The 15 most beautiful places in South America

It was very hard for us to choose the 15 most beautiful places in South America. We spent 5 months traveling around South America and we visited all together 8 countries: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. And let me tell you, South America has it all. From turquoise waters of the Caribbean sea, beautiful lagoons sitting in mountain valleys, endless hiking with breathtaking views, chaotic big cities to ancient Inca towns to the once forgotten Machu Picchu. There is no doubt that one can spend endless years wandering around South America. Traveling in South America can be sometimes challenging, but also rewarding. So yes, South America has it all. We have never been to a continent with so much diversity of natural wonders.

Here are our unforgettable places which give us goosebumps every time we think about them. Hope you like the following 15 most beautiful places in South America.

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SAN ANDRES ISLAND, COLOMBIA

The first place which we chose is an Caribbean island called San Andres. It belongs to one of the most beautiful places in South America. For us, as beach addicts this place, was the jackpot. The island blew our minds away with it’s endless beauty. San Andres is a true paradise with water with so many different shades of blue and turquoise, that you get confused when you try to count the shades. In fact the waters around this island have 12 shades of blue. Can you see a few of them in the background? While Nicaragua is much closer to San Anders it is part of Colombia. 

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San Andres, Colombia

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

Rio de Janeiro was always our dream to see. There is something about this place. Rio is beautiful and the best way to enjoy it is definitely from above. I knew the view will be gorgeous, but like this? Wow! What do you think? Isn’t this view just stunning? 

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

7 HIDDEN LAGOONS, CHILE

This is one of the most incredible places we have seen in Chile. These 7 hidden lagoons (also called Lagunas Escondidas or Lagunas Baltinache) were high on our bucket list and we had to see them. Surrounded by salt, in the middle of the Atacama desert, this place is out of this world. As the title says, there are in total 7 of them, but you can only float in 2 of them. What do I mean by floating? The water is so rich with salt that you won’t need to swim at all. But be warned, the water is ice cold. While we were there not many tours went here so you might be lucky and only share this beautiful place with a few people. The “street” going there is quite rough so be careful if you decide to take a rental car out there.

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7 Hidden Lagoons, Chile
TRAVELING TO SOUTH AMERICA? READ ALL ABOUT OUR SAFETY TIPS WE RECOMMEND YOU TO FOLLOW.

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SUNRISE AND SUNSET IN SALAR DE UYUNI, BOLIVIA

We have seen many sunrises and sunsets during our year of traveling. But a sunrise like this, you won’t see every day. The sky during sunrise was literally, on fire! The reflection made our photo session even more exciting and it is definitely one of the most amazing experiences in Bolivia. By the way, the tour guides are absolute masters in taking pictures of reflections and time lapse videos. Salar de Uyuni definitely belongs to one of the most beautiful places in South America.

Watch our Sunrise time lapse video below.

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Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
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Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

HUACACHINA OASIS, PERU

I have never been to an oasis before so I was looking forward to spend my birthday at one: Huacachina in Peru. It’s a small place surrounded by sand dunes in the middle of nowhere but super interesting to see.

Huacachina itself is not the greatest place to stay as it lacks good places to sleep and eat. But the desert, dunes and this little oasis not surrounded by buildings absolutely surprised and left us speechless. I definitely don’t regret spending my 30th birthday there 🙂

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Huacachina, Peru

LAGUNA PARON, PERU

Laguna Paron. One of the most beautiful lagoons we have ever seen. This lagoon is famous for its Caribbean blue waters surrounded by white rocky mountains. We couldn’t believe that such a place even exists. In order to get to the top you need to hike to around 4.200 m.s.n.m. I am not going to lie, it wasn’t an easy hike, especially since you will have to battle with altitude sickness and steep rocky paths. But it’s absolutely worth it!

Not every tour operator does the trip to the top so make sure to read our article about this amazing place to find out more: PERFECT DAY TRIP TO LAGUNA PARON

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Laguna Paron, Peru

IGUAZU FALLS, ARGENTINA

We had to mention the incredible Iguazu Falls as one of the most beautiful places in South America. The waterfalls of the Iguazu River are located on the border of Argentina and Brazil. Together they create the largest waterfall system in the world. People argue which is the better view to see the falls. Argentinian side or Brazilian? To be honest, they are both beautiful. If you decide to visit the falls, just make sure to avoid any kind of holiday. We visited during the winter holidays and it was awful, we couldn’t even walk. That wasn’t the falls fault of course, just a little advice to make your time more enjoyable.

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Iguazu Falls, Argentina

SALINAS DE MARAS, PERU

Peru was definitely one of the countries with so many extraordinary places. Like this one. Around 3.000 thousands small squares of salt fill the valley for as far as the eye can see. This place is incredibly impressive as it has been around since before the famous Incas. Wonder how the salt water gets there at 3.380 meters above sea level? The reason is a so called hypersaline underground spring which emerged 110 million years ago during the formation of the Andes. Also, Salinas de Maras is not owned by only one person or organisation but by the 300 local families. We wrote an article about our 4 weeks in Peru with all our highlights.

READ HERE: 4 WEEKS ITINERARY IN PERU

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Salinas de Maras, Peru

ATACAMA DESERT, CHILE

Harsh conditions, strong and cold wind hitting our faces. I was wearing all my warm clothes. It was absolutely freezing, but when you see this kind of beauty, you will forget about everything. Trust me, I did, and seeing this pastel scenery will take your breath away. Atacama Desert you are absolutely beautiful!

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Atacama Desert, Chile

 


QUILOTOA VOLCANO, ECUADOR

Quilotoa volcano is a small 3 km wide caldera and can be easily reached from the capital of Ecuador, Quito. This water-filled caldera is the most western volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. We were a bit unlucky as the weather wasn’t that great. The color of the water is changing dramatically with the sun light. You can walk down and enjoy a beautiful scenery overlooking Quilotoa. Going back up can be difficult due to the altitude, so make sure to drink some coca tea before.

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Quilotoa Lake, Ecuador

 


MACHU PICCHU AND RAINBOW MOUNTAIN, PERU

Once a forgotten town of glorious Incas often referred to as the Lost city of the Incas. Machu Picchu was built in the 15th century and probably constructed by famous Inca emperor Pachacuti. It is still a myth why the Incas abandoned this beautiful place even before the Spanish arrived. I recommend you to take a guided tour around Machu Picchu to learn about the  interesting facts.

We did a 4 days jungle trail from Cusco to Aguas Calientes in order to get to Machu Picchu. We had so much fun and every day we had a different program. All together, we did downhill biking, rafting, zip lining, walking on the ancient Inca path, taking a bath at a hot spring under the stars, until we finally reached the breathtaking Machu Picchu.

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Machu Picchu, Peru

Rainbow Mountain known as VinicuncaMontana de Siete Colores (Mountain of 7 colors) or simply Montana de Colores (Colorful mountain) is an incredible place. We are not experienced hikers, but hiking to these places is a must. To get to the peek of Rainbow mountain isn’t very easy though. The altitude will make you walk like a turtle and breath like an elephant. I am so happy that I took a horse to get there. I know I wouldn’t be able to get there. Where exactly? To be precise, to 5.200 meters above see level. Fun fact: Mountain Everest base camp is located at 5365 meters above sea level.

What makes Rainbow Mountain so special are the colourful layers. In fact, 7 different sedimentary mineral layers that have been exposed by erosion creating different types of colors.

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Rainbow Mountain, Peru

 


CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

Choosing Cartagena as one of the most beautiful places in South America was very easy. Cartagena absolutely stole my heart. This beautiful Caribbean town has such a nice vibe, many beautiful and colourful houses and local women selling fruits everywhere. South America has many colourful cities, but none of them can compete with the beauty of Cartagena. The elegance dancing in the street surrounded by vivid colors and the smell of flowers popping out from sweet balconies. Just beautiful. I definitely would like to visit again.

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Cartagena, Colombia

 


PLAYA LOS FRAILES, ECUADOR

Many people go to Ecuador and straight to visit Galapagos Islands. But exploring the coast of Ecuador is not for nothing and we highly recommend you to visit it. Especially, one of the most beautiful beaches in Ecuador: Playa Los Frailes is a very peaceful place and without many tourists so you will have this piece of paradise mostly for yourself.

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Playa Los Frailes, Ecuador

INCAHUASI ISLAND, BOLIVIA

What do you see in the background? Is it water, snow or salt? This island in the middle of Uyuni is called Incahuasi or Inkawasi. So yes! Salt everywhere. Incahuasi is located in the middle of the largest salt flats in the world. And if you do a day tour to Salar de Uyuni, you will stop here as well. Some people also call it, cactus island as there are gigantic cacti everywhere. This island was created around 40.000 years ago and once it was surrounded by water.

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Incahuasi Island, Bolivia

TYRONA NATIONAL PARK, COLOMBIA

What is the last place on our list of the most beautiful places in South America? We choose a national park called Tyrona located on the west coast of Colombia. We hiked for about 4 hours to get to the final beach called Cabo San Juan del Guia which you can see on the photo. It is a really beautiful and easy hike, where you walk through jungle and where you also come across other beaches. 
This beach is also a special place as it’s water has small gold pieces (not real gold but so called fool’s gold :D) so when you get out you will sparkle 🙂 haha that was really funny. Many people also sleep in the park as there are modest accomodation facilities where you can sleep in a hammock or in an overpriced hotel. 

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Tyrona National Park, Colombia

 

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE OR DREAM PLACES TO SEE IN SOUTH AMERICA? LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS.

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17 Comments

  1. Wow, your photography is mind-blowingly awesome! I’m actually not much of a beach person, but I couldn’t resist this post because of the stunning pictures 🙂 I had no idea the Iguazu Falls had so many different water streams.

    1. Thank you Arunima, you are being so kind. I am so happy that you enjoyed our photos. I am sure yours are as beautiful as ours 😉

  2. A great list of stunning locations throughout South America. You’ve made it too hard to choose between them – but I think I’m putting 7 Hidden Lagoons in Chile and Laguna Paron in Peru on my bucket list!

    1. Hello Marie, thank you so much and I am so happy that I could inspire you to put these two beautiful destinations in your bucket list. Enjoy visiting them 🙂

  3. Wow! So many amazing places I have not yet explored. Thanks for sharing the list. I’ll save it for reference for when I’m heading to South America.
    I love macchu picchu… you reminded me of our little adventure with low oxygen and amazing sights. We loved it!

    1. Hello Jyoti, thank you for your lovely comment. Machu Picchu was one of the most amazing places we have seen. I have to say that I had some problems in Cusco and needed to drink a lot of coca tea 😀

  4. This is such a comprehensive post and all the beautiful pictures make it really difficult to choose which one is the most beautiful place!

  5. Ahh I am planning teach in Chile next year and hope to travel around South America. Your list includes some spots I was aware of, others I was not. Thank you for some serious wanderlust/ inspiration today!!

  6. Your photos are gorgeous, makes me want to go back to South America. There are a lot of places on this list I still need to go. I hadn’t even heard of those lagoons in Chile

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