Travel Rankings & Advice

Best Places to Visit in Central and South America

From the world-class museums of Buenos Aires to the ancient archeology of Cusco, this versatile region boasts an array of activities tailored to a variety of traveler types. But choosing among the area's diverse vacation destinations can be challenging. To help you decide where to take your travels, U.S. News has ranked Central and South America's best places to vacation based on user votes, expert opinions and discerning factors such as accommodations, dining, culture and attractions. From your input, we'll determine next year's ranking, so nominate your top picks below.

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Why go: As the former capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco is the home base for travelers visiting the legendary Machu Picchu. If you're not worn out from the hike along the Inca Trail, spend time at lesser-known attractions like the Pre-Columbian Museum or stargaze at the Cusco Planetarium. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Cusco

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Why go: With its white sands and vibrant nightlife, Rio de Janeiro makes for a fun getaway at any time of year. Whether you're looking for a glittery Carnival costume or a striking view of Christ the Redeemer, Rio has it. And soaking up the sun at Copacabana won't cost you a dime. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Rio de Janeiro

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Why go: This sophisticated city known as the "Paris of the South" has a lot going for it. It's hard not to fall in love with the city's wide boulevards and Parisian-style cafes. And with its burgeoning food scene and kid-friendly attractions, Buenos Aires suits all types of vacationers. Arrive in fall or spring for affordable room rates. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Buenos Aires

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Why go: The Galápagos Islands are best known for their rich array of creatures — ranging from giant tortoises and lizards to seals and penguins. Plus, the islands boast a minimal human footprint, only adding to their allure. Getting here will cost you, but isn't admiring towering volcanoes and unique wildlife worth it? Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Galápagos Islands

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Why go: Costa Rica is more than a beach vacation. There are volcanoes to hike, misty rainforests to explore and a vibrant culture to experience. R&R-seekers can immerse themselves in "pura vida," as the locals say, and sprawl across Nicoya Peninsula's beaches. Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Costa Rica

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Why go: Argentine Patagonia's scenery will captivate you, from the Lake District to the rustic cattle ranges of Southern Patagonia. You can unravel history at the Cave of the Hands and get to know Punta Tombo's Magellan penguins.  Read More»

Read On: Top Things to Do in Argentine Patagonia

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Why go: Bogotá's northern region boasts eclectic architecture and an emerging cultural scene. For Old World charm, head to the La Candelaria district, where you'll encounter grandiose churches and colonial mansions. Just be sure to allow time to savor an authentic Colombian meal.

Machu Picchu
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Why go: Forgotten until the 20th century, the "lost city of the Inca Empire" is home to mystical temples and archeological sites. Plus, the verdant mountains in the backdrop aren't bad to gaze at, either. Embrace the steep elevation and discover this ancient city's secrets for yourself.

Panama City
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Why go: This vibrant capital can be likened to Miami and other glittering coastal cities. In addition to its flashy high rises, you'll find cobbled streets, rainforests and a bounty of outdoor activities. After admiring the Panama Canal, retreat to the Amador Causeway for a drink along the waterfront. 

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