak seasons of summer and winter. However, this diverse continent actually offers compelling reasons to visit during every season.
So don’t limit your South American vacation planning to just December through February or June through August. The following countries offer memorable adventures in spring, summer, fall, and winter. By mixing and matching destinations across seasons, you can craft an unforgettable trip focused on your interests. Read on to discover the best South American countries to visit should be on your list year-round.
Argentina: Captivating Culture and Breathtaking Natural Wonders
Known as the birthplace of the tango, Argentina boasts a vibrant culture infused with European influences. Yet the country’s biggest draw lies in its magnificent landscapes. Majestic mountains, massive glaciers, and thundering waterfalls await visitors to Argentina.
In southern Argentina, Patagonia’s Andean landscape thrills adventurous spirits with its rugged beauty and outdoor activities. Trek through its iconic Torres del Paine National Park, gazing up at the towering granite peaks. Spot incredible wildlife like guanacos, condors, and sea lions. Ride horses across the steppe and camp under the stars. See the tip of the continent at land’s end in Tierra del Fuego. Glaciers, mountains, and crystal-clear lakes make Patagonia a paradise for nature lovers.
Situated on the border of Argentina and Brazil, Iguazú Falls impresses visitors with its sheer enormity and power. Spanning almost 2 miles, this series of 275 cascades includes Devil’s Throat, a thunderous waterfall with vertigo-inducing views. Getting soaked on a boat ride or the walkways gets you up close to this magnificent natural spectacle. Surrounded by tropical wildlife, Iguazú Falls feels like a Lost World. Don’t miss this Unesco World Heritage Site.
The cosmopolitan capital exudes European charm with its theatrical tango performances, old-world cafés, and fabulous food. Wander the colorful La Boca neighborhood and reconnect with nature in the lush Palermo parks. Take in a fiery soccer match between bitter rivals. Party all night in Buenos Aires’ famous nightclubs. Cultured and vivacious, the Paris of South America enthralls visitors with its history and passion for life.
Mendoza Wine Region
With the imposing Andes mountains as its backdrop, Mendoza is acclaimed for its Malbec wines and scenic vineyards. Bike through the vineyards, tour wineries, and sip vintages straight from the barrel. The wine lodge restaurants serve up fresh fare paired with the region’s superb wines. Horseback ride through the vineyards for breathtaking views. Mendoza’s blend of stunning nature and wine culture creates an alluring ambiance.
With captivating culture, robust Malbec wines, magnificent glaciers, and Iguazú Falls, Argentina promises an unforgettable getaway any time of year. The country’s diverse landscapes, from Patagonian steppes to Andean peaks to legendary waterfalls, give visitors ample opportunities for outdoor adventure and wildlife viewing. Whether you want to hike, taste wines, or marvel at natural wonders, Argentina is sure to astound you.
Brazil – a year of beaches, rainforests and carnivals
Brazil is the largest country in South America and one of the most diverse places you could choose to visit all year round. From the world-famous Rio Carnival to exploring the Amazon rainforest, Brazil has something for every type of traveler no matter what time of year you choose to go.
The city of Rio de Janeiro is likely what most people first think of when imagining Brazil. The iconic Christ the Redeemer statue watching over the city is one of Brazil’s most famous landmarks. Every year Rio hosts one of the world’s biggest carnivals – a huge street party that fills the city with music, costumes, and celebrations. Rio’s famous beaches like Ipanema and Copacabana are perfect places to relax and soak up the sun. The lively beach culture carries on all year round.
For nature lovers
A trip to the Amazon rainforest is a must. Exploring the Amazon allows you to experience some of the most intense biodiversity in the world with exotic wildlife, dense jungle, and winding rivers. The best time to visit is during drier months like June to December when forest trails are more accessible. From the Amazon, you can take boat trips to spot caiman, monkeys, and even pink river dolphins.
Brazil has so much to offer visitors all year round from world-famous events to diverse natural beauty. With its beaches, rainforests, and carnivals, Brazil is one of South America’s most vibrant destinations at any time of year.
Chile: Dramatic Landscapes and World-Class Wine
Known as one of South America’s most stable and prosperous nations, Chile has something for everyone. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Chile for its variety of landscapes and adventures. Food and wine lovers are drawn to Chile’s increasingly acclaimed wine regions. Those looking to relax find Chile’s culture sophisticated yet laidback.
The Otherworldly Atacama Desert
In northern Chile, the driest desert in the world impresses visitors with its seemingly endless salt flats, moonlike terrain, steaming geysers, and clear night skies perfect for stargazing. San Pedro de Atacama serves as the gateway for exploring this harsh yet captivating landscape. Visitors can tour the unique Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon), gaze up at the starry sky through powerful telescopes, and see flamingos at Laguna Chaxa.
Hiking Chile’s Dramatic Torres del Paine
The crown jewel of Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park offers some of Chile’s most breathtaking scenery. Paine means “blue” in the native Tehuelche language, referring to the color of the skies and lakes. The park is best known for the Torres del Paine, a series of distinctive granite peaks that burst out of the Paine mountains. Intrepid hikers tackle the demanding “W Circuit,” a 4-5 day trek past glaciers, through grassy valleys, and up close to those famous towers.
Chile’s World-Class Wine Valleys
Chile has become one of the world’s top wine producers. Just a bit south of Santiago lie the country’s premier wine valleys: Maipo, Rapel, and Colchagua. Here you’ll find tourable wineries producing excellent Cabernet Sauvignons, Carmeneres, and Chardonnays. The Colchagua Valley in particular impresses visitors with its many boutique wineries, horseback rides through vines, and the landmark Santa Cruz Winery housed in a grand hacienda dating back to the 1800s.
Colombia, Country of Beauty
Colombia is a stunning destination to enjoy year-round. Known for the friendly locals, beautiful natural landscapes, and vibrant culture, Colombia is truly a dream come true to visit. Lying at the northern tip of South America, Colombia features coasts on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The diverse landscape includes the famous Amazon rainforest and the majestic Andes Mountains. Colombia is a culturally rich country with a passion for music and dance.
Visitors feel immersed in the joyful way of life. Medellin, known as the “City of Eternal Spring”, features colorful barrios and friendly locals called paisas. Colorful Cartagena has preserved the charm of its colonial-era past. Coffee plantations in the Zona Cafetera produce the famous Colombian coffee. Bogota, the capital city, blends Andean culture and Spanish architecture.
While planning your trip, be sure to visit La Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City), an ancient archaeological site tucked in the Sierra Nevada jungle. From sun-splashed beaches to misty cloud forests, vibrant cities to wild jungles, Colombia will win your heart with its natural beauty, vibrant culture, friendly people, and zest for life.
Nestled between Colombia and Peru is the tiny country of Ecuador. Although small in size, Ecuador boasts incredible biodiversity and landscapes ranging from the Amazon rainforest to the Galapagos Islands to the snow-capped volcanoes of the Andes Mountains. It’s an ideal destination for nature lovers and adventure-seekers who want to explore one of the most ecologically diverse places on the planet.
The famed Galapagos Islands, located over 600 miles off the coast, top many travelers’ lists for a visit to Ecuador. This volcanic archipelago is world-renowned for its abundant endemic species, many studied by Charles Darwin during his voyage aboard the HMS Beagle. Visitors can get up close with giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, and more. The best way to experience the Galapagos is on a multi-day cruise that allows you to explore various islands and snorkel with sea lions.
The Amazon rainforest also extends into Ecuador, offering opportunities to spend a few days immersed in true jungle terrain. Many Amazon lodges cater to tourists with guided hikes, canoe trips, waterfall visits, nocturnal wildlife spotting, and more. Witness exotic birds, monkeys, sloths, caiman, and other incredible creatures in their natural habitat. Some lodges even have canopy walkways high in the trees for birdwatching.
Ecuador’s spectacular Andean landscape provides fantastic trekking and outdoor adventures. The picturesque capital of Quito offers colonial architecture and proximity to active volcanoes like Cotopaxi, which reaches 19,347 feet. The scenic Avenue of Volcanoes has numerous treks ranging from day hikes to multi-day high-altitude climbs. You can also bike down scenic winding roads or go horseback riding through farmland and villages.
Beyond natural attractions, Ecuador has charming historic colonial towns like Cuenca and Vilcabamba that seem frozen in time. And the bustling metropolis of Guayaquil along the Pacific Coast blends historic neighborhoods with modern high-rises. No matter your interests, Ecuador packs an astounding amount of biodiversity, culture, and adventure into a small country.
Peru – Land of Ancient Ruins and Bustling Cities
Peru is a fascinating country with a rich culture and history. Perhaps its most famous attraction is Machu Picchu – the magnificent 15th-century Incan citadel set high in the Andes Mountains that draws visitors from all over the world. But there is much more to see in Peru beyond this iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The capital city of Lima offers metropolitan amenities alongside pre-Columbian pyramids and Spanish colonial architecture. The Plaza de Armas is the heart of historic Lima, with the impressive Cathedral of Lima facing the ornate Government Palace. For an immersive cultural experience, visit the Larco Museum which houses the world’s largest private collection of pre-Columbian art.
The food scene in Peru is just as vibrant as its history. Ceviche, made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus, onion, and chili, is a national specialty. Heartier dishes like roasted pork with crackling skin and lomo saltado, a Chinese-Peruvian beef stir fry, reflect the fusion of cultures that blend together in Peruvian cuisine. Of course, no trip to Peru is complete without drinking an authentic Pisco Sour, made with Peruvian Pisco brandy.
With ancient sites like the Nazca Lines, the Sacred Valley, and of course, Machu Picchu, combined with cosmopolitan cities and mouthwatering cuisine, Peru offers an unforgettable travel experience year-round. The dry season from April to October is the peak time to visit.
Uruguay is an underrated gem of South America. Located between Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay offers pristine beaches, charming towns, and a vibrant culture.
The coastal town of Punta del Este is a must-visit, with its stunning beaches, upscale shops, and luxury resorts. Surfers flock here for some of the best waves in South America. The party lasts all summer long in Punta del Este, from beach clubs to all-night discos.
Wandering the sleepy capital of Montevideo is like stepping back in time. Neoclassical architecture and tree-lined boulevards give Montevideo old-world charm. The thriving cafe culture makes Montevideo a laid-back place to sip espresso and watch the world go by. Don’t miss the Mercado del Puerto market to sample Uruguay’s famous grilled meats.
Uruguay has a rich gaucho culture, influenced by the cowboys of southern Brazil. Many farms welcome visitors for horseback riding, homestays, and demonstrations of traditional skills like leatherwork and yerba mate tea preparation. Spend a few days at an estancia ranch to experience authentic Uruguayan country life.
With its peaceful landscapes, family-run vineyards, and untouched beaches, Uruguay feels worlds away from its bustling neighbors. It’s an easygoing escape and one of South America’s friendliest countries.
Bolivia – Majestic Land of Contrasts
Nestled in the heart of South America, the wildly diverse country of Bolivia dazzles with its breathtaking scenery and vibrant indigenous culture. From the endless salt flats of Salar de Uyuni to the shimmering waters of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia entrances with natural wonders galore.
The world’s largest salt flats, Salar de Uyuni stuns with over 4,000 square miles of salt crystals stretching towards the horizon. As the salt reflects the sunlight, it looks like an endless mirror. Meandering across the salt flats on a 4×4 and gazing at the salty expanse is an unforgettable experience.
Perched at 12,500 feet, the magnificent Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake on earth. Revered by the Incas, it retains immense spiritual significance. Visit the floating reed islands made entirely of totora reeds by the indigenous Uru people. Soak in stunning sunsets and gaze at the clear night skies for stargazing.
For an immersion in ancient culture, explore the former Inca capital of La Paz. Witness indigenous women in voluminous skirts and bowler hats. Tour ancient sites like Tiwanaku, home to monoliths and archways crafted centuries ago. Discover colorful weavings and textiles handmade using ancestral techniques.
With incredible biodiversity, Bolivia hosts the Amazon rainforest, Andean peaks and valleys, and the driest desert in the world. Trek through one of the continent’s last wild frontiers for wildlife like tapirs, pink river dolphins, Andean condors, and more.
From salt flats that stretch endlessly to shimmering high-altitude lakes, ancient cultural sites, and incredible biodiversity, Bolivia enthralls with its wealth of natural and cultural wonders. Its gorgeous landscapes, indigenous culture, and wilderness guarantee memorable adventures all year round.
South America is truly an incredible all-year-round destination. With stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, delicious food, and amazing biodiversity, there’s something for everyone.
From exploring the ancient ruins and bustling cities in Peru to witnessing the awe-inspiring Iguazu Falls in Argentina, South America has so much natural beauty to offer. The beaches in Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia are perfect for sunbathing while the Atacama Desert in Chile provides unique landscapes.
With flavorful cuisine and affordable costs, backpacking through countries like Bolivia or Colombia is easy. More luxury options exist in places like Mendoza, known for its wineries. Beach destinations like Punta del Este in Uruguay offer upscale resorts.
Whether you’re a budget traveler or want a luxurious escape, solo adventure or family getaway, South America caters to all tastes. With so much diversity across landscapes, activities, culture and options, it’s hands down one of the best destinations to visit any time of year.