Whether you are looking to take a city break, or are planning a South America backpacking adventure there are so many different countries and hundreds of cities waiting to be explored.

Some are among the biggest cities in the world, whilst others are spectacular with famous tourist attractions and beautiful beaches.

Check out our guide to the incredible cities in South America you really need to see.


1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Copacabana beach

Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with stunning scenery.

This city is one of the best places to visit in Brazil and there are lots of things to see and do here. From relaxing on some of the most vibrant beaches on the continent to seeing iconic sights like the Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer statue.

If you would like do something meaningful on your travels there are lots of volunteer projects in Rio de Janeiro where you can work helping communities.

From Rio de Janerio there are lots of amazing day trips and excursions, from hiking for amazing skyline views to relaxing on tropical islands like Ilha Grande.


2. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires

Another entry to our list which you will undoubtedly recognise. Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina and a popular stop off on any South American itinerary. 

There are lots of things to do in Buenos Aires, explore the streets, take in the atmosphere or even learn to tango with local people. There are lots of highly rated restaurants in Buenos Aires, be sure to try the local steaks.

If you love sport, try to watch a live footballl game either Boca Juniors or River Plate, two of the biggest and most successful teams in South America.

if you dream of taking in the atmosphere of Buenos Aires search tours of Argentina today.


3. Santiago, Chile


Santiago is the capital of Chile which has lots cultural attractions to see. You can even go skiing here!

Santiago has some great places to see include Central Market, Plaza de Armas, Cerro Santa Lucia, La Moneda Palace, La Chascona, San Cristobal Hill, and Museo de la Memoria Chilena.

You'll likely see street performances and dancing when explorign the city whilst the nightlife is amazing.

If you also want an excursion, Chile has some of the most spectacular islands in South America including the iconic Easter Island.

Or if you like the idea of teach English in South America then Santiago is a great city to move to.


4. Bogotá, Colombia

Bogotá, Colombia

Bogotá is the huge, spread out, high-altitude capital of Colombia. 

Bogotá is a really up and coming destination with a mix of old and new. You can experience bustling modern streets right next to colonial historic areas.

Some of the top places to add to your itinerary include the Museo Botero del Banco de la Republica, Gold Museum (Museo del Oro), Mount Monserrate and Barrio La Candelaria.

La Candelaria is very popular with tourists, this is a historic neighborhood in the city's downtown. You'll love the pretty architecture here.

Before visiting view our tips for how to stay safe in Bogota or to see more of the country view our guide to the best Colombia tours.


5. Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paulo skyline

If you love big cities you will love Sao Paulo. This is the largest city in South America, with a population of over twelve million people.

Flying into Sao Paulo is an experience, the city just looks endless with huge skyscrapers for as far as the eye can see. Think New York City, but for miles and miles.

There are lots of attractions in Sao Paulo, from rooftop bars, parks, shopping, museums and galleries.

Avenue Paulista is the 5th Avenue of Sao Paulo, a street with lots of swanky hotels, shops, restaurants and cultural attractions. For an escape from the noise and traffic, head to Ibirapuera Park, a green oasis in a concrete jungle.

One of the cooest neighbourhoods is definately Vila Madalena, here you can see some amazing street art or relax at the many bars, cafes and restaurants.

For foreigners looking for seasonal-jobs-working-holidays in South America for English Speakers, Sao Paulo is a great city to choose. Two to three days is a great amount of time for sightseeing.


5. Fortaleza


Fortaleza is one of the most beautiful cities on our list located in northeastern Brazil in the state of Ceará.

Fortaleza is famous for its beaches, red cliffs, palm trees, dunes and lagoons. Popular local attractions include the José de Alencar theater and the neo-Gothic Catedral Metropolitana.

This city is a lot more relaxed than Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, and there are so many amazing places to visit nearby.

Search our Brazil tours for trips.


7. Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

Colombia is a popular destination and a country with so many diverse attractions.

Cartagena is a really unique city with old colourful colonial architecture, pretty squares and lots of attractions which can be visited on foot.

Some of the top things to do include Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, Caribe Jewelry Museum & Factory, Sanctuary of Saint Peter, Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, Palacio de la Inquisición, Convento & Iglesia de San Pedro Claver and Convento de la Popa.

If you are keen to travel here view our top tips for visiting Colombia for the first time


8. Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru

If you are planning a trip to see the highlights of Peru the chances are you will pass through Cusco, but this city is well worth visiting in its own right. 

Cusco is located in a spectacular setting with mountains surrounding the city. There are pretty colonial streets with Instagram photo opportunities around every corner. 

Top attractions popular with foreigners include the Centro Historico De Cusco, Sacsayhuaman, Plaza de Armas, Cusco Cathedral, Qorikancha and the legendary Inca Trail.

Cusco is the gateway to many hikes and treks to the magnificent ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, it is also a great city if you have ever thought about going to volunteer in Peru, there are lots of worthwhile projects where you can help communities, teach, coach sports or work with animals. 


Plan a City Break to South America

There are hundreds more amazing towns and cities that you could visit in South America, but if you are planning a trip for the first time we hope our list has provided you with ideas for some of the most popular places to see.

If you have the urge to book your next adventure search tours of South America and take in as many destinations as possible. Some itineraries take in multipe countries and have weekly departure dates. 

If you want to mix your trip up and see some of the mostt beautiful nature in the continent view our guide to the best islands in South America.