It may surprise you that one of the top three most read blog articles on World of Wanderlust is a round-up list of the best places to visit in South America. The list, 25 Places in South America you Must Visit, consistently ranks as one of the most read articles on the site and has continued to do so since it was first published back in 2016. So then, where are the most visited countries in South America? We’ve done the research to find out for you.
The most visited countries in South America
7.4 million visitors (2019)
Taking out the number one position in the most visited countries in South America is Argentina, with more than 7 million visitors in 2019, prior to the pandemic halting travel plans. And while you might be surprised to see Argentina take out the number one position ahead of Brazil, the country is incredibly popular and has a lot to offer visitors. Start your journey in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina with enough personality to warrant at least a few nights to get a feel for the city. And from there be sure to check out some of the natural wonders the country has to offer, like Iguassu Falls and Patagonia.
6.4 million visitors
Coming in second is Brazil, possessing some of the most famous cities and destinations on the continent. And yes, we’re talking about Rio de Janeiro, which has an incredible reputation around the world for its natural beauty and colourful nightlife. But there are also many other destinations to visit in the country, including Buzios and São Paulo.
4.5 million visitors
As perhaps the most diverse country to visit in South America, Chile is filled with bucketlist items to check off. From Santiago you can explore much of the country via connecting flights, with some top spots including Easter Island, Atacama Desert and Patagonia down in the South. There’s also Valparaiso, the artsy hub of the country and the Andes mountains should you wish to go skiing or snowboarding.
4.4 million visitors
Coming in closely behind Chile is Peru. And it is quite unsurprising to see Peru as one of the most popular countries to visit in South America, given the sheer amount of visitors who venture to Machu Picchu every single year. However if you’re feeling more adventurous, head out to Iquitos and use this as a base to explore the Amazon River (trust me, you won’t regret it!)
4.2 million visitors
While Colombia has struggled in the past to attract visitors, this is quickly changing. Now with the drug cartels having much less influence over the country and politics as they did back in the days of Pablo Escobar, the country is quickly attracting visitors from around the world. Bogota and Medellin are turning into large metropolis’ so you might wish to trade them in for the old city of Cartagena (pictured above).
Also popular on the list of South America’s most visited countries is up and coming Uruguay. If you’re looking for a destination where you can step back in time and enjoy a more relaxed pace than its neighbours, then you might venture south to Uruguay. Here you can enjoy horseback riding, an epic coastline and a slower pace.
With tropical beaches and an abundance of marine wildlife, Ecuador is another popular choice for travelers in South America. This country attracts people from all over the globe who are in search of adventure in all of its shapes and forms. Our favourite picks include Quito and the Galapagos if you’re into diving.
For an adventure a little further off the beaten path, you might consider adding Paraguay to your list of destinations. Travelers who take the risk on a lesser-known destination will be pleasantly surprised as they are rewarded with a more lifelike adventure without the tourist traps. Here you can enjoy epic day hikes, cultural markets and delicious local food (to name but a few reasons to visit!)
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