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Traveller at the Uyuni Salt Flats with their hands in the air next to the different world flags.

15 Famous South American Landmarks Worth Travelling For

Amelia's profile picture in Bergamo

By Amelia Bristow

Last updated: 9th July 2024

So you love llamas, empanadas and everything else South American. Let’s not forget that an essential part of travelling is ticking off a bucket list of biggies in South America! Maybe you don’t know which ones to visit or where the landmarks in South America are, so let me help you. South America has diverse sights that are seriously breathtaking, from staggering glaciers and mile-long salt flats to jaw-dropping waterfalls and phenomenal deserts! Jump into the best famous landmarks in South America so you can say, “I’ve been there, done that and got the pic to prove it” to your mates.

1. Christ the Redeemer, Brazil

Traveller stood in front of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil

Christ the Redeemer is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and is an absolute must-see when visiting Brazil! Standing 98 feet tall with a 92-foot arm span, this epic Art Deco statue is a total jaw-dropper and will leave you in awe. Ride the cable car to the summit and walk up to this magnificent statue of Jesus Christ. Capture some photos and take in the stunning views of Brazil’s buzzing capital - Rio de Janeiro - before heading back down to the city to enjoy some delicious food. On our group trip Bolivia to Brazil Adventure, you can spend the last days of your trip discovering Rio de Janeiro. 

2. Machu Picchu, Peru

Landscape hoto of Machu Picchu on a sunny day

Amongst the mist in Peru’s mountains sits the famous UNESCO World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu This ancient city is shrouded in historical mystery and has a spectacular view. It is also known as the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ because it remained hidden from the outside world until 1911.

If you fancy putting your hiking boots on, why not check out our Trek the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu? Admire the spectacular views on a 7-day trip with a 4-day hike up the mountains and try out the included walking tours, pottery demonstrations, women’s weaving projects and more! Have read of our guide on How to Prepare for Machu Picchu Altitude to get you extra ready for your trip too! Take in the surroundings and even snap some pics, as this is one of the most Instagrammed landmarks in the world! You’ll feel on top of the world (quite literally!) after this hike.

3. Iguazú Falls, Argentina and Brazil

Travellers taking a selfie at the viewpoint of Iguazu Falls

Want to see the best and one of the biggest waterfalls you’ve ever seen? Head over to Iguazu Falls in Argentina! This waterfall is one of the most magical landmarks of South America and is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature and another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The landmark straddles the border of Brazil and Argentina, offering views from different countries. Explore this landmark through adventure activities, like boat rides, jungle treks, and helicopter tours. If you fancy being on a group tour and finding friends while you travel, check out our Argentina & Brazil Adventure, which includes a visit to the Iguazu Falls! 

4. Caminito, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The colourful streets of Caminito in Buenos Aires

Visit the vibrant neighbourhood of Caminito, filled with colour and love everywhere you turn. The neighbourhood’s name means “little path” because of its small, lively alleyways. Found in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, La Boca is an open-air museum with art-filled streets. Wander and admire the streets that burst with colour. You’ll often stroll through and see alleys full of live music, artists and even the occasional tango dancers. Have a go yourself and join in! If you’re planning on visiting Argentina, you must come here!

5. Atacama Desert, Chile

Traveller smiling in the Atacama Desert

I know a desert might seem like there isn’t much to it, but trust me… The Atacama Desert in Chile is phenomenal! It is one of the best landmarks in South America because of the various activities you can try out! It is a dramatic landscape that holds so much history and wonders as it is one of the driest deserts in the world. You can admire the views of snowcapped mountains, smoking volcanoes or rocky surfaces. Want to tick this off your bucket list? On The South American Journey, you’ll visit all the best destinations, including the Atacama Desert and have the option to partake in awesome activities like sandboarding, renting a bike, horse riding, taking a tour of local ruins and so much more.

But the ultimate activity to do here has to be star gazing! The night sky is clear for you to see all the glittering stars above. Lay back, enjoy the view and you might learn a thing or two about our astronomical universe. Keep an eye peeled for shooting stars to make a wish! 

6. Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia

Travellers at the salt flats in Uyuni

The Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia are just breathtaking. There are miles and miles of these white plains that are the size of London 6 times over. If you visit these beautiful Salt Flats during the wetter season between December and April, the landscape transforms into a massive mirror, making it a heaven on earth! You can even stay in a hotel built from the salt rock. Cool right?

Travellers often take epic pictures here using the vast plain space to snap funny perception pics. Book our Bolivia Discovery group trip, for the chance to take these photos for yourself and discover more on the Salt Flats! You’ll be left feeling salty if you miss out on this landmark in South America.

7. Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia

The breath taking glacier in the Los Glaciares National Park in Patagonia

One of the most famous landmarks in South America has to be the iconic Perito Moreno Glacier. I mean look at it! This UNESCO World Heritage site is named after the 19th-century explorer. At a towering 60 meters in height, this glacier is jaw-dropping against the baby blue water. It is popular amongst travellers to witness the beauty of this spectacular landscape safely from afar. 

Check out our Patagonia Explorer for an experience of a lifetime! Spend 14 days exploring the National Park on a hiking group tour. You’ll follow expert mountain guides and camp overlooking the wonders of Patagonia. You’ll also hit the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia – a bucket list must! 

8. Easter Island, Chile

Image of the Moi statues on Easter Island

Easter Island holds the most magical island landscapes. Easter Island is known for the famous landmarks of enormous mysterious Moai statues dotted around the countryside. The statues are assumed to be in commemoration of important ancestors. Easter Island is also the third most isolated land in the world! You’re sure to have a unique experience here, seeing the beautiful scenery and learning fascinating history. 

9. Huaca Pucllana, Lima, Peru

The Huaca Pucllana pyramids in Lima, Peru

In Lima’s centre, you’ll discover the jaw-dropping archaeological site of Huaca Pucllana. The pyramid-shaped structures date back to 500 AD. Huaca Pucllana is surrounded by the modern city of Lima, making it feel as if you’ve stepped back in time! The pyramids are a total must-see if you’re travelling through Lima! It is essential to visit during the evening and see the lights illuminating the ruins. 

10. Tierra del Fuego National Park, Ushuaia, Argentina

The Tierra del Fuego National Park in Ushuaia, Argentina

Discover the beautifully diverse scenery of Tierra del Fuego. At the edge of Argentina (nicknamed ‘the end of the world’), this epic spot boasts jaw-dropping scenery with its rugged mountains, dense forests, and crystal-clear lakes. It's perfect for snapping pics for the socials. The bursting colours of this National Park will leave you stunned. But the autumnal months are the best, leaving the hills glowing red against the bright blue river.

Fill your lungs with fresh air hiking through lush trails, paddle a kayak, and spot wildlife like Andean condors and red foxes. Whether you're chasing thrills or chill vibes, this park has it all. Ready for an unforgettable journey? Tierra del Fuego National Park is calling your name!

11. Cartagena De Indias, Colombia 

The brightly coloured streets of Cartagena De Indias in Colombia

Visit this beautiful quaint town of Cartagena on the shores of the Caribbean Sea and get ready to be blown away by its vibrant colours. Cartagena is found in the North of Colombia and is the perfect paradise for travellers. This town is known for its vivid nightlife, exciting cultural festivals, stunning landscapes and truly fascinating architecture. It is known to be one of the best-preserved cities in South America! 

Escape the hustle and bustle of the town to relax on the breathtaking beaches, or even take a day trip to the dreamy islands nearby. This is a destination you won’t forget!

12. Sugarloaf Mountain, Brazil

View of Rio de Janeiro and the Sugarloaf mountain

Okay, you’ve seen the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, but there’s more! The Sugarloaf Mountain staggers high into the sky, giving the ultimate views of the city. This South American landmark has to be on your bucket list. The Sugarloaf Mountain stands out and is one of the most famous landmarks worth travelling for. Simply get on a cable car that runs throughout the day and wizz up to the top for breathtaking views. Or if you’re a super sporty keen bean, then hiking trails are also an option.

You have to go to the top of the mountain in the early morning or later in the day to avoid large crowds and the heat. Hop on our Lima to Rio Adventure group trip to spend your time exploring this fantastic city and its attractions, including this amazing Sugarloaf Mountain.

13. Amazon River and Jungle, Ecuador

Amazon river surrounded by lush jungle in Ecuador during a homestay

Of course, South America isn’t complete without the Amazon River! Ecuador is blessed with the largest lush jungle and river in the world. The Amazon River is a must-add to your bucket list of famous landmarks in South America to explore. Immerse yourself amongst the local Quichuan communities on The South American Journey, as it includes an Amazon Jungle homestay! Hike around the rainforest, explore different waterfalls and even learn how to make chocolate. Keep your eyes peeled for the exotic wildlife!

It’s time to swap your screens for the wild and create memories that will last a lifetime! Who knows, maybe you’ll discover the legendary hidden city called El Dorado, rumoured to be buried somewhere in its depths.

14. Torres Del Paine, Chile

The blue lake in Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile

Take a moment to witness this breathtaking view of the heart of Patagonia in Chile. Similar to the landscapes of Tierra del Fuego National Park, you’ll be in awe of this UNESCO reserve. This famous landmark in South America is known for the sparkling, icy blue lakes and the three granite peaks towering above. It’s a trekkers paradise with varied trails leading you to iconic views, so be sure to get some pics! 

15. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Seal on the beach in the Galapagos Islands

Last (but definitely not least) are the Galapagos Islands! This destination is the ultimate bucket list landmark in South America. If you’ve already had your eyes on the Galapagos Islands for a while but don’t know where to start with planning, you’re in luck! Check out our Galapagos Island Adventure group trip, where you can spend 9 days exploring this destination on an epic action-packed itinerary. The islands offer a unique experience with the chance to snorkel beside playful fish, chill with giant tortoises, and marvel at other super cool wildlife like sea lions. These islands offer stunning landscapes, featuring volcanic rocks and pristine beaches. Dive into this natural wonderland and make memories as wild as the islands!

 

Desperate to jet off to South America now? Yeah, me too! Well, these iconic landmarks in South America are waiting for you. Check out our Central and South America trips to find the perfect trip to tick off your landmarks bucket list. Or, if you’re looking to do some more research, then have a read of our 10 Best Beaches in South America. These landmarks are 100% worth travelling for, so go live your best life in South America now! 

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