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4 Places in South America to Visit Right Now

Now is the time to explore the colonial architecture of Cartagena and the cobalt lakes of Patagonia.

U.S. News & World Report

4 Places in South America to Visit Right Now

Colonial Balconies

Cartagena brims with opulent cathedrals, colonial buildings and colorful balconies.(Getty Images)

With so many alluring destinations across South America, it's hard to pick where to travel next. From the rugged beauty of Patagonia to the striking architecture of Colombia, this part of the world offers romance, charm and a myriad of cultural attractions. Whether you want to admire the colonial buildings in Quito, Ecuador or visit the archeological wonders of Machu Picchu, the possibilities are endless. With this in mind, here are four destinations that afford excellent values and pleasant weather at this time of year, so be sure to plan your next adventure before the season ends. 


Patagonia's wild, wind-swept frontier draws adventure seekers in droves. Here, you'll find towering mountains, cobalt lakes and hardwood forests. If you want to get your heart racing, trek to the awe-inspiring Torres del Paine National Park or Tierra del Fuego, an archipelago filled with glaciers that's situated nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park, an excellent place for hiking and wildlife-watching. And while Patagonia is especially appealing from November to early March (summertime in the southern hemisphere), September, October and March ushers in vibrant blooms, comfortable temperatures and few tourists.

Quito, Ecuador

Ecuador's vibrant capital city lures travelers with its colonial charm and diverse cultural attractions. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Quito boasts opulent 16th- and 17th-century palaces and an infusion of Italian, Spanish and Moorish art. Once you've explored Quito's can't-miss sights, enjoy meandering along the Old City's cobbled streets and browsing colorful markets near the Plaza de San Francisco. Cap off your visit with memorable meals along Calle La Ronda, a popular pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare brimming with dining spots, colonial architecture and art galleries.

Machu Picchu, Peru  

The "lost city of the Incas" iconic ruins are a must-visit in South America. Once you've admired Machu Picchu's glorious temples, gardens and masonry, carve out some time for checking out architectural splendors scattering Cusco, such as Qorikancha (Temple of the Sun) and the Sacsayhuaman ruins, which offer dazzling views of the city. And to fully immerse yourself in your surroundings, consider booking your trip with Mountain Lodges of Peru, which offers guided treks to Machu Picchu and luxurious mountain lodges with awe-inspiring views of the Andes. 

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena's ornate cathedrals, cobbled streets and impressive colonial architecture are sure to inspire travel envy. Enjoy a leisurely coffee at one of the Old Town's cozy open-air cafes and indulge in signature dishes like ceviche and Arepa con Huevo (an egg layered with corn meal dough that's fried to flakey perfection). After you've fueled up, explore legendary sights like the Castillo San Felipe fortress or learn more about writer Gabriel García Márquez's ties to the city on a guided tour. And don't skip checking out the Getsemaní neighborhood, a trendy barrio known for its rising culinary and nightlife scenes and graffiti-lined buildings.

Corrected on Oct. 7, 2015: A previous version of this story was not clear that the destinations are found solely in South America.

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Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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