21 Less-traveled Destinations that will make you visit South America
Off to South America? Here’s a list of less-traveled destinations in South America with Suggested Tours.
South America is a known place for backpacking as it is cheap and filled with many sites. Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Bogota, or Lima – you’ve probably heard of them as they are popular in that continent. However, South America also has hidden gems and off-beaten places that tourists or backpackers don’t visit often.
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Check out our list of less-traveled destinations in South America – it’s not overcrowded with tourists, so you can fully enjoy the scenery and culture!
1. Aguas Calientes, Peru
Getting Here: Ride a train from Ollantaytambo or Cusco
Machupicchu Pueblo or Aguas Calientes, is the town nearest to the New Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu. Its name, Aguas Calientes, means Hot Springs, which are abundant in this town. After your hike to Machu Picchu, spend some time soaking in the hot springs here and touring this charming little place.
Suggested Tours: From Aguas Calientes: Machu Picchu Guided Tour
2. Arequipa, Peru
Getting Here: Nearest Airport is Rodriguez Ballon Airport, you can also take a night bus, but it would take you at least 10 hours from Cusco or Lima
Though there are no Inca Ruins in Arequipa, the city of Arequipa is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The historical city center is actually a harmony of European designs and native techniques. You check out the architecture of the buildings as you stroll around Peru’s “legal capital.”
Suggested Tours: Half day City Tour Arequipa
3. Asuncion, Paraguay
Getting Here: You can ride a plane to Silvio Pettirossi International Airport; a bus from Buenos Aires (Argentina) would take at least half a day while from Brazil more than 21 hours
Paraguay is one of the less-traveled destinations in South America. However, you should definitely stop by, especially in their capital, Asuncion. It’s cheap and offers you buildings with great architecture from the Metropolitan Cathedral to the Placio de Los Lopez.
4. Baños, Ecuador
Getting Here: You can get a bus from Quito, and it would take more than 3 hours
The adventure capital of Ecuador and the gateway to Amazon is Baños. Baños de Agua Santa means “Baths of Sacred Water, as there are many thermal springs in the area. It’s on the foothills of Tungurahua Volcano, so before entering the Amazon, you should bathe in one. It is also home to 60 plus waterfalls and near rivers, so don’t you miss out on adventures like hiking, rafting, canyoning, and many more.
Suggested Tours: Baños de Agua Santa: White Water Rafting
5. Belem, Brazil
Getting Here: The nearest airport is Val-de-CaesAiport, buses from the nearest famous city, Brasilia, to Belen would take more than a day and a half
Belem (Belem do Para), meaning Bethlehem, is located in the north of Brazil. It’s not as popular as Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, or Brasilia but definitely has its own appeal. It’s the gateway to the Amazon River and has quite many colonial buildings. The churches and the market should not be missed.
Suggested Tours: Ver-o-Peso Market and Full-Day City Tour with Lunch
6. Canaima National Park, Venezuela
Getting Here: Ride a plane from Ciudad Bolivar or Caracas
Canaima National Park is another one in our list of less-traveled destinations in South America. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the home of Angel Falls, the highest in the world. It’s pretty big and said to be the size of Belgium! However, access to this part of the country is hard; you’ll need to travel by plane and explore mostly by foot or boat.
7. Copacabana, Bolivia
Getting Here: Ride a plane to Copacabana Airport, you can also ride a bus from La Paz, and it would take about 3 hours
I bet when you read this, you remembered the song, but sorry, the song referred to the beach in Rio de Janeiro and not this small town in Bolivia. Copacabana is a town near Lake Titicaca; the name fits as it means the view of the lake. It’s pretty relaxing here and a place where you can stroll around or catch some trout. You could also leave for a day trip to Isla Del Sol.
Suggested Tours: Titicaca Lake, Copacabana, and Isla del Sol Day Trip
8. Cordoba, Argentina
Getting Here: There is a Cordoba Airport; however, from Buenos Aires, you can ride a train or bus
There are perhaps many cities named Cordoba, but on our list is the one in Argentina. After Buenos Aires, it’s the second most populous city; however, after touring the capital, people leave and go to the next country. One should not miss this as there is a UNESCO World Heritage site in the city, the Jesuit Block. Aside from those, there are also many historical buildings from the European occupation.
Suggested Tours: Cordoba Horseback Riding with BBQ
9. Cuenca, Ecuador
Getting Here: There are daily flights from Quito; a bus ride would take about 6 hours
Santa Ana de Los Cuatro Ríos de Cuenca sure is a mouthful but you can call it Cuenca, for short. Its center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The layout of the town has been preserved well as well as the historic buildings. Besides those, you can have adventures outside of the city like hiking or going to a national park.
Suggested Tours: Cuenca City Half Day Tour
10. Encarnación, Paraguay
Getting Here: The nearest airport is Teniente Amin Ayub Gonzalez Airport; however, you can also ride a bus from Asuncion, but it would take more than 7 hours; you can also cross borders from Posadas, Argentina to here
Encarnación is slowly becoming a hot spot, but it is still not as known as other cities like Buenos Aires or Rio. It’s near a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jesus and Trinidad Jesuit Ruins. What’s a great thing to do here? Well, relax by the beaches and talk with the locals in the “Pearl of the South.”
11. Fortaleza, Brazil
Getting Here: There are international and domestic flights to Pinto Martins; from Brasilia, it would take at least 1 day and 16 hours by bus
Want to enjoy the beach and not leave the city? Well, go to Fortaleza; they have about 16 miles of urban beaches. Enjoy or relax in the sun, at night, go to clubs and parties. Aside from those, you can also check out its historic center with colorful colonial buildings. Fortaleza is one of the less-traveled destinations in South America but will be totally worth it.
Suggested Tours: Fortaleza Beach Park Tickets
12. Georgetown, Guyana
Getting Here: Cheddi Jagan Temeri International Airport is the main airport of Georgetown and has flights to the US, Spain, and even the Caribbean; you can also catch buses from Suriname or Brazil
There are many Georgetown all over the world, more than 20 in the US, but this one is the capital of Guyana. Guyana is one of the least visited countries in South America, but you would not miss this out. Georgetown is charming as its buildings and is influenced by the French, Dutch, and English, unlike most of South America with Portuguese or Spanish influences.
13. Los Roques, Venezuela
Getting Here: You can get a flight from Caracas
One less traveled paradise on our list is Archipelago de Los Roques. They are islands in the Caribbean Sea that’s part of Venezuela. It’s a national park filled with birds, marine life, and gorgeous beaches. Aside from swimming, you can snorkel, see turtles hatch, or windsurf.
14. Montevideo, Uruguay
Getting Here: The nearest airport Carrasco International Airport, from Buenos Aires, Argentina; you can travel by boat; you can also get a bus from Cordoba, Argentina for about 12 hours
Although Montevideo is Uruguay’s capital, it’s on our list since many people skip the country. Don’t! Montevideo has historic buildings and gorgeous beaches. You can get guided tours from volunteers, the government, or private entities.
Suggested Tours: Montevideo 3-Hour Bike Tour
15. Paramaribo, Suriname
Getting Here: Have a Flight to Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport; you can also have a trip from Georgetown, Guyana, to here (via bus and ferry)
Suriname is another country in South America that’s skipped by many. However, you should come and visit this nation. Paramaribo or Parbo, the capital, has a historic inner-city considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You should check out the Dutch colonial houses that have been built with local techniques in the 17th-18th century.
16. Patagonia, Argentina
Getting Here: You can take a bus from Buenos Aires, and it will take about a day to a day and a half; you can also ride a plane to Rio Gallegos
With amazing scenery, from gorgeous mountains, stunning glaciers, and fascinating lakes, Patagonia should be on your list. It’s the Southern part of Argentina that’s near Antarctica. Many definitely miss this as they aim to go to another country up North or East, but you should check this out.
Suggested Tours: Perito Moreno Glacier and Optional Boat Cruise
17. Potosi, Bolivia
Getting Here: from La Paz, you can ride a night bus to Potosi, and it would take about 9 hours
One of the highest cities in the world is Potosi. It’s a city that lies at the foot of Cerro Rico and has much silver ore. The city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is one of the world’s leading industrial complex during the 16th century. You’ll be amazed!
Suggested Tours: 6-Day Private Best-of-Bolivia Tour
18. Providencia Island, Colombia
Getting Here: You can get flights from San Andres to Providencia
The Isla de Providencia is a Caribbean Island that’s part of Colombia but a bit near Nicaragua. It’s one of the less-traveled destinations in South America as most don’t know it. If you want to enjoy the sun and the sea in a tranquil atmosphere, it’s the place to be.
19. Serrania de la Macarena, Colombia
Getting Here: La Macarena Airport is the nearest airport here, there are flights from Bogota
A National Natural Park with much endemic flora and fauna is Serrania de la Macarena in Colombia. The main attraction here is the River of Five Colors, Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world. It’s so fascinating and beautiful, you should definitely stop here.
Suggested Tours: 3 or 4-Day trip to Caño Cristales with Flight
20. Tolar Grande, Argentina
Getting Here: You can get a ride from Salta
A stunning village in Salta is Tolar Grande. One should come here as there are many gorgeous sites nearby like the Ojos de Mar, with 3-6 small ponds, and Salar de Arizaro, a salt flat. One should venture from Salta and visit this little town.
Suggested Tours: 3-Day Safari to Altiplano High Desert
21. Valparaiso, Chile
Getting Here: The nearest airport is in Santiago de Chile, then you can ride a bus for about 1.5 hours
Valparaiso is a port city in Chile, the second-most populous city in the country. The historic quarter is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is a Jewel of the Pacific. There are many colonial buildings and exciting funicular lifts.
Suggested Tours: Valparaiso World Heritage Half-Day Walking Tour
About the Writer
Hey, I’m Lyza! I once was a person who just imagined going to places “one day” but decided to pursue my dreams. My first travel abroad was in Japan, solo, last 2018, and fell in love with the journey since. I’m aiming to visit 10 countries before turning 30 and 2 new places in the Philippines every year. Besides traveling, I love organizing trips, photography, reading, and making new friends. Follow my adventures through my Instagram.
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