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Safest cities in South America

safest cities south america

Which are the safest cities in South America to visit?

If you’re planning your next trip, you should consider looking at safe countries in South America to find the right destination for you.

This article will look at some of the safest places to travel in South America so you can find the right city to visit on your next Latin adventure.

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Safest Cities in South America

South America has a ton to offer! It’s a dynamic continent full of diversity, unique landscapes, cultures, and delicious cuisine, among other things.

olinda brazil guide

If you want to create an experience like no other then consider the safest places to travel in South America and have the time of your life.

Why Visit South America?

There are many different reasons to visit South America.

If I named all of them here, this page would go on forever so lets focus on three compelling reasons to visit safe countries in South America instead.

  • Historic monuments – Visiting South America will allow you to explore some of the most popular and interesting historic monuments in the world. Many different civilizations left their footprints on South America and exploring them is breathtaking.
  • Ecological diversity – Nature lovers and adventure seekers will enjoy navigating the ecological diversity South America has to offer and the many different experiences you can have.
  • Culture and cuisine – The safest places to travel in South America all have a rich culture and delicious cuisine to explore. You’ll have lots of fun learning about different traditions and local customs!

As mentioned, these are only a few of the most attractive reasons to visit South America, but there’s a lot more where that came from. This continent has plenty to offer to all types of travelers and personalities.

Is It Safe to Travel to South America?

Though South America has a few dangerous countries that require extra precautions, it is safe to visit and explore this continent.

is cali colombia dangerous

You will need to take precautions and follow safety travel tips wherever you go, which is standard when traveling.

Some places will be more dangerous than others, but you will be able to navigate safe countries in South America without much hassle.

You’ll want to avoid the statistically most dangerous country in South America so you’ll need to do your research and plan your trip with care.

Safest South American Country to Visit?

Though there are many safe countries in South America, Uruguay, known for it’s virtually unspoiled coast and being one of the most socially progressive countries, actually tops the list.

montevideo uruguay

With an overall score of 1.82 on the Global Peace Index, Uruguay is the 47th safest country in the entire world.

Uruguay is also the most stable country in South America. It’s known for being progressive and the political climate is very strong, which is why more and more travelers are choosing it as their next destination.

For many world travelers Uruguay is considered safe then with its rich cultural offerings and off the beaten path adventures, what’s not to like?

Safest Cities in South America

Because there’s a variety of safe countries in South America, there are many safe cities to visit that go under the radar of those ‘not in the know.

To help you narrow down the search, and hopefully introduce you to some unique spots here are some of the safest places to travel in South America.

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Colonia del Sacramento is one of the oldest cities in the country and the historic quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

colonia uruguay

This southwestern city is definitely worth a visit! It is here in this unique location in Uruguay that you will find many attractions and beautiful places to visit.

The cobblestone streets are charming and you’ll have a great time exploring the local cuisine. You can visit Plaza de Armas, Street of Sighs, go to the beach, and so much more.

Santiago, Chile

Chile is one of the top safe countries in South America, which is why Santiago is one of the safest cities to visit.

It’s the capital of the country and it’s a vibrant, exciting cosmopolitan city with a lot to offer.

You’ll find an active nightlife, many museums, art galleries, beautiful architecture, fine dining, and so much more.

Potosi, Bolivia

This is one of the top colonial cities on the entire continent and you must take a tour to learn some of its history.

potosi bolivia

There is so much to do in Potosi, Bolivia, and you will enjoy every minute. Potosi is known as the world’s most elevated city and it’s also known for its silver mines. It’s a charming place, bursting with culture.

Cordoba, Argentina

Depending on where you find yourself, Argentina is another safe country to visit in South America.

There are many wonderful cities to explore here, but Cordoba is one of the best. It’s the second-largest city in the country and it has one of the lowest crime rates in South America.

It offers many opportunities for fun! You can enjoy the nightlife, explore European architecture, and visit the many different attractions.

Cuenca, Ecuador

Ecuador is right behind Uruguay and Chile on the Global Peace Index.

historic center cuenca

This is why it’s one of the safest places to travel in South America. Cuenca is a wonderful city to visit because it provides all the perks of bigger cities such as Quito, without the same risk.

The place is charming and safe, not to mention, there’s a lot of preserved history you can explore. See this list of best things to do in Cuenca for some more suggestions on what to do while in Ecuador.

Florianopolis, Brazil

When you think of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is likely the first place that comes to mind. However, there are tons of places to visit in this exciting country.

Florianopolis is one of the safest cities in Brazil and it’s known for its access to beautiful, breathtaking beaches. There are also many hiking trails, rainforests, and market that you can explore during your time here.

Manizales, Colombia

Manizales is one of the safest places to visit in Colombia and it’s quite an exciting destination that can be found in Colombia’s coffee region of the country and it has a lot to offer.

sunset views manizales

You can explore the downtown area, ride the cable car, visit Arvi Park, among many others, take a coffee farm tour, and so much more.

During my travels in Colombia I spent time looking for the best things to do in Manizales and was surprised by what the city had to offer.

Arequipa, Peru

Lastly, there is Arequipa, one of the most exciting cities in Peru. It offers unique cuisine, a rich history, and cordial, welcoming people.

It’s known as the White City, and it’s dominated by volcanoes. You will be able to explore these volcanoes and many of the attractions Arequipa has in store for you. See this guide on things to do in Arequipa for ideas.

Transport in South America

When it comes to traveling through South America, there are many options you can take advantage of but I encourage you to travel overland wherever you can. That way you’ll see and learn more.

Below are the top two modes of transport you will encounter:

Traveling by Bus in South America

Traveling South America by bus is perfectly possible.

bus colombia travel

Buses are the most common form of public transportation in the country, so options are available in each city for short and long-distance travel.

Make sure you research your options according to the city you’re visiting and book tickets in advance whenever possible.

Uber in South America

Uber is available in many different South American countries, such as Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic.

You’ll be able to use this service, but don’t forget to take basic precautions. If you are doing solo travel in South America then be extra careful.

Wherever Uber is not available, you can still use taxis, just try to go with the most reputable companies and avoid hailing them off the street.

Food Safety in South America

While exploring South America, you’ll be exposed to all kinds of foods but it’s important to be careful. This way, you will avoid getting intoxicated!

Food Hygiene in South America

It’s very important to keep in mind that food hygiene standards vary greatly from country to country in South America.

street food manizales

Many countries in South America have modern food legislation where regulation is consistent and effective.

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Do some research and determine if the country you’re visiting is one of them. If it isn’t, be extra careful where you eat.

Food and Water Safety in South America

Many germs and diseases are food-borne, so it’s important to be careful with the things you consume while traveling in South America.

Be aware of the fact that sanitary conditions vary greatly and in many cases err on the side of caution. Knowing which place to choose will usually come from experience of eating out while in South America.

⤵️ Here are a few food and water safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Wash your hands before and after every meal and sanitize them often throughout the day.
  • Busy restaurants that have a high food turnover are the safest, so do your research.
  • Be extremely careful when it comes to trying street food.
  • Street food that’s made on the spot and served hot is safer.
  • If you eat raw veggies or fruits, make sure they’re washed well.
  • Avoid eating raw or uncooked food, especially seafood and meat.
  • Avoid unpasteurized dairy products during your travel.
  • Don’t drink unfiltered water or tap water, especially not if you’re visiting rural areas.
  • Make sure you read restaurant reviews; just because a restaurant is luxurious doesn’t automatically make it the best option.
  • Avoid fresh salads or sauces made from raw vegetables or fruits.
  • Avoid bushmeat, such as rodents, monkeys, bats, and other local wild game.
  • Hot drinks are safe when they’re served to steam hot. If you want something cool, warm, or room temperature, choose bottled or canned drinks.

Travel Insurance for South America

No matter who you are, it is recommended that backpackers and all types of travelers use World Nomads Insurance for a fully comprehensive cover..

travel insurance for latin america

If you are due to travel soon, you can get a Get Your Free Quote by clicking the link or the image above and filling out your details – that way you’ll get instant travel insurance cover from the date of travel that you choose.

Safest Cities in South America

This inspirational guide should have given you the inspiration need to visit one of the many cites in South. Yes, South American countries often get a bad rap, but they’re not all the same.

Some countries and cities are dangerous, especailly when you veer outside of the cities mentioned above, but others are perfectly safe to visit.

Always do your due diligence and extended research to choose the best destination for the kind of trip you want to have. Then of course, follow safety travel tips to make sure you have the best possible experience.

If you happen to be traveling on a budget, why not see this list of cheap countries in South America to visit and get even more ideas to consider?

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safest cities south america

Which one of these safe South American cities will you visit next?

Leave a nice comment or let’s start a conversation below!

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Helping thousands of people worldwide with independent travel in Latin America. Layer Culture means to dig deeper into the ideas, customs, and behavior of a group of people.

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After spending years on the road Dan is now offering to help you find your feet in Latin America; inspire you to learn Spanish and get you started on your adventures. Learn how to travel longer and stronger!

The Safest South American Countries in 2022

What are the safest South American countries to travel to?

It is no secret to most that South America doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to safety. With everything from dangerous roads to scams and even violent drug cartels, this is a continent that requires travellers to be a bit savvy.

We constantly get asked ‘is South America safe to travel?’ and generally our answer is yes. However, there is no disputing that some countries in South America are safer to travel than others. If you’re planning your trip and feeling a little nervous about where to go, we’ve put together this comprehensive list of the safest South American countries.

Read more: (opens in new tab)

A note about COVID-19: This article will not be focusing on coronavirus travel restrictions in South America but rather, the general safety levels pertaining to the Global Peace Index. If you are considering travelling to South America, make sure you know the rules around COVID-19 vaccines and testing for entry.

How Did We Decide the Safest South American Countries?

In order to compile this list, we’ve used our own travel experience as well as general research and the Global Peace Index rankings for 2022 (GPI). This index is compiled based on the degree of ongoing conflict, the extent of militarisation and the level of societal safety and security.

Military vehicle in city

Militarisation is one determiner of the Global Peace Index.

To give you a bit of context before we dive into the safest countries in South America, as of 2022, the United Kingdom sits at 34 (score 1.667) on the Global Peace Index, the USA sits at 129 (score 2.44) and Australia comes in at number 27 (score 1.565). The most dangerous country according to the index, is Afghanistan which sits at position 163.

To make it easy for you to compare, all the South American countries will have their Global Peace Index ranking and score explicitly listed. Interestingly, all the South American countries listed have a better Global Peace Index ranking than the United States!

The Top 6 Safest South American Countries

Disclaimer – Safety advice changes quickly across the world and all the countries listed below still fluctuate in terms of their overall stability. What is considered a safe country today, may not be so tomorrow. Therefore, we always advise travellers to do their own research before booking a trip.

1. Uruguay

  • Global Peace Index ranking: 46/163
  • Global Peace Index score: 1.795

The safest country in South America is Uruguay! Holding the accolade for another year running, Uruguay is also the second-safest country in Latin America as a whole, with only Costa Rica claiming a higher spot on the GPI.

Whilst an enormously popular destination by those who visit, Uruguay is still under-visited compared to its neighbours. The country is one of the smallest in South America but this doesn’t mean there is nothing to see.

A nighttime view of Monetvideo, Uruguay (South America

Uruguay is the safest country in South America in 2022!

Known for its friendly locals and beautiful beaches, Uruguay offers an authentic and safe destination without the crowds. There is also plentiful wildlife here which means it is a great choice for nature lovers.

Due to the geography of Uruguay, there are no real threats of sudden natural disasters. Violent crime is uncommon too, however, travellers will need to be savvy in the main cities to avoid pickpockets.

Uruguay is often touted as the ‘most chilled’ country in the whole of South America. This is, in part, thanks to the liberal laws regarding marijuana possession and gay marriage (both of which are legal).

It is one of the wealthiest countries in the region and as 96% of Uruguayans vote in democratic elections, the citizens also seem to benefit from a positive relationship with their government – something which cannot be said for many countries full stop!

If you’re looking for a stress-free and safe country to visit in South America, Uruguay is definitely your best bet! You never know, you may fall in love with it so much that you never want to leave – Uruguay is one of the best places to live in South America after all!

Skyscrapers seen across the water, Punta Del Este, Uruguay

Uruguay is often said to be the most chilled country in South America!

Traveller Highlights in Uruguay:

  • If you’re brave enough, top up your tan on Playa Chihuahua, Uruguay’s nudist beach!
  • Wander down the cobbled streets of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Colonia del Sacramento.
  • Head to the ‘Mercado del Puerto’ in Montevideo for a chance to try ‘parrilla’, a delicious taste of Uruguayan barbecue.
  • Hike Quebrada de Los Cuervos for the chance to see rare birds and other wildlife.
  • Take a dip in one of the country’s many hot springs. You deserve it after a long day of exploring!

2. Chile

  • Global Peace Index ranking: 55/163
  • Global Peace Index score: 1.84

Chile is one of the most diverse countries on the continent which makes it an amazing destination for intrepid adventurers. Chile is (arguably*) the longest county in the world and covers 10 climatic zones! This means it really does have something for everybody.

*Some claim Brazil is longer but there is only around 100 km in it!

Graffiti in Valparaíso, Chile (one of South America

The colourful streets of Valparaíso, Chile.

Whilst Chile had been voted the safest country in South America for years, their Global Peace Index status took a big hit in the 2020 rankings and is yet to recover. Previously, the country was always graded within the top 30 safest countries in the world but owing to recent civil unrest and violent protests over the increased cost of living, inequality and privatisation, they’ve been hanging around closer to 50.

Generally speaking though, Chile has a very low crime rate which makes it one of the safest South American countries to travel through. As with any kind of backpacking, common sense is advised. Don’t carry large amounts of cash on your person if you can help it and invest in a money belt or an alternative to keep your valuables out of sight. A theft-proof backpack is also a good idea.

Chile has one of the highest quality of life rankings in Latin America, largely due to its modern infrastructure and internet connectivity. It also has one of the strongest healthcare systems on the continent which should be reassuring for accident-prone tourists. This doesn’t mean you should skimp out on travel insurance though!

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Potentially the biggest risk factor when visiting Chile is the chance of earthquakes. This is because the country sits adjacent to the Nazca Plate, which is fast-moving and has a history of producing massive quakes. Travellers shouldn’t worry too much though as scientists are always keeping an eye on plate activity to provide warning for those in the country.

Traveller Highlights in Chile:

  • Head to Rapa Nui, one of South America’s best islands and the world’s most impressive archaeological sites.
  • Visit the place considered to be the driest place on earth: the Atacama Desert. Visit the otherworldly Moon Valley and go to see the petroglyphs of Hierbas Buenas.
  • Sample some hiking in Chile with the epic W trek through the magical Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. Related:1 & 2-week Patagonia Itineraries.
  • Sip on the finest Chilean wine on a vineyard tour just outside of Santiago.
  • Enjoy Valparaiso’s New Year firework display, it is the largest in South America!

Read more about staying safe in Chile.

3. Argentina

  • Global Peace Index ranking: 69/163
  • Global Peace Index score: 1.911

Argentina is the second-largest country in South America and offers plenty for all kinds of travellers. From natural wonders to urban cityscapes, this is a country of contrast. It has a big digital nomad and expat population too, with many of the latter originally coming from the USA.

Colourful houses in La Boca, Buenos Aires

The colourful houses of Buenos Aires.

The Patagonia region is home to some of Argentina’s best hikes and the scenery is out of this world. The cities of Argentina are vibrant and colourful but there are plenty of natural places to retreat for a dose of serenity.

Whilst petty crime occurs, especially in major cities, Argentina is statistically one of the safest places in South America for visitors, including solo travellers. Hitchhiking is common, particularly in the areas around Patagonia, however, as Argentina is a Spanish-speaking country, it helps to have a basic command of the language. As with any kind of hitchhiking, always tell someone where you are going beforehand for safety reasons.

Dengue Fever is perhaps the biggest health threat to travellers in Argentina, however, this can be prevented through practising mosquito bite avoidance. For more about potential health risks and the necessary vaccines needed for South America, see this post. The plus side is that if you do get ill or injured in Argentina, the health system is of a good standard and free for everyone.

Unfortunately, Argentina has been suffering from an economic decline in recent years which has amped up tensions over equality. This means that protests are becoming increasingly common. Whilst there is no guarantee that things will turn ugly in these situations, travellers are advised to avoid protests whenever possible.

Argentina pesos

Economic decline in Argentina has caused the country’s safety rating to drop.

Safest Countries in South America

safe places south america

Are you looking for the safest countries in South America?

It’s said that Colombia and Venezuela are the most dangerous countries, while countries further south like Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay is regarded as the safest countries to visit in South America.

But, what about the dangers involved?

I don’t consider myself ignorant, but I never thought about the dangers, even in the safest countries in South America, until recently.

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Safest countries in South America

Fear of danger and culture shock are the main reasons people reject the idea of travel in Latin America and choose other continents.

Every country in South America has its good and bad parts, whether it’s exploring Comuna 13 which is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Medellin or the Villas of Buenos Aires we must take precautions.

In other words, staying safe is relative to our experiences.

Latin America, can be a safe place when you know where and where not to go. It’s that simple, but you must take the right precautions.

comuna 13 football

However, you’ll need to be streetwise and have a good sense of direction to know when danger is on the horizon.

Of course, even then, you can’t always anticipate danger.

For example: look at the Ausangate Mountains in Peru. You’re likely not going to be robbed, but you need to know which routes to take.

If you get lost or take the wrong path (easily done without a guide), you might find yourself in big trouble – real fast!

I’m saying this from experience, after traveling as far south as Argentina and to over 10 other countries in Latin America all by myself.

Danger is subjective!

Even though we’re exploring at our own risk when traveling foreign lands, we all know the type of danger we don’t want to be in.

What is the safest country in South America?

The statistics say Chile by the way!

With its Spanish and indigenous elements and more than 6,000km of Pacific Ocean coastline it’s surrounded by the Andes mountains.

It is said to be one of the safest places to travel in South America.

Although I’ve not traveled across all borders, I’ve gained a real sense of which are the safest countries in South America for new visitors.

santa teresa brazil safe

When thinking of places to avoid in South America, I have not only walked with all my travel gear on my back, but I carried it through the most dangerous streets in Rio de Janeiro whilst in Brazil.

All without any incidents. But that could be just pure luck, right?

Also, it might have something to do with me being black in Latin America and, therefore, I’m not always seen as THAT GRINGO!

Does that sound ridiculous?

Well, if you have walked around the streets like me, you’d understand why I say that. And, believe me, being a person of color in Latin America has its own set of implications, let me tell you.

visisting comuna 13 stairs

For example, when walking in some of the safest places to travel in South America, people looked at me like I was about to rob them!

When comparing that experience with what it means to be a gringo in Latin America I hope you can begin to see the difference.

Places to Avoid in South america

My point here is that there are some uncontrollable factors, many of which are somewhat inevitable.

How you look and how you carry yourself will decide your fate, not necessarily a specific country or city. You cannot hide being a gringo.

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Timing also plays a big part in being subject to danger, which is why you should avoid walking around late at night in most urban areas.

safe places south america uruguay

When you do, take precautions like getting a taxi instead of walking. In Bogota, I had to remind myself that even though the cost of living in Colombia is lower it is still astronomically high for others.

I know this sounds obvious, but we underestimate how fast danger can walk into our day, especially as we get familiar with a new area.

It could be walking to the store to get some beers to take back to your Airbnb. Or, whilst in the middle of hiking in Patagonia without a guide.

What if I told you that you could still be subject to danger, even in the safest place in South America. Would you believe me?

I’ve walked through both dangerous and safe places with expensive camera equipment in my hand, and nothing has happened to me.

If you are a keen photographer like me, and you’re concerned about your camera equipment, I highly recommend that you have a cheap travel camera with you that you can afford to lose.

safe places south america medellin colombia

If you are really worried about petty theft and street crime, there are some great anti-theft accessories you can find on the market today.

So, does that mean that South America is safe? Or, Did I get lucky?

Let’s look at this question with a little more detail:

Is South America Safe?

Despite being a little optimistic about the situation, I’d say yes because I don’t want to put you off traveling to South America due to a horror story or pretty crime that you heard on the news.

Now, let’s talk about some of the safest countries in South America and what to do to avoid danger while traveling.

For a heads up, here is an unordered list with four of the safest countries in South America that are trending right now.

Many factors account for the safest country, but these trending countries in South America will give you a good idea.

Safe countries in South America 2022

You can read about the best places to visit in South America but, let’s look at the safety scores by combining data from different sources.

salary in peru

These results are based on not only the Global Peace Index but the recorded homicide rates per country.

Also, data from a World Risk Report, which records a country’s possibility of natural disasters and their ability to deal with them.

  1. Chile
  2. Argentina
  3. Uruguay
  4. Bolivia
  5. Ecuador
  6. Paraguay
  7. Peru
  8. Suriname
  9. Brazil
  10. Guyana
  11. Colombia
  12. Venezuela

As you may know, South America is the home to 12 countries with a population of over 423 million and increasing every year.

There are some extremely safe places to visit in Ecuador, but you won’t find ‘the best country to visit in South America’ that easy.

Because of the cultural traditions, landscapes, and biodiversity, it’s impossible to choose just one, trust me!

Best Countries in South America to Live

As you’ll probably know by now, South America has some beautiful, culturally diverse, intriguing, as well as affordable places to live.

uruguay food store

Off the gringo trail, I’ve taken a closer look at each country’s cost of living, weather, health care, and safety. All to be able to find the best countries in South America to live, work, play, and retire.


Chile has a lot to offer, from snow-covered mountains peaks to sandy beaches. A growing international community, expanding job opportunities, and lack of political corruption.

Chile has the highest standard of living in South America with a modernized infrastructure, highways, internet, and drinkable water.

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The weather in Santiago de Chile is fine, typically ranging between 15 and 30C depending up the time of year and 3 to 10C as overnight lows.

The Chilean healthcare system is among the best in Latin America, placing 33d out of 190 countries. An easily convertible currency and International airport, Chile has become an ideal place to live.


Unlike its South American neighbors, Uruguay’s landscape consists of gently rolling hills, river basins, and lakes.

Uruguay is one of the smallest countries in South America, encompassing roughly 68,000 square miles.

montevideo uruguay

What’s unique about Uruguay is that there are no earthquakes or volcanoes. Due to the countries geography, the weather conditions are pretty uniform with regular seasonal changes.

It’s known that Uruguay is safe and has a much slower pace of life along with friendly people and a stable government.

Its higher living costs and quality of life make it an attractive place for many seniors and European immigrants to live. In fact, most of Uruguay’s population is of European descent.


Argentina is home to a landscape as diverse as its population. Nearly 60,000 plus ex-pats from the United States call this country home.

Argentina’s population is mainly of European descent and the second-highest immigration acceptance rate in the world.

buenos aires bus

Argentina’s diverse landscape allows ample opportunity to live within whatever weather conditions you find suitable.

It’s no secret that Argentina has some of the best wine in the world, along with excellent tasting cuisine and the nationwide Mate culture.

Wines, such as Malbec and Torrontes, can easily be found in every supermarket at affordable prices. The Argentines have a lot of freedom as many of the laws are loosely enforced.

With the low cost of living in Peru along with pleasant climate, archeological sites such as Machu Picchu, and La Huaca del Sol.

The laidback lifestyle makes Peru one of the best countries in South America to live in.

downtown lima peru

With healthcare starting at $150, Peru’s healthcare system consists of a network of private clinics and hospitals throughout the country.

An additional benefit to this is the numerous national insurance companies that offer comprehensive coverage.

Peruvians have a rich cultural heritage dating back centuries and monthly festivals celebrating these traditions are commonplace.

Major cities, such as Lima, Trujillo, and Cusco, are all very pedestrian-friendly and have many amenities for expats.

Many apartments, restaurants, shops, and other amenities are within walking distance and near most residential areas.

Safest Country in South America to Live

A combination of magnificent landscapes, mild weather, unique architecture, and history throughout South America appeals to many.

Affordable living conditions, a stable government, and empathetic locals are a few of the reasons why many people find Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, and Peru to be the best countries in South America.

Dangerous Places in South America

How can we avoid the most dangerous places in South America?

Depending on the South America itinerary you embark on, you’ll quicky start to learn which are the safest South American countries to visit.

Or, at the very least, how you can avoid or minimize danger while visiting them. Let’s take a look at how I managed to accomplish this.

Below are five ideas that steered me away from those moments where it could’ve all gone wrong.

Know Your Weaknesses

What are your weaknesses?

If you know you find it difficult to communicate with others, take this opportunity to meet other travelers, especially other solo travelers.

safest countries in South America

One of the beauties of solo travel is nobody knows who you are. You can make mistakes and not feel anxious about messing up interactions.

Learn The Lingo

Can you speak another language?

Learn a few words to help you avoid those awkward moments where you have no choice other than to ask a local for advice.

Usually, people respect the fact you are trying to speak their language, and you will be interpreted much better.

I love residing in Latin America and I’m learning to speak Spanish. My goal is to become fluent in Spanish through daily practice.

Spanish isn’t the only official language in this continent. The official language of Brazil, the largest country in South America, is Portuguese. Also, Guyana is an English-only speaking country in South America.

Shoot Photos

When are you in a photographic mood?

Taking photos of your current surroundings can have many benefits. There have been many times where a previous photo has helped me.

For example, when I got lost or needed a visual reference, photos helped me to locate somewhere or something.

Eating with locals

Eat Communally

When is it socially acceptable to share food?

In some cultures, it’s unheard of to share your plate. What I’m suggesting is when it comes to mealtime, ask locals to share conversation – not their food.

If offered food as a result of initiating conversation, then you’re in a better position to connect with local people more on your travels.

For me, the danger levels automatically decreased when I connected with a helpful local. In this way, each country can be considered on the list of safe countries in South America.

This is one reason why continually learning Spanish in South America has given me more access to these types of local connections.

Without having cultural access, things like sharing conversations around dinner tables can seem a little intrusive or even creepy.

Find your people

Who will you connect with?

Whether it’s Backpacking Bolivia or Buenos Aires, solo travel is difficult alone. For me, being solo and being alone are worlds apart.

Once, I almost got tied down at a hostel in Tulum, Mexico. I met a guy who drank beer to get absolutely wasted every single night, and I felt obliged to have a few beers with him on the first night.

After seeing the state he’d got in, I had no choice but to abandon him.

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If you can’t connect with the right people at your location, I find it’s best to move on and find people who can actually enhance your experience.

I connect with local people that can help me through language exchanges and to share cultural ideas.

You can also check out programs like remote year, which will allow you to combine work and travel with like-minded people.

Again, solo travel does not have to be a lonely pursuit.

Travel Insurance for South America

No matter who you are, it is recommend that backpackers and all types of travelers use World Nomads Insurance for a fully comprehensive cover..

travel insurance for latin america

If you are due to travel soon, you can get a Get Your Free Quote by clicking the link or the image above and filling out your details – that way you’ll get instant travel insurance cover from the date of travel that you choose.

South America Safety FAQs

See these frequently asked questions about safety in South America:

What is the least violent country in South America?

According to various online sources, Uruguay is the least violent South American country. The Global Peace Index 2021 states Uruguay ranks 47th out of the world’s 163 nations.

What is the nicest country in South America?

Peru! For many travelers from all over the world, it is well known that Peru is a country that has tons to offer travelers, no matter their interests or cultural background. Peru seems to also be one of the most inviting countries on the continent.

Is Argentina or Brazil safer?

Arguably, Argentina is safer than Brazil. However, both countries are very friendly and welcome tourists. Remember that racism exists in both countries so you may experience that if you are a person of color in places such as Buenos Aires. Petty crime can be difficult to avoid if you’re not street smart. However, as long as you stay away from “Villas” and “Favelas” you should be able to have a pleasant experience in both countries.

What’s the cheapest country in South America?

It is a known fact that Bolivia is the cheapest country in South America but this is mainly for provisions and transport. However when it comes to accommodation and other things you may find it not as competitive as other South American countries such as Colombia.

Safest South American Countries

Whether packing for the packing for the Galapagos or bombing down the death road on a push bike, try to minimize risk by being vigilant.

Understand who you are in relation to the place you’re in. Use your brain, be smart and utilize some of these ideas.

This is a guide designed to help you avoid danger and decide which place to visit in South America.

I hope you have a pleasant experience no matter where you go on the continent and feel free to share this guide with friends and family that you know are thinking about visiting Latin America.

Read more on travel in South America right here on this blog for inspiration on where to go, what to do and what to see while in South America.

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“ Dear friend! Some links in this post contain affiliate links. Meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, book a hostel or sign up for a tour, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you . Your support means a lot and helps me to keep traveling and maintaining the quality of this site for you.”

Daniel James

Helping thousands of people worldwide with independent travel in Latin America. Layer Culture means to dig deeper into the ideas, customs, and behavior of a group of people.

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Meet Dan

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After spending years on the road Dan is now offering to help you find your feet in Latin America; inspire you to learn Spanish and get you started on your adventures. Learn how to travel longer and stronger!




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