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South America Backpacking Itinerary

I’d like to introduce my epic South America backpacking itinerary.

travel south america routes

With so many South American travel options – which will you choose?

After spending so long in Latin America, many people have asked me to give them the best itinerary for South American travel.

The reality is that there’s no one best place or the best time to travel to South America.

Countries here are so diverse, and it’s best to look at different routes. From there, you can create the perfect itinerary for South America that suits you and your travel plans.

Then all you need is your best backpacking gear, and you’re ready to rock and roll. This is going to be the ultimate South American trip.

Table of Contents

South America Travel Routes

So, without further ado, let’s look at some of the most popular travel routes in South America.

Don’t let time put you off; skip some places or stay longer. The countries are listed in the order according to the suggested route.

Colombia

Famous for: Tropical landscapes, Birdwatching, Exotic fruits, Biodiversity.
Route: Cartagena > Tayrona > Mompos > Villa de Leyva > Bogota > Salento > Cali

Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona

It’s no secret that Colombia is one of my favorite countries in Latin America. Part of what makes a trip to a place like Colombia so fun is the special nature of its landscape.

Not only is it diverse and rich in culture, but it also boasts many other interesting points for any backpacker thinking of backpacking South America. For example, San Gil is great for extreme sports.

With some great beaches in Colombia , you will find a stunning tropical landscape waiting for you the moment you step off the plane.

There are some places to visit in Colombia that are truly unique in Latin America. Colombia is also my preferred entry point to South America.

Even in major parts of the country where urbanization has taken over, there is still that distinctly tropical feel to everything all around you.

That is one of the main reasons to come here: the richness of the biodiversity could make an ecologist out of anyone.

On top of that, it’s a fun place to visit if you enjoy your food thanks to the amazing exotic fruits that grow here that you won’t find elsewhere!

One of the popular things to in Colombia is to visit the lost city which can be accessed from Santa Marta on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

Ecuador

Famous for: Equator Line, Mega-diversity, Amazon Rainforest, Cocoa, The Huaorani.
Route: Otavalo > Quito > Cotopaxi > Banos > Riobamba > Sibambe > Cuenca

safest south american countries

Known as a nation for those who can handle the altitude, a trip to Ecuador can be a headrush in so many different ways.

Part of the joy of a trip to Ecuador is that you can enjoy everything from places like Puerto Lopez that make your trip more worth the while to a look at the Equator line and the amazing quality of diversity found here.

With so many places to visit in Ecuador, you may be surprised by what it has to offer culturally and geographically. Ecuador is indeed similar to Colombia in many different ways but unique in itself.

It’s a nice and easy journey from Colombia if you’re traveling by land – not to mention the lush scenery you’ll see.

Are you feeling adventurous? Scenic locations like Cajas Park are worth getting to know if you’re into hiking.

You can even check out the Ecuadorean Amazon Rainforest that is home to over 587 species of birds and four thriving National Parks to discover. If you travel to Ecuador, you will see how unique it is.

Few parts of the world are quite so open and diverse as Ecuador, which is one of the many reasons why a lot of people enjoy coming here.

It’s got amazing Amazon rainforests to come to visit alongside some truly special diversity in its landscape and layout.

On top of that, the natural growing conditions of the cocoa beans here ensures it produces some of the best beans in the world!

The main highlight for many backpackers is the Galapagos Islands – an incredible place to visit ecologically protected wildlife.

Also, if your South America Travel budget allows it, you can even get there without taking the cruise.

Famous for: Amazon, Landscapes, Cultural Diversity, Food, Surfing.
Route: Mancora > Huaraz > Lima > Huacachina > Nazca > Cuzco > Machu Picchu

places to visit in south america

Why not plan a trip to Peru for your trip to South America?

A nation that is absolutely steeped in history, Peru is popular and famous for a great many things including Lima the capital city.

Just outside of Lima alone you can visit many of the popular tourist attractions via day trips from Lima that you can do in one day.

From its truly special Amazon areas to the amazing landscape that covers much of the country, you would do well to find a more diverse, fun place to come and visit than Peru.

Whether you wish to learn about the Incan Empire in Cusco, visit a meditation retreat or trek through the Peruvian Amazon, you’ll not be disappointed with the diverse range of activities to do here.

You can even go sandboarding in Huacachina, which has the only natural desert oasis in South America.

It’s a special location to visit for those with a taste for creative foods and exciting things to do.

From hiking trips to taking in the various cultures that make up the diverse background of Peru.

No matter how you look at the country; it’s oozing in culture. Peru has a great national reserve, and you’ll find the best food in Latin America.

Depending on your South America travel duration, you can hopefully get to see Machu Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the world.

Here’s a perfect two-week Peru itinerary that goes from Lima to Cusco if you are looking for a popular Latin America backpacking route.

If you’re feeling a bit short on time, no worries; you can always check out this snazzy four-day Peru itinerary that may just help you squeeze the most out of your days.

You can enjoy so much about this amazing country. On top of that, be sure to try out the food: like most South American nations, the food here is unlike anything you’ll try back home!

Bolivia

Famous for: Pisco, Atacama Desert, Extreme Landscapes, Wine, Sports.
Route: Copacabana > Isla del Sol > La Paz > Sucre > Potosi > Salar de Uyuni

south america travel

This is the cheapest country to visit in South America. Bolivia and its culture will have you daydreaming about visiting earlier.

When you head to Bolivia, one thing you will notice upon arrival is that this is a location that makes it easy to settle in. The quality of the food and wine is very impressive, as is their general diversity in landscapes.

You can head from one form of the landscape to a complete contrast in a short space of time; it’s a nation that makes it easy for you to cover a lot of diverse land in a short amount of time.

First time in Bolivia? Copacabana is the main Bolivian town on the shore of Lake Titicaca, which makes a great starting point if you’re backpacking from Peru by land.

One thing you’ll enjoy about Bolivia is the richness of the food, but landmarks like the Atacama Desert make excellent places to visit, too.

If you like sports, you’ll find this to be among the most sport-crazed nations on the continent, too!

I hope your South America travel itinerary will carry you here. If it’s your first time, you’ll want to know some tips and tricks for Bolivia to get you started.

Don’t leave Bolivia without seeing Salta de Uyuni; the experience and scenery are unforgettable with landscapes changing every 10 minutes as you cruise in a jeep.

It’s the best place to visit in South America for many backpackers.

Chile

Famous for: Pisco, Atacama Desert, Extreme Landscapes, Wine, Sports.
Route: Santiago > Valparaiso > Vina del Mar > & Antofagasta > San Pedro de Atacama

south america backpacking

Chile is a special place, and with UNESCO sites like Valparaiso, it’s a very satisfying place in the developed world to come and visit.

One thing that you will find about Chile is that it offers many fun places to visit, while it also shares the Atacama Desert with Bolivia.

You will get to enjoy the diversity in landscape enjoyed in Bolivia, but you’ll also get to take in some brilliant delicacies to try out.

You’ll find Chile has some of the best wines to try in the world, too. Chilean wine is among the most popular in the world – almost as popular as sports in this country. Also, you can visit a vineyard here.

For a truly diverse experience, be sure to come and try out Chile yourself!

Whatever you do, please don’t be undermined by Chile’s size.

Whether you’re just passing through and only looking for the top things to do in Santiago or you’re here to sample award-winning wines, you won’t be disappointed.

Chile packs some serious adventure for any keen backpacker and absolutely perfect terrain if you’re traveling overland by motorhome or adventure camping.

If you’re not a fan of the heat, you can always head down to Patagonia and check out places like Torres del Paine, which offers a bunch of multi-day hikes.

Santiago is a great starting point and a booming capital city. If you didn’t know, Santiago is one of the largest cities in the Americas.

You’ll find that most South American travel books have great things to say about the capital’s success.

Argentina

Famous for: Tango, Elegant Architecture, Football, Steak, Wine.
Route: Buenos Aires > Rosario > Cordoba > Mendoza > Salta > humahuaca > Iguazu

south america travel route 3 months

Every South American trip should include Argentina in their itinerary. If you are lucky to make it to the southern cone, you’ll get a true taste of South American culture.

As arguably the most well-known of all South American nations, the European input into Argentina is hard to ignore.

It’s a nation that is known for its elegance and its richness in terms of architecture and landscape.

From the amazing steaks found in just about every restaurant to the tremendous Argentine wine, you will find that there is food to be enjoyed all over Argentina unlike other parts of the nation.

As a city, Buenos Aires has been one of the most diverse and exhilarating places I’ve visited in South America.

Another thing to note about Argentina is that if you like football, you will have come to one of the true homes of the sport.

While it was made in Britain, it was a sport perfected in Argentina and Brazil – showcased perfectly by the likes of Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi.

The people are animated, and you’ll notice their body language speaks louder than words.

Many people use Buenos Aires as a landing point to get their trip off the ground, even if you’re heading further south to do a big ice trek in places like Perito Moreno or go to Ushuaia, the small resort town.

I salute you if you ever get the chance to travel to Patagonia in the south.

Uruguay

Famous for: Quality of Life, Drinking Mate, Meat, Marijuana, Unspoiled nature.
Route: Colonia > Montevideo > Piriapolis > Punta Del Este > Cabo Polonio

south america travel

Straddled between the ‘big two’ South American nations is beautiful Uruguay.

Small but special, the high quality of life enjoyed by Uruguayans is something anyone can appreciate. You’ll get to enjoy a nation that has not ruined its landscape with excessive tourist traps and the like.

In various South America travel publications, many have named Uruguay as one of the safest countries to visit.

You’ll also be introduced to Mate culture; a form of tea that you might find very hard to put down once you have your first drink.

A rich and enjoyable way to have some fun, you’ll get to enjoy everything from amazing meat dishes to puffs of some of the finest (100% legal) marijuana that you will find anywhere in the world.

For a more peaceful and positive approach to South America, be sure to come and check out Uruguay.

From Salto to Montevideo, there is much to enjoy about this special country.

You’ll quickly learn how the Rio de la Plata plays a significant role in joining with Buenos Aires and how many citizens use it day-to-day.

On arriving at the port, you’ll quickly see why! Though it’s definitely not one of the cheapest countries in South America.

If you’re backpacking on a budget, it would be best to start your South American trip itinerary here in conjunction with Buenos Aires.

If you’re thinking of doing a road trip and wondering how to travel Uruguay, you’ll find its 660-kilometer-long coastline very appealing.

Brazil

Famous for: Carnivals, Portuguese, Luscious Beaches, Samba, Football.
Route: Iguacu Falls > Curitiba > Sao Paulo > Paraty > Ihla Grande > Rio de Janiero

south america travel routes

Compared to Argentina, Brazil can seem massive. However, part of what makes Brazil such a special place is immense diversity.

From major city to major city, state to state, Brazil changes entirely.

One thing that remains in almost every part of the country, though, is their love of the Samba spirit; the very essence that has made them a sporting idol the world over.

One thing that you will soon find about Brazil is that you cannot go far without seeing a reference to either Catholicism or football.

These are the two religions in this amazing nation, so be prepared to travel through a melting pot known for its amazing carnivals, its football, and its love of having a wild and exciting time!

You’ll find some of the best cities in South America are in Brazil. The mammoth capital, Sao Paulo, is popular with backpackers.

Pencil in a good length of time to explore, as Brazil is the largest country in South America. Maybe now is time to brush up on your Portuguese?

I have gotten by with Spanish in some of Brazil’s best places and spent many hours traveling by bus and plane around the country.

Brazil is not for the light-hearted or beginner backpacker.

However, if you do go, make sure you check out Rio de Janeiro as it makes a great introduction to Brazil as well as a good ending point.

Read more South America content…

Best Accommodation in South America

Depending on your budget, you’ll find some great options for places to stay in South America.

Before you start planning a trip to South America, I suggest you do a little research on the types of accommodation that will suit you best.

south america travel

If you only have three weeks in South America, then maybe your accommodation strategy would be different.

Or if you are backpacking on an itinerary of six months, then you’ll need to learn how to mix it up.

In my Smart Travel guide, I talk more about my accommodation strategy for Latin America.

It’s best to try one of the many types of accommodation South America has to offer to get a full 360 experience.

The most popular is hostels, which you can get for free if you know-how.

Preparing for your Trip

Are you starting your South American itinerary without much travel experience?

Don’t worry! I assure you that you’re going to meet many people doing the same type of travel.

Some prefer to travel alone, and there are many reasons why.

5 solo-travel learnings

Are you thinking of doing something unique? Like glamping in the Peruvian Amazon? Don’t be surprised if you find someone with similar interests.

Knowing what to pack is one of the most asked questions that beginner backpackers ask me. Check out my travel gear page for inspiration on what to carry on your trip.

Travel insurance for South America

I always recommend backpackers and travelers (no matter who you are) use World Nomads Insurance for fully comprehensive cover.

travel insurance for latin america

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

On many occasions World Nomads has provided me with reliable insurance cover for travel in Latin America and the rest of the world.

A good travel insurance plan should give you that peace of mind.

There’s more than one reason why Travel Insurance is important to consider while planning your South America travel routes.

Below I’m going to list some of the things to consider:

  • Trip Cancelation
  • Trip Interruption
  • Flight Delays
  • Lost Luggages
  • Theft
  • Property Damage

If you’re looking for ideas on how to plan a trip to South America, the last thing you want to worry about is any of the above complications that can quickly become part of anyone’s trip.

Can you drive to South America?

If you’re based in North America, maybe you’re thinking of driving to South America. Trust me, not even the most experienced backpacker decides to leave home without travel insurance.

Backpacking through South America

As part of my South America backpacking itinerary, and after doing years of solo travel in Latin America.

Here I’d like to share five pieces of advice based on what I’ve learned and applied along all the South America travel routes I have taken.

best country in south america argentina

One of the most memorable trips I did was from Bogota to Buenos Aires, which was an amazing trip. I went to live in Buenos Aires and learn more about the cultures of South America.

Read Post  Travel to Central and South America: A Reopening Timeline, Country by Country

Maybe you have a Central America, backpacking route that you’re trying to extend to the south.

If you’re asking where does South America start or how to get from Central America to South America, you can pick one of few options, but I’d recommend flying from Panama to Colombia.

Some people ask me if it’s possible to drive from North America to South America. Of course, you can; many people are doing it. Chile was part of my backpacking South American itinerary.

hacienda santa martina chile

Whichever South American backpacking routes you choose, I have a few backpacker tips that may help you along the way.

Below, I’m going to give you a few tips that have strengthened my character and understanding of who I want to be as a young man.

Keep moving

When traveling solo, you face new situations daily, and there are certain interactions, which really challenge you to be authentic.

One challenge could be opening up to others, feeling vulnerable to sharing your personal history, or who you want to become.

That is quite normal and a minor sticking point that only you can overcome.

View from mountain in Jamaica

Another way I’ve seen people deal with this is by being a square, choosing to remove themselves from the interaction or environment.

That can be quite normal, and we all have done that at some point.

In my humble opinion, either can be appropriate, depending on how well you know yourself and the purpose of your trip.

When you’re aware you’re unhappy with your current surroundings, I found it best to keep moving along until I arrive at a place where there are people similar to me or to a location that is more likely to support my growth.

Your personal growth time is too valuable to allow yourself to waste it at the expense of thoughtless strangers.

5-things-i-learned-via-solo-travel-el-tunco

Everybody feels lonely

The more I travel solo, the more I learn about myself; however, I can’t learn about myself without the luxury of meeting other people.

Traveling solo is quite a selfish exploration. Solo travel is a gamble; maybe you don’t meet anybody during your whole trip that likes you, let alone understand you or show you any affection.

It took me many solo travel trips to realize that despite traveling with a group, some people can feel lonely.

This is the perfect motivation for interacting with people on a personal level, even though they may seem like they’re with a group of old-time friends.

Saviour is around the next corner

Do you know the difference between feeling lonely and being alone?

You must understand the difference before you embark on your first or next solo travel. Being alone is a state of being, whereas loneliness is a state of mind.

This man taught me how to cut a coconut

Although solo travel is about traveling by yourself, feeling lonely is never a goal or a desired outcome. However, it’s inevitable.

I’ve found that whatever tools you have to change your state of mind when loneliness creeps in will make or break you.

I’ve felt lonely many times on my solo travel adventures, and honestly, it just takes one conversation with one person, and the feeling is gone.

People are always willing to talk, but how and where you meet those people is down to you.

Aligning with allies

How many times have you bumped into an old friend in the street and instantly rekindled a connection?

Often, during solo travel adventures, you’ll bump into somebody that you feel you’ve known for ages.

Friends away from home in El Salvador

I learned that we instantly identify and feel a deeper connection with people from the same city or country, etc. It’s almost relieving at first.

Beware of this as I’ve fallen back into my comfort zone, and my trip of growth was affected.

Maybe you stick around for a conversation, but it’s dangerous to rely on others to hold your hands for the rest of your trip.

The good news is that you can consciously take a break from your solo adventures by being aware of this paradox, but remember, you’re sacrificing a part of your own personal growth while you’re traveling with other people.

Always travel first class

I know what you’re thinking, and no, not in a pretentious way.

One thing solo travel taught me is people who have less naturally go out of their way to help others.

How will you manage to connect with people from different walks of life? Also, will you honestly be able to relate to them if you’re too cool or pompous to use public transport or visit a certain neighborhood?

Everybody has their own standards when deciding on the best route to travel in South America. But when doing solo travel, you need to reduce your threshold to allow random and random’s friend to come in.

Try not to let your high standards get the best of you. Learn how to travel with all classes of people.

South America travel Routes

I hope you can get inspired by looking at these ideas and basic South American travel routes.

There are so many other places you can see, and I will be writing about them in my Latin America section.

how to backpack

There are also some really good tours you can check out along the way. For example, if you’re in Medellin, maybe you’d like to do the Pablo Escobar tour.

Or, if you’re in Peru, you can do the famous Inca tour; (or one of the many day trips from Lima) I’ve heard is a once in a lifetime experience.

If you like the idea of being in Brazil, and South America trip itinerary would have to be tailored to spend a huge chunk of its time there.

Otherwise, you don’t even end up scratching the surface of what Brazil can offer as a country and its eclectic mix of cultures.

south america backpacking

Over the past four years, I’ve traveled solo consistently, improving my life, time after time.

I’ve learned so much and created opportunities for myself and even others by taking these new trips of growth.

Whether that’s by learning Spanish, watching Spanish movies and practicing what I’ve learned with locals on the road, or helping a local family I’ve stayed with during my travels.

I sincerely hope you got some useful information from this South American backpacking itinerary – if not – please let me know any questions you may have.

Missing something? Got tips, tricks & advice we can learn from?

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

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south america travel routes

south america travel route 3 months

“ 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.

Reader Interactions

Comments

COSTA RICA VIBES says

Loved this! I recently did some traveling in Central America solo for the first time and experienced a lot of the same emotions/ things. I especially love point #3.

Love this post. There are similarities to my experiences. I usually travel by myself and I love it. It made me stronger, more confident and so much more. Unfortunately, it also makes me feel that I don´t fit in the “normal” world back home.

Traveling solo can be a great way to learn independence. I think everyone should try it at least once. I’m glad you learned some valuable lessons. These are great!

Some very nice tips! I think most of them can also be relative outside South-America! Really nice post for backpackers!! Thank of sharing!

Nawdeeya Nelson says

Awesome tips! I love travel solo. And your right…it can be rather selfish, but I love it.

That’s a massive amount of learning and some great tips, so many of which carry over into life. What you say about loneliness is really powerful too. I spent last weekend on a short trip, and I could have learned from your wise words about not being reticent to talk to people already in groups.

ali dunnell says

Great post. One of the things I learnt from my many years of solo travel is that more adventures happen and often the unexpected. I really like the photographs you included in this post too. Thanks for sharing your experience

Amazing post! Really interesting, since I have been dreaming about traveling to Central America for so long!

The Upbeat Path says

Great post! Great advice for new travelers to live by for sure. If you’re new to traveling, the best thing you could do is open up and learn to meet new people on the regular. It’s a time when you should absolutely feel as though you can be yourself and not care what others think. You’ll eventually meet people who will want to continue traveling with you, and if not they’ll be gone the next day. No harm no foul

I rarely travel alone – my partner is as crazy about travelling as myself (if not more – he wants to go for a BIG trip next year!) but you made some good points – if you travel alone there is more chance to interact with the local crowd and it is what is really beautiful about travelling, knowing the language also helps – speaking Russian definitely opened so many doors when I was travelling to Siberia!

Lana Giles says

This is why I love travelling, to be able to meet people, mingle with the locals and have these incredible experiences you will never forget. Great tips! Hope you had an amazing time travelling around Central America.

Beautifully written post! I travelled alone, I travelled in a group, I travelled as a couple. I too think that the most intense experiences you can have are when being solo on the road, yet… I recently started travelling with my gf… which makes some other stuff far more easier. So – travelling as a couple? My favourite way now.

Petq Miteva says

Oh, Latin America is on the top of my bucket list! Nice post, beautiful mature and I like that pictures are very realistic! Thanks

Indu Indra says

Interesting tips on traveling solo in Latin America. Beautifully written post I enjoyed. I have traveled many Spanish speaking countries but not learned Spanish yet so I may join you in my quest to learn Spanish.

Interesting tips about solo traveling over all. It’s very brave to solo travel but it has it’s own charm, the freedom to do anything, try anything. Group bound tours or tours with families are very restricted. Very beautifully written post about Latin America. I have always been fascinated about knowing more about Central America and you have provided a very realistic review about the place. Spanish is a very beautiful language and also want to learn this language.

I think you are very brave to solo travel, we are lucky we have each other and even then sometimes when travelling for a long time you can feel lonely, or miss old friends and family. Your tips are really helpful and I totally agree with moving on until you are comfortable. Thanks

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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!

25 Gorgeous Destinations For Solo Travel in South America

solo travel in South America

Solo travel in South America is not yet a popular option, unlike in Asia or Europe, which are considered safer and comfortable destinations for traveling alone , especially if you are a solo female traveler.

Safety is a top concern while traveling alone in general, but more so when you think of countries in South America – thanks to the violence and crimes that we see on the media, and also because we probably hear less about traveling alone safely in these countries.

I asked some seasoned travelers who have explored the beautiful counties in Latin America alone, about how safe the places are, and to share their experiences. And I’m excited by what I got to know!

Because, in this blog, 25 travel bloggers from around the world have shared their preferred destinations for solo travel in South America and their experiences on the road.

Whether you are looking for hiking amidst beautiful mountains or wander in vibrant cities or looking to explore wildlife, you have a mix of all kinds of places to travel alone in South America.

Check out what these travel experts have got to say!

Best Destinations For Solo Travel in South America

1. El Chalten in Patagonia, Argentina

One of the best places for solo travel in South America is Patagonia. Spread across Argentina and Chile, Patagonia is more famous for its breathtaking landscape than for its towns – which to be fair are not interesting at all.

Small towns such as El Calafate, El Chalten and even Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego, are the perfect starting point for some of the best hiking in Patagonia. Of these, the tiny El Chalten is the one you should not miss.

solo travel in South America

Located at the foot of Mount Fitz Roy and Mount Torre, at about 3 hours bus ride from the bigger El Calafate, the town itself is honestly nothing special. Just imagine a series of low rise buildings lines along two main streets, a few gear shops, some good restaurants, pubs and wine bars and a couple of good hotels and hostels.

No more than 1000 people live in El Chalten during the cold winter months but come spring and summer, and it comes to live with the many travelers who want to enjoy the many hikes.

Yet, El Chalten provides easy access to world-class hiking trails that can be enjoyed even independently and alone. The trails start right outside town, and they’re usually are quite a few people walking them (though it never feels crowded) so that it is safe to set for a hike alone as someone will always pass by to provide help if needed.

Where to stay in El Chalten?

Keep in mind the one where I stayed is way out of town (50 mins walk, I am still baffled as to why the company put us there!!). I went by the place mentioned below several times.

Rancho Grande is the best-known hostel near the centre of El Chalten. You can get dorms as well as private rooms; there are good common areas. The best features are the in-house pub serving good, earthy comfort food (the fresh french fries are to die for) and an on-site tour company.

ContributorClaudia, My Adventures Across the World

2. The Islands of Lake Titicaca, Peru

If you’re looking for an unforgettable, cultural experience, in a one of a kind environment, look no further than the Peruvian islands of Uros, Amantani and Taquile. These three islands are located on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world.

It is one of the most beautiful places worth adding on your list for solo travel in South America. It sits at just over 3800 metres above sea level, and you’ll be awed by the clarity of the air, the brilliant blue skies, and incredible light at this altitude.

On Amantani Island, you’ll find two peaks, 4000 metres above sea level, called Pachamama and Pachatata. There are ancient Incan ruins at the top of both of these peaks, along with a mesmerizing view of Quechua farming terraces and the vastness of Lake Titicaca.

solo travel in South America

Uros is fascinating because the island is made entirely out of reeds that grow naturally in the shallower parts of Lake Titicaca. The Aymara people that inhabit Uros, cut, stack and pile up these reeds to create islands.

You’ll find houses, a methodist church, a school, and even little reed islands for raising livestock.

solo travel in South America

Taquile is famous for its knitting men, who have the sole job of knitting, starting at the age of 8. The handwoven textiles produced there were declared “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO in 2005.

Where to stay at Lake Titicaca?

It’s not possible to stay overnight on Uros, or Taquile, but Amantani Island offers a unique homestay experience, where you can spend the night with a Quechua family.

Generally speaking, the accommodation and meals provided during these homestays are very simple. However, it’s a much-needed contribution to the economy of Amantani, and a beautiful window into real-life atop Lake Titicaca.

Contributor – Shelley Lee, Travel-Stained

3. Medellin, Colombia

Medellin may have a reputation for being dangerous — but that reputation is outdated! Today, the “Murder Capital of the World” has reinvented itself as the “City of Eternal Spring” — and it’s one of the safest and most pleasant cities for solo female travel in South America.

Start your visit with the Real City Tours free walking tour of the city. It’s the best free walking tour I’ve ever done, clocking in at 4 hours with engaging guides. First, you’ll learn the city’s history, from colonial times to the Escobar era. Then, the second half of the tour focuses on Medellin’s transformation — fueled by the incredible Metrocable system.

Speaking of which, don’t miss a ride on the Metrocable. You’ll get incredible views over the barrios, all for the under-$1 price of a metro ticket. You can use the Metrocable to reach Comuna 13, a neighbourhood famous for its colourful street art (best seen on tour).

Don’t overload yourself with activities, though. Medellin is a city best ‘experienced’ rather than rushed through. Take time to wander around downtown, chat with the extraordinarily friendly locals, chill at a coffee shop, and spend a night on the town in the Poblado neighbourhood. Meanwhile, indulge in some of the continent’s best vegetarian cuisine.

Where to stay in Medellin?

The best base for solo travelers in Medellin is Black Sheep Hostel. This Aussie-owned, locally operated hostel has comfortable dorms and private rooms, a pleasant garden and a roof deck. And it’s in a quiet neighbourhood 5 minutes from a Metro stop and 15 minutes from the bustle of Poblado.

Contributor – Carrie Mann, Trains Planes And TukTuks

4. Asuncion, Paraguay

One of the least recommended countries for solo travel in South America is Paraguay, but it’s one I highly recommend visiting. For one thing, the locals are some of the friendliest people I’ve met anywhere in the world, and there is so much history in the country. At the centre of it all is the capital city, Asuncion. An underrated destination with plenty to see and do.

You’ll find many colonial-style buildings throughout Asuncion, as well as many museums and the cathedral. Some of the most important historical sites are Casa de la Independencia, the place where the country declared its independence, becoming the first in South America to do so, and Paraguay’s war memorial Panteón Nacional de Los Héroes.

Where to stay in Asuncion?

One of the best areas in Asuncion is Barrio Loma San Jerónimo, a brightly coloured neighbourhood located around 2km from the centre. Here you will find plenty of local cultures as well as brilliantly decorated streets and houses.

For somewhere to stay in Asuncion, El Jardin Hostal is perfect for location, facilities and cost. It’s in the centre of the city and within easy walking distance of all the main sights. The accommodation has a very relaxed feel with hammocks and a swimming pool, which are both great for chilling out and avoiding the heat. They even had a pair of rambunctious kittens living there during my visit.

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Prices are around USD 32 for a private double room or less than USD 11 for a bed in a dorm with a substantial breakfast included.

Contributor – Stuart Fahy, Just Traveling Through

5. Uyuni, Bolivia

Uyuni was the absolute highlight of my Bolivia trip, and I can only recommend everyone not to miss this excellent travel destination. A trip to Uyuni not only includes the city of Uyuni in the south of the country but usually also a 3-day Uyuni salt desert tour.

The city of Uyuni itself doesn’t have much to offer, to be honest. It is located in the middle of the desert and therefore, there are only a few shady spots.

Is Uyuni safe for solo travel?

The Uyuni salt flats and its surroundings, on the other hand, offer all the more. It is one of the most popular and recommended destinations for solo travel in South America. Group tours are the best way to explore the salt desert.

The tour takes place in groups of 6 people. So it happens that couples usually travel with other couples and solo travelers with other solo travelers. Great friendships often develop during these three days in the Bolivian highlands. The tour is entirely safe even for female solo travelers, as your local tour guide and group will always accompany you.

On the first day of the tour, you’ll see the Bolivian Salt Flat. It is particularly impressive during the rainy season, since a kind of water mirror forms on the salt that reflects the clouds – an impressive spectacle of nature.

You spend the other two days of the tour in the Bolivian Altiplano. There is a lot of breathtaking nature and fascinating lagoons. You can also see some animals, such as flamingos up close.

Where to stay in Uyuni?

Accommodation during the tour is already included in your ticket. For your time in Uyuni, I recommend the Beliz B&B.

Contributor – Vicki Franz, Vickiviaja

6. San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is, hands-down, one of the best destinations for solo travel in South America! Known for being the driest place on Earth, in the Atacama, you’ll find from volcanoes of over 6,000 meters of altitude to lunar landscapes, saline lagoons, clear night skies, and a cosy village -San Pedro de Atacama- full of good people, and great food!

Is San Pedro de Atacama safe for solo travel?

San Pedro de Atacama is a safe destination suited for both the expert solo traveler and the recently initiated. Alcohol and clubbing are banned in town, so in a way, this reduces the chances of things going too crazy. However, travelers keen to enjoy a drink after a day out exploring can do so in many of the authorized restaurants located on the main street!

Another perk for solo travelers is that most outdoor activities are organized through travel agencies, and pretty much everyone speaks English, so it’s very easy to navigate your way through all the different options -you can even get everything arranged at your accommodation.

The Atacama does get packed as it’s quite a touristic destination, but if you are capable of traveling over shoulder season you’d still get to enjoy good weather and skip the crowds! That said, it’s worth it, and you’ll find there are not many places on Earth that look and feel just like the Atacama Desert.

A last piece of advice, get proper clothing for this adventure as temperatures range up to 20 Cº between day and night! The soil is also arid and rocky, so make sure to pack a good pair of hiking shoes and a winter jacket!

Where to stay at the Atacama?

The Hostal La Pueblo is the right choice if you are on a tight budget! It’s one of the most affordable hostels in town, and you don’t need to sacrifice location as it’s just a 5-minutes walk from the town centre.

7. Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Iguazu Falls on the border between Brazil and Argentina is one of the most amazing natural attractions I’ve ever seen. Iguazu Falls are one of the largest waterfalls in the world; it’s often compared with Niagara Falls and Victoria Falls.

The waterfalls and the surrounding area are awe-inspiring, it’s easy to move around the park, there are boardwalks and wooden platforms that let tourists get very close to the falls. Flora and fauna in the park are very diverse: monkeys, coatis, tropical butterflies, hummingbirds, giant ferns, massive trees, colourful flowers – all these create an impression of being in Jurassic Park.

Is it safe for solo travel?

It felt safe to walk around the town to go out for a drink. I will rate it as one of the areas that felt the safest to me in Brazil. Visiting the Iguazu Falls is not the only activity here. You can go hiking, tandem skydiving, horseback riding, visiting a bird park or Itaipu Dam and more.

The two nearest cities to the waterfalls are Puerto Iguazú in Argentina, and Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil. I visited both places as a part of my first solo travel in South America. Iguazu Falls were the second stop on my itinerary, and it completely blew me away.

I stayed in Foz do Iguaçu for two nights and made friends here that I explored the park and traveled around the area. Foz is a small touristy town and a Brazilian getaway to the Iguazu National Park.

Where to stay at Iguazu?

There are many hostels and hotels here for any budget. If you are looking for a budget Hostel, then I’d recommend Made in Brazil Hostel. Wyndham Golden Foz Suítes is an excellent option in the Mid-price range.

Contributor – Alya, Stingy Nomads

8. Machu Picchu, Peru

As the jewel in Peru’s crown, few places are as famous as Machu Picchu, the revered Inca citadel that stands atop a remote mountain outside the city of Cusco. It’s become the ultimate destination for most travellers to Peru, with many opting to take the four-day, three-night Inca trail hike to reach the site.

Is Machu Picchu safe for solo travel?

This iconic destination is ideal for adding to your bucket list for solo travel in South America. Not only is it impossible to hike the Inca trail alone, but you’ll meet like-minded travellers as part of your tour group, meaning you’ll never feel on your own.

Best of all, the hikers with whom you’ve shared this special moment are likely to become close friends after four days on the trail and can quickly become travel companions for the rest of your adventure around Peru!

traveling alone in South America

The Inca trail itself – an old Inca stone pathway that once connected Cusco, the capital of the empire, with Machu Picchu, a favoured spiritual retreat – is a challenge, but one where the rewards are incredible.

Not only are the views spectacular as you climb up into the Andes, appreciating the ice-strewn apus or mountain tops that were considered sacred by the Inca, but there’s no experience quite like arriving at Sun Gate just above Machu Picchu for breathtaking dawn over these venerated ruins.

During the trek, you stay overnight in comfortable tents erected by your porters and dine on truly impressive meals (they have been knocked up on the side of a mountain, after all!) cooked up by your chefs.

Where to stay at Machu Picchu?

After you’ve explored the site and returned to Cusco, you’ll want some pampering, so I recommend the MOAF Cusco Boutique Hotel, where rooms are cosy and modern, and some have beautiful views across Cusco.

9. Ushuaia, Argentina

Ushuaia is the most southerly city in the world and famous for being the “end of the world”. While most people visit Ushuaia before departing on a cruise to Antarctica, the city is well worth a visit even if you aren’t heading there, and one of the recommended destinations for solo travel in South America. With pristine hiking trails and incredible opportunities to see marine wildlife, Ushuaia has a lot to offer.

Is Ushuaia safe for solo travel?

Ushuaia is one of the best places for solo travel in South America. It is a safe city, and many people here go hiking alone. Hitchhiking to the start of the trailheads is common.

One of the best things to do in Ushuaia is to go walking with penguins. This a unique day tour that takes you to Martillo Island, where you will get to walk with three different kinds of penguin species. These tours are often in combination with a cruise down the beagle channel, where you can see more marine life including whales.

Ushuaia is also an excellent place to go hiking. Some of the best hikes are in Tierra Del Fuego National Park, which is just half an hour away from Ushuaia. There are also glaciers nearby which you visit.

Where to stay in Ushuaia?

If you’re looking for a place to make hiking buddies then check out Antarctica Hostel, it is an excellent place for solo travelers to stay as it has a social atmosphere where you can comfortably meet others.

10. Quito, Ecuador

Quito in Ecuador is one of the best places for solo travel in South America. Not just a stopover to the Galapagos Islands or the Amazon, Quito is home to a colourful and vibrant historic centre full of cobblestone streets, Colonial squares, and local shops and restaurants.

solo travel in Quito

While visiting the old town, which is a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site, spend time at the city’s ornate churches. I recommend two in particular: La Compania de Jesus, which is completely covered in gold, the Basilica del Voto Nacional, for its magnificent views of the city and unusual gargoyles.

Quito is the second tallest capital city in the world (give yourself an extra day or two to acclimate to the elevation) and its hills create great panoramic views of the city. Ride the TelefériQo, or cable car, up 12,000 feet, for panoramic views of the city in all directions. Climb up El Panecillo, or the hill with the winged statue of the Virgin Mary, which overlooks the city.

If you an extra day, head to Otavalo for their handicrafts on market day. The market is open daily, though only tourists visit on off-days. Make sure to go on the designated market day for the authentic experience.

Quito is an excellent destination for solo travel and a bit of off-the-beaten-path exploration. I highly recommend visiting this city for its history, culture, and natural beauty.

Where to stay in Quito?

My hostel, Quito terrace, also had great views of El Panecillo and highly recommended if you’re looking for a nice, but affordable place to stay.

Contributor – Rosie Julin, Popcuria, a narrative travel podcast

11. Bariloche, Argentina

San Carlos de Bariloche is basically where Argentinean Patagonia starts and is one of the best destinations to your itinerary on your solo travel in South America.

The city, which is also called Bariloche, is famous for its beautiful surroundings as well as the Swiss culture. You will find a lot of chalet-style buildings, cheese fondues and delicious cakes everywhere. There are plenty of cute shops, cafes and outdoor activities.

hiking in South America

The region is best known for skiing in winter and hiking in the summer. Many trails are starting from the area around the town, but in case there’s a trail a bit further away, you can quickly grab a transfer or a taxi to the trailhead.

You can hike at Cerro Catedral, near Lago Nahuel Huapi or even better: at Pampa Linda where you can trek up to Refugio Otto Meiling. This latter one requires some planning, but it’s a total must if you are a hiker.

If you prefer not to hike, you can grab a tour on Circuito Chico (half-day) to the lakes surrounding the city or enjoy the Lake Crossing to Puerto Montt in Chile. You can also, for example, rent a bike and head out for a few hours on your own.

Is Bariloche safe for solo travel?

As Bariloche is quite western and modern, I felt utterly safe here both times I visited and would recommend you heading there as a solo traveller.

Where to stay in Bariloche?

There are plenty of places to stay from low budget to more expensive. During my most recent visit, I stayed at Design Suites, just outside of town but beautifully located at the lakeshore.

Contributor – Antonette Spaan, We12travel

Awesome Destinations For Solo Travel in South America

12. Chiloe Island, Chile

Located in the North of Patagonia, Chiloe island is a beautiful destination for solo travel in South America. What makes Chiloe so unique are the myths and legends that the locals are keeping alive to the day.

The stories of the Trauco, La Pincoya or El Caleuche, all mythological characters from deep inside the culture of the island, can be heard all over Chiloe. The mythology in Chiloe was born when the Spanish reached the island and their stories mixed with the ones of the indigenous people who lived here.

Besides its myths, Chiloe is also a fantastic island to discover. Among the traditional wooden houses built on stilts, in the harbours, in Chiloe, you can also see the different churches made out of timber and wood shingles, painted in vibrant colours.

The gastronomy on Chiloe island is unique as well, with many fish and seafood dishes, but also a German imported cake, the kuchen, which became the local dessert over the years. For a unique culinary experience, you have to try the curanto on Chiloe Island, a traditionally Mapuche method of underground cooking.

For nature lovers, Chiloe Island doesn’t disappoint. The Chiloe National Park located in the west part of the island is fantastic to place to explore the local flora but also observe animals such as different types of whales, including the endangered Southern right whale. In other parts of the island, you can also see Magellanic and Humbold penguins, pink flamingos, sealions or the pudu – the world’s smallest deer.

Where to stay on Chiloe Island?

Traveling around the island is very easy, with buses and minibuses going from North to South all day long. I suggest setting a base either in Ancud – in the North (I recommend here the 13 Lunas Hostel), or in Castro – in the Centre of the island.

13. Cuenca, Ecuador

It might have been the fuss and chaos of Peru growing on me after three months. When I finally discovered Ecuador, and especially when I got to Cuenca, I immediately fell relieved, and in love.

Something is comforting about Cuenca. The 3rd largest city of Ecuador is not that large. It is a university town, which means lots of reasons to go out; but it’s also full of history, street art and beautiful colonial buildings. I have a thing for colonial buildings.

Cuenca is a city to discover on foot if you see what I mean. The attractions are close to each other, and there’s a gentle atmosphere you can only breathe when you take your time.

From the main square and its majestic cathedral, you can easily reach the pretty San Blas square and its church; the 9 de Octubre market for your lunch or your bag of veggies; the river banks for a bucolic stroll, or Calle Larga for a drink or a coffee.

solo travel in Ecuador

If you like museums, check out the free Pumapungo and the adjoining ruins for a look into the past. The cheap Museum of Native Cultures is also mightily impressive, and a free guided visit of the toquilla straw hat museum reveals the most popular product from Cuenca.

Cuenca combines fun and culture, making it one of the best cities for traveling alone in South America. It still tops to this day my favourite backpacking destinations in Ecuador. And for a day trip in the green, hop on a bus to the nearby Cajas National Park.

Where to stay in Cuenca?

There are many accommodations in the historic centre of Cuenca, the cheapest options being in the going-out district around Calle Larga. It’s a very central place, only a stone’s throw away from the main square and the river. One of the recommended hotels is Hotel Monaco if you are looking for a comfortable apartment or a condo.

14. Buzios, Brazil

If you’re looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, I highly recommend spending a few days in Buzios. This tranquil resort town is situated a 3-hour drive east from Rio de Janeiro, and one of the destinations ideal for solo travel in South America. Buses leave daily from Novo Rio bus terminal, and you can book your ticket online.

Buzios is an upmarket coastal resort town where you will feel safe as a solo traveller. It’s a great place to relax in nature. You can laze on one of the stunning beaches with soft sand and turquoise water or do some scuba diving and snorkelling.

In the evening there is a big choice of restaurants on offer, including vegan and vegetarian options and chic clubs where you can dance until dawn. And don’t forget to have ice cream in one of the make your Sorveterias. Acai flavour is a must!

Buzios is also a destination famous for day-trippers from the surrounding areas. If you don’t have much time but still would like to experience this peaceful resort, you can book a day boat trip from Rio de Janeiro. The boat will drop you off at the Buzios jetty where you will have free time to enjoy the resort.

Where to stay in Buzios?

I recommend staying at Vila d’este Handmade Hospitality Hotel in a beachfront location. The property consists of beautifully designed bungalows situated in a well-groomed garden with two pools that are facing the bay with some epic sunset views!

Contributor – Mal Hellyer, Raw Mal Roams

15. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is a fascinating city with a rich and diverse culture and history. Although the city is large, it is very walkable and safe and therefore one of the best places for solo travel in South America.

Culture vultures will love the fact that it has more theatres than any city apart from New York and more bookstores per capita than anywhere else. Blend the two and visit the fantastic El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a multi-storey bookstore in what used to be a theatre.

Foodlovers are also drawn to Buenos Aires for its thriving food scene, from casual bodegones to buzzing parrillas to acclaimed fine dining. While it’s famous for its super-sized portions of grilled meats and bread covered pizzas, Buenos Aires is most well known for its dulce de leche, the super-addictive caramelized sweetened milk.

You can scope out the best dulce de leche at La Casa del Dulce de Leche (yes, there are various versions available). If your sweet tooth isn’t satisfied, go ice cream parlour hopping at Freddo, Rapa Nui and Persicco. Or pop into Donut Therapy for a dulce de leche covered donut.

While a visit to Argentina’s capital might be focused around food, there are plenty of things to do in Buenos Aires apart from eating. See sculptures like Floralis Generica, artworks at Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, gorgeous churches like Catedral Metropolitana de Buenos Aires and of course shopping at Galerias Pacifico. Dante Alighieri fans should not miss Palacio Barolo which is a building erected as a homage to the Divine Comedy.

Where to stay in Buenos Aires?

If you want a centrally located and top-notch hotel, the Recoleta and Retiro area is your best bet with lovely choices like Palacio Duhau and Alvear Palace.

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Contributor – Mar Pages, Once in a Lifetime Journey

16. Pucón, Chile

Pucón is Chile’s capital of adventure. If you’re into adrenaline and active holidays, then I can’t think of a better place for a solo trip in South America! You’ll meet tons of like-minded people ready to do the same activities you want to do, so new friends are guaranteed! After a day full of activities, the town has a great nightlife. You’ll find laidback bars with local craft beer and club where you can dance the night away. Something for each taste!

solo travel in south america

So, what can you do in Pucón to feed your adventurous soul? Well, from climbing the active Villarrica volcano (a beautiful massif of 2,840mt / 9318ft where you can see lava in the crater) to white water rafting in Trancura river’s class III and IV rapids.

The town also offers sledging (hydrospeed), canyoning and rappelling down a waterfall, skydiving, zip-lining over a forest, exploring volcanic caves, quad riding and hiking. See why it’s the country’s adventure centre?

When you’re done with adrenaline, choose one of the nearby natural hot springs and let your body recover with their healing properties.

Where to stay in Pucon?

If you also want to chill at your accommodation, book a room in the fancy Grand Hotel Pucón. For a more budget-friendly stay, go for Chili Kiwi Lakefront hostel.

Contributor – Constanza Fernández, Experiencing the Globe

17. Lima, Peru

Lima, the only coastal capital city in South America, is often overlooked by world travelers. Their loss is your gain, as this fair, beautiful city has lots to offer! Set along the Pacific coast, most of the things that make Lima special revolve around the water and great outdoors.

best countries to visit in south america

You can eat world-famous ceviche along the beach after taking a private surfing lesson, go paragliding along the water with views of the upscale district of Miraflores, bike or run through the public art found in the waterfront Parque de Amour, and even tour 13 dancing light and water features in the world’s water fountain complex found in a public park.

best places to visit in south america

Not only is enjoying nature essential to Lima, but the city is also full of both modern and historical architecture. You can go from visiting pre-Incan ruins to the catacombs of a Catholic monastery to an incredible shopping and dining complex built into the seaside cliffs within a cheap, 15-minute cab ride!

Those interested in enjoying a combination of beautiful parks, seaside adventures, safety, and delicious restaurants should consider a hotel in the upscale (though still inexpensive) neighborhood of Miraflores (check out all the fun things to do in Miraflores). You can easily stroll the streets for great vegan fare then catch a cab to other city highlights!

Where to stay in Lima?

If you are looking for a comfortable apartment with nice views, you can go for 28 de Julio Luxury Apartment. For something cheaper, you can head to Apartamento en Miraflores Lima.

Contributor – Susannah O’Brien, The O’Briens Abroad

18. Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Colonia del Sacramento, in Uruguay, is a great place to explore for solo travelers. Colonia is a charming Spanish colonial city with picturesque cobbled streets and some historical buildings. It is located on the shores of Rio de la Plata, southwest of the country, and can be reached by ferry from the city of Buenos Aires.

Although it is possible to visit Colonia on a day trip from the Argentinian capital, I recommend spending at least two nights in the city to get the most out of it.

Colonia in Uruguay

Is Colonia safe for solo travel?

I visited Colonia during my world tour traveling solo, and I had a great time. Colonia’s historical centre is listed as world heritage by UNESCO, so it is a place that sees many tourists. The city is safe to visit and walk around, much safer than its neighbour on the other side of Rio de la Plata, and it is well equipped with restaurants of all kinds, cute cafes and hotels.

It is possible to explore Colonia on your own; the main sights always have information panels with some primary historical data. Guided tours are also available, and they can be a great way to meet other travelers or just to learn more about Colonia’s rich past.

Where to stay in Colonia?

Solo travelers, especially the ones traveling on a budget, also have the option to stay in hostels, and there’s a good choice of hostels, well equipped with kitchen and dining spaces and with dorms of different sizes. I was staying at the Hostel Suites del Rio, and I recommend it.

Contributor – Elisa, World In Paris

19. Sao Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paulo makes a great city for solo travel in South America with so many fantastic things to do and see in this city of over 12 million people living in this large metropolitan area. With so many lovely and unique neighbourhoods, a historic downtown area even with its version of the Empire State building, impressive churches and historic buildings and so many beautiful museums to explore and visit.

You can easily cover most of the city via metro, which is easy, fast and inexpensive to travel around and safe at all times of the day and night.

solo travel in South America

Some of the more fun and unique neighborhoods to visit include Vila Magdalena with hip galleries and shops and amazing visual street art everywhere, the busy and popular downtown Paulista area, Ibirapuera park, Japan town or Liberdade, Pinheuros or the gay district, Jardin which is where all the trendy shops, bars and cafes are, and the historic district around the Cathedral de Se.

There are so many beautiful places to visit in each neighbourhood, each with there own appeal. Still, typically you’ll also find outdoor markets, instant pop-up shops, street food vendors selling delicious takeaway foods, tropical fruits and yummy ice creams.

For art lovers, there are so many beautiful museums, free galleries and corporate-sponsored cultural centres offering rotating art exhibits and shows that are mostly free for the public to enjoy. There’s also a lot of beautiful outdoor places to enjoy including Ibirapuera, gardens at Pinacoteca, Instituto Butantan, Parc Villa Lobos and so many other outdoor venues.

If you are exploring more of this beautiful city solo, check out my post on free things to do in Sao Paulo here for more inspiration for fun and free experiences around the city.

Where to stay in Sao Paulo?

Sao Paulo has a lot of accommodation options in the city centre. If you are looking for a hostel on the cheaper side, I’d recommend Casa Azul. If you are looking for a comfortable mid-range hotel, then I’d suggest Your Studio at London SP Residences.

Contributor – Noel, Travel Photo Discovery

20. Cusco, Peru

If you are looking for the best place to solo travel in South America, you cannot overlook the ancient capital city of the mighty Inca Empire, Cusco. A beautiful historic city located in the Andes, it is the perfect place to learn about Peruvian culture, try delicious Peruvian cuisine, and explore the nearby natural wonders.

Is it safe for solo travel?

Typically, South America gets a reputation for being unsafe, but that is far from the case in Cusco. A popular tourist destination due to one of the nearby Seven Wonders of the World Machu Picchu, Cusco is one of the safest cities in South America for solo travelers. Unlike most cities in South America where most of the locals do not speak English, most of the locals generally do talk to English due to the tourism in Cusco.

solo traveling in Cusco

Cusco is also a great base to visit the nearby attractions that Peru offers, such as the mighty Machu Pichu, the colourful Rainbow Mountain, and the various Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley. There won’t be a day without excitement when visiting Cusco.

Though one thing I do have to warn you though is the altitude. Cusco is located about 3,300 meters above sea level, a height that could cause severe altitude sickness. As a result, your accommodation in Cusco must have the proper equipment such as oxygen-enriched rooms or oxygen machines to help you just in case you need it!

Where to stay in Cusco?

If it is your first time in Cusco, I recommend you to stay in the artsy area called San Blas in the historic centre. Tariq Hotel Boutique Cusco is a hotel with breath-taking views just in case the altitude isn’t doing its job!

Contributor – Sean Lau, Living Out Lau

21. Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Located three hours north of Bogota, Villa de Levya feels as though it has been captured in time. The small town is known for its white colonial buildings and cobblestone streets that have been preserved for over 400 years. But it’s the friendly vibe, social hostels, and variety of things to do in Villa de Leyva that make it an excellent destination for solo travelers in South America.

After wandering the charming colonial streets, explore the many activities outside of Villa de Leyva, including a visit to Casa Terracota. Just outside of the historic city centre, this clay house is the largest piece of pottery in the world, with equally impressive artistic details inside.

solo travel in Colombia

History buffs will be drawn to the story of the Muisca people who inhabited this area when the Spanish arrived in the 16th century. Now an archaeological site, they created a “Solar Observatory” to track the seasons, which influenced their planting and harvesting.

And science lovers won’t want to miss El Fossil Museum which was built around an enormous marine reptile fossil found by a farmer in the 1970s. Residents insisted the fossil not be moved to a museum and instead they created a museum around it.

Or spend your day hiking to one of several nearby waterfalls. If you get started early enough, there may be time for a wine tasting at Vineyard Aim Karim on the way back. Whether you’re into history, hiking, shopping, or simply exploring daily life in a small town, you will undoubtedly enjoy your time in this colonial gem.

Where to stay in Villa de Leyva?

Finding a social place to stay as a solo traveler in Villa de Leyva isn’t difficult. Many of the hostels collaborate together by hosting different evenings of fun. There’s also a group Whatsapp that helps travelers coordinate things to do during the day. My pick is Hostel Xué where open spaces and modern art touches create a vibe more of a boutique hotel than a hostel.

Contributor – Julien Casanova, Cultures Traveled

22. Valparaiso, Chile

I’d heard about Valparaiso, Chile’s street art scene before I booked my solo trip, but seeing it for myself was even better than expected! Valparaiso is a port town on the water, but you won’t see much impressive art on the waterfront – the most colourful streets are nestled higher up in the Cerros (hills).

It would have taken me some time to figure that out on my own, so I decided to take a tour instead (if you go, I recommend Tours4Tips!). It was a great decision – I heard the stories behind some of the more popular murals and learned that many of them were created to protest local and national social injustices.

Is it safe to travel alone to Valparaiso?

I’d recommend the town if you are going to do solo travel in South America. I felt very safe walking around Valparaiso during the day and at night in the busy neighbourhoods (I avoided vacant areas). Tourist thefts are occasionally reported, so like any destination, it’s necessary to be aware of your surroundings. I was advised by my guide which streets to avoid, and that carrying around expensive camera equipment wasn’t the best idea. I heeded all his advice and never had a problem.

A couple of other things to do in Valparaiso – ride the ascension (outdoor elevators that take you up the Cerros on steep tracks) and do a harbour boat tour.

Where to stay in Valparaiso?

I highly recommend Fauna Restaurant at the top of Ascensor Reina Victoria for great food and drinks and an excellent view of the town and bay below. Bonus: they’re a hotel, too!

Contributor – Mary Beth, MB Sees.

23. Cartagena, Colombia

I travelled to Cartagena a few years ago, and I was a little sceptical about how safe the city would be for a woman. Some friends that have already been there told me I have nothing to worry about but, still, I wasn’t that sure.

As soon as I stepped foot in Cartagena, I knew my friends were right. The locals are more than happy to welcome tourists, and even the ones that don’t speak English will try their best to understand you.

The beautiful city of Cartagena is well known for its fortifications and the Old City; both have the UNESCO World Heritage recognition. Inside the walls, built five centuries ago, you can find museums, restaurants, hotels, churches and some typical, colourful and colonial houses.

I spent five days in Cartagena, and my favourite spots of the city during my stay were the St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, St. Peter Claver Church the Abaco Bookshop and Cafe del Margoo there for the sunset!-. It’s a small city so you can walk around and find every tourist attraction quite close to each other.

Where to stay in Cartagena?

Regarding accommodation, I have two different recommendations. If you prefer to be surrounded by young people you should stay in Getsemaní, the Media Luna Hostel is a great idea. If you’re more into chill and romantic places, then for sure I would recommend you to stay in a hotel in the Old City, the Casa India Catalina has the charm of the typical Cartagena houses and will make your stay unforgettable.

Contributor – Laura Otero, Laura No Esta

24. Galapagos, Ecuador

One of the best destinations for solo travel in South America is Galapagos. Especially if you love animals, then you can’t miss this place. It’s so easy to get lost in the moment, just sitting there alone watching a flamboyance of flamingos (yes, it’s a flamboyance, I looked it up) for several hours. Whether it’s hammerheads, finches, seals, penguins or boobies you came to see, nowhere else on earth have I seen a place so abundant in wildlife.

Flights are your highest cost, and there’s an entry fee of USD 100. Basic accommodation is around USD 40 in the towns. Food isn’t cheap, but reasonable if you shop/dine where the locals go. Interisland ferries range from USD 20 to 70.

Bicycle rental is only a few dollars. Bikes are great to cover lots of ground with plenty of freedom. There are plenty of small tour operators offering fair prices to visit remote and restricted areas.

I took a snorkelling tour to Las Tintoreras Islet. It put my Spanish to the test, but it was a great way to contribute to the local economy. If you bring your gear, you can snorkel for free; a great spot is near the jetty at Puerto Villamil. Lots of seals, penguins and turtles there!

Galapagos’ most famous residents are giant tortoises. These epic things weigh up to 400 kilos! Best place to see them is Santa Cruz; visit a breeding centre, or head to the mountains and see them in the wild. You can meet them wondering around the other islands too. Remember, these animals are wild. Keep a safe distance.

Where to stay in Galapagos?

If you are looking for a hostel, then Hostal Romy in San Cristóbal Island is the recommended place. For something comfortable in the mid-range budget, go for Hotel Galapagos Suites B&B in Puerto Ayora.

Contributor – Luke Wilki, Culture Shock Adventures

25. Chachapoyas, Peru

Far from the beaten tracks, Chachapoyas is a unique destination to include in your solo travel destinations in South America if you are looking to explore more unspoiled regions of Peru.

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Situated right at the door of the Peruvian Amazon forest, but with a very different climate and landscapes, Chachapoya is the cradle of the pre-Inkas populations from which it inherited the name.

And, besides an unspoiled wild nature that offers spectacular walks in the jungle, waterfalls, canyons, and caves, the main attractions are the ancient sites of the Chachapoyas, such as the old city of Kuelap, the sarcophagi’s of Karaja and the mausoleums of Revash.

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The pretty small town is getting ready to welcome the growing number of tourists attracted by such a safe and unspoiled area with charming little cafes, local restaurants, and lovely boutique hotels.

There are so many things to do in Chachapoyas that during my trip through Peru, I stayed there for two weeks, exploring every single corner both by myself and joining local tours.

Although I am an advocate of do-it-yourself trips, I have to say that in this case, many of the tours are much worth it, for the price and the time you save. Because most of those interesting sites that I mentioned are located in very secluded parts of the region that are not frequently reached by local buses. Besides, having a knowledgeable guide giving you fascinating insights about the local culture and history is always exciting.

Where to stay in Chachapoyas?

If you are looking for a budget stay option, I would recommend Killa Wasi Hostal. For something in the mid-range, Hotel Posada Del Arriero.

Contributor – Isabella Biava, Boundless Roads

BONUS – 1 More Destination for Traveling alone in South America

26. Arraial do Cabo, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro might be a delightful city, especially with its lively districts such as Santa Teresa–which is one of the best areas to stay in Rio, by the way! Still, Arraial do Cabo, also known as the Brazilian Caribbean, is a coastal town famous for its blue water and incredible wildlife. As you can imagine, it is called the South American Caribbean for a very good reason.

Arraial do Cabo has mesmerizing white-sand beaches, such as Forno, Pontal do Atalaia, Farol, and Grande. And honestly, all of these places have the most beautiful blue water my husband and I have ever seen.

One of these beaches, Forno, is so unique and clean that the Navy controls the access to it rigorously to preserve its beauty – tourists can’t enter the beach with food, drink, or cigarettes, and are only allowed to stay there up to 40 minutes. Beyond that, access to Forno is made only by boat as it is on an island just off the coast of Arraial do Cabo.

Where to stay in Arraial do Cabo?

As for accommodation, the Guesthouse Canto da Canoa offers a view over the beach like no other. Although you need to go through a dirt road to get to it, the views of the blue sea are totally worth the trip.

Under those circumstances, it’s not a secret that Arraial do Cabo has everything to make a solo trip among nature unforgettable. It is a unique place!

Contributor – Bruna, I Heart Brazil

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Best destinations for solo travel in South America | Top solo travel destinations in South America | Best Places to visit alone in South America

Reshma is a digital content creator, storyteller, and history lover. She is the founder of The Solo Globetrotter, a site for solo travelers, female travelers wanting to travel independently, and those wishing to travel on a budget or go flashpacking. She has been traveling alone for over 6 years, currently having explored over 35+ countries. She prefers traveling slow and loves immersing in local experiences & culture, nature, hiking, festivals, and history. An Electronics Engineer turned Software Lead turned Solopreneur; she is specialized in SEO-based content curation and Pinterest Management.

Source https://www.layerculture.com/blog/south-america-travel-routes/

Source https://thesologlobetrotter.com/solo-travel-in-south-america/

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