South America is an amazing continent with a wide range of diverse cultures to experience. It’s a big place with so much to see and do which is why it might be a little daunting for first time visitors. You won’t be able to fit everything into one trip so it’s a place that you can visit time and time again. If you’re thinking about going to South America for the first time, here are some of the highlights to help you plan your trip.
Most people think that Argentina is a small country hidden away in South America because we don’t hear that much about it over here but it is, in fact, the 8th largest country in the entire world, so it has a huge amount to offer. It’s a good starting point for any new visitors to South America, just bear in mind that you probably won’t be able to see everything if you want to hit some other countries during your trip. If you’ve never been before the capital, Buenos Aires is the best starting point. It’s a great romantic city littered with loads of great cafes and eateries as well as a thriving opera and ballet scene. If you’re interested in dancing, visit one of the great tango dancing halls to watch the pros and even get involved yourself if you’re brave enough. Once you’ve hit Buenos Aires, you can catch a short flight over to Posadas where you can see some of the most beautiful natural features on the continent, most notably the Iguazu falls.
Ecuador is the most tourist friendly country on the continent but it still maintains its authentic charms. The bustling cities are full of hip new bars and restaurants, set alongside traditional markets and great architecture. If you want a change of pace, Quito is a good option. You can easily find a nice hotel in Quito close to the beautiful historic old town which is now a UNESCO world heritage site. You can also visit the Basilico del Voto Nacional which is unique in that it has its own lift inside. Take a trip to the top for breathtaking views of the entire city after admiring the beautiful architecture which swaps out the traditional gargoyles for stone carvings of animals like dolphins and turtles. The city also hosts an annual food festival in August which is a must see if you’re there while it’s on. You’re also a short flight from the Galapagos Islands, the site of a lot of the research that went into Darwin’s Origin of Species.
If you’re looking for a great country for a road trip, look no further than Chile. The Pan American highway runs the length of the whole country, with lots of great cities to stop off at on the way. La Serena and Valdivia are both worth a look, as is the capital city of Santiago. If you’re looking for a cultural hub, the arty city of Valparaíso is must see. As well as all of the major cities, it’s worth taking some of the small side roads up to the mountains and volcanoes.
These are 3 great countries to visit for an introduction to South America but the continent has so much to offer, you’ll find yourself going back time and time again.