South America offers diverse travel opportunities for the adventure-seeker. From beaches and high-peak mountain ranges to World Heritage Sites and medieval cities, this continent has something for everyone. However, with recent political conflicts and civil unrest in the region, it is understandable that most travelers wish to take precautions before visiting the region. A look at the safest places to visit in South America can help you make an informed decision before embarking upon your next trip.
Safest Places to Visit in South America
1. Montevideo, Uruguay
As the smallest country in South America, Uruguay often remains under the radar for international travelers. Nestled between the more popular Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay boasts low crime rates that make this country the envy of its neighbors. Uruguay’s eastern coast faces the Atlantic ocean, resulting in wide-open beaches with far less crowding than the larger countries.
This destination is also a less expensive way to visit the cattle ranches that characterize the region. Due to its cobblestone streets and Renaissance architecture, Uruguay has earned the nickname of “Switzerland of South America”.
The country’s capital, Montevideo, is a cultural hub with striking landmarks such as the Palacio Taranco and the Plaza Independencia. As an added precaution for safety, the country has a sizeable number of banks for exchanging foreign cash.
2. Santiago, Chile
Known for its breathtaking Pacific Ocean coastline, the Republic of Chile boasts one of the most politically stable environments on the continent. According to the U.S. State Department and the Global Peace Index, Chile is a low-risk destination with little threat to international travel.
While public demonstrations may occur on the country’s Easter Island, metropolitan destinations such as Santiago can offer smooth travel experiences. As Chile’s capital and largest city, Santiago sits at the foot of the Andes mountains and also offers a view of the Pacific coast.
When you visit, enjoy tourists attractions such as the Blessed Virgin Mary statue at San Cristóbal Hill or the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino. While travel guides advise against using Chilean ATM machines, you can easily exchange money at one of Santiago’s numerous public banks.
3. Quito, Ecuador
When it comes to a whirlwind of diverse activities, Quito provides a home base for non-stop adventure. Known for its proximity to the Galápagos Islands, Andes Mountains, and Amazonian rain forest, Quito allows outdoor-lovers to reach numerous destinations quickly and inexpensively. The city itself is a cultural and historical melting pot that makes it a magnet for tourists and photographers.
In Quito, you can visit the intact Old European quarter, tour Moorish architecture and structures, or observe and snap photos of indigenous artifacts. You can also visit significant monuments such as the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, which marks the location of the earth’s equator.
With its easy travel sector, Quito consistently ranks as one of the safest places to visit in South America.
4. Lima, Peru
Peru’s capital and largest city provides an excellent starting point for enjoying what this coastal country has to offer. A blend of Old World culture and modern innovation, Lima features a well-preserved old Lima Centro as well as a sprawling metropolitan district.
From Lima, you can plan a trip to Machu Picchu, the Andean citadel of the Inca Empire, or Cusco, the old empire’s capital. Other regional destinations include the Sacred Valley, which provides great photo opportunities and insight into ancient Peruvian culture.
If you prefer to learn about Peru’s history within the city limits, visit the Museo de la Nación or the Museo Larco of pre-Columbian art. With its low homicide rate and few travel alerts, Lima is one of the more secure bets in planning a trip to South America.
5. Asunción, Paraguay
Individuals who prefer walkable cities can find a hidden paradise in Asunción, the capital of Paraguay. The country itself is mostly landlocked Savannah and the traditional home of herdsmen. In the present-day, Asunción continues this legacy with pedestrian-friendly streets that lead to the important landmarks in the city.
Accessible by plane, boat, car or train, the capital of Paraguay has no existing travel warnings and boasts an extremely low homicide rate. With its open policy, this city is one of the safest places to visit in South America.
History buffs can tour the Museo Ferroviari, which provides a history of trains in South America, or the Panteon Nacional de los Heroes, which pays tribute to the county’s fallen soldiers. Although much of Paraguay is landlocked, the capital city is a quick ride away from Lago Ypacarai, a lake famous for water sports and annual festivals.
6. Patagonia, Chile
If you prefer quiet regions with rich landscapes, the Patagonia is an exciting and underrated region open for exploration. Located in the southern part of Chile, this region has low crime rates and a number of outdoor activities available for tourists, making it one of the safest places to visit in South America.
Explore the Torres del Paine National Park, which boasts golden sunsets and snow-capped mountain peaks. You can also visit the park’s sky-blue lakes that offer top-notch photo opportunities. The regional travel guide offers information on group hiking as well as tours. Because fewer people visit this region, you can enjoy smaller tour groups and take your time capturing the natural beauty of the area.
7. Huacachina, Peru
With its oasis appearance and legendary blue lagoon, Huacachina is one of the most underrated locations in South America. Established in the 1930s in the desert province of Ica, Peru, this town is one of the safest places to visit in South America.
The community features a blue lagoon open to boating activities. Traditionally, Peruvians have boasted the water’s healing properties, and mythology has it that a mermaid lives in this body of water. There are also dune buggy activities and annual festivals for visitors to enjoy.
With its diverse landscapes and rich culture, South America offers a wealth of opportunity for the aspiring adventurer. Although some regions experience political unrest, proper planning can help you discover the safest places to visit in South America. Use your personal interests to plan your next vacation, and learn the joys of exploring the southern hemisphere.