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13 Safest Countries in South America (Ranked by Safety Level)

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Unfortunately, South America has a bunch of stories about violence and political crimes.

Nevertheless, the situation improves slowly.

Being a popular destination among tourists, this continent still makes people think about the safety of their journey.

Of course, there are places that are really safe and places tourists should avoid so it’s important to learn some safety rules before visiting South America.

After learning the statistics of global safety indexes, peace ratings, and governmental travel advisories, we’ve prepared the rank of the safest countries for traveling in South America.

The remains of the old city

13. Venezuela

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Venezuela is known as one of the most beautiful countries on the continent.

Also, it has a really warm climate.

Nevertheless, it’s one of the least safe countries for traveling in South America.

The main reason for such a low position is the growth of crippling and corruption.

As a result, there is starvation, extreme and even violent unrest as well as mass exodus among the locals.

As the situation in the country led to desperation among the citizens the number of crimes grows significantly.

According to the  United States Department of State, it’s better to avoid visiting Venezuela under any circumstances.

Sea at the sunset

READ THE FULL REPORT: Venezuela Safety Review

safe travel in south america

  • OVERALL RISK: HIGH
  • TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: MEDIUM
  • PICKPOCKETS RISK: HIGH
  • NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
  • MUGGING RISK: HIGH
  • TERRORISM RISK: LOW
  • SCAMS RISK: HIGH
  • WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM

The history of Colombia knows the periods when safety issues were really important throughout the country.

There are still lots of alive witnesses that remember those rebellious periods full of violence and drug trafficking.

Fortunately, during the past years, the situation improved significantly.

Just 25 years ago Medellin was known as the most dangerous place in the world but now it’s a popular tourist spot and a destination for numerous tech companies.

Nevertheless, there is still a bunch of problems such as corruption, distrust in the government, targeted killings, and terrorism.

Taking your trip to Colombia, you should be cautious of petty crimes and learn the areas that should be avoided in any case.

Despite all the listed above, Colombia is among the 40 happiest countries in the world.

Colorful houses

READ THE FULL REPORT: Colombia Safety Review

safe travel in south america

  • OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
  • PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM

Guyana is a northeastern country in South America that is unfortunately not well known among tourists.

There is no certain info about safety issues in Guyana which causes lots of discussions about its place in our list.

Nevertheless, traveling there, you can have a great time exploring its capital city  Georgetown .

As the latest reports show there are not so many cases of pickpocketing, armed robbery, and assault in Guyana.

A girl in front of a deserted house

READ THE FULL REPORT: Guyana Safety Review

Guyana

  • NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
  • SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
  • WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: HIGH

The Global Peace Index 2018 named Brazil as the 3rd lowest rated country on the continent placing it above Venezuela and Colombia.

Being a popular tourist destination for a long time, Brazil is a rather safe place with good tourist infrastructure.

Nevertheless, such crimes as “snatch and grabs” and robberies are really widespread especially when it comes to grand events like the famous Carnival.

Most tourists coming to Brazil want to visit low-income districts and are popular among local favelas which just increases the risk of becoming a crime victim.

If you decided to visit Brazil, it’s better to stay at the Rio de Janeiro harbor.

A city by the sea

READ THE FULL REPORT: Brazil Safety Review

safe travel in south america

  • MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM

Suriname is another not-so-popular destination that is pretty safe but still a better choice for experienced travelers.

The capital city Paramaribo is not so big and has a poor tourist infrastructure that requires some extra caution at night.

Visiting this country, it’s more likely that the maximum you can experience is confused stares.

The main thing you should be aware of during your stay in Suriname is mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika, malaria, and yellow fever.

Musicians on the street

READ THE FULL REPORT: Suriname Safety Review

Suriname

  • SCAMS RISK: LOW

Considering Peru ‘s popularity among tourists, it can be surprising that it’s only in the middle of the list.

Nevertheless, there are such issues as citizen security and areas that should be for sure avoided in Peru.

As there is a lack of police in the eastern Andes, there are cases of such illegal activities as unregulated mining and narco-trafficking.

Of course, it’s easy to avoid these areas but still, you should be aware of mugging that is widely spread in big cities.

Visiting Peru, you need to pay attention to the safety of your belongings especially gadgets and documents.

Being cautious enough, you can have an excellent time in Peru.

A man with sheep

READ THE FULL REPORT: Peru Safety Review

safe travel in south america

  • TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
  • WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW

French Guiana cannot be considered as a country as it’s more like a French colony.

Nevertheless, safety issues still have a place there.

Despite it having the backing of the European economy, French Guiana can be called a wealthy country.

The capital city Cayenne has only 60K citizens.

Petty crimes such as nighttime robberies are the most widely spread there.

Also, demonstrations are a common thing in French Guiana.

Most of them are rather peaceful but still, they can become confrontational easily.

Empty beach

It’s a common fact that poverty and crimes come together.

Nevertheless, being a really poor country, Bolivia is known as a tourist-friendly destination in South America.

In fact, the only widespread type of crime there is the one related to ATMs.

It means that tourists should be really cautious while taking their money out.

One another point you should remember is the altitude.

The capital  La Paz is situated 11,942 feet above sea level so tourists can feel woozy there.

To make your stay there better, you just need to use some caution during the first days while you get used.

In fact, there are lots of improvements in the country including the famous Yungas Road which is not the scariest road in the world anymore.

A perfect landscape

READ THE FULL REPORT: Bolivia Safety Review

safe travel in south america

Speaking of safety in Ecuador , most crimes there aren’t violent.

Visiting such big cities as  Quito , you just need to watch your wallet but not more than while visiting any other city in the world.

Tourists in Ecuador can feel safe as the government established some police forces to help foreigners.

The only safety issue you need to worry about while you stay in Ecuador is your health.

Don’t drink any tap water and be careful with food as poisoning is very common there.

Also, avoid visiting bordering regions especially those which border Colombia.

A huge city landscape

READ THE FULL REPORT: Ecuador Safety Review

safe travel in south america

According to the  Global Peace Index, Paraguay is very close to Ecuador.

In fact, there are just a few precautions for travelers.

Considering the fact it’s not so popular among tourists, there aren’t many places where they can be targeted.

There are petty crimes and kidnapping issues but usually, it’s local farmers who can face it.

The only real caution that should be mentioned is about large gatherings especially when it comes to soccer matches as locals are really passionate about it.

Coast

READ THE FULL REPORT: Paraguay Safety Review

safe travel in south america

Being one of the three safest countries in South America, Argentina can offer a high level of safety for tourists.

Buenos Aires , as well as other big cities, have some districts that should be avoided of course.

Visiting northern regions such as Salta make sure you take a bug spray to protect yourself from mosquitos.

Also, you should know that medical services there are of high quality and absolutely free.

Recently there was a rise in political unease due to economic regression but still, it hasn’t caused any problems.

Waves hitting the shore

READ THE FULL REPORT: Argentina Safety Review

Argentina

Uruguay is not only one of the safest countries in South America but also the most “chill” one.

This country is known for its laidback atmosphere, the café culture of Western Europe, and the ability to enjoy the finer things in life.

Also, it’s one of the countries with the highest trust in government as 96% of all Uruguayans vote in voluntary democratic elections.

One other point is that not unlike most countries in South America, Uruguay has a low possibility of natural disasters.

In fact, it’s an excellent destination for those who want to “seek out” as well as for those who look for attractions, beautiful places, and new friends.

White palace by the sea

READ THE FULL REPORT: Uruguay Safety Review

Palacio Salvo, Montevideo, Uruguay

  • OVERALL RISK: LOW
  • TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
  • PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
  • MUGGING RISK: LOW

Being one of the safest countries in the region, Chile usually takes 25-30 in the global ranking of the safest countries.

There is an absolutely low crime rate and tourists have a bunch of destinations to choose from.

Prepare a good hiking guide and enjoy your time exploring amazing National Parks, routes in Patagonia, and other wild regions.

Just make sure you won’t get lost!

The only threat you should be aware of is earthquakes but still, there is no need to worry too much about it as it’s not a common thing there.

A city street

READ THE FULL REPORT: Chile Safety Review

safe travel in south america

South America can be great, but it depends on where you go, and in any case, don’t forget to use caution while traveling anywhere.

We’ve made this list into an image if you wish to save or share:

Safest Countries in South America

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s a close call here between Chile and Uruguay. Chile scored 79 and Uruguay 77, that is very close and you can say they pretty much tie for the safest country in South America.

There are several good options – Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, and Paraguay.

These five countries are the friendliest to foreigners, from my experience I can say Argentina is where I felt people were the friendliest.

Uruguay has the lowest crime rate.

Crime in South America, per 100,000 on average, is higher than the crime per 100,000 in the United States, meaning, the United States is considered safer than South America.

Take this information as you will, consider that the US and South America are big and it’s a bit of a vague answer, it will be better to narrow it down and compare a state to a country, for example, comparing Florida to Chile, or Costa Rica to California will give you a better answer depending on which country in South America you want to compare with.

The number one place goes to Cuenca, Ecuador.

The second richest city is Sao Paulo, Brazil.

There isn’t a definitive answer to this, but I think Santiago de Chile will take first place.

Other modern cities include Panama City and Montevideo.

Additional Resources

Peru mountains

2 Comments on 13 Safest Countries in South America (Ranked by Safety Level)

How is the terrorism risk in Venezuela and Colombia low, but in Japan it is medium? That is delusional, considering that there a constant clashes between FARC dissidents and ELN as well as right-wing paramilitary groups. Especially at the border of Colombia and Venezuela ( Arauca department). Killings and bombings in that area have left hundreds of civilians dead in recent years and it got worse in 2022. There have even been bombings in Bogota carried out by guerilla groups during the last five years.

Great list. Thank you!

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Ranked: 10 Safest Countries in South America [2024 Update]

As a solo female traveler in South America, I know how important it can be to research travel and safety before hitting the road. Especially if you’re headed to South America, you’re bound to hear many outdated and backward misconceptions about safety and security in the region ; make sure to get the facts before you travel!

Using data from the most recent Global Peace Index (GPI) and local data on crime statistics in the countries that made our list, we’ve compiled a safety ranking of countries in South America for travelers. Read on to learn the safest countries in South America – they might surprise you!

safest country in south america

This post contains affiliate links that may reward me monetarily or otherwise when you use them to make qualifying purchases – at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, please read our  disclosure policy .

Safest Countries in South America – Ranking Methodology

We start by reminding travelers of these caveats and recognizing the challenge of identifying safe countries in South America, or anywhere for that matter. No matter where you travel, there will be areas you don’t want to visit for safety reasons, situations to avoid, and changing political realities that it’s essential to be aware of.

While it can be challenging to provide an accurate ranking for “safety,” an intangible quality composed of many factors, we’ve chosen the latest Global Peace Index (GPI) and local country-level crime statistics to paint a broad picture of safety in South America.

These statistics include data on all kinds of crimes, including robberies, violent crime, political repression and violence, and more, to create a complete picture of safety in each country.

We’ve weighted these statistics with factors most pertinent to travelers in mind, such as petty crime and robberies , rather than security factors that may weigh more on locals. Read on for these statistics and more, plus a healthy dose of recommendations for travelers and personal anecdotes from our experiences in cities in South America .

uruguay

The Safest Countries in South America – Ranked!

The safest country in South America is the tiny, laidback country of Uruguay. Wedged between the South American giants Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay has the highest score on the Global Peace Index of any country in South America – 50th out of 163 countries reviewed by the index.

Uruguay is well known for its stable democracy, inclusive social policies, and low crime rate, making it among the safest countries in South America year after year .

My experience as a solo female traveler, traveling to Montevideo and several beach towns throughout the country, was extremely positive. I felt nothing but complete safety the entire time, even when using public transportation, staying in hostels, and walking alone through Montevideo.

Highlights of Uruguay include the hippie beach town of Punta del Diablo, the luxe Punta del Este with its fabulous nightlife, and the tiny colonial city of Colonia del Sacramento, one of the best cities in South America for travelers and just a quick ferry from Buenos Aires .

Global Peace Index | Overall Score: 1.80/5.0, Country Rank: 50/163

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chile

Ranked 58th out of 163 countries on the Global Peace Index, Chile is consistently one of the safest countries in South America. With a stable democracy , strong (though unequal) economic development, and low crime statistics, Chile is a very safe destination for travelers.

As you should wherever you travel, make sure to practice common-sense safety when traveling, especially in cities. However, don’t fear. Chile is quite safe overall, and other than occasional pickpocketing, travelers report very few issues.

My personal experience traveling to Chile confirmed everything you’ll read and hear about its safety. As I traveled through Chile with one female friend, we had a great time traveling easily and safely wherever we headed, even when walking around larger cities in the evening. Plenty of traveler friends, male and female alike, have shared similar experiences.

From bustling Santiago and quaint Valparaiso (easily some of the best cities in South America !) to stunning Chilean Patagonia in the south, there is a lot to explore in Chile for travelers. A clear highlight in Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia. It is home to some of Patagonia’s most beautiful landscapes with its jagged, snow-capped peaks and clear lakes.

Global Peace Index | Overall Score: 1.87/5.0, Country Rank: 58/163

Travel Essential

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argentina

3. Argentina

Consistently ranked among the safest countries to visit in South America, Argentina is a highlight for travelers and a great destination no matter what kind of travel appeals to you. Argentina is ranked 54th out of the world’s nations in safety and is considered a very safe travel destination.

Keep in mind that Argentina actually has a much higher incidence of petty crimes like pickpocketing and robberies than some of the countries that rank lower than it on this list. Data shows that Argentina has the highest rates of robberies in South America, which is why it comes in at number three on this list.

This isn’t to scare you out of coming to Argentina by any means. It is simply meant to inform, demonstrating how challenging it can be to actually rank entire countries based on their safety for travelers.

Make sure you use basic travel safety measures when traveling in Argentina, and you’ll be fine. Try clipping the zippers on your bag shut, keeping your purse in front of you, sticking to safe areas of the cities and regions you’ll be visiting , and not flashing expensive jewelry or technology when possible.

No matter where you choose to travel in Argentina, you’ll love what this massive and diverse country has to offer. From red cliffs and canyons in the north to snow-capped peaks and glaciers in Patagonia, plenty of natural spots are worth checking out and unforgettable things to do in Argentina .

Global Peace Index | Overall Score: 1.84/5.0, Country Rank: 54/163

Plan a Trip to Argentina

  • Best Things To Do in Buenos Aires
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  • 8 Best Beaches in Argentina

asuncion paraguay

4. Paraguay

The little-visited, landlocked country of Paraguay, in the heart of the continent, is one of the safest countries in South America for visitors. Coming in at number 68 on this year’s Global Peace Index, Paraguay is known for having relative stability and fewer crimes like robberies or assaults than you’ll find among some of its neighbors.

In addition to being one of the safest countries in South America for travelers, Paraguay is also quite an affordable travel destination. As one of the most affordable countries to visit in South America , you’ll save tons of money while experiencing incredible destinations that are totally off the beaten path. It’s a hidden gem if there ever was one.

Global Peace Index | Overall Score: 1.94/5.0, Country Rank: 68/163

Don’t think about traveling without a good  VPN (Virtual Private Network) . Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers.  We’ve used  NordVPN  for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, at home or abroad. 

bolivia

Bolivia is yet another great destination for travel in South America, and is generally quite a safe country in South America for travelers. Ranked 78 out of 163 countries on the Global Peace Index, Bolivia shows improved scores in areas like peace, stability, and crimes that most commonly impact travelers.

Despite Bolivia being the poorest country in South America, it ranks lower than many other countries in the region, including Peru, Argentina, and Brazil, in regard to petty crimes like pickpocketing and robbery that could more frequently impact travelers. In my own experience as a backpacker in Bolivia, I felt quite safe.

While Bolivia is a large, diverse country with so much to offer travelers, the Salar de Uyuni Salt Flat is a stand-out favorite with visitors. This otherworldly destination is also known as the world’s largest mirror for how the water-flooded salt flat perfectly reflects the sky during the rainy season. It’s a must-visit destination.

Also home to sections of the Amazon Rainforest, Lake Titicaca , beautiful colonial architecture, and countless Incan ruins, Bolivia is a great, off-the-beaten-path destination for travelers.

Global Peace Index | Overall Score: 2.00/5.0, Country Rank: 78/163

Plan a Trip to Bolivia

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ecuador

Ecuador comes in at number six on our list of the safest countries in South America. Ranked 97 of over 160 countries on the Global Peace Index, Ecuador has gotten safer in recent years in many aspects, though a few jarring instances of large protests and political upheaval in the past few years have had locals and some visitors a bit shaken.

Overall, Ecuador is quite a safe destination for travelers. Having lived in Ecuador for over two years and traveling to every corner of the country, I’m glad to report that I didn’t have a single unsafe incident while there; I felt quite safe throughout my time in Ecuador.

When traveling to Ecuador, travelers should take care to avoid pickpockets and petty theft. Keep in mind that Ecuador actually reports far fewer robberies and petty crimes than countries higher on this list (like Chile and Argentina!) report.

Highlights of traveling Ecuador include exploring Old Town Quito , hiking the Quilotoa Loop near this stunning volcanic crater lake, and visiting the Otavalo market . Of course, the Galapagos is a bucket list destination that draws many travelers to Ecuador, and it is a must!

Global Peace Index | Overall Score: 2.09/5.0, Country Rank: 97/163

Read More: Is Ecuador Safe? Ultimate Ecuador Safety Guide

Plan a Trip to Ecuador

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the best time to travel to peru

Ranked 103 out of 163 nations on the Global Peace Index, Peru’s Global Peace Index score deteriorated significantly in recent years. With a recent election causing allegations of voter fraud, the country’s political system has been more chaotic than it has been in many years. While this political uncertainty doesn’t have much impact on travelers, crime rates have been on the rise in recent years as well.

Peru might have a hard time stacking up to some of the leaders of this ranking of safest countries in South America, these issues have yet to play a significant role in limited international travel. In 2019, Peru welcomed nearly 5.5 million international visitors, with many headed to its most famous landmark, Machu Picchu.

I wholly recommend travel to Peru to those considering it, though under the condition they visit more of Peru than just Cusco and Machu Picchu . Though this area of the country is exceptional, so many other corners of the country are just as remarkable.

Get off the beaten path and visit historic cities in Peru like Arequipa, fascinating pre-Incan ruins like Chan Chan, and the snowy mountain peaks in Huaraz. You’ll be astonished by just how much Peru has to offer.

Global Peace Index | Overall Score: 2.13/5.0, Country Rank: 103/163

Plan a Trip to Peru

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colombia

8. Colombia

Colombia’s recent past might lead you to believe that Colombia is one of the more dangerous countries to visit in South America, but a lot has changed in just a short time. While Colombia still faces many challenges, it is now significantly safer and more peaceful, and its crime rate has plummeted by 75% since its peak in 1991 . That is almost unheard of.

The Colombia of the 1980s and 1990 has been radically transformed and is moving forward full steam ahead. However, due to a small number of armed insurgents still operating in the country and the insecurity involved with trafficking, Colombia is still considered among the three least safe countries in South America.

As a traveler, it’s important to be aware of these issues while keeping this in mind: despite pockets of insecurity and violence in Colombia, travel and tourism have boomed in recent years, and Colombia is a more popular destination than ever before.

Colombia is an incredibly popular destination for backpackers , digital nomads in Latin America , and its port of Cartagena brings cruise ship travelers almost daily during high season. You’ll find affordable island vacation destinations off the Caribbean coast, impressive trekking spots through desert and jungle, and, of course, the world’s best coffee.

My experience traveling in Colombia and living in Medellin for two months was excellent. I felt safe the entire time as I took easy travel safety measures like using marked taxis, keeping my belongings close, and not wearing flashy clothes or jewelry. I wholeheartedly recommend Colombia as a destination for travelers!

Global Peace Index | Overall Score: 2.69/5.0, Country Rank: 140/163

Plan a Trip to Colombia

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safest countries in south america

Coming in at number 132 out of 163 countries on the Global Peace Index, Brazil faces some challenges regarding security and crime, as it has slid backward in GPI rankings, primarily due to crime rates.

While Brazil technically ranks higher on the Global Peace Index than Colombia, Colombia has lower crime stats than Brazil in some important areas that are more likely to impact travelers . Therefore, we’ve dropped Brazil down a spot on this list.

Safety in Brazil can vary drastically from area to area and city to city, so make sure to look for up-to-date, local advice while planning your trip . This is especially true while navigating Brazil’s larger cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, which tend to be more unsafe for travelers in certain areas.

Anecdotally, you’ll find travelers sharing all kinds of stories about travel to Brazil, some saying they felt totally safe and others saying they experienced pickpocketing or insecurity in another way. This is a reminder to take each story with a grain of salt and remember that there are some easy ways to stay safe when traveling , whether you’re in the world’s safest country or one with more insecurity.

Don’t let Brazil’s lower ranking on this guide dissuade you from a visit. Latin America’s giant has countless beautiful and unique cities, stunning beaches, the giant and diverse sections of the Amazon, and more. It’s all well worth traveling to experience.

Global Peace Index | Overall Score: 2.46/5.0, Country Rank: 132/163

venezuela

10. Venezuela

Last on our ranked list of safest countries in South America for travelers is Venezuela, which has been last on the Global Peace Index’s ranking of South American nations for several years now. With its challenging combination of political uncertainty, inflation, demonstrations, and violent crime, Venezuela faces many issues that make traveling here much more complicated.

The good news is that Venezuela has improved in a few key ways in recent years, and this is reflected in an improved Global Peace Index rating from previous years. However, travelers mostly aren’t traveling here right now due to all the country is going through.

While Venezuela faces many problems, it has a lot to offer travelers, including great beaches, stunning rainforest retreats, and the stunning Angel Falls that make Niagara Falls and Iguazú look tiny in comparison . Hopefully, in the near future, travel to Venezuela will get safer and easier.

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Travel in South America

While statistics point to countries like Uruguay and Chile being among the safest countries in South America, there is much more that goes into travel safety than just statistics.

No matter where you travel – whether in South America or even closer to home! – practicing smart yet simple travel safety can be the difference between having a perfectly uneventful trip and one you might prefer to forget.

carley rojas avila

Carley Rojas Avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.

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8 Safest Countries in South America: Data Ranked (Travel Guide)

Thinking about traveling to South America, but wondering which country to go to? In this article, you’ll see which countries are considered to be the safest according to data, and not the opinions of tourism marketing. You’ll also learn about some interesting places to visit in each country.

The safest countries in South America are Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina. This is according to the Global Peace Index. It compares three factors, which are explained in this post. Other safe countries include Paraguay, Ecuador, and Bolivia.

PLEASE NOTE: The following information on safety is not my personal opinion or from my personal experience. This comes from the 2022 Global Peace Index Report from Vision of Humanity ( Download PDF report ), which ranks 163 countries around the world. Any travel warnings listed below have been found on travel.state.gov .

Safest South American Countries: Ranking System

How are these countries ranked? The lower the number, the safer the country.

You might be wondering how these countries are ranked. The Global Peace Index uses 23 indicators divided into 3 main sections as to how peaceful/violent an area is. These factors are then assigned a number from 1-5 to show how much weight each carries to their score. This can be found on pages 76 and 77 of the GPI.

As a quick summary, here are the 3 main sections that determine each country’s score:

  • Ongoing Domestic and Internation Conflict: Duration and intensity of conflicts, number of deaths, and relationship to neighboring countries are some of the factors looked at.
  • Societal Safety and Security: Political instability, refugees, terrorism, violent crimes, murders, number of incarcerated, and police are some examples of this section.
  • Militarisation: Military expenses, armed services personnel, how much contributed to UN peacekeeping missions, and nuclear and heavy weapons capabilities are some points that contribute here.

The guide is part of an ongoing series covering regions around the world. Learn more about the  safest countries in Africa , Central America , Asia , and Europe .

8 Safest Countries in South America: The List

Here is the list of the safest countries in South America, with some stats on crime and safety.

You’ll also learn about some things to do if you decide to visit. Let’s begin!

uruguay safest country in south america

  • Safety Score: 1.795
  • Worldwide Rank: 46
  • Population: 3,422,794 (2022)
  • Capital City: Montevideo
  • Tourists Per Year: 3,000,000 (2019)

Uruguay is considered to be the safest country in South America . In fact, it’s one of the top 50 safest countries in the world for 2022.

For places to visit in Uruguay, the capital city of Montevideo is a popular tourist destination. If resorts are more your speed, then the seaside resort city of Punta del Este might be the place for you. You could also visit the hot springs of Arapey or Daymán.

According to travel.state.gov, Uruguay is at a level 2 advisory, or to exercise increased caution due to crime. Some advice would be not wearing or displaying signs of wealth, and being careful in the dark.

chile safe south american country

  • Safety Score: 1.84
  • Worldwide Rank: 55
  • Population: 19,450,473 (2022)
  • Capital City : Santiago
  • Tourists Per Year: 5,000,000 (2019)

Chile is number 2 on this list, and just outside the top 50 in the world. This long and thin country, with a coastline of over 4,000 miles (6,437 km) and only 61 miles (91 km) wide, boasts a variety of tourist spots.

If you’re looking for some nature tourism, Chile might be just for you. From visiting the Andes Mountains to the Atacama Desert (the driest place on Earth), or taking a flight to Easter Island, you won’t be bored in this country.

Some caution is needed when traveling in Chile (Level 2 caution; travel.state.gov). Some civil unrest and demonstrations on a bigger scale can happen in Santiago or other cities. Some advice given by travel.state.gov is to keep a low profile, avoid demonstrations, and obey instructions of the local authorities (including curfews).

Here are some of the most popular Chilean foods , including traditional dishes, drinks, and desserts.

3. Argentina

argentina

  • Safety Score: 1.911
  • Worldwide Rank: 69
  • Population: 47,427,407 (2022)
  • Capital City : Buenos Aires
  • Tourists Per Year: 7,400,000 (2019)

Argentina is number three on our list, and it seems to have it all.

Want to go to the most southern city on Earth? Visit Ushuaia, where you can go skiing, hiking, or take a cruise to Antarctica. Want to see some glaciers? You can visit Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park. Want something on the warmer side? How about Mar del Plata Beaches, Argentina’s top resort city?

Despite being number three on this list, travel.state.gov has Argentina at Level 1, which is to exercise normal precautions when traveling there. Argentina also has the most amount of tourists per year of the countries on the list.

4. Paraguay

  • Safety Score: 1.976
  • Worldwide Rank: 77
  • Population: 7,311,023 (2022)
  • Capital City: Asunción
  • Tourists Per Year: 4,370,000 (2019)

Paraguay is number four on our South American safety list, and number three for the number of tourists.

You can visit such natural sites in Paraguay as the Salto Monday waterfalls, the Rio Paraguay, and Ybycuí National Park. Or if engineering is your thing, you can visit the Itaipú Dam, which in 1994 was elected as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Itaipú Dam is on the Parana River, one of the longest rivers in South America .

Travel.state.gov has Paraguay at a Level 1 travel advisory, meaning to exercise normal precautions, with some areas having an increased crime risk (like Amambay, Alto Paraná, Canindeyu, San Pedro, and Concepcion departments).

Cuenca Ecuador

  • Safety Score: 1.988
  • Worldwide Rank: 79
  • Population: 18,122,279 (2022)
  • Capital City: Quito
  • Tourists Per Year: 2,000,000 (2019)

The fifth safest South American country, Ecuador has many incredible places to go despite its relatively small size.

You can visit the world-famous Galapagos Islands (and the Galapagos Giant Tortoises), climb Mount Chimborazo, take in some history in Quito , or relax on beautiful beaches like Montañita or Salinas.

You might want to visit some of Ecuador’s famous landmarks , national parks , or volcanoes .

For more information on things to see in Ecuador, check out Best Things to Do in Ecuador (Epic Guide) .

Due to civil unrest and crime, Ecuador is at a Level 2 advisory. At the time of writing, these areas are to be avoided due to crime: Carchi, Sucumbíos, Esmeraldas city (and the northern part of Esmeraldas provinces), and south of Portete de Tarquí Avenue in Guayaquil.

bolivia safe south america

  • Safety Score: 1.989
  • Worldwide Rank: 80
  • Population: 12,224,110 (2022)
  • Capital City: Sucre (official, judicial capital); La Paz (de facto, administrative capital)
  • Tourists Per Year: 1,240,000 (2019)

Bolivia, the sixth safest country in South America, has many attractions to choose from.

You can visit the Uyuni Salt Flats, the world’s largest salt flat at over 3,900 square miles (over 10,000 square kilometers). There are also 6 UNESCO world heritage sites to choose from, the ruins of Tiwanaku, parts of the Amazon, and Fort Samaipata. Then there’s Lake Titicaca, the highest lake that large ships can navigate.

Bolivia is at a Level 2 advisory due to civil unrest, so keep an eye out for demonstrations, strikes, and roadblocks.

Check out these 25 tasty Bolivian foods .

peru safety

  • Safety Score: 2.091
  • Worldwide Rank: 101
  • Population: 33,697,187 (2022)
  • Capital City: Lima
  • Tourists Per Year: 5,280,000 (2019)

Peru is the seventh safest country in South America, and the only country in South America I’ve been to, personally traveling there with a good friend in 2013.

The capital, Lima is a cool city with many sites to explore. No doubt, if you’re traveling to Peru, you’re wanting to see Machu Picchu and Cusco, which are definitely worth the trip (though be warned, altitude sickness is a real thing. I was down for three days because of it in Cusco). My friend and I were also able to experience sandboarding on dunes just outside of Lima, a must-try in my opinion.

That being said, at the time of writing, due to increased crime in certain areas, Peru is currently at a Level 3 advisory (reconsider travel). There are warnings to avoid traveling to certain areas altogether.

Have you heard of these delicious Peruvian foods ?

  • Safety Score: 2.14
  • Worldwide Rank: 107
  • Population: 794,304 (2022)
  • Capital City: Georgetown
  • Tourists Per Year: 315,000 (2019)

Guyana rounds out our list of safest South American countries and is the only country with English as its official language.

Not a lot of people visit Guyana per year, but there are definitely some beautiful places to visit. You can visit the Kaieteur Falls, the world’s largest single-drop waterfall. Other attractions include the Essequibo River, Iwokrama Canopy Walkway, and looking for one of the world’s largest water lilies, the Victoria amazonica.

Guyana is at a Level 3 advisory due to crime, like Peru. It would be wise to follow such advice as not traveling in the dark and not displaying any signs of wealth.

FAQ About Safety in South America

What is the safest country in south america.

The safest country in South America is Uruguay. All of these countries in the top 8 list above rank higher than the United States (129) in the GPI.

What is the safest Spanish-speaking country in South America?

The safest Spanish-speaking country in South America is Uruguay.

See more in our Guide to Spanish Speaking Countries .

What is the most stable country in South America?

Uruguay is the most stable country in South America, having been in the top two in the GPI for South America since 2018 (or 5 GPI reports), and number one in the last three reports.

Argentina has consistently scored similar scores (1.911 to 1.989) in the last 5 reports. On the other hand, Chile, despite being at number two in 2022, has had a wider range of scores, going from its lowest score of 1.634 to 1.84 over the last few reports.

What are the most dangerous countries in South America?

Venezuela (148th worldwide) is considered the most dangerous country in South America, and one of the most dangerous in the world, according to the GPI 2022.

Brazil and Colombia (130 and 144 worldwide respectively) round out the three most dangerous countries.

Why is there a country missing from the list?

The Global Peace Index only covers 163 countries around the world, which includes 99.7 percent of the population. Depending on which estimate or definition of “country” you see, there could be as many as 206 countries in the world, so the GPI doesn’t cover all of these areas, for whatever reason.

So a South American country like Suriname is not listed in the GPI. Another reason is that certain countries may be linked to other areas, like Trinidad and Tobago (Central America) and French Guiana (France)

safest south american country

This is a quick guide to the safest countries in South America. But like with any travel plans (not limited to South America), please do more research and exercise caution, so you can have a safe and enjoyable trip.

Where do you want to travel in South America? Where have you already gone, and what did you experience there? Is there anything we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below!

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Hello, I'm Joshua Diegor . My love for travel began I was 18 when I went with some friends to New York City. All in all, I've traveled to 6 continents and 14 countries.

I'm a regular contributor to Storyteller Travel .

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Is It Safe in South America?

Pierre-Yves Babelon / Getty Images

South America—home of the famous Machu Picchu , Rio de Janeiro , Buenos Aires , Patagonia , and more—attracts roughly 37 million tourists per year. Naturally, due to the presence of rebel groups and its notoriously violent illegal drug trade, parts of the continent have been deemed unsafe for tourism. But even Colombia , widely avoided as a travel destination until the early aughts, has turned its reputation around in recent years. There are many places to visit in South America if you practice basic safety and stay away from certain areas and activities.

Travel Advisories

  • The U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory ("reconsider travel") for all South American countries except Uruguay , which remains a Level 2 ("exercise increased caution"), and Argentina , Brazil , and Venezuela , all under a Level 4 ("do not travel").
  • Prior to 2020, all but one were under a Level 2 due to crime, terrorism, kidnapping, and/or civil unrest. Venezuela has been placed under a Level 4 due to "crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, kidnapping, arbitrary arrest, and detention of U.S. citizens," the advisory says .

Is South America Dangerous?

While some parts of South America have been deemed dangerous by the U.S. Department of State, much of the continent is perfectly safe to visit. Travelers are advised to avoid the entire country of Venezuela due to ongoing political instability. Parts of Colombia—Arauca, Cauca (except Popayan), Chocó (except Nuquí), Nariño, and Norte de Santander (except Cucuta)—are also under a Level 4 because of crime, terrorism, and kidnapping  . In 2019, the U.S. Department of State warned of "K risks" in 35 countries following the kidnapping of American tourist Kimberly Sue Endicott in Uganda  . Venezuela and Colombia were the only two South American countries on the list.

The safest places in the continent seem to be the stunning beaches of French Guiana, Uruguay, the volcano-laden nation of Chile, Suriname (South America's smallest), Paraguay, and Argentina. Wherever you go, leave your valuables at home and travel with an abundance caution.

Is South America Safe for Solo Travelers?

South America is safe for solo travelers so long as they stick to low-risk areas and remain vigilant. Many of its cities and countries are popular tourist destinations with countless hostels frequented by the backpacker set. Solo travelers should stick to these areas— Bogota, Colombia ; Jijoca de Jericoacoara, Brazil; Santiago de Chile , Chile; Mendoza, Argentina; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for instance—and only travel to more remote or dangerous areas with a licensed tour guide. As with any city, solo travelers should avoid going out alone at night and taking solo taxi rides. Kidnappings happen, so use the buddy system as often as possible.

Is South America Safe for Female Travelers?

Women travel to South America all the time—often in groups, sometimes alone—and many of them return home with only positive experiences. Women's rights are not as progressive in South America as they are in the U.S.   and there are frequent reports of domestic violence in many countries; however, this doesn't generally put female travelers at risk. Because of South America's very macho, chauvinistic culture, women may experience cat calling or other hassle from men. What they should really keep an eye out for, though, is pickpocketing and other non-violent crime. Female travelers are vulnerable, especially when alone, so they should keep their guards up and travel in groups when possible.

Safety Tips for LGBTQ+ Travelers

Homosexuality is legal in every South American country except Guyana, where it is punishable by life imprisonment (although that rule is rarely enforced). Same-sex marriage is illegal in seven countries: Bolivia, Chile, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. Anti-discrimination laws are in place everywhere except Guyana, Paraguay, and parts of Argentina. Travelers should know the laws of the countries they intend to visit, and try to avoid public displays of affection even where it's legal as violence towards LGBTQ+ individuals and couples still occurs.

Safety Tips for BIPOC Travelers

Demographics vary by country—for instance, Argentina is 85 percent white whereas Suriname is primarily Black and East Indian  . Bolivia is 55 percent Amerindian while 75 percent of Paraguay's population identifies as mestizo  . South America, as a whole, is a melting pot of races and ethnicities, and the vast majority of it is extremely hospitable and welcoming. That being said, racism is prevalent (as it is throughout the world), and exists in various forms. So long as BIPOC travelers stick to the tourist-centric places where locals are more exposed to diversity and are therefore more accepting, they shouldn't encounter any trouble.

Safety Tips for Travelers

  • Colombians have a saying, no dar papaya (don't give papaya), which means "don't be stupid," or—in other words—don't put yourself in a position to be taken advantage of. Travelers should walk with confidence, stay aware, and avoid looking like a target.
  • Educate yourself on the current affairs of your destination and avoid demonstrations or any unrest while there.
  • Keep in mind that pickpockets often work in pairs or groups. One or more will distract you while another does the stealing.
  • Learn and practice basic Spanish or Portuguese in case of an emergency.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for the locale and situation. Dress like the locals and conceal any valuable possessions (iPhones, cameras, jewelry, etc.).
  • It's always a good idea to register with your embassy or consulate before traveling abroad.

U.S. Department of State. " Uruguay Travel Advisory ." November 23, 2020.

U.S. Department of State. " Argentina Travel Advisory ." August 6, 2020.

U.S. Department of State. " Brazil Travel Advisory ." August 6, 2020.

U.S. Department of State. " Venezuela Travel Advisory ." October 30, 2020.

U.S. Department of State. " Colombia Travel Advisory ." October 30, 2020.

U.S. Department of State. " Introduction of K Risk Indicator ." April 9, 2019.

United Nations. " More women in Latin America are working, but gender gap persists, new UN figures show ." October 28, 2019.

Centro de Investigación en Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades, UAEM. " Composición Étnica de las Tres Áreas Culturales del Continente Americano al Comienzo del Siglo XXI ." 2008.

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A RAI OF LIGHT

  • Adventure Travel / Ask RAI / Living Abroad / Solo Travel / South America / Travel tips

Ranked: The Safest Countries in South America 2024 (+ Where To Avoid!)

Published December 19, 2022 · Updated January 27, 2024

the safest countries in South America safest country

The beautiful continent of South America , known for its incredible natural scenery, welcoming people, vibrant cities, historical towns, and ancient mythical stories, makes for a fascinating travel destination . Whether you’re an adventure traveler, an insatiable foodie, an intrepid hiker, a beach fanatic, a cultural enthusiast, a nature lover, or city explorer, there is something for everyone in South America . That said, unfortunately, the continent does have a bad reputation when it comes to safety . So it’s reasonable that you’re doing some research on the safest countries in South America in preparation for an upcoming trip . Today, you get to find out exactly that. I have not only included the safest South American country in 202 4, but a handful of additional options. You will also discover some essential safety tips as a traveler in South America.

All of this ↓↓ Let’s get into it….

Encompassing an area of 6,886,229 square miles, the fourth-largest continent on our planet is divided into 12 independent countries and a handful of non-sovereign entities .

The countries of South America are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela . The two non-sovereign entities are the Falkland Islands of the U.K. and French Guiana of France.

What is the safest country in South America? Continue reading to find out….

Safest South American countries to visit safe places

South America — home of Amazonia, Machu Picchu, Galápagos Islands, Patagonia, Easter Island, Christ the Redeemer, and so much more -— attracts more than 37 million annual tourists looking to experience its wonders . Despite its colorful culture and natural wonders, South America is also known for its violent crimes, rebel groups, and drug lords. Parts of the continent have been deemed unsafe for potential travel . Much like any other travel plan, travelers must take precautions before planning a trip to these countries to ensure the right choices are made. 

Although some areas of South America are nests for narcos and drugs, there are many places you can safely visit, explore, and thoroughly enjoy . Even places widely avoided as a travel destination many years ago are turning the tide in recent years. With basic safety practices and an avoidance of certain areas and activities, a good time is almost guaranteed. Here are the safest South American countries in 2024 worth exploring for their heavenly, natural wonders and exciting adventures .

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  • Visiting Africa ? Here are the safest countries in Africa

People of South America Lama Safe countries to visit

Before we get into the countries, here are some important…

Safety Tips for Travelers to South America

  • Be aware of your surroundings so as not to be placed in a position of vulnerability. 
  • Wherever you go, be sure to leave your valuables at home or locked away in a safe place and travel with caution and care.
  • Don’t put yourself in a position of being an easy target by acting or looking like one. As they say in Colombia, “no dar papaya” which translates as don’t give papaya and this saying means don’t be stupid .
  • Pickpockets and petty thieves often target busy areas such as public transpiration or local markets. Be extra cautious in these areas . Also note that they often work in pairs with one to distract you while the other does the deed.
  • It helps to be able to speak Spanish or Portuguese or even a few words in the local language so as to easily communicate during times of need and in the case of an emergency.
  • Educate yourself on the current affairs of the country or region in which you are visiting so as to know of an unrest and to avoid demonstrations and instability.
  • Dress and act appropriately by wearing clothing that is similar to what the locals wear so as not to stand out as a foreigner. Also conceal any valuables such as cellphones, cameras, watches, and other expensive items.
  • It may also be a practical idea to register with your embassy or consulate before travelling internationally.
  • Female travelers : women may experience harassment and cat calling due to the macho culture ingrained within South American men. While this is harmless for the most part, care and caution should be taken especially when alone.

Don’t stop traveling. Why? Discover the major benefits of traveling here

The Safest South American Countries in 2024 for the Adventure Traveler

Ok, now let’s really get into it….  What is the safest South American country?

1 | URUGUAY

Uruguay Safest country in South America

Uruguay tops this list as the safest South American country in 2024 and 2023 with an overall score of 1.798 on the most recent Global Peace Index. This number also places the South American nation as the 50th safest country in the world and safest Latin American country after Costa Rica. 

Uruguay scores well on both external and internal conflicts fought, displaced people, good neighbouring country relations, low terrorist activity, and low political instability. The country does not fare as well on the civil police force, homicides, and perceived criminality in society.

Described as safe, politically stable, progressive, and culturally rich, Uruguay should be on every adventurers travel-list. 

Reasons to visit Uruguay include its unspoiled coastline that include numerous resorts, waterfront promenades, rolling sand dunes, and boating areas. Its mild climate, friendly locals, good infrastructure, and amazing scenery.

Its capital, Montevideo, is dynamic with a quality of life that is considered the highest in Latin America.

Highlights of a visit to the safest country in South America include:

  •  the historic Colonia del Sacramento
  • Punta del Este’s “hand sculpture” and Mansa Beach
  • Montevideo and its Plaza Independencia, Ciudad Vieja, La Rambla, and Mercado del Puerto.
  • the beaches of Punta del Diablo and Santa Teresa National Parl
  • trek through Parque  Salto del Penitente that surrounds a 60 m (196 ft) waterfall

Want to be a digital nomad? Here are the 10 best jobs for digital nomads in 2024

2 | ARGENTINA

Argentina Safe Countries South America

Argentina takes the runner up spot on this list of South America safest countries 2024. It scored an average of 1.837 on the 2023 Global Peace Index, placing the nation 54th overall in the world.

Argentina scores well in the categories of deaths from conflict, political terror, and displaced people. It doesn’t fare as well in the areas of the civil police force and perceived criminality in society. Travelers do need to note that most crimes here are in the form of petty theft, pickpocketing, and bag snatching.

As the most visited country in South America to travel to, Argentina is renowned for its beautiful geography and incredible natural wonders from the largest waterfalls to the highest peaks. Its vibrant nightlife, interesting mix of history and Latin American culture, impressive wine and cuisine, and friendly locals attracts travelers from around the world. 

Adventurers and solo travelers enjoy the safe environment provided by this South American nation. However, don’t skip on bringing some insect repellant to avoid any possibility of getting dengue fever. 

The following are Argentina’s wonders that travelers should not miss:

  • Buenos Aires is the popular capital city known for its Latin passion, Bohemian neighborhoods, and superb steakhouses.
  • Perito Moreno Glacier is an essential visit for those who love nature, flaunting Patagonia’s marvelous natural ice formations. This has long been considered as one of the most amazing natural landmarks on the planet.
  • Iguazu Falls feature the most breathtaking waterfalls and is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
  • Cordoba , with its classic 16th-century architecture, is Argentina’s second main city. The population in this city comprises mainly of students making it an appealing destination for nightlife and culture.
  • Patagonia’s Ushuaia is claimed as the city at the end of the world. It is the world’s most southerly city. While here, explore the Beagle Channel which is known for its spectacular marine wildlife.

Speaking of adventure, here are the best songs about travel and adventure to inspire you to do just that

Chile Landscape Safest country in South America 2021

Chile is third on this list, having held the position as the safest country in South America in previous years. With a score of 1.874 on the Global Peace Index it is considered one of the safest countries in South America in 2024 and the entire world. 

This elongated country scores well on its low crime rate, UN peacekeeping funding, minimal deaths from conflict, and good neighbouring country relations. Areas of improvement include violent demonstrations and a high perceived criminality rate in society. 

This South America nation consistently claims the top spot as the best country for doing business in Latin America. As one of South America’s most prosperous nation, its strong financial situation is matched with political stability and low level of corruption and poverty. It offers a high standard of living.

Chile is well-known for its landscape features that are attractive to the adventure traveler. It is a wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers with its diversity that unfolds over a 2,700-mile stretch, comprising deserts, beaches, volcanoes, glaciers, lakes, forests, and vineyards. All of this makes it the most naturally diverse country in the world. In addition to its adventure tourism, other reasons to visit Chile are its ancestral culture, open people, good food, and wine routes.

The nation located along the western seaboard of South America is a hotspot for earthquakes so bear this in mind when planning a visit to explore the challenging wonders of Chile.

The top tourist destinations in Chile and highlights of a visit include:

  • Santiago . This sprawling city in Chile is known for its authentic cuisine and various museums showcasing its culture and traditions.
  • Valparaiso is one of the towns situated near the ocean and famous for its marvellous firework display during New Year’s Eve.
  • Torres del Paine National Park is a one-of-a-kind remote journey as if you have reached the end of the world. You can explore this Patagonian wonder on foot, by boat, or by horseback.
  • The Atacama Desert is for those who want to experience being in total wilderness. It is the driest place on earth, and its surreal view is striking and beautiful .
  • Easter Island is a real catch for those who are awed by stunning archeological structures and monolithic stone statues. On this island , you can explore the history and traditions of Rapa Nui, the island’s aboriginal people.
  • Marble Caves offers unique scenery with a cave system that can be explored by boat across the biggest lake in Chile.

Speaking of Costa Rica, be sure to check out: What it’s like living in Costa Rica -> pros and cons

4 | PARAGUAY

Paraguay Safe Country South America

No list of safe countries in South America is complete without including Paraguay. The South American nation, known for its relaxed pace and natural landscapes, has an overall score of 1.942 on the 2023 Global Peace Index. It scores well on domestic and International conflict, but not so well on UN peacekeeping funding.

The country of Paraguay is generally safe, although there are a number of dangers the likes of petty crime, smuggling, violent crime, and corrupt police officers. Rates of street crime are low even more so outside of the capital. As a tourist, basic precautionary measures need to be applied to remain away from harm. 

Reasons to visit this nation, often referred to as the heart of South America include its amazing national parks, natural beauty, affordable shopping, tasty street food, and interesting architecture. 

Some of the best places to visit in Paraguay:

  • Asuncion with its grand López Palace, the national Pantheon of Heroes, and the Museo del Barro.
  • Cerro Cora National Park , the largest protected area in Paraguay featuring the eco-archaeological reserve of Gasorý and Cerro Muralla.
  • La Santisima Trinidad De Parana for some of the best-preserved and accessible examples of Jesuit missions.
  • The friendship bridge and Triple Frontier of Ciudad del Este .

>> Must read: The best island vacations for families

5 | BOLIVIA

Bolivia safest country in south america

Halfway through this list of the safest country in South America in 2024 and we have Bolivia, with a score of 2.001 on the Global Peace Index. This landlocked country located in western-central South America scored high in categories of Domestic & International Conflict, internal organised conflict, and displaced people. The country’s biggest letdown is the level of perceived criminality in society.

In the heart of South America, Bolivia is  home to some of the most dramatic landscapes on the continent . From pristine rainforests and high-altitude salt flats to cities rich with cultural diversity, there’s an incredible amount to see, do and experience here.

The best places to see in Bolivia include:

  • El Salar de Uyuni salt flats . Formed by the disappearance of an ocean that once covered most of the Altiplano, the white salt flats of Uyuni are the world’s largest salt flat and biggest tourist attraction in the country.
  • Lake Titicaca . The world’s largest high altitude lake and the largest lake in South America.
  • Huayna Potosi  is one of the white peaks found in the Bolivian Cordillera Real just 25 km from the city of La Paz.
  • Sucre , the first capital of Bolivia, located in the southern part of the Central Highlands highlights some of the best examples of Hispanic colonial architecture and republican historic city centres in South America.
  • Sajama National Park . This vast conservation area is home to amazing natural scenery, wildlife, thermal springs, ancient cave paintings, and the indigenous Aymara people. Bolivia’s oldest national park also features the snow-capped Nevado Sajama volcano, the highest point in the country.
  • Laguna Colorada , or Red Lagoon is a shallow salt lake in the southwest of the altiplano of Bolivia. This incredible natural wonder is renowned for its striking colors and its pink flamingoes.

6 | ECUADOR

Ecuador safe countries South America

Coming in at number 6 of South American safest countries of 2024 is Ecuador. Its overall score is 1.988 on the Global Peace Index. The country scored well in categories such as military expenditure, weapons imports and exports, and conflicts fought. Areas of concern remain its jailed population and violent demonstrations.

Its low cost of living and mild weather conditions attracts a large number of expats. For the traveller, Ecuador is relatively safe to visit. The country may have a history of violent crime, but things have improved recently. Tourist hotspots and public transportation are places where most pickpocketing and thefts occur. As usual, common sense and proper care is advised. This South American nation is full of incredible landscapes, history, culture, and cuisine. Its bustling capital offers a good mix of old and new while the rest of the country delights with its combination of unique customs and traditions of indigenous practices with European colonial influence. The country is world famous for its ecotourism and adventure travel opportunities. Adventurers will be enticed with the variety of activities on offer from paragliding, skydiving, and mountain biking to kayaking, trekking, and white water rafting.  

Ecuador holds a number of worthy tourist attractions:

  • The well preserved old town of Quito , a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • The pristine Galápagos National Park that encompasses over 3,000 square miles of unique territory.
  • Yasuni Park is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet.
  • The Andean city of Cuenca with its blue-domed Catedral Nueva and the 16th-century Catedral Vieja.
  • The protected Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve , considered one of the largest volcanic craters in the world, for its unique geological and biological finds.

Machu Picchu Peru Safe countries South America Latin America

Peru is certainly one of South America’s safest countries 2024, ranking 86th in the world in the 2023 Global Peace Index with an overall score of 2.091.

Located in western South America, the country scored well on military expenditure, politics terror, political instability, and domestic and international conflict. Areas that brought its ranking down include its UN peacekeeping funding and violent demonstrations levels. 

It is worth noting that street crime, muggings, and thefts are a problem in Lima, Arequipa, Cusco, and other major cities, so it is important to be vigilant in public places. Visitors to Peru are seen as wealthy and this can attract a target on one’s back. In addition, due to its location high above sea level, travelers not used to such extreme conditions can be prone to altitude sickness.

Peru is famous for its breathtaking natural scenery, ancient ruins, and outlandish cuisines. The landscapes of Peru are as varied as its food and its people. Find Amazonian swamps and sunny beaches to charming colonial cities and high altitude attractions. Experience some of the most impressive ruins in the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu when hiking the Inca Trail.

The reasons why travelers visit this beautiful destination:

  • Machu Picchu , set high in the Andes Mountains, is the most famous Peruvian destination and a must visit. The stunning archeological ruins and majestic scenery make it easy to see why it is one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
  • As one of the main gateways into the Amazon jungle, Iquitos is an incredible place to visit in Peru, and can be reached by boat or plane .
  • Arequipa , the White City of Peru, is unarguably the most charming because of its striking architecture. It is also a great stop-off point on the way to Colca Canyon.
  • Gocta and Yumbilla Falls , located in the northern part of Peru, is one of the world’s highest waterfalls. Surrounded by jungle landscapes, the region includes a wide variety of plants and animals species.
  • Huaraz is characterized by its snow-capped mountains and turquoise waters. It is appealing to hikers and climbers who are eyeing their first 5,000+ mountain ascent.

>> Moving internationally? Your essential checklist for moving abroad

Rio de Janeiro Brazil Safe Dangerous Countries in South America

Brazil is also included on the list of safe countries in South America 2024 with an overall score of 2.465 on the Global Peace Index.

This South American nation scores well on external conflicts, displaced people, and political instability. However, it does suffer from a number of issues and does not fare as well on violent crime, political terror, and perceived level of criminality in society. 

Brasil is well-known for its rich culture, natural wonders, amazing beach lifestyle, and locals who love to party. There’s no forgetting that it is also the home of samba and soccer. 

Some of the most visited places in Brazil:

  • Rio de Janeiro is most visited for its eye-catching beaches and mountains. It is also notorious for its Carnival festival and home to Christ the Redeemer statue.
  • Chapada Diamantina National Park , located in the eastern part of Brazil, was created to preserve the diverse ecosystem in the area. With the wide range of mountains, valleys, waterfalls , plants, and animals, this is definitely a nature- lovers haven.
  • Bonito is another popular tourist spot with sustainable eco-tourism practices , known for its jagged caves, tropical species, and turquoise water that are ideal for snorkeling.
  • São Paulo is a city in Brazil that you should not miss as this sprawling metropolis is a paradise for those who love to eat. This city is packed with numerous food markets as well as large football stadiums and majestic green spaces. This city is well known as a quick escape for city-dwellers and travelers who crave a vibrant nightlife. 

Listed above are the safest countries in South America considered to be generally secure for adventure-seekers . Petty crimes such as thefts are common in major cities, but with vigilance and common sense (like with any kind of travel in general) tourists can be safe in this part of the world . 

In addition, other countries generally considered dangerous in South America such as Venezuela and Colombia are not unsafe to visit in general. Wonders located in far-flung areas such as the world’s tallest uninterrupted waterfall, the Angels Falls are away from distress, seemingly contained within its own beautiful cosmos.

Iguazu Falls Foz Iguaçu Safest South American country

You may be wondering …

Is South America Dangerous?

While some parts of South America are considered as dangerous, much of the continent is perfectly safe to visit. 

Speaking of danger, before finishing, lets take a look at places in South America where travelers are advised to avoid:

  •  Most of Venezuela including Caracas due to political instability.
  • Parts of Colombia – Buenaventura, Arauca, Norte de Santander, Nariño, Chocó, and Cauca due to crime, kidnapping, and terrorism threats.
  • Parts of Brasil that include Serra, Mossoro, and Natal

How many countries have you been to? Here’s why it doesn’t matter and why you should stop counting

Keep in mind that a thorough planning of your trip is key to enjoy the sceneries and wonders of South America while remaining safe.

What countries would YOU love to visit on the beautiful continent?

Planning a move or a trip to South America and have any other questions? Be sure to let me know and I’ll be happy to help out a fellow explorer.

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What about bolivia? Is unsafe? Dangerous?

This article is completely wrong, I was in guayaquil last week where sicarios are found every where in the city, bodies are found floating in the river, is really dangerous and chile way more dangerous, too de Janeiro is dangerous too, Buenos Aires, be careful where you decided to go

The list is really perfect but if not based on the tourist attractions.

Guyana is safest .

What a place , we need to visit this place

It is funny how we ask, is it safe? But in actuality more than 3,000 people were killed at the Twin Tours, in New York, so was it safe??

Those people were working in the World Trade Center. They were not tourists. Which doesn’t make the loss any less frightening. Just making the point that your argument is not factually valid.

Silly assertion on your part. It was approximately 2000 New Yorkers who were killed on 9-11 and not tourists. What is your agenda?

During the September 11, 2001 attacks, 2,977 people were killed, 19 hijackers committed murder–suicide, and more than 6,000 others were injured. Of the 2,996 total deaths (including the terrorists), 2,763 were in the World Trade Center and the surrounding area, 189 were at the Pentagon, and 44 were in Pennsylvania.

Allan, what exactly is YOUR agenda? Sad that it only takes a few seconds to research something as vastly reported on as the terrorist attacks on Sept 11th, 2001…but instead you let your fingers just start typing without any facts. No need to respond, I will never read it.

You left out a few countries. And South America also contains French, Dutch, and English speaking countries.

Colombia is safer than Ecuador and Brazil. All depends on where and on the neighborhood you visit. Like with any country in the world. Go and visit Colombia. Just use common sense. Don’t go around flashing jewelry or expensive watches. Remember criminals are opportunist. In any country in this planet including the usa.

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The Safest Countries in South America to Visit in 2024

Susan Laurent

According to World Population Review , the safest countries in South America are:

These South American countries are rich in heritage, history, and culture, with beaches, rainforests, and a wide variety of lifestyle options. Of course, it’s essential to enjoy South America as safely as possible.

Before we dive into what each of these countries has to offer and how safe they are for you to visit, we’ll show you where we get our facts. These are the primary sources we used to evaluate the safety of these exciting, beautiful, and diverse countries.

Sources of Our South America Safety Stats

These are the main sources we consulted to assess how safe each of these South American countries is for tourists in 2024:

  • The Global Peace Index (GPI) was developed by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) and gives a peacefulness rating from 1 to 5. Lower scores suggest safer experiences for travelers.
  • The Global Happiness Index was created by the WorldPopulationReview in 2002 to measure the happiness of countries according to six factors, including GDP per capita, social support, and life expectancy. The higher the score, from 1 to 10, the happier the people. Happy people usually translates to less crime and safer travels for tourists.
  • The Global Organized Crime Index (GOCI) rates countries from 1 to 10 according to how much crime is present, the types of crimes, and how resistant the country is to those crimes. The lower the score, the safer the place.
  • Numbeo ranks countries according to how safe people—website contributors—feel. Again, a low score suggests more safety.
  • The Women, Peace, and Security Index , made by the Georgetown Institute , scores destinations from 0 to 1. In this instance, the higher scores suggest safer places for women travelers.

Uruguay

Uruguay has a calm atmosphere with friendly locals (well done, locals!). It features varied, stunning natural pleasures, including waterfalls, lakes, mountains, and beaches!

In 2022, the English marketing and advisory firm found that Uruguay was the most peaceful nation in South America and the 25th safest country in the world. This obviously makes people in Uruguay pretty happy. They are the 25th happiest nation in the world.

The country currently scores a 1.8 on the Global Peace Index , making it the 50th safest country globally. This puts it above Greece, Cyprus, and France. The index also shows that Uruguay has pretty much no organized internal conflict, political instability, or terrorism. Your trip is unlikely to be marred by violent demonstrations or military personnel. It is also the 59th safest destination for women travelers .

The Organized Crime Index supports this view, saying that Uruguay has the least organized crime in South America. It’s the most resilient country to organized crime in all the Americas.

Uruguay was the first country to legalize the cultivation, sale, and use of cannabis for recreational purposes, so don’t be surprised if you see people openly smoking cannabis. This decriminalization only applies to nationals or residents though, so don’t accept or buy these illegal drugs.

A visible police presence will help you and your fellow travelers feel safe. Even better, the officers are helpful. Most don’t speak English, though, so learning a few words of Spanish is a good idea. Learning some of the language will also help you get the most out of Uruguay, as you enjoy the country’s 400 miles of Atlantic coastline.

Things to see and do in Uruguay:

  • Montevideo —the capital; if you’re near or in it, go see this architecturally and culturally fascinating city
  • Punta Del Este —a world-class beach resort
  • Colonia del Sacramento —a popular day tour where you can let the sights wash over you

2. Argentina

Argentina

Argentina comes as a close second in safety to its neighbor Uruguay, but brings in more tourists due to the many attractions it offers. Things to see include: rainforest, waterfalls, historical sites, museums, art galleries, stunning architecture, breathtaking landscapes, and national parks.

Argentina is ranked as a peaceful nation on the Global Peace Index : 54th out of 163 countries, with a score of 1.84. As well as being considered at low risk for violent crime, terrorism isn’t a concern here, either. It received a “low impact” rating on the Global Terrorism Index 2023 .

At 95th spot for organized crime , Argentina is about average. Pay attention to your belongings in big cities, as you would anywhere in the world.

Can women travel safely in Argentina? The country ranks 50th in the world for safety for women travelers, with a score of 0.77 on the Women, Peace, and Security Index . Normal precautions are advised. For example, hiking in any country is always safest in groups . Prioritize your safety with sensible precautions so as not to miss out on a popular tourist activity and a great way to experience Argentina’s natural landscape.

The country is obviously doing something right, because it’s 48th in the world for the happiness of its people according to the Global Happiness Index . This suggests that you can expect a stress-free time when mixing with the locals. To break the ice, you might try talking about Argentenian football. In 1930, it became the first country to host the Fifa World Cup . And the late, Argentinian superstar footballer Maradona is a national hero. That’s why they created a religion in his honor.

Things to see and do in Argentina:

  • Iguazu Falls —spectacular waterfalls (yes, plural), which form the biggest collection in the world; alternatively, there’s Garganta del Diablo, which I promise is safer than it sounds
  • Teatro Colón —the architecture alone makes this theater worth visiting; bonus: you’ll be in Buenos Aires
  • Perito Moreno Glacier —it’s not every day you get to hang out with icebergs

Chile

Chile is one of the safest destinations in South America, attracting visitors with its breath-taking views and access to the world’s longest above-ground mountain range . But Chile actually has everything, from deserts to glacial lakes.

While some might connect Chile with political unrest, it has a 1.87 on the Global Peace Index , making this country safe for tourists. It also has some of the happiest people on the planet, ranking 38th on the Global Happiness Index .

It’s one of the safest countries in South America according to the Organized Crime Index and the second most resilient! As further reassurance, Numbeo tells us that you don’t need to worry about being singled out because of the color of your skin, ethnic origin, gender, or religion. Chilean people understand.

Chile has a rating of 0.74 on the Women, Peace, & Security Index , making it above average on a global scale for solo women travelers.

Hiking is a great way to see this beautiful country. Let the local authorities know if you plan to go mountaineering or adventuring so they can help you more easily if you run into difficulty.

Avoid demonstrations and protests, the largest of which may occur in Santiago, the capital. Santiago is safe if you maintain your general awareness and keep your belongings safe to avoid petty crimes. Drink responsibly to enjoy being in the home of some of the most renowned wine producers in the world safely.

Things to see and do in Chile:

  • El Tatio —there’s nothing like the largest geothermal field in the southern hemisphere to keep you on your toes and amaze your senses
  • Torres del Paine National Park —just stunning
  • Museum of Memory and Human Rights —every country should have one of these; for now, you’ll have to visit Santiago, the capital of Chile

4. Paraguay

Paraguay

Tourists and travelers often miss out on Paraguay as it can be eclipsed by the more widely-known Argentina and Chile, but there’s so much to see in Paraguay. It is actually one of the safest countries in South America, with plenty of areas that you and your family can enjoy, day or night.

Paraguay was ranked 68th on the Global Peace Index with a score of 1.94, which puts it on a par with France. The country has the 57th happiest people in the world according to the Global Happiness Index , which should make for a warm welcome.

To avoid crime in Paraguay, it’s advisable to stay away from the border with Brazil. It is largely unregulated , which attracts illegal activity. For this reason, the area has attracted some organized crime and corruption, but it’s not the kind of thing that affects travelers or visitors.

With a 0.77 rating on the Women, Peace, and Security Index , it’s the 50th safest country for female travelers—meaning, it’s pretty safe.

The nature here is exceptional and comes with exciting wildlife including deer, monkeys, anteaters, armadillos, tapirs, cougars, and jaguars! Don’t worry, attacks on humans by jaguars are extremely rare .

A great tip for staying safe in Paraguay is to consider your personal hygiene and health. Wash fruit before you eat it and drink bottled water. Avoid swimming in the River Paraguay , which can be grubby; instead, check local information to ascertain the safest swimming areas.

Things to see and do in Paraguay:

  • Monday Falls —stunning waterfalls for an all-senses-included experience
  • Ybycui National Park —don’t worry, it’s not some tiny lake; it’s beautiful
  • Playa San José —a wonderful beach, Paraguay-style

Bolivia

Bolivia has a moderate rating of 2 on the Global Peace Index , so it’s generally safer than the US . It has a Global Happiness Index rating of 5.8, so you can expect people to be polite and respectful.

The country also has one of the lowest crime rates in South America, with a score of just 4.95 on the Global Organized Crime Index . And it scores 0.7 for female safety on the Women, Peace, and Security Index , which is above the global average.

In Bolivia, you can enjoy mountain biking, salt flat tours, the world’s highest cable car system for unique views of La Paz, and even expeditions into the Amazon jungle!

You’ll find that Bolivia is a safe country, but exercise usual caution in the big cities to avoid petty crime.

Things to see and do in Bolivia:

  • Uyuni Salt Flats —yes, it’s salty; yes, it’s flat; but it’s like being in another world: magical
  • Lake Titicaca —just so you can say you were there
  • Laguna Colorada —one word: flamingos

Ecuador

On January 8th, 2024, the President of Ecuador declared a 60-day heightened state of emergency due to gang leaders escaping from prison. The special state of affairs includes a daily curfew with doors locked from 11pm to 5am.

All this is unlikely to affect you significantly unless you’re a night owl. You can be exempt from the curfew if you are traveling to or from an airport, in which case you’ll need your passport, ID, and boarding pass/flight booking information.

Carry your passport everywhere. It’s the law. Keep a color copy somewhere safe.

This extra security makes it no surprise that Ecuador has a Global Peace Index score of 2.09, slightly higher than many other South American countries. Despite the challenges, its people are moderately happy, with a Global Happiness Index score of 5.73, making them the 74th happiest country on the world stage. And the country gets 0.65 on safety for female travelers according to the Women, Peace, and Security Index , which is within range of the global average.

While Ecuador attracts curious male and female travelers from all around the world, it has also, unfortunately, attracted organized crime . However, there’s plenty to see without poking around the Ecuador-Colombia border in the north, which is where crime is higher due to drug trafficking .

Things to see and do in Ecuador:

  • TeleferiQo —an unforgettable, spectacular way to see Ecuador
  • Galapagos Beac h es —exceptional, even if you don’t see humpback whales
  • Chimborazo —there are mountains and then there is Chimborazo

Peru

Peru has a Global Peace Index score of 2.13, making it safe for travelers practicing good travel habits, such as staying alert in public places, keeping phones and valuables out of sight, and withdrawing cash from supermarkets or malls rather than street ATMs.

The country’s people are pretty happy, with a Global Happiness Index score of 5.84. Women traveling alone can enjoy the relative safety of a score of 0.71 on the Women, Peace, and Security Index , which makes it one of the safest countries in South America for women.

When it comes to the Global Organized Crime Index , it gets a score of 6.4, which puts it about midway compared to other South American countries. According to Numbeo , people aren’t too worried about the prospect of being insulted, attacked, or having their stuff stolen from their homes. The voices of over 400 contributors also came to the conclusion that it’s fairly safe to walk around in Peru during the day.

We recommend that you follow the US Travel Advisory Service reminder and avoid the Colombia-Peru border due to the crime there. Fortunately, there’s lots to see and do in Peru in tourist-centered areas without having to venture near the border.

Things to see and do in Peru:

  • Machu Picchu —this historic sanctuary is a must-see in Peru
  • Saqsaywaman —this is an incredible and intricate Inca complex
  • Cusco Main Square —this used to be the Inca capital; just stunning

Guyana

Guyana scores 2.13 on the Global Peace Index , making it number 106. It scores 5.97 on the Global Organized Crime Index , which puts it at about the halfway point when considering all the South American countries. With a score of 0.76 on the Women, Peace, and Security Index , it’s one of the safest places in South America for women travelers.

As an English speaker, you might be delighted to learn that English is the official language in Guyana . It’s the only country in South America where this is the case—it’s a byproduct of British colonization, which stuck around after Guyana became independent in 1966 .

The current political situation in beautiful Guyana includes only occasional protests and demonstrations. The best way to enjoy the fascinating landscape and culture of this wonderful country is to avoid protests and avoid traveling to the Venezuela-Guyana border due to border disputes.

There is sufficient police presence and don’t be alarmed to see officers armed and ready to tackle any potential threats from criminals.

Things to see and do in Guyana:

  • Kaieteur Falls —this waterfall is remarkable because of its sheer size and power
  • Botanical Gardens Guyana —this attraction dates back to the 19th century and is perfect for plant lovers; there’s also a zoo
  • Iwokrama Canopy Walkway —see nature up-close and personal by walking on tree-top suspension bridges and decks

Brazil

Brazil. Home of Pelé . King of the South American countries.

Brazil has everything from rainforests to world-class, historical architecture. It’s the beating heart of carnival and a stunning place to take a selfie.

Due to poverty—or, more accurately, income inequality—crime is higher here than in many other South American countries. It has 2.46 on the Global Peace Index , putting it at the 132nd place in the world. Its Global Organized Crime Index score is 6.77, making it the 4th highest in South America.

However, this increased risk of crime is frequently related to gang activity, so unless you’re planning to go all Breaking Bad, you can have a lovely time. Brazil gets 0.63 on the Women, Peace, and Security Index , which is about the average globally for the safety of female travelers.

Via Numbeo , over 5,000 contributors gave their opinion on safety in Brazil. Collectively, they were not too concerned about having things taken from their homes or being insulted or attacked. Plus, they consider it pretty safe for walking around alone during daylight.

Things to see and do in Brazil:

  • Rio de Janeiro —a city packed with exciting sights and events, including carnival and the 710m-high Christ the Redeemer landmark
  • Ipanema Beach —the beach from the song
  • Chapada Diamantina National Park —this is what other national parks want to be when they grow up; and it’s free

10. Colombia

Colombia

Colombia is a colorful, lively country that rivals any other South American destination. Since it has some challenges with crime, stick to the tourist spots—which there are plenty of—to keep yourself occupied and safe.

Though it has mountains, sun, rainforest, beaches, and a metropolis full of local music, art, and culture, Colombia unfortunately scores a little higher on the Global Peace Index than the aforementioned countries with a 2.69. This is largely due to isolated activities of the drug cartels, and shouldn’t be of great concern to tourists.

Colombia has the highest Organized Crime Index Score in South America and the 2nd highest in the world. Many of its problems are related to organized crime deals with neighbors, including Venezuela, Cuba, and Africa.

In context, however, it’s still possible to stay safe by sticking to the tourist spots in Colombia. The country’s GPI score is on its way down (going in the right direction), while the global peace ranking in comparison to other countries has steadily improved since 2008 (also going in the right direction).

Despite its challenges, the country is resilient to organized crime. According to the Organized Crime Index, it’s the 4th most resilient in South America.

Also, collating the data from over 1,250 respondents, Numbeo tells us people are not very concerned about walking alone during the day and crimes like cars being stolen, homes being broken into, or people being attacked are unlikely.

Things to see and do in Colombia:

  • Caño Cristales —AKA the river of five colors or the liquid rainbow will leave you breathless
  • The Gold Museum —this unique museum will dazzle you with exceptional goldwork and history
  • Cartagena —UNESCO describes this locale as having outstanding universal value and you’re sure to agree

Safest South American Countries Recap

Sometimes overlooked, but never forgotten, follow travel advice and stay vigilant to have a wonderful and safe vacation in any of these diverse South American countries.

South America has a reputation for civil unrest, but this tends to be infrequent and small-scale. In most cases, tourists avoid trouble by staying away from protests and demonstrations of all sizes. This is a wise precaution because of the unpredictability of protests.

The police will help you if they can, but there is a language barrier to consider, so make sure you adopt good travel habits and maintain your awareness, especially in big cities or on public transport.

The borders are often hotspots for illegal activity, so steer clear of these, which shouldn’t be difficult, since there is so much to see and do in any of these South American wonderlands.

Aside from that, many South American roads can be challenging, so check the weather before you travel. Avoid driving at night, and get yourself into a 4×4 if possible.

General Safety Recommendations

Check out international travel advisories.

It’s wise to make the most of these resources before traveling. They will give you up-to-date information aimed at keeping you safe. We recommend that you choose from the US , UK , Canadian , Australian , and New Zealand travel advisories. They will help you prepare for your journey in terms of precautions, safety, and security.

Choose Accommodation With Safety in Mind

It’s typical to choose your accommodation based on whether they have a pool, proximity to great restaurants, or your budget. However, you can also choose prioritizing your safety!

For example, look beyond the star-rating to how close your hotel is to local amenities. Check out the location of useful organizations, such as hospitals, police stations, and embassies.

Picking a well-known hotel in a tourist-friendly area can help you feel and be safe.

Don’t Believe the Hype

Any organization will tell you that their hotel is great, their tour is the most interesting, or their restaurant the most delicious. Dig a little deeper by actually reading some of the reviews.

Read negative reviews as well as the positive ones. Both can contain useful information to help you make your trip safer and more enjoyable. Look for authenticity in tone and substance. Whether positive or negative, look out for recurring themes that have the ring of truth about them.

And another hard-earned lesson: check out who is reviewing the accommodation. A dodgy, noisy apartment may be a wonderful choice for five 20-year old men, but is it what you want when you travel with your family? In your thirties? On a retirement trip? Heavens, no!

Work With Nature

While it’s great to visit places like South America for their unique natural landscapes, it’s also wise to remember that nature can be harshly indiscriminate. Whether an avalanche, a rogue wave, or various native animal species, please stay vigilant and respectful of your surroundings.

Also, note that South America is vast. When the Galapagos is cool and dry, it’s also 30 degrees in the Amazon jungle, and it can be icy in Patagonia.

Thirdly, southern hemisphere seasons are the reverse of the northern hemisphere. November to February is basically summer. June to August could be considered winter. The South American countries nearest the equator, like Peru, will have warm weather throughout the year.

For this reason, we recommend checking the World Meteorological Organization’s World Weather Information Service , their Severe Weather Information Centre , and the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System before and during your travels. Check out the forecast before you book tickets.

They will tell you about rainy seasons, extreme weather to watch out for, and precautions to take if there is a risk of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or extreme flooding.

Use Travel Apps

Not only can travel apps save you time getting to your destinations, they can also help you stay in the safest areas. GPS and location apps are also great if your plans are interrupted by an impromptu protest; they can give you the fastest, safest, and most convenient way to get your holiday back on track.

Official ride-sharing apps like Uber can get you a safe set of wheels to advance your holiday. UberEats can save you the uncertainty of wandering the streets by having the food of your choice delivered to your location.

Learn the Language(s)

Spanish is the most widely spoken language in South America. Many people also speak Portuguese. Nobody’s expecting you to be fluent while visiting, but being able to speak a few words of a local language can go a long way for your own comfort and security as well sending positive vibes to everyone you meet.

Being able to start a conversation by saying hello, and saying please and thank you are the minimum requirement for politeness in most countries. Don’t worry about sounding stupid. It’s better to try than to assume everyone speaks your language.

Learning words you might need to find your way around, pay for things, or get help is a great idea to enhance your safety.

Apply Safe Travel Practices

A good trip is a safe trip. Wherever you are in the world, travel safety practices will help keep your trip on track.

  • Try to arrive in daylight so you can find your way around; there may be fewer opportunists, like pickpockets; and you can visit establishments for some assistance if needed.
  • Remember that it’s safest to walk in groups when out at night.
  • Drink responsibly.
  • Don’t accept illegal drugs.
  • Make copies of your important documents, such as visas (if you require them) and passports to carry with you, leaving the originals safely at your lodgings.
  • In hot weather, make sure you are carrying water and sunscreen.
  • Remember that ATMs in banks, malls, and supermarkets tend to be safer than those outdoors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, South American countries are safe to visit, aside from Venezuela. The US Department of State discourages US citizens from traveling to Venezuela , particularly discouraging land border crossings on the Colombian border, due to crime, civil unrest, and detentions. You can search the Department of State’s Travel Advisory Service for up-to-date travel safety information on all South American countries.

Uruguay, my friends. Uruguay is just shy of the top 25% of the world’s safest countries. It has a Global Peace Index of 1.79 .

Before traveling to South America for the first time, it’s wise to take the following precautions: 1. Research current visa requirements —Even if you think you know the requirements, note that things change. Checking the facts will give you peace of mind. Do this well before your trip so a piece of paper doesn’t get in the way of a great time. 2. Plan your trip —Moving toward an agreed destination and following a travel plan throughout your trip will help you look purposeful and keep you on the straight and narrow, which can help deter opportunistic criminals in any country. 3. Research the time of year —The seasons are very different depending on which South American country you wish to visit. February and March are good months to visit Brazil, for example, while you might want to make the most of skiing opportunities in Argentina by traveling in winter. 4. Investigate the country’s currency —Despite seeing signs saying $, only Ecuador uses US dollars! All other South American countries have their own currencies. Several South American countries use pesos, but each has a unique peso specific to the country. You may be able to exchange dollars for the local currency or services, but it’s safest and easiest to have the correct currency for the country you visit. 5. Learn some Spanish. Yeah. If you’re leaving tomorrow, you’d better cram. Even in the service industry, few people speak English. It’s polite, practical, and safe to learn the basics of the local language.

South America is huge! It’s the fourth-largest continent with very diverse geography , including the Amazon river (the largest in the world). It has a desert to bake in, a rainforest to explore (with an official guide, of course), and mountains to ski down. It has miles of coast. And it has bustling cities. Salt flats. Wildlife. Volcanoes! Whatever you want to do, you’ll probably find it in South America. And it’s wise to spend some time choosing your destination and planning your trip carefully, so that you get the most out of your visit and pack appropriately considering the climate or climates you will encounter.

Susan Laurent

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Safety in South America in 2024: The 7 Safest Countries for Family Vacations + Advice

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Last Updated on January 5, 2024 by Ariana Svenson

So you are wondering about safety in South America?  If you’re planning a family trip to South America but are hesitant about security, you’ve come to the right place.

Based on U.S. travel advice and the global peace index, here is some great advice on the seven safest countries to visit in South America.  And, for more South America information, read our  South America Tips: 21 Essential Travel Tips [The Family Edition] .

This post may contain affiliate links, from which we would earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. More info in my disclaimer .

Is south america safe.

First, if you’re wondering, ‘ Is travelling to South America safe ?” South America is a vast continent and covers not only 12 countries but it encompasses the Andes, the Amazon jungle and the dry coasts of Peru.

South America includes some of the world’s biggest cities; Sao Paolo in Brazil, Buenos Aires in Argentina, Lima in Peru and Bogota, Colombia.  In addition to those massive metropolises, there are many other cities; just like your home city, there are safe parts – and places you won’t want to walk after dark.

South America is an enormous region with much more diversity, people and places,  and different types of weather.  Yes, you might be exposed to situations you are not used to at home.  That is ok as long as you are sensible.

South America is not more dangerous than most parts of the world.  However, anywhere, you must use caution and good common sense.

South America is safe to travel with kids, as long as you use common sense and take some precautions.  I have spent years in South America with my children and find that it’s a kid friendly destination because the people love children.

Is south america safe, biking in south america

My Experiences of Safety in South America

I arrived in Chile over 20 years ago; visited Rapa Nui and loved it.  I then headed up to Ecuador, where my travels along the “Gringo Trail’ began.  After spending a week in Quito studying Spanish, and I was considering flying directly to Asia as I just didn’t feel safe.

Thankfully 20 years later, I am still travelling in South America, planning and loving trips.  I’ve spent much time in Peru, where I lived for ten years, but other favorites include Colombia and Bolivia.  I also really adore Chile and Argentina for their more European feel.

I’ve been robbed, pickpocketed, lost in the mountains in bad weather, and suffered dreadfully from frostbite.  That doesn’t make South America unsafe; it means I had some unlucky moments and made terrible decisions.

Safety in South America and Style of Travel

If you backpack around South America, you are more likely to encounter difficult or dangerous situations than if you have a fully escorted tour.  If you stay in the downtowns or central cities these days, they are very safe and clean due to the concerted efforts of municipalities and governments.

Four and 5-star hotels tend to be in good neighborhoods, and if you have an accompanied holiday with guides and private drivers, you should be in very safe hands.

My main advice would be to exercise caution.  Don’t wear expensive jewelry.  Be sensible, research the travel advice for your destination beforehand and familiarize yourself with common scams and dangers such as natural disasters to be prepared.

Measuring Safety in South America

As well as going off personal experiences in South America, this list is ordered based on where each South American country ranks on the global peace index and what the U.S. travel advisories are.  There are so many safe countries in South America!

The Global Peace Index

The Global Peace Index ranks the safety of 163 countries for safety. It’s the world’s leading measure of global peace.  The last index was done in 2022.

Historically, countries like Chile and Uruguay have had higher rankings, reflecting their relatively stable political environment and low crime levels.  However, other countries in the continent have not fared as well.  As of my last update, countries such as Venezuela and Colombia had lower rankings on the Global Peace Index due to factors such as political instability, high crime rates and ongoing internal conflicts,

As you can see from the image above, not all countries are green.  However, if you compare the yellow countries, you can see that countries like the U.S. are orange, meaning the countries in this post are considered safer than the U.S. on the index.

The global peace index is a perfect thing to look at to measure the safety of countries you plan to visit. South America’s top 7 safest countries achieved rankings from 46-79.

machu-picchu-facts-for-kids

U.S. Travel Advisories

If you’re an American citizen, the U.S. travel advisories should be the first place to look when deciding to visit a destination.  The advisory grades countries on a scale from Level 1 (Exercise Normal Precautions) to Level 4 (Do Not Travel) based on various factors, including crime, terrorism, civil unrest, health risks, and more.

None of the seven safest countries below has level 3 or 4 advisories across the whole country.  Some countries do have level 3 and 4 warnings in place, so do not travel to these areas.

However, each country is vast, and you should just exercise standard precautions when within the country.  If the entire country were dangerous, there would be a level 3 or 4 warning in place for the whole of the country.

If you are not a U.S. citizen.  The U.S. travel advisory is still one of the best places to look for information, but make sure you read your country’s travel advisory too, such as Gov.UK foreign travel advice for the U.K. or Smarttraveller for Australia.

Safe Countries in South America

If you’re looking for safe places to travel in South America, here’s an overview of the seven safest countries to visit.  This will hopefully help you plan your next South American Family Vacation .

1.  Uruguay

Global Peace Index Ranking : 46/163

Read the Most Recent U.S. Government Advisory for Uruguay Here

Uruguay, a gem tucked away in the southeastern region of South America, stands as the safest country in South America, according to the Global Peace Index.

The beautiful coastline is scattered with pristine beaches such as Punta del Este and Piriapolis.  Don’t miss out on a traditional Uruguayan barbecue at a local ‘parilla’, a must-do for food-loving families!

Another must-do is to see Colonia del Sacramento and explore the cobbled streets which are a UNESCO world heritage site.

Is Uruguay Safe in 2023?

Uruguay’s relatively low crime rates contribute massively to its position on the Peace Index.  Aside from the urban centres, crime rates are meagre.  The atmosphere is very peaceful and perfect for travel with kids.

However, while Uruguay enjoys overall low crime rates, the capital city of Montevideo does present some challenges.  It has seen an uptick in petty crimes like pickpocketing, muggings, and car break-ins.  These are more commonly encountered in urban centres, and increased caution is advised.

Though it’s crucial to note that these incidents don’t necessarily overshadow the country’s safety, they serve as a reminder to be vigilant.  As of June 2023, the U.S. government has a Level 2 advisory for crime in urban areas.

Uruguay also has good economic stability.  It stands as one of South America’s most economically developed countries, boasting a high standard of living and an impressively low level of corruption.

Global Peace Index Ranking : 55/163

Read the Most Recent U.S. Government Advisory for Chile Here

Chile emerges as a reliable choice for experiencing the vibrant cultures of South America.  The country’s landscapes are an alluring blend of extremes, from the Atacama Desert in the north to the labyrinthine fjords and glaciers in the Patagonia region in the south.

You can also visit vibrant cities such as Santiago with its captivating blend of traditional markets, colonial architecture, and contemporary arts set against a mountainous backdrop.

Here’s what you need to know about the safety of Chile

Is Chile Safe in 2023?

Chile has increased the Global Safety Index from 56 to 55 from 2021-2022.  You’ll find an effective healthcare system, modern infrastructure, and a stable political environment when you visit.  Graced with a modern infrastructure, an effective healthcare system, and a stable political environment.

Chile currently has a level 2 warning due to civil unrest and crime.  The demonstrations that marked 2019-2020 have since simmered down, but it’s still advisable to be aware of any potential gatherings in major cities.  Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and carjacking, is prevalent, as is the presence of unofficial taxis, which tourists should avoid for their safety.

Chile also has a risk of natural disasters, especially earthquakes and volcano eruptions, so you should keep up with the latest info before you visit.

argentina, safest countries in south america

3.  Argentina

Global Peace Index Ranking : 69/163

Read the Most Recent U.S. Government Advisory for Argentina Here

Argentina is renowned for its delicious cuisine, exciting culture and breathtaking natural scenery like Iguazu Falls, Patagonia and the plains of the Pampas.

Its capital, Buenos Aires , is arguably one of the world’s most exciting capitals; think a vibrant cafe culture, great architecture and history, amazing tango dancing and a pulsating nightlife.  It is also home so some passionate football teams and a tantalising food scene.

Is Argentina Safe to Travel in 2023?

Argentina has a generally peaceful feeling allowing you to enjoy your adventure without worrying.  Although there are no travel advisories for Argentina, as with any country, taking certain precautions is essential to ensure your safety.

Petty theft, including pickpocketing and muggings, is a concern, particularly in crowded tourist areas.  It’s recommended to be mindful of your belongings and adopt habits such as keeping handbags in your lap at restaurants, not leaving drinks unattended, and avoiding getting phones exposed on tables.  This also applies to you when travelling.  Places like the Retiro bus station in Buenos Aires and the Mendoza bus station are renowned for theft, especially when leaving luggage in the overhead compartment.

If you’re planning trips like hiking or trekking, it’s strongly advised not to venture alone.  Joining larger groups or guided tours can ensure a safer and more enjoyable experience.  In recent years, there have been unfortunate incidents involving solo hikers and climbers.

Lastly, while Argentina has seen its share of protests, these demonstrations are typically nonviolent.  However, they often lead to blocked streets and highways, potentially affecting travel plans.  For your safety, it’s best to stay informed about local news and avoid demonstrations if possible.

4.  Paraguay

Global Peace Index Ranking : 77/163

Read the Most Recent U.S. Government Advisory for Paraguay Here

Paraguay offers a unique blend of natural beauty and captivating cultural heritage. T he capital city, Asunción, is particularly famous for its vibrant energy, various family-friendly attractions, and hospitable locals, making it a must-visit spot on your itinerary.

Paraguay is not as commonly visited by foreign tourists as much as other countries on this list.  As a result, the people are genuinely delighted to see you!  There is also a rather sleepy backwater feel in much of the country.  That makes it really special to me!

safe travel in south america

Is Paraguay Safe in 2023?

Paraguay has no travel warning in place (Level 1).  As with any travel destination, some caution is necessary.

In certain areas, like Ciudad del Este on the Brazilian border and the Tri-Border Area of Paraguay, there have been instances of drug trafficking, so it’s wise to stay vigilant and informed about these regions.  While not rampant, city street crimes occur and require the usual travel precautions.

Demonstrations occur in Paraguay, and while they’re primarily peaceful, it’s always safer to avoid large gatherings or events.  As of June 2023, there are no travel advisories in place for Paraguay, which adds to the country’s appeal as a safe destination.  Yet, it’s always a good idea to stay updated on current events and potential disruptions.

Moreover, be mindful of individuals posing as service people.  These could be potential thieves trying to scam unsuspecting tourists.  As a rule, verify credentials and don’t leave your personal belongings unattended.

5.  Ecuador

Global Peace Index Ranking : 79/163

Read the Most Recent U.S. Government Advisory for Ecuador Here

With its diverse landscapes, including rainforests, mountains, beaches, and its famous Galapagos Islands, Ecuador offers a unique travel experience when travelling with kids.

Is Ecuador Safe in 2023?

Ecuador is the fifth safest country in South America.  Ecuador currently has a U.S. Level 2 warning in place, suggesting that you exercise increased caution.  There are many fantastic places for kids in Ecuador, but there are also places that are completely advised against visiting.

In Quito, be careful of neighborhoods such as La Marin, La Tola, La Michelina, San Roque, and others that have been noted for pickpocketing petty theft, and taxi robberies.  Areas such as Carchi, Sucumbíos, and the northern part of Esmeraldas province, including Esmeraldas city, also have high crime rates.

Particular attention is advised in Guayaquil, where the whole area is marked as either reconsider travel or do not travel.  The U.S. government restricts people from visiting these regions without prior permission from the Embassy’s security office.  The U.S. is also limited in its ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the area.

IS bolivia Safe, is south america safe to travel

Global Peace Index Ranking : 80/163

Read the Most Recent U.S. Government Advisory for Bolivia Here

Bolivia is world renowned for its captivating landscapes like the Salar de Uyuni and the vibrant indigenous culture.  As the 6th safest country in South America, here’s what you need to know.

Is it Safe to Visit Bolivia in 2023?

Bolivia is the sixth safest country in South America.  However, it’s always wise to stay vigilant and heed local advice, especially in bigger cities, as the country is currently under a Level 2 Warning due to civil unrest.  This does not mean you don’t travel, it just means being aware and researching the areas to be wary of.

Petty crimes like pickpocketing and bag thefts can be commonplace, particularly in tourist hotspots and on overnight buses.  Certain areas in Bolivia are known to pose more risks.  For example, Coroico and Carnavi in Yungas have reported incidents of carjackings and robberies committed by organized criminal groups.  As a rule, never leave personal belongings unattended to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to Bolivia.

Avoid Coronilla Hill in Cochabamba, adjacent to the main bus terminal.  It is a place where you should exercise caution due to its high crime rate.  If you’re travelling by bus to La Paz, arrive during daylight hours and get your tickets from the bus terminal. However, you can avoid this if you book an organized tour or reputable transfer,

peru, travel in peru

Having lived in Peru for over 10 years and had my first child in Cusco, I am obviously very comfortable travelling to Peru.  In my experience, the Peruvian government recognizes the importance of tourism to the country and economy and has spent vast resources “cleaning up” previously undesirable areas.  Peru’s ranking on this list as 7 th is a sad reflection of the protests that occurred earlier this year, as I find it overall a very safe place to travel in.

Peru is an incredible family-orientated country.  If you plan to travel to Peru with Kids , you’ve picked the perfect destination.  There are many unique Peruvian Foods and ample Places to See in Peru on Your Family Vacation .

You can visit amazing cities like Cusco, explore the Sacred Valley, explore pristine beaches and even climb Machu Picchu with Kids .  You can discover our best Peru Family Holiday Itineraries here .

Global Peace Index: 101/163

View the U.S. Travel Advisory for Peru Here

Is Peru Safe in 2023?

There was significant unrest during December and January, and at that time, the U.S. government – among many others – issued warnings against travel.  These warnings have since been removed.  I am travelling to Peru with my three kids in June 2023, so I am backing my own advice!

On Feb 21, organizers officially announced an end to the road blockades frustrating the free movement of pound goods throughout the country.  The Peruvian government also launched an initiative to restart the tourism industry, including a stimulus package to compensate affected workers, including guides and porters.

Check the U.S. Travel Advisory for Peru to verify what they are saying about safety in the country.  They have downgraded the overall travel advisory to a Level 2 for the entire country, with three distinct areas considered “Level 4 – Do not travel”.

Among these levels, four areas are known as the VRAEM – the Valley of the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers – an area that has been off-limits to travelers for decades.  It is considered to house the remaining remnants of the Shining Path Terrorist Group active in the 80s and early 90s and continued to engage in drug trafficking.  Luckily, while this region includes a tiny section in the north-west of the Cusco department (which is equivalent to a state), it is nowhere near Cusco city, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu or any other tourist area in the Cusco region.

This is the confusing part: the name “Cusco” refers to the name of the department (state), province (county) and city.  It’s easy to confuse the three!  But rest assured – the Cusco tourist area is not affected by the terrorist activity in the VRAEM, never has been, and is hundreds of miles away.  For additional peace of mind, check out this map which shows the location of the VRAEM about Cusco City.

Safety in South America in 2023: The 7 Safest Countries for Family Vacations + Advice

The Verdict – Final Words on the Safest South American Countries

South America is safe to travel, but you should ensure you travel to safe countries within South America.  Ensure you check U.S. travel advisories and advisories of the government where you are based.

These seven countries rank in the top 77 countries on the Global Peace Index in 2023, so if you’re planning a family trip to South America, these are the best options!

Safety in South America in 2023: The 7 Safest Countries for Family Vacations + Advice

Safety in South America FAQs

Which country in south america is the safest.

As of June 2023. according to the world peace index, the safest country is Uruguay, which ranks 46 out of 163 countries.

Where Not to Go in South America?

Do not go to any places with level 4 travel advisory warnings for the country as a whole by the U.S. government.  If a small part of the country has a level 4 warning, you can still travel to that country, but NOT that specific area.  You should reconsider travelling to that area if there is a level 3 warning.

What Should I be Careful of in South America?

South America covers a vast area, and you should check the U.S. travel advisory for specific areas to be careful of.  However, common issues include theft, demonstrations and natural disaster risks.  Not all areas and countries in South America have these dangers.

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3 Safest Countries in South America to Visit in 2024

Home | Travel | 3 Safest Countries in South America to Visit in 2024

When traveling abroad, get a policy from one of the  best travel insurance companies . You can get a  5% discount   on Heymondo , the only insurance that pays medical bills upfront for you, HERE!

If you’re looking for the safest countries in South America , you’re in the right place. In this guide, I’ll introduce the countries with the lowest crime rate and danger index, helping you to travel with peace of mind, whether with your family, friends, or loved ones. I’ll also walk you through the most fascinating attractions each of these countries offers and the places you cannot miss.

We have compiled this list based on a combination of personal experiences in safe South American travel destinations as well as the danger index published by Vision of Humanity . They consider a range of factors to give each country a score from 1 to 5, with the lowest scores indicating the safest places in South America .

That said, no matter how safe a place may be, I always recommend having the best travel insurance . It’s your safety net for any unexpected incident on your journey, like theft, which can happen anywhere, even in the safest South American countries .

We’ve been using Heymondo travel insurance for years, and their prompt and professional assistance has been a lifesaver for us on multiple occasions. Plus, as a Capture the Atlas reader, you can take advantage of an exclusive HeyMondo discount .

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So, without further ado, let’s delve into the safest countries in South America that you can visit with absolute peace of mind.

1. Uruguay, the safest South American country

♦ Overall score of 1.80/5

Uruguay holds the title of the safest South American country , and it’s not just about safety; it’s a beautiful and fascinating place to explore.

Montevideo , the capital of Uruguay, ranks among the safest places to go in South America . It’s a city steeped in history, culture, and tradition. You can kick off your journey with this free tour of the historic center, accompanied by an expert guide. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive experience, opt for this half-day tour .

You can also take an excursion to Punta del Este from Montevideo . Trust me; it’s worth your time. Punta del Este is widely known for its idyllic beaches, particularly Playa Mansa , home to the iconic sculpture of the “Fingers of Punta del Este.”

Montevideo, safest south american countries

But apart from the capital city, I strongly recommend exploring other charming towns like Colonia de Sacramento , one of the safest cities in South America . Colonia de Sacramento is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the historic neighborhood is a treasure trove of culture and tradition. To truly appreciate the rich history and tradition, consider this guided tour because going on your own in such places means missing out on a lot of fascinating information.

A remarkable characteristic of Uruguay is its striking contrasts. For instance, one of my favorite destinations in this country is Cabo Polonio . It’s a remote village without electricity or Internet, surrounded by pristine nature and wild fauna. Equally fascinating is Punta del Diablo , a place that, while better connected, stands far from the hustle and bustle of big cities. It’s an ideal spot for water activities and surfing. So, if you’re looking for a relaxing vacation, you can take a dip in the Daymán Hot Springs or the Arapey Hot Springs , both featuring natural pools.

Undoubtedly, Uruguay is one of the safest South American countries you should visit, especially since it’s also considered one of the safest countries in all of Latin America .

  • Cane B&B (Montevideo)
  • Bellagio Tower New Apartments (Punta del Este)
  • Taurinas (Colonia del Sacramento)

2. Argentina, one of the safest places in South America

♦ Overall score of 1.84/5

Argentina isn’t just one of the best destinations in Latin America ; it’s also among the safest places to travel in South America and the perfect place for a getaway with friends, family, or your significant other.

You can begin your journey in Buenos Aires , the capital, and one of the safest places in South America to visit . For a good introduction, consider booking this free tour of the historic center; it’s a great way to immerse yourself in the city’s culture. Afterward, I recommend exploring the town on your own to enjoy iconic places like Plaza de Mayo , the San Telmo neighborhood, and the colorful Pasaje Caminito Street . And, of course, you cannot miss your chance to watch a live tango show —a significant part of Argentinian culture.

I’d also suggest visiting Mendoza , especially if you enjoy savoring fine wines in a city renowned for its longstanding winemaking tradition. You can even embark on a wine-tasting and winery tour to enjoy the finest Argentinian wines. Additionally, I recommend joining this free guided tour to explore Mendoza’s various attractions. For those seeking a more adventurous experience, consider an excursion to the Andes to see the majestic Aconcagua Mountain .

Perito Moreno glacier, safest country in south america

One of our all-time favorite Argentine destinations is Calafate , which ranks among the safest places to visit in South America . Calafate is home to the awe-inspiring Los Glaciares National Park and the majestic Perito Moreno Glacier . So, don’t miss this day trip to experience these natural wonders. For hiking enthusiasts, El Chaltén is the perfect place, known as the trekking capital of Argentina. It’s so rich in natural beauty that we had to include it in our Patagonia photography tour .

San Carlos de Bariloche is another gem, famous for its stunning Lake Nahuel Huapi and the surrounding lakes. I highly recommend booking the tour of the seven lakes , which includes visiting Correntoso , Espejo , Escondido , Villarino , Falkner , Hermoso , and Machónico Lakes. If you’re a hiking enthusiast, take the trails through the Arrayanes forest for breathtaking views of Cerro Tronador .

Once you arrive in San Carlos de Bariloche, don’t forget to join this free tour to learn about its history and explore its iconic spots. And for the chocolate lovers, you’re in for a treat—it’s a beloved specialty in this region.

If you are going to spend several days in the country, you can embark on this 5-day tour of Iguazú Falls to witness one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Alternatively, you can take this full-day tour and visit Salta , a city surrounded by magnificent mountain landscapes.

Argentina is undoubtedly one of the safest South American countries , and it’s also one of the most beautiful destinations that you’ll want to visit at least once in your life.

  • Hotel Madero Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires)
  • Quórum Córdoba Hotel   (Córdoba)
  • Hotel Kosten Aike (El Calafate)
  • Hotel Crans Montaña (San Carlos de Bariloche)
  • Chaltén Suites Hotel  (El Chaltén)

3. Chile, the safest country in South America to visit

♦ Overall score of 1.87/5

Chile is more than just one of the safest countries in South America ; it’s a land of breathtaking landscapes. 

Your Chilean journey begins in the vibrant capital, Santiago de Chile . While I suggest getting lost in its streets and exploring iconic places like Plaza de las Armas , the Metropolitan Cathedral , and Cerro de San Cristóbal , this free tour is an excellent alternative to getting to know the city’s main attractions. From Santiago, you can head to Cajón de Maipo , a mountain gorge that will leave you speechless. For this adventure, I recommend booking this day trip .

Another must-visit city is Valparaíso , one of the safest cities to visit in South America . Valparaíso is famous for its vibrant history and culture, which you can easily feel as you stroll through its streets and explore its buildings. If you prefer guided exploration, you can book this free tour to dive deep into the details of each place you visit. And for wine enthusiasts, I highly recommend taking this excursion to savor the finest Chilean wines. This comprehensive tour allows you to explore Valparaíso , Viña del Mar , and Viña Indómita in the Casablanca Valley , where you can sample Chilean wine.

Mountain lake in Chile, safest places in south america

Chile offers tons of captivating destinations, such as San Pedro de Atacama , making it one of the best countries in South America to visit . This city is known for the stunning geysers of El Tatio , Piedras Rojas , and the Salar de Atacama , offering some of the most exquisite landscapes in the country. To explore Piedras Rojas and the Salar de Atacama with a knowledgeable guide, you can book this excursion . Another great option is taking this tour to visit one of the largest geyser fields in the world at El Tatio and explore the Scenic Machuca Lagoon .

San Pedro de Atacama is one of our favorite locations for night photography, as it offers some of the clearest night skies in the country. Each year, we organize a photography trip through Atacama for a joyful group adventure. Alternatively, you can join this night tour if you simply wish to stargaze and enjoy the night. San Pedro de Atacama is one of the safest destinations in South America , so you’ll have nothing to worry about during your vacation.

Last but not least, your South American itinerary should include a visit to the Torres del Paine in the Chilean Patagonia, which you can visit by booking this excursion from Puerto Natales . You will spend an entire day exploring one of the most beautiful natural parks in the country, with stunning views and abundant wildlife. And if you like landscape photography, make sure to join us on our photography tour to the Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia .

Chile, beyond its beauty, stands out as one of the safest countries to visit in South America . You can explore every corner of this country with absolute peace of mind since it has one of the lowest crime rates in South America .

  • Mandarín Oriental (Santiago)
  • 180 Hotel Boutique (Valparaíso)
  • Hotel Vendaval (Puerto Natales)
  • Hotel Jardín Atacama (San Pedro de Atacama)

Is it safe to travel to South America?

There are many safe places to travel in South America , especially countries like Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile. You can explore these beautiful destinations with family, friends, or as a couple.

However, I always recommend keeping a watchful eye on your personal belongings , as thefts can happen in any country. Avoid going to potentially risky areas, especially at night, but in general, you shouldn’t encounter significant problems in these three countries.

We have traveled through South American countries on several occasions and never felt unsafe. On the contrary, we’ve been warmly received, as the people tend to be very friendly and helpful.

Tips for traveling safely through South America

Before finishing our guide on safe South American countries to visit , I want to give you some tips to ensure a joyful and worry-free adventure.

My first advice is to take out one of the best travel insurance policies to be protected in case of accidents, illness, or loss/theft of luggage. This way, you will also have coverage for civil liability and early return, among other things. We have been using Heymondo for years, and honestly, it is a real relief, since whenever something has happened to us, they have responded quickly and professionally.

Second, you should never carry too much cash with you or leave it at the hotel either. I recommend getting one of the best no-foreign transaction fee credit cards before the trip. This not only adds a layer of security but also saves you money on currency exchange fees.

My third piece of advice is to carefully consider your Internet connectivity options. Having Internet access while traveling is vital, especially in case of unforeseen events. We always use Holafly eSIM cards , which provide unlimited data for most countries at a reasonable price. You can even score a discount for Holafly for being a Capture the Atlas reader.

Holafly logo

5% OFF your international eSIM card

I also recommend using geolocation devices like Airtags on your backpacks or suitcases. This way, you can keep tabs on their whereabouts, especially when you need to leave them in luggage storage .

Lastly, always trust your intuition and use common sense . If a place gives you an uneasy feeling or seems unsafe, it’s better to steer clear. Avoid individuals who seem untrustworthy or give off a sketchy vibe. This should be a rule of thumb for any of your journeys, even in the safest destinations in South America .

And now, you’re ready to explore the safest countries in South America , so I hope you have an exciting journey. If you are planning to travel to multiple countries or wish to explore other options, make sure to check out our guide on the safest countries in Central America .

If you have questions or wish to share your experiences traveling through any of the safest countries in South America for tourists , please drop a comment below. I will be happy to hear from you!

Safe travels!

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Jones Around The World

SAFEST COUNTRY IN SOUTH AMERICA & LATIN AMERICA TO VISIT

If there was ever a place in the world that perfectly encapsulated vibrant culture, diverse landscapes, and love of life – it’s South America! But what is the safest country in South America?

There is passionate Latin blood running thick through every country on the continent. So, it’s no wonder that this continent and its’ South American music festivals  are high on the bucket list of countless travelers.

But the wild nature of the landscapes, combined with a history of civil unrest and underdeveloped countries, has instilled a sense of caution in many adventurers. And as a result, Central and South America have earned a reputation for being unsafe.

This causes many new travelers to be more hesitant to travel to the continent.

Safest Countries in South America

The good news is that a lot of these hesitations can easily be countered with a little bit of preparation and knowledge. There is far too much beauty and culture on the continent to ignore, and there are loads of safe places to visit in South America. So here are my top picks!

The Safest South American Countries

Is Chile safe? Yes. In fact, Chile ranks in the top 55-60 of the safest countries in the world according to the global peace index.

Crime rates are incredibly low, and the only real safety risk is getting lost while hiking in one of the many beautiful national parks ! If you’re looking to begin your South American travels but are worried about safety concerns, then just book a flight down to Chile for a mind-blowing and safe outdoor adventure!

Safest Countries in South America

Chile’s one of the best countries to visit in South America due to its many different wild regions and hiking trails — particularly through Patagonia. From the Atacama Desert in the north to the lush forests in the south and pristine beaches on the coast – Chile certainly is a paradise filled with hidden gems.

Perhaps the biggest threat in Chile is the chance of an earthquake. Even so, this is an incredibly rare occurrence, and travelers shouldn’t concern themselves too much with this risk as it is a fairly predictable natural disaster.

Chile National Parks - Safe Country in South America

Highlight Activities in Chile

  • Hike through Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia for the ultimate wild adventure.
  • Visit Easter Island’s famed monolithic sculpted stone statues, which symbolize aboriginal history.
  • Book a trip to Santiago around the country’s biggest music festival, Lollapalooza, Chile .
  • Spend a day (or more) in the breathtaking city of Valparaíso, dubbed Chile’s cultural capital.
  • Discover the ‘Hand of the Desert’, a huge sculpted hand in the middle of the Atacama desert that deserves to be marveled at

“Chile is nature on a colossal scale, but travel here is surprisingly easy if you don’t rush it. ” – Take a read through the Chile Lonely Planet Travel Guide  online to help start planning your trip!

Torres Del Paine - Safest Countries in South America

Interested in a Group Tour to Chile & Patagonia?

Click through to these amazing tours for more photos, reviews, dates, and availability!

  • Torres Del Paine: The W Trek (6-Day Trip) : “Here’s a quick six-day trip that’s simply perfect as an add-on to other Patagonian adventures. Torres del Paine’s W Trek is celebrated by active travelers globally as one of the most scenic treks anywhere. Spend four days walking through stunning landscapes surrounding Grey Glacier, French Valley, and the imposing three towers. While the trek alone is challenging enough, the real contest comes in needing to take your camera out so frequently.”
  • Hike Patagonia in Depth (14 Days | 2 Countries) : “For those looking to explore a corner of the world that is well off the tourist track (in addition to some incredible highlights), this two weeks of hiking through some very remote areas of Patagonia is your opportunity to roam wild and free, my friend. With snow-capped mountains and blue skies as your backdrop, you’ll hike through otherworldly Torres del Paine National Park, staggering El Chaltén, sobering Glacier National Park, and the highly celebrated W Trek. Get ready for the walk of your life.”

Uruguay also falls among the top safest Central American countries and the world. A visit down here promises an insanely laidback atmosphere and chilled-out experience.

The voluntary democratic elections have resulted in a strong base of political stability, and the country is a low-risk area for natural disasters. Uruguay is considered one of the safest countries in Latin America, making it a fantastic choice for your travels.

Even though Uruguay is one of the smallest South American countries, it sure does offer a wealth of activities and experiences for travelers to enjoy during their visit! From long stretches of pristine beaches to a healthy diversity of marine life and relaxing hot springs – Uruguay is an excellent (and safe) place to visit for your next holiday!

Uruguay Beach - Safe Country in latin America

Highlight Activities in Uruguay

  • Indulge in the relaxing hot springs in Salto and Paysandú.
  • Visit one of the many exquisite vineyards and wine-tasting experiences in Uruguay – be sure to taste their local red wine, Tannat.
  • Explore the area around Punta del Diablo, which boasts a fortress, campsites, and unspoiled beaches.
  • Visit one of the local markets and try out the local cuisine. I would definitely recommend Mercardo del Puerto for its wide variety of options and its epic vibe.
  • Attend a traditional South American carnival with an Uruguayan twist in La Pedrera.

Uruguay Vineyard - Safest Countries in South America

Interested in a Group Tour to Uruguay

It’s common for most group tours in South America to visit multiple countries, especially Uruguay (as most travelers come specifically for the waterfalls). Check out these two below for an idea of itineraries! They both look awesome!

  • Explore Bolivia to Brazil (31 Days | 5 Countries) : “Travel to South America and explore the cultures of Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Take the road less travelled from sky-high La Paz to party-ready Rio de Janeiro, stopping in at vibrant cities, small towns, incredible natural wonders and tropical beaches along the way. Discover the modern and traditional cultures of five amazing countries, meet wonderfully friendly locals and see the best of South America on this huge Overland adventure.”
  • Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro: Falls & Footy : “Get your South American rush with other young travellers unafraid to embrace the new. You’ll kick off the adventure in sophisticated Buenos Aires before getting back to nature on day hikes at a working Uruguayan ranch. Marvel at Iguassu Falls, then hop on a flight to São Paulo on your way to the Brazilian coast — no gruelling bus ride means more time on the beach. We’ll wrap up in the party in Rio, where you’re free to embrace the carnival atmosphere from our centrally-located Copacabana hostel.”

3)  Argentina

The steep mountains, astounding glaciers, and magnificent waterfalls all make Argentina a hot spot to travel to. In addition to unparalleled natural beauty, the country also boasts an impressive culture that manifests in architecture, art, music, and literature.

Much like the rest of South American countries, Argentina is well-known for its football. With the likes of one of the best players in the world, Argentinian Lionel Messi, you can only imagine the level of national pride.

Argentina is the third safest country in South America. As is the case with most large cities, though, areas such as Buenos Aires are prone to petty crime, so vigilance is key.

But, arguably, the biggest risk in Argentina is the small chance of dengue fever, which can easily be deterred with the regular use of bug spray when outside the major cities. In the worst-case scenario that a tourist does happen to experience illness, healthcare in Argentina is more than impressive – and free!

Highlight Activities in Argentina

  • The Andes Mountains are Argentina’s spectacular mountain range that offers the ultimate hiking experience.
  • Igazú waterfalls that separate Argentina from Brazil promise a jaw-dropping, sensational experience that is unlike any other.
  • The Perito Moreno glacier is an iconic attraction in Argentina – and for a good reason.
  • Dance the night away in one of the many tango dance bars in the vibrant city.

Check out this article by World Nomads for “ 8 Things to Know Before Visiting Argentina “, as it’s a pretty fun piece that any thinking about visiting the country should read beforehand!!

Is Argentina Safe to Visit?

INTERESTED IN A GROUP TOUR TO ARGENTINA & PATAGONIA?

Hiking in Patagonia can be quite intense, so I’d highly recommend booking a tour to visit this destination! It’ll give you the peace of mind and safety to travel with a group and marvel at the majestic landscape!

Check out these epic Argentina tours and visit their sites for photos, itineraries, prices, and availability!

  • Highlights of Patagonia (8-Days) : “From the jagged, snow-capped glory of peaks like Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre to the gigantic and still-advancing icescape that is the Perito Moreno Glacier, this action-packed Patagonia adventure covers some of the most stunning glacial scenery in the world. Start with a tour of cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, then head to El Chalten to hike the likes of Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre. Continue to El Calafate, where the marvels of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field are just a hop, skip and a jump away. Finish in style in back in Buenos Aires, trying your hand at a few tango moves.”
  • The End of the Earth Argentina (14 Days) : “Perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who want to experience one of the world’s most pristine wilderness settings, this challenging two-week adventure packages the region’s essential highlights into one incredible journey. Explore Torres del Paine, encounter the Perito Moreno Glacier, and hike Los Glaciares National Park. With years of local experience, we employ the region’s best guides to reveal the extraordinary, bringing you to campsites that provide stunning views of Patagonia. Prepare to be awed.”

Safest Countries in South America To Visit in 2020

4)  Paraguay

Paraguay isn’t a very popular tourist destination in South America, which means that there are no obvious tourist-target spots. Apart from petty crimes and the boisterous revelry that erupts at large gatherings, Paraguay is a fairly safe country to visit.

When you consider the astounding natural beauty of Paraguay, you may find it odd that it isn’t more of a popular spot to visit. The country is filled with beautiful waterfalls, natural lakes, and rich landscapes.

One of South America’s greatest hidden gems, there are loads of epic activities to do and places to explore.

Paraguay - Safest Countries in latin America

Highlight Activities in Paraguay

  • Visit the Jesus and Trinidad Jesuit Ruins, which are a testament to the historical richness of the country.
  • If you love the outdoors, then you simply have to visit Ybycuí National Park , which is great for a day trip.
  • Take a trip to Saltos del Monday, a thunderous series of waterfalls. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, then you can climb up the rocky walls and abseil down.
  • The Pantanal wetlands are the largest wetlands on the planet and well worth the visit if you find yourself in Paraguay.

“But Paraguay is nowhere near boring or worth skipping: it offers great historic and cultural value to everyone walking through the Asuncion city center, whose old, decaying buildings still show their old splendor and are a proof of how beautiful Asuncion used to be. At nights, you can take a cab ride and enjoy its gorgeous lights, since it’s fully illuminated after dark. You can enjoy its nightlife, its many bars, restaurants and its vibrant, though dangerous, city spirit. If you’re yearning for some nature, fear not – Paraguay offers safari rides through each eco-region of the country, and you can get acquainted with its fauna and flora with the help of trained safari guides.”

Is it safe to visit paraguay?

Interested in a Group Tour to Paraguay?

Go off the beaten path on this epic Intrepid tour! Read through some of the reviews, as they’re quite inspiring!

  • Paraguay Expedition: Asuncion to Iguazu : Surrounded by superstar neighbors, Paraguay has often been overlooked thanks to its location off the well-worn gringo trail between Brazil and Argentina tours . But skip Paraguay, and you’ll be missing out on an authentic slice of Latin America. After all, this is a country that lays claim to parts of stunning Iguazu Falls and throws a mean Carnaval come February. Paraguay is a land of extremes: you’ll find handmade artisanal stalls standing alongside mega shopping centers, the poor sharing fences with the wealthy, and horse-drawn carts clip-clopping through Asuncion’s modern streets. With a rich history and a wealth of national parks to be discovered, all you have to do is decide where to begin.

Due to its impressive police force, Ecuador is home to some of the safest cities in South America. The main thing to look out for when traveling to Ecuador is the tap water and food. The water is definitely not safe to drink, and food poisoning is, unfortunately, a fairly common occurrence.

With those preparations out of the way, you can safely enjoy all the beauty and fun that Ecuador offers. Ecuador has some of the most beautiful places within its borders, including Galapagos Island, which famously contributed to Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Galapas Islands Ecuador - Safest Places to visit in South America 2019

Highlight Activities in Ecuador

  • The history of the volcanic Galapagos Island has turned the location into a “living museum of evolution” and is a must-visit spot when in Ecuador.
  • Ecuador’s railway system is known to be efficient and well-serviced, making for a unique way of traveling around South America. If this tickles your fancy, then you need to try the Devil’s Nose route, which offers a hair-raising ride through the Andes.
  • Indulge in the intricate culture of the Andean locals by visiting the notorious markets in Otavalo.
  • Explore the quaint old town of Quito for a truly authentic Ecuador experience.

“Adventure seekers will love the active volcanoes, Romeos will make the most of the cheap red roses and fine chocolate, and anyone with a sense of the fun won’t want to miss the chance to stand astride the hemispheres with one foot planted on either side of the equator.”

Have a read through this fun article by CNN Travel titled, “Going to Ecuador? 11 things travelers should know  first” for some helpful travel tips, things to do, and more!

Is Ecuador Safe

Check out this awesome Youtube Video discussing safety advice for Ecuador!  It is really well done and filled with excellent travel tips and information!

Visit Ecuador - Safety Advice for Visiting Ecuador

Interested in a Group Tour to Ecuador & The Galapagos?

  • GALÁPAGOS CENTRAL ISLANDS & INCA DISCOVERY : “From the unique wildlife of the Galápagos to the towering peaks of Peru, discover two of South America’s iconic highlights in one comprehensive adventure — explore the Galápagos aboard the Xavier III before flying into the Andean highlands. As one of the larger tour operators in the Galápagos, our exclusively operated fleet of yachts offers great value and in Peru we run our own treks, ensuring the fair treatment of our porters and the quality of food and equipment as you follow the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Experience the intense variety and striking beauty of two of South America’s most dramatic regions.”
  • Essential Galapagos (9 Days) : “The Galapagos Islands have a bit of a reputation – think the wildest wildlife, colourful underwater worlds and some of the most remote beaches and rock forms on earth. Spend nine days discovering this explorer’s dream, staying at the bustling centres of Isla San Cristobal, Isabela and Santa Cruz, and top and tailing your island escapade in Ecuador’s capital, Quito. Volcanoes, marine iguanas, playful sea lions and the giant tortoise all await on this animal-focused island getaway – what’s not to love about the Galapagos?”

What countries are safe to visit in South America

6)  Bolivia

f you are looking for a rugged adventure in a gorgeous setting, you need to plan a trip to Bolivia. It ranks 80th in the global peace index so it is not a destination for the faint-hearted. But, there are significant rewards for travelers willing to push their comfort zones.

It’s a known truth that poverty breeds crime. However, despite Bolivia being one of the poorer South American countries, it is still incredibly tourist-friendly.

With the capital city, La Paz, soaring a remarkable 11,942 feet above sea level, Bolivia’s altitude is something to note. This means that first-time travelers to the country should take their time settling in.

Bolivia Salt Flats- Safest Countries in latin America

Highlight Activities in Bolivia

  • For a sight unlike anything you’ve witnessed before, you need to make your way to the salt flats of Uyuni.
  • Once you’ve adjusted to the altitude, trekking in the Cordillera Real is an experience that promises unforgettable memories.
  • Take a trip to the world’s highest navigable body of water – Lake Titicaca – which reaches an altitude of 3821 meters.
  • Push your limits and opt for one of the many extreme sports available in La Paz, such as abseiling down one of the city’s biggest office buildings.
  • Cholita wrestling is an activity unique to Bolivia and a highlight experience. Essentially, it involves traditionally-clad Bolivian women wrestling each other WWE-style.

“For a first-timer to South America, traveling in Bolivia can feel a bit intimidating. Given that Bolivia has so many unique tourist attractions, there isn’t much information easily available for tourists. But Bolivian travel doesn’t have to be scary or frustrating, and this country has far too many amazing things to see and experience to miss it out.”

Salt Flats - Bolivia Safety Travel Tips

Interested in a Group Tour to Bolivia?

Check out these widely popular and extremely well-reviewed tours for a South American adventure you’ll never forget! Click through to check out the wondrous itineraries, stunning photography, and views dates/ prices.

  • Best of Bolivia & Argentina (15 Days) : “Travel from Bolivia down to Buenos Aires and experience South America’s wild interior. Get off the tourist trail on this extraordinary adventure through Bolivia and Argentina. Uncover the rural history of Potosi, explore the cities of La Paz and Sucre, and travel across the sprawling landscapes of the Salar de Uyuni before chasing thrills in Salta and finally arriving in Buenos Aires. This overland tour really does have it all.”
  • Buenos Aires to La Paz: Salt Flats & Sand Dunes : “Breathe in the mountain air of La Paz and dance in the tango milongas of Buenos Aires on a two-week adventure. Connecting the Atlantic to the Andes, you’ll journey across the surreal landscapes of the Atacama Desert and the Salar de Uyuni. Feel like a sophisticate as you sip wine in Buenos Aires and pull back the curtain on the centre of the continent. Best of all, you’ll do it in the company of other fun, young travellers. Don’t choose between inspiring wilderness and urban sophistication – do it all.”

Bolivia - Safest Countries in South America

7)  Guyana

Commonly associated with French Guinea and Suriname, Guyana is a lesser-known country in South America. While it is the seventh safest country on the continent, it still has a lot to offer international tourists.

The capital city, Georgetown, has earned a bad reputation for pickpockets, armed robbery, and even assault. However, the country is a great eco-tourist location to explore.

To put it into perspective, Guyana ranks better on the Global Peace Index Map  than the United States of America. The country offers rich rewards for those who choose to brave the reputation and visit the unspoiled rainforests and idyllic beaches.

Considered a melting pot of cultures, their cuisine and culture reflect the dynamic influences of various places around the world. As a trailblazer visiting Guyana, you can be sure of a truly surreal experience that is unlike any other.

Guyana - Safe Countries in South America

Highlight Activities in Guyana

  • Enjoy a stroll on the canopy walkway in the Iwokrama Rainforest.
  • Visit Kaieteur Falls, the world’s tallest single-drop waterfall, without the stress of crowds.
  • Taste the self-proclaimed best rum in the world and visit a local rum distillery in Guyana.
  • Explore the country’s rich history and heritage in its capital city, Georgetown. Important stops include St George’s Cathedral and the Bourda market.

Give a quick read through this article, “10 REASONS GUYANA IS SOUTH AMERICA’S SUPERSTAR ,” for some more Guyana travel inspiration and information!

Is Guyana Safe tp visit in 2019

8)  Brazil

Avoid the known dangerous areas in this South American country, and you will have nothing to fear. The warm Brazilian locals, vibrant cities, and magnificent Amazonian forests will have you hooked and not wanting to leave.

Funnily enough, the country has been built with a tourist infrastructure in mind, and as a result, much of the country is relatively safe for travelers. While not the safest South American country, it is far from the dangerous place that it is often told to be.

Is Rio Safe To VIsit

Highlight Activities in Brazil

  • Visit the top of Christ the Redeemer in the bustling city of Rio de Janeiro.
  • Organize a tour in the Brazilian Amazon – make sure that you go through a proper company that will have your safety in front of mind.
  • Enjoy a city tour in Salvador and discover the detailed Portuguese influence that has contributed to Brazilian culture.
  • Spend a day in Tijuca National Park, the world’s largest urban forest.
  • If you are looking for the party of all parties, then you need to book your trip to Brazil around the time of the notorious Rio Carnival.

Brazil is the 5 th largest country in the world and the largest in South America. It is known for hosting the world’s most famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, for having the largest portion of the Amazon forest, for the Iguazu Waterfalls, and for many other wonderful landmarks. Each year, over 6 million tourists visit Brazil, and events like the Olympic Games held in Rio and Sao Paulo break new records often.

Brazil is one of the countries with the highest crime rates in the world: with a violent death rate of 111 per 100,000. It is also ranked 130 on the global peace index. Although violent crimes mostly happen in the Favelas (poor suburbs), tourists can also be targeted.

SafeAround has compiled information from numerous sources. This is to make sure you have a safe trip in Brazil and be aware of all potential dangers.

Is Brazil Safe to visit in 2019

Interested in a Group Tour to Brazil?

If you’re looking for a quick and easy group tour to just Brazil, check out one of these (which could be a great introduction to the country before taking off a solo adventure around the continent).

  • EXPLORE BRAZIL (9 Days) : “Connect with the lively rhythms of urban culture and venture deep into extraordinary ecosystems on a nine-day adventure in Brazil. On the colorful streets and sun-drenched beaches of Rio de Janeiro, learn to dance the samba and meet the costumers of Brazil’s famed Carnival. Venture into the tropical wetland wilderness of the Pantanal in search of caimans, capybaras, and other incredible creatures; and stand in the mists of spectacular Iguaçu Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage site”
  • HIGHLIGHTS OF BRAZIL: PARADISE & PARTY (8 Days) : “Satiate your desire to stray off the beaten path while meeting new friends and snapping moments along the way on this eight-day tour through Brazil. The cobblestone streets and colourful doorways of Paraty are full of colonial charm while remote beaches and tropical fjords aren’t far away. The fun continues on the beaches of Ilha Grande, where you can go snorkelling or hike remote trails on this island paradise. Once you return to Rio de Janeiro, head on a guided tour of a favela followed by free time to explore this vibrant city as you wish. You’ll be amazed by how much you’ll see, do, and discover in just over a week’s time.”

Is Brazil Safe to Visit - Safest Countries in South America

9)  Peru

Peru is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America. The country has shot to tourism fame due to the breathtaking images of its landscape, mountain ranges, and ancient ruins.

Sharing a large portion of the Amazon with its neighbors, Peru is a great travel destination for those interested in exploring the thick jungle. On the other hand, the Andes mountains make for the perfect hiking trip.

The country’s versatility continues as it is a favorite for history lovers who travel to Peru for the quaint culture. The fascinating influence of the Spanish conquest and Inca Empire can still be seen in the local culture and ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.  

There are no specific safety travel warnings for those visiting Peru. With that being said, tourists should be aware of tourism hotspots that encourage petty crimes, with the threat of violent crime being on par with most big cities.

Machu Pichu - Safe Countries in Latin America

Highlight Activities in Peru

  • Follow the Inca Trail and visit the mysterious and well-known ancient city of Machu Picchu in the Andes.
  • Stay in one of the many lodges in the Peruvian Amazon and explore the magnificent jungle safely.
  • Located just outside of Cusco, the Rainbow Mountains are a must-see spot in Peru.
  • Ride a dune buggy and go sandboarding in the desert village of Huacachina.

The threat of violent crime in most of Peru is no greater than many of the world’s major cities. Travel around the country is relatively safe and reliable, and the rebel element has been largely disbanded. The Peru of today is a far cry from the militaristic repression, rebellion, corruption and terror of its history.

Keep reading about Crime in Peru .  It lists our top travel safety tips for more tips and information.”   

Peru - Safe Places to visit in South America

Interested in a Group Tour to Peru?

Out of all the countries on my bucket list, Peru is pretty damn close to the top! I’m looking into booking one of these tours myself some time, and can’t wait to finally see Machu Picchu for myself!

  • Inca Discovery *TOP-SELLER* (8-Days) : “Perfect for those looking to experience the region’s archaeological and cultural treasures in a short amount of time, this adventure includes a four-day trek along the Inca Trail. This is one of the world’s best-known hikes and will reward those willing to break a sweat with a stunning combination of mountainscapes, cloud forests, and jungles. We run our own treks, which ensures the fair treatment of our porters and quality equipment.”
  • Sacred Land of the Incas (15 Days) : The lofty, dramatic landscapes of the Sacred Land of the Inca will leave you breathless in more ways than one. Walk beneath the Amazon Jungle’s lush canopy, trek the llama-filled plains of the Sacred Valley and stroll the cobblestone streets of Cusco on this 15-day journey from Peru to Bolivia. Search for monkeys and medicinal plants in the Amazon, tackle the ancient road to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail, experience a homestay in a traditional community on the shore of serene and immense Lake Titicaca and finish in La Paz, where indigenous cultures has survived despite hundreds of years of opression. The Sacred Land of the Inca will leave you breathless in more ways than one.”

Peru - Safest Countries To Visit in South America

Safest Countries in Central America To Visit 

10) costa rica.

Costa Rica’s impressive track record of political stability and astounding natural landscapes make Costa Rica one of the safest Latin American countries to visit. The friendly locals that go by the term ‘ticos’ are known to welcome travelers with open arms to their predominantly tropical country.

Approximately 25% of Costa Rica’s land area is a protected zone, which means that the country’s biodiversity is rich and protected. The tropical haven boasts a variety of breathtaking natural wonders. From beach towns and volcanoes to rainforests that are primed for adventure.

From a healthcare point of view, the water in Costa Rica is safe to drink, and the healthcare system is efficient and accessible. This, in conjunction with a low crime rate, makes Costa Rica a paradise ready for exploring.

Costa Rica Runset - Safe Countires in Central America

Highlight Activities in Costa Rica

  • Costa Rica is every adventurer’s dream, and at the peak of this thrill is a river rafting experience through Turrialba Valley, which features grade 3 and 4 rapids.
  • Birdwatching in Costa Rica is an entirely different experience from anywhere else. Look out for the colorful quetzal, which is best spotted in the cloud forests of San Gerardo de Dota.
  • Spend a few nights in San Jose, and revel in the vibrant nightlife that the city has to offer.
  • Explore Arenal Volcano National Park, where Costa Rica’s active volcano lies resting.
  • Ziplining over miles of sky-high treetops is an incredibly popular activity in Costa Rica and one that should be taken full advantage of.

COsta Rica Waterfalls - Safe Countries in Central AMerica

Interested in a Group Tour to Costa Rica?

I’ve personally been to Costa Rica, and it was such a fantastic trip! I mainly went to attend the popular Envision Festival in Uvita, but the parts of the country I visited before & after were spectacular. I’d definitely recommend it (especially because of the coastline & jungles)! If you’re not keen on going it alone, here are a few tours I’d recommend!

  • Classic Costa Rica (15 Days) : “Experience Costa Rica from towering jungle to palm-lined coast. Discover the incredible biodiversity of Costa Rica – and the culture shaped by the tropical wilderness – on this 15-day tour. Stay with a local family in Santa Rosa de Pocosol and get your hands dirty on a sustainable farm. Soak in springs that get their heat from an active volcano in La Fortuna. Spot three-toed sloths in the thickets of the Manuel Antonio National Park, then relax beneath swaying palms on the nearby beaches. This adventure takes you into the wild heart of a country many visit but few truly know.”
  • COSTA RICA VOLCANOES & SURFING (9 Days) : “White water raft the rapids on the Sarapiquí River. Kayak and stand up paddleboard along Lake Arenal with breathtaking volcanic views and catch a wave on this action-packed nine-day tour of Costa Rica. Get your adrenaline pumping with optional extreme sports like waterfall rappelling, and ziplining through the lush jungle canopy. Learn to surf the famous Pacific breaks at Playa Santa Teresa and enjoy plenty of time to relax on tropical beaches. Throw in the opportunity to see incredible rainforest wildlife and you’ve got a unique adventure you’ll be talking about for years.”

Costa Rica Sunset - Safest Countries to Visit in Central America

There are countless reasons to visit Panama. The modern infrastructure, incredible culture, and breathtaking coastlines are just a few of the attractions to visit the country. Many travelers plan a trip to Panama to indulge in the clear sea, sniff the beans on coffee farms, and adventure in the cloud forests.

Panama’s shared border with Colombia means that there are some areas that are considerably less safe than others. These unsafe areas are listed on the governmental website  and are not recommended for tourist travel. With that being said, the coast and borders have a strong sense of security, and the police department is vigilant.

Panama is rich in adventure tourism, with many opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Depending on how much of a thrill factor you crave, there is an activity and destination for you. And you can enjoy it with peace of mind knowing that it might be the safest country in Central America after Costa Rica.

Is Panama Safe...?

Highlight Activities in Panama

  • Visit the Panama Canal, the marvelous waterway which links the Atlantic and the Pacific.
  • Take a guided tour on a coffee plantation – look out for the Geisha beans, which offer a gentle taste for non-coffee drinkers.
  • Explore Panama City, which is filled with a balance of casinos, parks, and skyscrapers.
  • Take a trip to the sandy beaches and lush forests of the Pearl Islands.
  • For thrill-seekers willing to venture into one of the more dangerous areas in Panama, hire a guide and visit the Darien, one of the most isolated places in the world.

Panama - Safety Countries in Latin America

Interested in a Group Tour to Panama?

Panama tends to be one of the final destinations Central Americans visit or can be the beginning of a South American backpacking trip (after sailing through the San Blas Islands to Colombia). I think you can do the majority of Panama on your own, but here’s a pretty epic Central American tour you could look into!

  • Ultimate Central America (59 Days Total) : “Enjoy a Central American odyssey on this adventure from Mexico’s capital to the home of the Panama Canal. Travel through Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama on a tour through remote villages and ruins. Get acquainted with the local cultures, spectacular landscapes and fascinating histories of Central America as you explore the wealth of ancient ruins, spot the range of unusual wildlife, dive into unique underwater worlds and relax on idyllic Caribbean beaches. Get to know the friendly locals and discover why Central America is an adventurer’s delight on this epic overland adventure from Mexico to Panama City.”

Panama - Safest Countries to Visit in Central America

12) Nicaragua

Nicaragua is safely visited by thousands of tourists on a regular basis. However, it’s important to note that it is one of the South American countries that demand an increased level of vigilance due to higher crime rates.

While not the most dangerous country (it has a Global Peace Index of 2.33), the destination is not one for the faint-hearted. It’s rather the ultimate spot for travelers looking for an edgier experience. The predominantly volcanic landscape is buffered by exquisite beaches and idyllic islands.

If you’re a sucker for culture and history, Nicaragua also boasts elegant colonial architecture to marvel at. With a lower crime rate than some of its neighbors, Nicaragua can be a surprisingly safe country to visit.

Nicaragua - Safe Places to Visit in Latin America

Highlight Activities in Nicaragua

  • Hit up the surf and party capital of the country, San Juan Del Sur, and enjoy a relaxed pace of life!
  • Nicaragua is home to several colonial towns, such as Leon and Granada, that are built with fascinating colonial architecture in mind.
  • Ometepe Island is a must-visit as the only island in the world to be made up of two volcanoes in the middle of a lake.
  • The Nicaraguan locals know how to party and celebrate culture. There are countless festivals constantly happening – just listen out for the sound of a trumpet.

“Nicaragua is the largest of the Central American nations, yet it is also the most sparsely populated. Although Costa Rica, its neighbor to the south, has long been a bustling tourist destination, Nicaragua has only recently come into its own. Travel to Nicaragua if you’re looking for a rainforest adventure on the road less traveled—and less pricey. Nicaragua has the largest area of primary-growth rainforest north of the Amazon, six active volcanoes, and 550 miles of coastline dotted with sandy beaches and sleepy surf towns. There are few ancient ruins left in Nicaragua, but picturesque colonial towns–like Granada and Leon–make up for it with their pastel-painted churches and vibrant local festivals.” Keep reading through Travel & Leisure’s Nicaragua Travel Guide  for more information on this unique destination!

Nicaragua Cathedral - Safest Countries in Central America

Interested in a Group Tour to Nicaragua?

  • Best of Nicaragua (9 Days) : Get amongst incredible natural beauty and colorful colonial towns in Nicaragua! With a nickname like the ‘land of lakes and volcanos’, a trip to Nicaragua wouldn’t be complete without plenty of time spent at both. Tick both boxes by visiting Ometepe Island, a lush, rainforest-filled island formed by two volcanos that rose from Lake Nicaragua. Learn about Nicaragua’s revolutionary past in bohemian Leon, stroll the colorful colonial streets of Granada, then head to Nicaragua’s Pacific coast for the sun, surf, and laid-back vibes of San Juan del Sur. In Nicaragua, nature is uninterrupted, the food is delicious, and volcano boarding is a real slightly-scary-but-thrilling sport. Experience it all on this nine-day adventure.

SAFETY TIPS FOR TRAVELING TO SOUTH AMERICA & CENTRAL AMERICA

As you can see, South America is a land of many enriching experiences. Almost every corner of the continent is teeming with wildlife, beautiful landscapes, pristine beaches, and intricate history. With that being said, there are areas that are considered unsafe.

The following safety tips should help you enjoy a safe and stress-free experience in South America.

  • Petty crime does exist in major cities, so always remain vigilant and carry a minimum amount of cash.
  • Don’t walk around wearing flashy jewelry and flaunting expensive equipment – this is asking for trouble.
  • Avoid walking around at night, especially if you are alone or unfamiliar with the area.
  • Don’t go to areas that are known to be unsafe or risky.
  • Although drugs are big business and readily available in South America, be informed that they are not legal, and repercussions can be harsh for buyers.
  • Many South American countries have volcanoes, but luckily these natural disasters tend to give warnings before erupting and pose no immediate threat.
  • There are no serious health threats to consider. However, some areas require a yellow fever vaccination, and it is always a nifty idea to pack bug repellent.

Rainbow Mountains - Peru, Safe Countries in Latin America

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE SAFEST LATIN AMERICAN COUNTRIES

So, is South America safe? Every country in the world  poses risks of some sort, and these South American countries are no different. However, a little bit of vigilance and preparation can go a long way in affording an insanely beautiful and unforgettable experience.

South America has such a rich history and diverse landscapes that the greatest risk you could take in life is choosing not to explore the magnificent continent. The continent is filled with friendly locals, incredible food (of which you seriously need to try out the street food ), and rich history.

Whether you’re traveling to the safest country in South America or any other Latin American place, you’re sure to have a great time. These countries welcome countless tourists on a daily basis and are known to be some of the safest places to travel in South America (added from the beginning).

Best Safe Places to Visit in South America

AM I MISSING THE SAFEST PLACES TO VISIT IN SOUTH AMERICA OR CENTRAL AMERICA?

I’d love to hear from YOU if you think I need to add any countries to this list, or maybe you think I need to remove a country from my list of safest places to visit in Latin America.

I do understand that South America has a reputation for being dangerous, but the truth is that things can happen almost anywhere in the world. So, I simply wanted to highlight some of the awesome destinations and activities down there!

THE 25 PLACES YOU MUST VISIT IN SOUTH AMERICA

Planning a trip to South America?

Whenever I’m looking at where I want to travel next, I typically pick up a copy of the Lonely Planet or another travel guide to bring along with me on the road.  You’d be surprised how often they can come in handy, especially for fun little hidden gems, budget tips, and restaurant/ bar recommendations!

  • Lonely Planet South America on a shoestring (Travel Guide)
  • Insight Guides South America (Travel Guide with Free eBook)

South America Travel Guides - Safest Countries to Visit in 2019

Further reading:

  • 7 Music Festivals In Central America To Experience Before You Die
  • 20 Best Airbnbs In Costa Rica For The Ultimate Vacation
  • 66+ Fascinating & Fun Facts About Costa Rica That’ll Amaze You
  • 9 Reasons Why Envision Festival In Costa Rica Will Blow Your Mind

Don’t Visit South America Without Travel Insurance!

While I definitely always recommend travel insurance if you’re traveling abroad, I’d say that it’s an absolute must when making your way down to South America! I refuse to travel anywhere anymore now without having a policy through HeyMondo Travel Insurance .  Their plans are fairly priced, and they have easy-to-access customer service through their app, which makes it very easy to manage any claims.

So, whether you need a single trip cover to South America or an affordable annual cover for multiple trips worldwide, be sure to buy your travel insurance  before you travel, and relax during your trip, knowing that HeyMondo has your back. Nowadays, I would never travel without insurance again, especially after hearing so many (expensive and dangerous) horror stories from other travelers I’ve met!

South America Travel Insurance

THANKS FOR READING ABOUT THE SAFEST COUNTRIES IN SOUTH AMERICA!

Share this article with your travel crew  .

This was insanely helpful to me. I’m planning a trip to South America with my lover and I’m doing the detail work. This list and details were exactly what I needed and really helped me open my mind to some new places!

La Chascona was one of three homes to Chile’s Nobel Prize winning poet, Pablo Neruda. The quirky architecture and vivid colors mirror Neruda’s individual style, making it a fascinating attraction for all of those who are interested in learning about the great artist’s life as well as the history of the house. (source:

Guyana safer than Suriname? Don’t think so. In fact Suriname is safer than most countries mentioned.

You write that earthquakes are a predictable natural disaster. You may want to amend that — as an emergency responder in Los Angeles I can tell you with the most modern detection systems in place you can get maybe 10 seconds of warning.

Very nice guide to everyone who wish to visit South America. I have liked the art of writing exhibited by the author and the choice of photos is just on point. Big Up :)

Um…Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua…they’re not in South America. They’re in North America.

I really enjoyed this article as we’ve traveled to Argentina and Chile multiple times and loved them, especially Argentina. Your assessment of Argentina was spot on from my perspective and the people there are very genuine and warm. We’re looking forward to going back soon!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

[…] Central American countries are a safe bet for warm destinations in February! It’s the driest season, but it’s also the perfect time to try some water-based activities in Costa Rica. Head to the rivers for rafting, or even on a day trip out to the coast for swimming and snorkeling. While there are no dinosaurs, despite what the movies may suggest, there are plenty of stunning volcanoes you can visit!  […]

[…] The 12 Safest Countries in South America […]

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Worldly Adventurer

How to Travel Safely in South America (Without Missing Out)

By Author Steph Dyson

Posted on Last updated: 6th October 2023

Every year there are headlines querying how safe it is to travel in South America, particularly for solo females.

You might have read about the Yale University student who suffered critical head and lung injuries in a freak rafting accident in Colombia, or the murders of two female backpackers in Ecuador.

The latter story provoked heated criticisms and the Twitter hashtag #viajosola (I travel alone) for the implication that the fact they were women travelling alone was to blame for the deaths.

Given how many people travel each year to South America (millions of solo female travellers included) these awful examples of when travel can go wrong are by no means the norm, but it’s understandable that they can leave potential travellers feeling somewhat concerned about stepping onto South American shores.

Safe Travel in South America

So, if you’re questioning is South America a safe place to travel? – whatever parts you might be packing in your pants – then let me put your mind at ease.

While this continent may not be top of many backpackers’ list of where to travel alone, the vast majority of people of both sexes who do, have incredible, safe and life-changing experiences.

Travel safely and adventurously – wherever you are

Of course, there are some basic principles for travelling – wherever in the world – that everyone should follow.

Having spent the past seven years getting to know some of the best places to visit in South America (including some of its more ‘adventurous’ locations) I’ve learned from my own and other travellers’ mistakes about how you can travel safely.

For me, adventurous travel is about having the confidence to jump on a bus to a far-flung destination where not many other visitors go or stopping the night in a tiny, rural community where you know you’ll receive a warm welcome and an incredible sunrise.

It’s about hiking, camping, and discovering the countryside that so few other tourists probably have dared to do.

These are the parts of travel that bring a country alive but which require a certain degree of self-assurance for you to embark on them in the first place. But if you’re inspired to try this style of backpacking, here are my golden rules for travelling adventurously but safely through South America, and which have served me well on my long ramble through this continent.

1. Always do your research and listen to others’ recommendations

This is my #1 travel rule: when you’re backpacking across South American countries, it’s SO important to do you research on the best bus company to go with.

Bus journeys here are long , and a) you’re putting your comfort at risk but b), more importantly, it shouldn’t matter how budget you’re travelling; what’s at stake here could genuinely be your life.

I’ve heard some horror stories about buses, not only in Bolivia but all of the countries in this continent.

Steph Dyson, Peru trip planner, standing in front of snowy mountains in Huaraz

My own parents’ experience of being in a bus that skidded and narrowly avoided hurtling into a canyon in Peru only serves to cement how important this rule is for safe travel in South America.

Before buying my ticket, I always ask other travellers and locals about the safety records of the different companies and book accordingly. I’ll admit

I’ve never once followed guide book suggestions to check out the bus before you travel (let’s face it, when you book, there’s no guarantee which of the company’s buses you’ll actually be travelling on), but instead go with recommendations.

In seven years of travel, I’ve only once had a hairy bus experience, for which I am incredibly thankful. Make sure you have as good luck on your travels in South America.

2. Recognise that you get what you pay for in every situation

Along similar lines as above, it quickly becomes apparent in South America that a tour, bus journey or activity that seems insanely cheap is so for a reason.

In some cases, it’s because the company isn’t paying their staff decent enough wages (which is frankly good enough grounds to ditch them on the spot), but often it’ll be because standards of health and safety – that old red tape that we love to hate back in the UK – are lacking.

Having lived in La Paz in Bolivia for six weeks, I heard a lot about the Death Road biking experience and was well aware that at least one tourist died every few months.

Yes, there were freak accidents, but I have no doubt that some of them would have been avoidable if the equipment had been better maintained by the companies.

Freak accidents do happen (as we saw above in Colombia) but it’s so much more advisable to limit the risk from the beginning by paying a decent amount.

Not only will you hopefully avoid accidents, but you’ll also be ensuring that the hard working guides you meet get paid a decent wage.

Now there’s a win/win that I can get behind when it comes to safe travel in South America .

3. Download the best (and free) technology

I’ve written previously about my love of adventure apps for travelling in South America , and I’ve relied on many of these technological pieces of magic throughout my travels.

If you really want to get adventurous when you travel, making sure you’ve got the correct mapping technology (and GPS) to get you out of a hiking tight-spot is essential.

The wonderful Travel Break website have also put together a fantastically useful guide to other apps that will help you travel safely . Although I can’t vouch for their usability in South America, they all sound like excellent ways of staying safe.

(Please share if you’ve had any experience of using them in this continent, as I’d love to know how they worked for you.)

What I personally love about technology for helping you to travel adventurously is how much easier it make situations which could very easily become exceptionally stressful, or downright dangerous.

For example, in Bolivia, I found how complicated it was to ever stick to (or even find) a path when you’re walking in the country, so having an app downloaded to my phone that could give me a hint as to which direction I wanted to be headed was invaluable.

4. Learn some of the lingo

I’m a massive advocate for travelling while learning the local language, mainly because it’s this type of travel that gets you closer to a country and its people.

Even with just the very basics of a language, it’s incredible the moments you can share, whether it’s being told to sopla (blow) the clouds away so that the sun comes out, the hilarity that ensues when you refer to yourself accidentally as loro (parrot), or playing a game of charades so that you can buy some thrush cream .

It’s also exceptionally useful for solo female travellers in South America who need to kill unwarranted advances ( tengo novio – I have a boyfriend can help get rid of “admirers”).

Knowing enough language to understand what is happening around you can also go a long way towards safe travel in South America.

Local pacenos eat lunch at a market stall in La Paz, Bolivia

When I was once asked, in Spanish, by a Bolivian woman on a bus if two noisy American passengers were talking about robbing her (they were in fact discussing reasons why the bus smelt like it was about to go up in flames – but that’s another story), I realised how I’d forgotten what it’s like to feel all at sea in another language.

Knowing that you’ve got the capacity to understand when the mood changes in a situation or even just so that you can understand what time you’re being told the bus will leave does wonders for putting you at ease.

And if you’re like me, learning a new language means you can put yourself in ridiculous new situations, like appearing on live Bolivian television .

While apps such as Duolingo might be useful to get you started, staying put for a few weeks to learn the language in a school will always lead to better results.

Thankfully South America has a myriad of excellent (cheap) countries in which to learn. I’ll always vouch for Sucre, Bolivia , but Antigua, Guatemala and Cuenca, Ecuador always seem to appear high on most travellers’ lists as the best places to visit – and learn – in South America.

Safe Travel in South America

5. Be aware: a little more aware than you might be at home

I know personally what it’s like to feel yourself getting a little bit too comfortable when travelling.

After five months of living in relative safety in Sucre, Bolivia, I’ll admit I’d gotten a bit lax when it came to personal safety. After quite a number of Jaeger bombs on my birthday (and a trip to Sucre’s favourite – and most unpleasant – club), I took a taxi home from the club and found myself with the driver attempting to put his hand up my skirt. Not cool.

I survived the incident, but it served to remind me that I’d let my guard down far too much.

Although  my experiences of backpacking in Bolivia had generally been empowering and positive , it was a stark warning about getting drunk in a foreign country, and how, as a solo female traveller, it’s never a good idea.

Yes, most of these countries are safer than you might have heard, but as a tourist, you’re often more of a target, whether it’s for sexual advances or for plain, old mugging.

Thanks to my beautiful Halifax Clarity credit card, which doesn’t charge me to withdraw from many cash machines in the countries I’ve visited so far, I’ve never had to carry lots of cash on me.

I also never take my credit card with me anywhere if I’m not planning on withdrawing money (believe me, having to get a replacement card sent from the UK to Peru because someone’s been using yours is not fun), and will certainly not trot around with my beautiful Sony DSLR on display.

On buses, I’m always sure to attach my handbag with my passport and money in it to my person and wedge it between me and the seat so that no one can get it without me noticing.

I’ll also ensure that my bag with laptop and camera are jammed somewhere so that if anyone attempts to move them, I will certainly know about it.

The longer I’ve travelled, the fewer awful stories I seem to hear, but these things do happen and it only takes you to wander down the wrong street, get distracted and have bird shit thrown at you (yup, Buenos Aires), and realise that someone’s stolen £500 from your rucksack. Don’t let it happen to you: be sensible.

Safe travel in South America is easier than you think

where to go in Patagonia

I hope I’ve proven how adventurous but safe travel in South America is a real possibility for female backpackers.

If you’re contemplating a solo trip, this list should prepare you for backpacking in South America and the fact that, yes it’ll be an adventurous experience, but ultimately one that will make you realise how courageous, self-reliant and capable of travelling alone you are.

Did you find this article useful? Inspire others by pinning it!

solo female travel tips | South America | female travel articles | solo travel destinations |  travel safety hacks | woman | for female travellers | women.

Jessica alba

Wednesday 13th of November 2019

Safety is most important in traveling most travelers use travel guides and route maps before visit any place overall thanks for these great tips.

Saturday 1st of April 2017

Hey Steph, I am a girl looking to travel solo across Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Brazil for the next six months. I am an avid photographer and would "ideally" like to take my DSLR. I can obviously use a non-conspicuous bag and wont walk around with it hanging in my neck but would you generally advise taking it? Any other words of caution reg. this.

Gracias por la informacion! (Hablo un poco de espanol aunque no mucho!)

Steph Dyson

Hi Upasna! You're going to have such an incredible trip!

I have my DSLR now, although I will admit I never had it when I was living in Bolivia (and did see some tourists wandering around with thousands of dollars of photography equipment dangling from their neck, something I thought was never a great idea!). I think that yes, you should take is purely because the continent is so incredibly beautiful you will be so annoyed with yourself if you don't!

To minimise the risk of it being stolen, I think having a backpack where you can store it for overnight bus journeys (and where you can basically have that bag on your lap or leaning on it or whatever so that you know if anyone tries to grab it) is essential. I would also have a good padlock for hostels so that you can store it at nighttime.

I have never had any problems travelling with my DSLR but I'm always aware that there is always the chance that it could get stolen. I think making sure you have a back up of your photos so that if worst comes to worst, yes it would be awful if it got stolen, but at least you wouldn't lose all of your pictures, is important.

I've also invested in some insurance which covers me for if it gets stolen from a locked room which at least gives me a bit of peace of mind. It's probably worth looking into that depending on which country you're from and what's on offer, particularly if you'll be travelling with something quite expensive.

I hope that helps; you will have a great time and seriously, the photo opportunities here are incredible! :)

Saturday 4th of February 2017

Great advice here. South America is such a beautiful and unexplored country by many travelers, but it isn't all sunshine as you mentioned. I think much of this advice can successfully applied to any location though! Whenever you go somewhere new, you should always do these for good measure because you never know what might occur. In Korea, girls are sometimes manhandled by drunk Korean guys who just want attention, especially if they're solo; that being said, it would rarely happen if she keeps her wits about her. Glad you got to have quite the opportunity!

Monday 6th of February 2017

It's very true, so much of this advice is common sense and applicable across the world. Like you said, it's important to have your wits about you as this is the best way of avoiding any potentially nasty situations. I'm glad you enjoyed the article :)

Friday 27th of May 2016

OMG the hand/skirt thing is so not cool but your language stories make me lmao!!

Thanks Anne! I probably should do a whole series on them really... I certainly have enough!

safe travel in south america

The 6 Safest Countries in South America To Visit

The safest countries in South America are Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia and Peru. Check out why these are the best options.

Sarah Rand • Oct 10, 2023

Updated Dec 06, 2023

safe travel in south america

Traveling to South America has plenty of appeal to attract many types of tourists. The continent has at times had a questionable reputation, but continues to be a hub for both travelers and expats . 

Before planning and setting out on your trip to South America, be sure to get to know more about your destination’s safety level for visitors and temporary residents. To help, Travel Noire has put together a list of the safest countries in South America for travelers who want to take a quick trip or plan on embarking on an extended stay. 

Which Countries Are Safest for Tourist Travel?

Tourist travel is very popular in South America. Here are a couple of the safest countries to choose from.

Safety is an issue that should be taken seriously when traveling abroad. This is particularly true when visiting somewhere new and unfamiliar. The community of a chosen destination can really make or break the entire experience of a trip. While some parts of South America are deemed dangerous, there are also plenty of safe countries that could be perfect for that next travel destination experience. 

Learn more about each of these South American countries that have relatively good Global Peace Index’s (GPI) scores. GPI scores are a quantification produced by the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP) each year that helps to navigate the safety levels of different countries. Higher scores, on a scale from 1-5, represent a higher level of violence.

Uruguay 

Uruguay’s culture is very calm since it is a relatively small country with a small population. It is known as a very friendly country for foreigners and even has a fairly simple route for obtaining residency. Uruguay is considered one of the safest countries to visit in all of Latin America and has one of the lowest crime rates too. Uruguay’s 2023 GPI score of 1.8 positions the country as the 2nd most peaceful country in the region.

To accommodate travelers, it is common for tours and excursions to include professional tour guides and transportation. Community is incredibly important here, so travelers feel welcome and usually want to make a trip back. Montevideo is the capital of Uruguay and is a great representation of its inviting culture. The capital makes for a great destination spot for first-time visitors who want a feel for this country and its communities.

Argentina is a country in the southern half of South America and is the second largest country in South America (after Brazil). The country is a popular tourist destination for backpackers because of its natural landscapes. Argentina is home to the Andes Mountains, Pampas Grasslands and Iguazu Falls, which attracts tourists from all over the world. Visitors can enjoy taking road trips and indulging in the best Malbec wine in the world (Mendoza, Argentina is the wine capital of the world). Argentina is such a warm and welcoming country that it is considered one of the safest to travel to in Latin America , with its 1.84 GPI score.

Chile 

Chile is a country on the western edge of South America that is filled with natural beauty. In fact, the most popular tourist attraction in Chile is the Torres Del Paine National Park, which has crystal clear lakes, sprawling vineyards and icy glaciers (and many other things to see). To the north is the driest desert in the world, Atacama. Santiago is the capital city of Chile and is a great place to stay for those that want to be around central areas. The vibrant city is a growing metropolitan area, but navigating it is manageable with sensible travel precautions. Since Chile’s GPI score stands at 1.87, it is the fourth safest country in the Latin America overall.

South America’s Safest Countries for Digital Nomads and Expats 

Expat and digital nomad living have become extremely common. It is no surprise that some countries in South America have become hubs for remote living.

Remote work has been on the rise ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit and it does not seem to be letting up. The days of rushing out of the house to sit in traffic are over. Now, remote workers and expats can travel all over the world while also making corporate, freelance or entrepreneurial money. Being able to switch your background (not just in zoom meetings) either periodically or on a whim is the new norm. So, it is completely understandable that remote workers have flocked to tropical and diverse countries that offer digital nomad visas with little fuss, like these options in South America.

Paraguay is a subtropical land locked country and is one of the most affordable Latin American countries. The country is not very well known and has a growing economy, but the visit is well worth it for travelers that appreciate less tourist focused destinations. The cultural melting pot and stunning natural landscapes (like Ypacaraí Lake) of Paraguay attracts visitors that want to witness its unique offerings. Due to it being an underrated destination that is less explored than tourist hotspots in South America, expats and travelers can expect less crowds. Expats will enjoy Paraguay for its shopping hubs and affordable cost of living.

Safety in Paraguay is not a serious issue. The country boasts a 1.94 GPI score and is in 6th place among Latin American countries. Since the country has a relatively good score, travelers can exercise regular precautions while in Paraguay. Areas like Encarnación and San Lorenzo are among the safest to visit, although travelers should use their discretion when exploring the country. For travelers, the open spaces and tranquil nature at every turn may trump the occasionally fickle internet service. Digital nomads who require constant internet connection may not be a good fit for Paraguay, since the country experiences some power cuts during storms that last up to a few hours.

Ecuador is a small country with incredible biodiversity and an underrated digital nomad community . It is home to the Andes, a part of the Amazon Rainforest and the famed Galápagos Islands. While there are natural disasters that occur occasionally, like floods and earthquakes, there are safety procedures for emergencies so most travelers need only worry about petty crime when visiting Ecuador. The country has a 2.1 GPI score, which is an improvement from recent years.

Cuenca, the third largest city in Ecuador, is a tourist friendly place with relatively low crime rates, warm community and distinction as a UNESCO World Heritage Site . While in major cities, travelers should be sure to take regular precautions since Ecuador is relatively safe, excluding some protests. Expats can expect warm weather through out the year, welcoming locals and a low cost of living in Ecuador. The internet connection in Ecuador is dependable and easy to arrange since there are plenty of plan and price options. Travelers will even find that there are ample cafes, malls and hotels that can provide service if they choose to not depend on mobile data.

Colombia 

Colombia offers metropolitan cities and beautiful beaches, at a fraction of the cost (compared to Western countries). With one of the best healthcare programs in the world, it is no mystery why Colombia is a hotspot for expats . Medellín, Colombia is a great city for remote work and attracts tourists from all over the world with its year round warm weather. For travelers who opt to live and work in areas temporarily, this city is a great option. The country of Colombia is very affordable and has a thriving coffee shop scene, which remote workers will appreciate. There are programs that offer co-working spaces and accommodation that are not hard to come by and the cost of living is low. 

While Colombia does not have the most impressive GPI score, with a 2.69, many expats still appreciate the country. While the GPI score has worsened in recent years, expats still frequent the country. Expats should of course stay vigilant and as locals say, “no dar papaya” which (loosely) translates to “do not make yourself a target” by leaving expensive things unattended or walking alone in poorly lit areas. Safety largely depends on what neighborhood or area travelers are staying in. Smaller cities like Pereira, Colombia offer relatively lower crime rates than big cities (like Medellín).

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14 Safest Cities in South America For Worry Free Travel

safe travel in south america

Safety is usually the number one concern among travelers. To ease your mind (and your luggage), this article will give you a run-down of the safest cities in South America.

South America is popular with travelers for its breathtaking nature and variety. A lot of people still think it’s unsafe, which isn’t the case at all. Over the last decade, the entire continent certainly got safer.

And I know, because I have traveled to nine different South American countries. I have to say that South America is my favorite continent to visit. That is why I will share some of the safest cities in South America, according to the Global Peace Index (GPI) , and what fun things you can do when you’re in the city.

Table of Contents

1. Montevideo, Uruguay

Plaza De Toros In Colonia Del Sacramento Uruguay

Uruguay is the safest country in South America. Montevideo , its capital, is extremely calm and peaceful. It’s one of the safest cities in Latin America, which makes it great if you’re traveling solo, with your family, or just want to have a calm vacation.

So, do you plan to visit Uruguay? I can highly recommend you start in Montevideo, that’s also what we did. It’s fun to have a walking tour around the city and see the beautiful landmarks, like the Solis Theatre and the Metropolitan Cathedral.

Don’t worry, the only thing risky here is falling in love with the local food. They have high-quality steaks and you can’t go wrong pairing them with Tannat wine.

If you like history, don’t skip the National Museum of Visual Arts. Head to Pocitos Beach for some relaxation, which is where many local go to because it’s close to the city center.

What are some things to do in Montevideo?:

  • Explore Plaza Independencia
  • Have lunch or dinner at Mercado del Puerto
  • Take photos of the historical Salvo Palace

2. Santiago, Chile

Human Rights Memory Museum In Santiago Chile

If you find yourself in Chile, chances are you arrive at Santiago , Chile’s capital. You won’t think that Santiago has a population of over seven million. Why? In contrast to many other cities, it has clean public areas, reliable public transportation (which I love), and active police.

So relax. It’s a great city to walk around in. When your legs get tired, just take the metro. We took the metro the entire duration of our stay, and it’s a really easy way to get around. Explore areas like the Plaza de Armas, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Palacio de La Moneda.

Some Best Things To Do in Santiago:

  • Visit the Plaza de Armas
  • Explore the Cerro San Cristobal
  • Visit the Mercado Central for the freshest foods

3. Punta Arenas, Chile

Imperial Cormorant Seabirds On Abandoned Pier In Punta Arenas Chile Stock

Punta Arenas is located in Chile’s southernmost region of Magallanes and Antartica Chilena. Punta Arenas is generally safe for visitors, with petty theft being the main issue. So, keep an eye on your expensive belongings like your phone and camera gear. I haven’t heard about anyone being robbed or pickpocketed in Punta Arenas, so I’d recommend you mostly keep an eye on the breathtaking scenery.

For those who want to explore Patagonia , Punta Arenas is a great place to start. The city has several attractions like Plaza Muñoz Gamero, Palacio Sara Braun, and the Museo Regional de Magallanes.

The biggest attraction is the penguins, which you can see closely. I do recommend you book early because, in the high season, tours fill up quickly. We didn’t have time to wait for the next available tour when we visited, and the penguins was one of the main reasons we want, so I tell everyone who wants to listen about that.

And don’t forget to visit the nearby Torres del Paine National Park. It has stunning scenery and one of the best hiking trails in the world: the famous W-Trek . Just be warned: the views are so beautiful, they might take your breath away (literally, it’s a lot of hiking).

Punta Arenas also has for its delicious seafood, because it’s literally next to the sea. It’s specialty is king crab, which is very local and fresh. If you’re into seafood, I can highly recommend it.

Best Things To Do in Punta Arenas:

  • Visit the Nao Victoria Museum
  • Walk around Plaza Muñoz Gamero
  • Explore the Parque del Estrecho de Magallanes

4. Mendoza, Argentina

In Argentina’s stunning wine country, you’ll find Mendoza. Surrounded by the Andes Mountains, it has a very friendly vibe. When I visited, I was really surprised at how green it was. There were so many pretty parks to sit down in or historic plazas to explore.

From Mendoza, you can visit famous vineyards by bike or even by bus. It’s a lot of fun biking around from vineyard to vineyard. I do have to warn you, when it’s 95°F (35°C) out, do drink a lot of water as well. Or you’ll have a terrible headache.

Mendoza focuses on community safety, which keeps it safe and makes sure visitors have a pleasant time. Mendoza does have minor crimes like fraud and burglary, but luckily, few serious crimes like murders and kidnappings. Stay alert and take basic precautions, and you can enjoy Mendoza safely.

It’s the perfect place to enjoy outdoor fun. Go on a hike, horseback riding, or raft on the Mendoza River. Plus, the city has an amazing cultural scene, with festivals and art shows.

Best Things To Do in Mendoza:

  • Take a bike tour of the wineries
  • Visit Plaza Independencia and the city center of Mendoza
  • Go on a luxury wine tour with lunch

5. Arequipa, Peru 

Arequipa Cathedral In Plaza De Armas During Sunset Peru Stock

Arequipa , called “The White City,” is in the desert of Peru. It’s the second-largest city in the country after Lima. The city is safe and is known for its beautiful buildings, tasty local food, and great natural views. Kick off your visit at Plaza de Armas and sample all the local dishes—your taste buds will be too busy to worry about anything else.

Even though Arequipa is one of the safest cities in South America , you should still watch out for common crimes to stay safe. Pickpocketing is common in crowded tourist spots, so keep a close eye on your stuff.

Another issue is fake taxi drivers who scam tourists. To avoid this, use only registered taxis or those arranged by your hotel or restaurant.

Best Things To Do in Arequipa:

  • Visit the Monastery of Santa Catalina
  • Explore the Colca Canyon
  • Walk around the Plaza de Armas

6. Florianopolis, Brazil

Florianopolis, Brazil , is known as one of the safest cities in South America, making it a great choice for travelers looking for a secure and fun experience.

Located on the beautiful island of Santa Catarina, this lively city offers a mix of amazing beaches, lush nature, and a busy urban area, all in a safe and welcoming setting. Think of it as the city that really wants to be your friend.

Florianopolis takes public safety seriously, so you can enjoy its clean beaches , like Joaquina and Campeche, and dive into water sports without a care. Its well-maintained parks and nature reserves, such as Lagoa do Peri and Costa da Lagoa, provide peaceful getaways in nature.

Typical Colonial House In Santo Antônio de Lisboa Village In Florianopolis Santa Catarina Brazil

Watch out for common crimes like pickpocketing in crowded areas and use registered taxis to avoid scams. Women can feel safe during the day, but it’s a good idea to have company at night, especially at beaches and bars.

By staying alert, visitors can fully enjoy the beauty of Florianopolis, from its stunning beaches to its delicious Brazilian food.

Best Things To Do in Florianopolis:

  • Go surfing with a qualified instructor
  • Take a boat ride to Ilha do Campeche
  • Go sandboarding at Dunas de Joaquina

7. Cuenca, Ecuador 

Cuenca is a great place to visit and the safest city for expats in South America. With only 660,000 residents, it feels less crowded for tourists—so you won’t have to elbow your way through a sea of selfie sticks!

The city has low crime and focuses on keeping people safe, so visitors can easily explore its cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and rich culture.

The friendly and welcoming locals make Cuenca even more appealing. You can roam museums, marvel at beautiful cathedrals, and munch on local goodies at bustling markets, all worry-free.

Ingapirca Inca Ruins In Ecuador Stock

Just a heads-up: while Cuenca is generally safe , it’s smart to avoid strolling alone at night in dark or empty spots. Stick to well-lit, busy areas, or grab a taxi if you need to. Safety first, adventure second!

Best Things To Do in Cuenca:

  • Walking tour through the Historic Center
  • Visit the Pumapungo Museum & Ruins
  • Explore El Cajas National Park

8. Sucre, Bolivia

Sucre, Bolivia, is known as one of the safest cities in South America, making it a great place for travelers. It’s got less petty crime and it’s smaller and easier to navigate than the big cities, which makes it feel even safer.

Although travelers should still be careful of certain crimes like property theft and occasional assaults, following basic safety tips will help ensure a pleasant and worry-free visit.

Sucre, with its important history, rich culture, and nice weather, keeps drawing visitors who want a safe and interesting trip in Bolivia.

Best Things To Do in Sucre:

  • Visit the Museo del Tesoro
  • Admire the view from Recoleta
  • Explore Plaza 25 de Mayo

9. Cordoba, Argentina 

Cordoba is Argentina’s second-biggest city and one of the safest in South America, making it great for travelers. It has a mix of old and new with lots of history and culture.

Visitors can safely explore its colonial buildings, interesting museums, and pretty plazas. The locals are super friendly, and the city’s safety measures make sure tourists feel welcome and have a great time.

Although small crimes like pickpocketing can happen in busy places, staying alert and keeping your things safe will help you enjoy the city fully.

Best Things To Do in Cordoba:

  • Cordoba city tour
  • Visit the Museo de la Memoria
  • Try empanadas and locro

10. Bucaramanga, Colombia 

Bucaramanga is another Colombian city that has greatly improved over the last ten years. It has very low levels of violent crime, and you’re much less likely to get robbed here than in Bogota .

When it comes to picking a place to stay, you can’t go wrong with the popular Nuevo Sotomayor area. Just remember, when night falls, grab a taxi or an Uber to get around. And keep a close eye on your phone and valuables.

Located in the beautiful Andes Mountains, this lively city offers a mix of city life and natural beauty in a safe setting. Visitors can enjoy its lovely parks, historic plazas, and cultural sights without worry.

With friendly locals and great safety measures, Bucaramanga is a welcoming spot, making sure your visit to this city is safe and fun.

Best Things To Do in Bucaramanga:

  • Visit Parque Nacional de Chicamocha
  • Visit La Casa del Libro Total
  • A day trip to the Heritage Town of Girón

11. Cusco, Peru

Cusco is one of the safest cities in South America, making it a great destination for travelers looking for a secure and memorable experience.

As the gateway to Machu Picchu, Cusco combines rich culture with beautiful scenery in a safe and welcoming setting. Visitors can enjoy its well-preserved Inca ruins, cobblestone streets, and lively markets without worry.

Cusco’s friendly people and good safety measures create a welcoming atmosphere, ensuring a stress-free stay in this Peruvian city.

While generally safe, be aware of street crime in certain areas like Bélen, Puente Santiago, and the Santiago district. Don’t leave valuables unattended and stay alert in busy tourist spots. Enjoy Cusco’s attractions with caution for a worry-free visit.

Best Things To Do in Cusco:

  • Explore the San Blas district
  • Hike the Inca trail
  • Try the Peruvian cooking class

12. Medellin, Colombia

Beautiful gothic medieval Castle Museum in Medellin, Colombia — Stock Photo

In the past twenty years, Medellin has changed from a city known for drugs to a popular tourist spot. While some crime still exists, it’s now safe enough to enjoy your visit .

The city has a metro cable system that makes getting around fun and adventurous. The cable cars also offer great views and photo opportunities of the area.

When in Medellin, be sure to visit Comuna 13 and try the street food there. For a day trip, I highly recommend going to Guatape . You can either climb the Piedra de Peñol rock or explore the town of Guatape .

Best Things To Do in Medellin:

  • Visit Comuna 13 and See the Street Art
  • Ride The Metrocable
  • Visit Museum Pablo Escobar

13. Asunción, Paraguay 

Asunción , the capital of Paraguay, is a safe and welcoming city, making it one of the safest places in South America. Located by the Paraguay River, this city combines modern and traditional elements.

With lower crime rates than many other South American cities, Asunción gives both residents and visitors a sense of security and peace.

To stay safe, keep your belongings, including your passport and travel documents, secure. Avoid walking alone after dark and stay away from isolated or poorly lit areas at night.

Best Things To Do in Asunción:

  • Discover birds and enjoy nature
  • Embrace history at Casa de la Independencia
  • Explore La Costanera

14. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina , is one of South America’s biggest cities, with over 15 million residents.

The city is known for its vibrant nightlife, beautiful architecture, and delicious food . Don’t miss trying asado and parrilla, some of the best meat dishes in the world.

While Buenos Aires is generally safe during the day, it’s less so at night. Violent crime is rare, but petty crime is common after dark. To stay safe at night, take taxis instead of walking. It’s also important to research the safest neighborhoods in Buenos Aires before you visit.

Best Things To Do in Buenos Aires:

  • Visit Recoleta Cemetery
  • Explore Palermo
  • Take a Tango Lesson

Traveling in South America 

Traveling in countries like Argentina , Chile, Brazil, and Uruguay is easy. The bus services there are excellent. Some of the best bus companies are Cruz del Sur (Peru), Pullman (Chile), Flechabus (Argentina), Util (Brazil), and Andesmar (Argentina).

Flying can be pricey, so many tourists rent cars instead. The roads in South America are generally in good shape. Just watch out for the more remote areas—they can be tricky to get to.

5 Expert Tips for Safe Travel in South American Cities

Here are six expert tips to travel safely in South American cities.

  • Tourist spots are full of pickpockets, so keep your stuff safe in a backpack.
  • When shopping at markets or on the streets, never accept the first price. Always try to haggle for a better deal.
  • Stay in crowds and try to blend in with locals, especially at night.
  • If you get mugged, don’t fight back. Your safety is more important than your belongings.
  • Carry only as much cash as you need.
  • Protect yourself with travel insurance like SafetyWing . It covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and other unexpected events.

Use the widget below to find the perfect policy for your needs and travel worry-free, knowing you’ve got yourself covered for any adventure!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Safest Cities in South America 

What is the safest city in south america.

Montevideo, Uruguay, is often called the safest city in South America. The Global Peace Index backs this up. Montevideo has lovely beaches, great food, and a mix of old and new buildings, all in a relaxed atmosphere.

What Is the Safest Place To Live in South America?

Some South American countries and cities are safer than others. Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina are generally seen as safer places to live.

Uruguay  is known for low crime rates and political stability. Chile  has safe cities like Santiago and Punta Arenas. Argentina  has become safer in recent years, with cities like Buenos Aires and Mendoza improving in safety.

What Is the Safest Country in South America To Visit?

Uruguay ranks high on the Global Peace Index, making it the safest country in South America to visit. It has low crime rates, a stable democracy, and a high standard of living.

Is Chile or Argentina Safer?

The Global Peace Index ranks Chile at 55 out of 163 and Argentina at 69. Both are considered relatively safe compared to other South American countries, but Chile has a slight edge in safety.

Conclusion – Safest Cities in South America

Common sense is your best buddy for avoiding trouble when you’re in a new city. Knowing the local safety tips comes next. So, do your homework and don’t forget to pack your street smarts for your South American adventure!

Want To Travel to South America? Tips & Tricks to Book Your Trip

Find Your Flights

When it comes to booking flights, Skyscanner has always been my trusted source. It’s like the secret weapon for finding those hard-to-get flight deals that will help you save hundreds of dollars on your travels.

Secure Your Accommodation

For the best deals on guesthouses and hotels, Booking.com is your reliable partner. It consistently offers the lowest rates, ensuring you get the most value for your money.

Don’t Skip Travel Insurance

I don’t travel anywhere without travel insurance. Travel insurance protects you in case of cancellations, theft, injury, and illness. It helps you if anything goes wrong on your travel. I’ve had to use it many times in the past, and it truly makes stressful situations more manageable.

My favorite company that offers the best service is SafetyWing . SafetyWing is travel insurance that fits people who travel regularly and want peace of mind.

Plan Your Adventures

GetYourGuide is your ultimate resource for curated travel tips and activities tailored to your interests. Everything you need, from exciting walking tours to thrilling excursions and skip-the-line tickets, is at your fingertips.

Ready To Travel The World?

Check out my travel resources page for top travel companies I personally trust. These industry-leading platforms are tested and proven to ensure a seamless travel experience. Rely on these top-notch services to enhance your journey wherever you go.

Related Reads:

  • Is Colombia Safe for Tourists? 10 Safest Cities To Travel
  • Is Argentina Safe? 3 Safest Places To Travel This Year

Marjolein Dilven

Founder of Spark Nomad, Radical FIRE, Copywriter

Expertise: Personal finance and travel content. I’m a full-time traveler, and I’ve been to 49 countries and 5 continents. Education: Bachelor of Economics at Radboud University, Master in Finance at Radboud University, Minor in Economics at Chapman University. Over 200 articles, essays, and short stories published across the web.

Marjolein Dilven is a journalist and founder of Spark Nomad, a travel platform, and Radical FIRE, a personal finance platform. Marjolein has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. She has quit her job to travel the world, documenting her travels on Spark Nomad to help people plan their travels. Marjolein Dilven has written for publications like MSN, Associated Press, CNBC, Town News syndicate, and more.

6 Safe South American Countries and Tips for Your Trip

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Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina

For travelers eager to explore the diversity of nature and culture, South America is safe to visit, and we highlight the countries to travel to on vacation and tips to consider for your trip.

From Argentina to the Galapagos Islands, travelers can confidently discover the continent’s diverse regions and cultural hubs with an understanding of what makes it alluring.

In this guide, we discuss some of the safest South American countries for your trip. We also share safety tips and information on how a travel expert can help you discover the continent according to your preferences.

2. Argentina

4. ecuador & the galapagos islands, 6. colombia, safety tips for traveling in south america, discover safely with the help of a south america travel expert.

Metropolitan park cable car in Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile

Ranking as one of the safest countries in South America and the world, Chile remains a favorite travel destination for its epic scenery and cultural diversity.

It is a colorful country full of captivating outdoor activities, cultural cities, and coastal sanctuaries. Breathtaking beaches and glamorous cities line Chile’s Pacific coast, glacial national parks paint Chilean Patagonia’s landscape, and Mars-like mountains rise and fall amongst the sweeping sands of the Atacama Desert.

Natural disasters do occur in Chile from time to time. However, your travel specialist can arrange an itinerary to the safest places in the country during the best time to visit for specific experiences.

Safest Places to Visit in Chile: Santiago • Torres del Paine National Park • Chiloe Island • Pucon • Atacama Desert • Easter Island

Learn more: Best Places to Visit in Chile • Chile Travel Guide

Expert Tips for Discerning Travelers

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil

Argentina is a popular travel destination and a safe country to visit. Violent crime rates are low, locals are friendly, and remote areas are easily accessible.

Many flock to Argentina to explore the vibrant capital of Buenos Aires. The city is alive with culture and you can visit historic landmarks, tuck into authentic asado , and twirl with tango performers. As Buenos Aires is busy, pickpocketing and petty crime are possible. For this reason, a short stay in the capital is often followed by trips to Mendoza, Cordoba, and other gateways to Argentina’s picturesque countryside and Argentine Patagonia.

Traveling to Argentina’s remote regions and national parks with guides is safe, as these places are tranquil, welcoming, and fit with exquisite accommodations.

Safest Places to Visit in Argentina: Buenos Aires • Glaciers National Park • Iguazu Falls • Mendoza • Córdoba • Ushuaia

Learn more: Best Places to Visit in Argentina • Argentina Travel Guide

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Spend time immersing yourself in mysterious Peruvian culture on tours to this remarkable and safe destination.

Peru is a magical place to visit, with postcard-perfect landscapes, ancient cultural customs and traditions to uncover, and an adventurous culinary scene to experience. With rare incidents of crime in Peru’s major cities affecting travelers, you can move freely, but with vigilance, during your travels with knowledgeable guides.

You can spend your time exploring Peru’s most magnificent places, such as the Incan marvel of Machu Picchu and the diverse Amazon Rainforest. Traveling with Peruvian experts to warm and welcoming villages, you should experience great hospitality and safety.

Safest Places to Visit in Peru: Machu Picchu • Iquitos • Arequipa • Colca Canyon • Lima • Chachapoyas

Learn more: Best Places to Visit in Peru • Peru Travel Guide

Bartolomé Island in the Galapagos, Ecuador

Bartolomé Island in the Galapagos, Ecuador

Many parts of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands are completely safe. The small but scenic country and its surrounding islands are a dream to discover, with guides who take you on tours to its safest areas.

You should proceed with caution through busy cities as petty crime is possible. However, you will likely spend your vacation in quiet villages full of cultural charm and friendly locals. You will also cross the sparkling seas to lavish multiple-star accommodations overlooking the brilliant blue water. These coastal retreats are exceptionally safe and expert guides lead experiences on breathtaking beaches, in scuba-diving destinations, and magnificent forests.

There are far fewer risks in the southern cities, quiet Ecuador communities, and on the islands, making your experience safe.

Safest Places to Visit in Ecuador & Galapagos Islands: Galapagos Islands • Montañita • Cuenca • Quito • Chocó Cloud Forest • Archidona • Puerto Ayora

Learn more: Best Places to Visit in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands • Galapagos Islands and Ecuador Travel Guide

Pelourinho, the historic center of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil

Salvador, Brazil

Tourism booms in Brazil and visitors enjoy the best places to visit across the country on tours that are safe.

Brazil’s most popular cities attract visitors from all over, eager to explore landmarks and landscapes, among them the Christ the Redeemer statue and bustling beaches. From contemporary museums in Rio to the Amazon Rainforest, you can experience the best of the country on tours with expert guides. Though petty crime and theft occur in the busier parts of Brazil, you can remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings to keep safe during your travels.

Despite its reputation among some travelers, you can travel to Brazil with confidence when following the guidance of your travel guides and taking basic safety precautions into consideration. This is the best way to experience Brazil’s unending beauty and friendly culture.

Safest Places to Visit in Brazil: Salvador • Aracaju • Vitória da Conquista • Maceió • Feira de Santana • Belem

Learn more: Best Places to Visit in Brazil • Brazil Travel Guide

Salento, Colombia

Salento, Colombia

Colombia is a safe country to travel to as tours can take you to modern cities, remote islands, and beautiful countryside, where crime rates are relatively low.

As you explore this exciting country and its many culturally dazzling cityscapes or breathtaking beaches, you can feel comfortable and confident with knowledgeable local guides. With an understanding of the safest places to visit and specific areas to avoid, you can enjoy the pleasures of travel without worrying.

It is advisable to take precautions in busy cities as petty crime, although rare, is possible. However, keeping your personal belongings concealed and your wits about you should help you avoid any risks. Contrary to an outdated reputation, Colombia is far more secure than most travelers perceive.

Safest Places to Visit in Colombia: Salento • Guatape • Cartagena • Palomino • Tayrona National Park • Villa de Leyva • Minca • Medellin

Learn more: Best Places to Visit in Colombia • Colombia Travel Guide

Woman admiring stunning landscape of Moon Valley in Atacama Desert, Chile

Moon Valley in the Atacama Desert, Chile

South America is vast and each country possesses remarkably different terrain and culture for unique experiences that cross regions and borders.

Travelers can stay safe on tours by remaining vigilant, following the guidance of tour guides, and protecting their trip with travel insurance. Below, we discuss some of the most common strategies with which to travel the continent safely.

1. Research Your Chosen Country

Once you have decided on your destination, conduct additional research. You can gain valuable insight into your chosen country by cross-referencing safety information.

This resource highlights the safest countries to visit and the safest places to visit in those countries. Additional research will shed light on the country’s current affairs, economic situation, and political unrest.

Learn more: South America Travel Guide

2. Select Appropriate Transportation

You can enjoy safe trips in South America by selecting appropriate modes of transportation for your adventure. Some options are more reliable than others in terms of safety and logistics. For example, we recommend booking private transfers to remote regions and tours through the cities.

We do not recommend renting a vehicle in South America. It is safer and less stressful to travel with private transfers and guides. Your experienced driver and guide are familiar with the best routes, road conditions, and potential hazards or risks.

3. Be Mindful of Your Personal Belongings

Although rarely affecting visitors, petty crime is possible in busy cities and crowded areas. As with any international vacation, you should remain vigilant and be mindful of your surroundings and belongings while in South America.

You should stow your valuable items safely in a backpack or hidden travel bag attached to your person. You should also follow the guidance of your travel expert in handling your baggage in and out of transfers when applicable. Often, guides will advise that you only bring essentials on tours and do not carry excess money with you.

All of these tips are to keep travelers safe, regardless of crime rates and potential risks. You should adhere to these general recommendations wherever you are in the world.

4. Note Emergency Information Beforehand

You should have a comprehensive list of emergency information before you depart for South America. Ambulance contact information in the areas you visit, contact details for your travel guides, and the nearest public place to your location are important things to know when you travel.

You can research this information before your journey or chat with our Travel Care team for all the relevant emergency information for South America. As you plan your trip, they will provide updated emergency information to give you peace of mind.

5. Carry Travel Documentation with You

You should always carry hard copies and have digital records of your travel documentation when visiting South America. When traveling internationally, situations may arise where government officials, hotel administrators, tour operators, and others require proof of travel documentation.

Having a digital version of necessary documents makes these kinds of checks easy. Having hard copies is beneficial in rural areas without modern technological infrastructure. Possessing a combination of both can greatly reduce the impact of stressful situations when visiting South America.

The types of travel documentation or information you should have copies of include:

  • Personal medical information
  • Pertinent information regarding any condition(s) from your doctor, especially any medication you are taking
  • Emergency contact information
  • Visa, if necessary
  • Proof of airline tickets and reservations
  • Customs forms and documents
  • Hotel or accommodation reservations
  • Travel and medical insurance

You can stow printed documents in your luggage or a backpack when traveling in and across South America, while keeping digital versions readily available on your mobile device.

6. Cover Your Trip with Travel Insurance

It is paramount that you book travel insurance for the duration of your trip. The best is tailored to your vacation and will protect you in the event of an emergency.

These policies will cover the costs of cancellations, provide financial protection against emergency medical situations, enable booking flexibility during your trip, and mitigate travel risks as a result of global disasters.

Learn more: Zicasso Travel Insurance with Arch RoamRight

Moai statues on Easter Island, Chile

Easter Island, Chile

Zicasso travelers visiting South America can have their questions answered by a travel expert. With unmatched knowledge of safety in the region and its safest countries, they can elaborate further on the information in this resource.

Our South America Travel Care team will help you plan a safe journey. Your designated expert is available from the moment you contact our team or submit a trip request, and even after you have arrived home. You can contact them at any time for further information, safety insight, and on-the-fly changes to your itinerary. Find inspiration for where to travel with our South America tours and vacations featured itineraries or explore our best countries to visit in South America .

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Is South America safe? Everything you need to know

Is South America safe? If you are planning your next trip and you’re considering visiting South America, here is a list of 10 travel safety tips to keep safe!

Let’s start with the most common question:

Is South America safe?

Latin America always tends to drop under the “cons” column when making that “where to next” decision regarding safety; and although the Safety weight should always be high when it comes to travelling, violence and danger are generally overrated in certain countries.

We won’t lie or sugar coat, crime levels in Latin American countries are higher than what we’re probably used to, but that should never be an impediment to travel. One should, however, be aware that special safety measures and precautions should be taken.

The people, history, culture and nature in these countries have been some of the most inspiring and soul-filling we’ve been to and we wouldn’t want you to miss out on the opportunity to live this experience out of fear.

We’d even risk guaranteeing your integrity, phone, money and passport will all be safe if you follow these 10 very easy safety tips and recommendations that we’ve strictly followed ourselves when travelling in South America.

Guest post by @teresaribas

South America: 10 Travel Safety Tips

1 – prevention.

Prevent, prevent, prevent. Prevention is the best investment.

You should see prevention as something extra to pack in your backpack, not as a burden. Do your homework, learn how to get from A to B before you go.

Understand the safety measures you so should take in each specific country and write down emergency contacts, just in case. Preventing will always be better than having a bad experience that could ruin your trip.

is South America safe?

2 – Avoid walking around at night

“The night is dark and full of terrors”.

Avoid walking around at night, especially in lonely streets and big cities. It’s not like vampires jump out as soon as the sun goes down, but maybe those late night strolls in the park should probably be avoided.

There is another very important thing to keep in mind: always avoid public transport at night, it’s better to spend a couple euros/dollars extra on a taxi (or Uber) than to lose all your belongings and get your trip ruined from one single bad experience.

 Safety tips for Mexico and South America

3 – Always be up to date on local news

Given the majority of these countries are historically politically unstable; geographically located where there is always (even if just a slight) risk of natural disasters and socially restless; you should always pay attention to local news before and during your trip.

Things here can change very quickly and you should always be able to adapt your plan to these unexpected and unpredictable situations when travelling in South America.

4 – Ask the locals

Always ask and follow local recommendations.

This is one of the most important travel safety tips in South America, and also the one that has helped us the most. Ask locals for their opinions on your plans.

Note: Do this only when they have no interest in selling you anything, don’t blindly trust anyone who tries to take you to a bus when you get into a station or show you the way, or give you a “free sample” of something, have criteria and know who to trust.

Some people here live off commissions to attract tourists, so you might get ripped off.

Obviously, that’s not always the case and you’ll meet a lot of locals who earn nothing from your existence, who can help you understand if a neighbourhood should be avoided, if there’s any unsafe region for whatever reasons or if you should get Ubers instead of Taxis or Taxis instead of Ubers.

Strictly follow their recommendations once you ask for their tips, most people here don’t want you as a tourist to be hurt, that would negatively affect business and economy in places that live off visitors.

Safety tips for Villade Leyva, Colombia

5 – Keep a low profile

This is not just a Latin America recommendation, and you’ve probably read this off every travel guide, but avoid taking your best jewellery and sneakers out for a walk.

You’ll stand out and that’s something you don’t want, especially if criminals are around, they’ll go for the people who look like they have something valuable (even if they don’t).

Know where to take your fancy camera and/or phone out, understand that sometimes it’s better to lose that story opportunity, instead of losing your phone.

6 – Protect your belongings

At. All. Times.

Keep an eye on them, one tiny distraction and you can lose them all.

Scatter your money, don’t carry it all in one place; don’t put your phone in your pant’s back pocket, or your wallet for that matter.

Grab on to your backpack in crowded places and watch out for your stuff in public transport.

safe travel in south america

7 – Look confident

Look like you know where you’re going (even if you don’t).

In fact, one of the best ways to avoid problems is to look confident. Don’t walk around looking at your phone or your maps, don’t look lost, people might take advantage of that.

Look for a shop whenever you feel lost, whether it’s a business, a restaurant, and ask for directions.

8 – Follow your gut

Be smart, follow your gut.

Many times, while looking for the museum, the park, the street, you’ll go through some dodgy streets.

Turn around. Always turn around if something feels weird.

Take a different path, walk down a different street, chances are your bad gut feeling is actually real.

Big cities can be tricky, and big cities one is not familiar with can be hell, keep yourself safe and follow your gut every time that one street, that one person, that one taxi, that one bus looks bad.

safe travel in south america

9 – Learn Spanish basics

You don’t have to be Gabriel Garcia Marquez to travel through Latin America, but knowing some basics can get you out of some frustrating situations.

The English level in some countries is surprisingly low and, although miming sometimes does the trick, it won’t if you need something more complicated like “I need something to help with sandflea bite itching” (which you’ll need.. I’d bet you on that).

Learn the basics, it will help.

10 – Beware of Tinder traps

That’s right, dating.

Something that has become rather common in some countries is trapping tourists through tinder or dating websites. We’ve heard some stories first hand, and they are not pleasant.

Again, be smart, learn who and who not to trust, protect your belongings and follow your gut.

safe travel in south america

As a conclusion, I’d like to invite you to not obsess over safety in these countries. If you take care, prevent, prepare and take some precautions to avoid finding yourself in a complicated situation, you’ll be able to enjoy an inspiring, enriching and soulful experience.

Just like you would anywhere else, understand you’re a visitor, and you should adapt to the local culture and habits, not the other way around – respect the people around you, be polite and thankful, and don’t do anything a local wouldn’t.

Don’t get yourself in trouble, needless to say, you should avoid getting in the drug or prostitution scenes and accept the cultural differences.

Enjoy, there’s so much to learn & see!

safe travel in south america

Author Bio:

Native Portuguese, bilingual in English, trilingual in Spanish. I speak Catalan when people promise not to laugh, I’ll understand Italian or French. I still believe I should’ve listened to my mother when she told me to learn Mandarin.

Born in Oporto, Portugal, lived in Italy and England before settling for Barcelona, Spain. Where I lived for the past 9 years before quitting my job as a corporate branding consultant and leaving my house, my life and my friends to follow one of my biggest dreams: to travel the world indefinitely.

Not a blogger, I share all my trips and tips on my travel diary at @teresaribas

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Expect a record-breaking number of travelers on Fourth of July week: How to avoid traffic

safe travel in south america

  • An estimated 70.9 million people will travel for the Fourth of July holiday, a record-breaking number.
  • The most popular domestic destinations are Seattle, Orlando, Anchorage, Honolulu and Miami.
  • The worst times to drive for 4th of July week are July 3 and 4 between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Get more news like this delivered to your inbox by signing up for our Travel newsletter here .

If you’re one of the projected record-breaking 70.9 million travelers going on a Fourth of July trip, get ready to pack some patience. 

“With summer vacations in full swing and the flexibility of remote work, more Americans are taking extended trips around Independence Day,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, in a statement. “We anticipate this July 4 week will be the busiest ever with an additional 5.7 million people traveling compared to 2019.”

Whether you’re going by airplane or car, traveler numbers are hitting historic highs. An estimated 5.74 million people will fly to their Independence Day destination, a 7% increase from 2023. (We can thank domestic airfare being slightly cheaper this year for that.)

This year, 2.8 million more people will travel by car than last year, for a total of 60.6 million travelers. According to AAA partner and rental car company Hertz, cities like Dallas, Los Angeles, Denver and San Francisco are showing the highest rental car demand. 

Learn more: Best travel insurance

Here’s everything you need to know about Fourth of July travel. 

Planning your summer trip? Where to go and how to save on summer vacations

What are the most popular destinations for Fourth of July week?

Many travelers are headed to the coast for their Independence Day trip, with states like Hawaii and Florida topping the list. With the best time for Alaskan cruises in full swing, cities like Seattle, Vancouver and Anchorage are popular among travelers. As expected, beloved European destinations like London and Rome earned spots on the list as well. 

Most popular domestic destinations:

  • Orlando, Florida
  • Anchorage, Alaska

Most popular international destinations:

  • Vancouver, British Columbia

What are the best times to drive for Fourth of July week?

As is typical with holiday travel, the early bird will catch the worm, which means encountering the least traffic. Drivers should depart on their Independence Day road trips before noon on July 3 and 4. To return home, drivers should leave before 11 a.m. on July 7 and after 7 p.m. on July 8. 

What are the worst times to drive for Fourth of July week?

“Drivers in large metro areas can expect the worst traffic delays on Wednesday, July 3, as they leave town, and Sunday, July 7, as they return,” Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, said in a statement. “Road trips over the holiday week could take up to 67% longer than normal.”

On July 3 and 4, drivers should avoid being on the road between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., when traffic will be most congested. On Friday, July 5, the worst traffic will be between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. 

On Saturday, July 5, the worst traffic for travelers returning home will be between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The worst traffic is expected July 7, so drivers should avoid the road between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. 

“Travelers should monitor 511 services, local news stations, and traffic apps for up-to-the-minute road conditions,” Pishue said.

Peak congestion times in major US cities

  • Worst route: Birmingham to Atlanta via I-20 E
  • Worst day: July 7
  • Worst time: 6:30 p.m. 
  • Estimated travel time: 3 hours, 36 minutes
  • 42% increased travel time
  • Worst route: Boston to Hyannis via Pilgrim Hwy S
  • Worst day: July 4
  • Worst time: 1:45 p.m.
  • Estimated travel time: 1 hour, 51 minutes
  • 31% increased travel time
  • Worst route: Fort Collins to Denver via I-25 S
  • Worst day: July 8
  • Worst time: 2:45 p.m. 
  • Estimated travel time: 1 hour, 37 minutes
  • 56% increased travel time
  • Worst route: San Antonio to Houston via I-10 E
  • Worst day: July 6
  • Worst time: 1:30 p.m. 
  • Estimated travel time: 3 hours, 48 minutes
  • 41% increased travel time

Los Angeles

  • Worst route: Bakersfield to Los Angeles via I-5 S
  • Worst time: 2:15 p.m. 
  • Estimated travel time: 1 hour, 47 minutes
  • 29% increased travel time
  • Worst route: Jersey Shore to New York via Garden State Pkwy N
  • Estimated travel time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
  • 40% increased travel time

San Francisco

  • Worst route: San Francisco to Monterey via Santa Cruz Hwy S
  • Worst day: July 2
  • Worst time: 5:45 p.m. 
  • Estimated travel time: 2 hours, 31 minutes
  • 19% increased travel time
  • Worst route: Ellensburg to Seattle via I-90 E
  • Worst time: 4:30 p.m. 
  • Estimated travel time: 2 hours, 19 minutes
  • 35% increased travel time

Washington, D.C.

  • Worst route: Baltimore to Washington via Balt/Wash Pkwy S
  • Worst time: 3:15 p.m. 
  • Estimated travel time: 1 hours, 1 minute
  • 67% increased travel time

Kathleen Wong is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Hawaii. You can reach her at [email protected] .

The Key Points at the top of this article were created with the assistance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and reviewed by a journalist before publication. No other parts of the article were generated using AI. Learn more .

safe travel in south america

Solo South America: What Should You Know About Traveling Alone In This Continent

  • South America offers stunning natural wonders, balmy temperatures, and plenty of hiking opportunities, making it an ideal destination for solo travelers.
  • Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay are among the top countries to visit for solo travel in South America, offering a mix of natural beauty, vibrant cities, and friendly backpacking communities.
  • While some countries can be trickier to navigate or require language skills, staying informed, enrolling in travel programs, and connecting with fellow travelers can help ensure a safe and rewarding solo trip in South America.

South America is one of the most fantastic continents in the world, with tons of gorgeous natural wonders , balmy temperatures, and plenty of hiking, especially closer to the South Pole.

This continent is one of the best places to retire and an excellent place to explore independently. Solo travelers can make the most of their South American adventure by considering these top tips. Here's what to know about solo travel in South America.

Solo Travel In South America: Which Countries To Visit (And Which To Avoid)

South America is a continent of extremes, from the dizzying height of the Andes to the balmy Caribbean beaches of Northern Colombia. Understanding where to go is one big piece of the puzzle.

One of the largest countries on the continent, Argentina is famous for its epic hiking, wine, and gorgeous cities. Top destinations include Iguazu Falls, Patagonia, and the Perito Moreno Glacier. It's also very safe, and the big cities offer a great backpacking community, so one can feel comfortable solo traveling there.

  • Solo Travel: Enthusiastic yes

Patagonia is a great bucket list destination full of stunning nature, unique animal life, and some of the best hiking in the world. Be prepared for changing temperatures, challenging hikes, and the most Instagrammable landscapes on the planet.

This landlocked country has much to offer, including access to the Amazon, salt flats, and beautiful towns right on Lake Titicaca. Don't miss the Salar de Uyuni, the gorgeous heights of La Paz, or the great hiking near Lake Titicaca, especially the Isla del Sol.

Although there's plenty to see, public transportation can be tricky to navigate and one needs Spanish to get around most places.

  • Solo Travel: Possibly if one speaks Spanish and doesn't mind navigating transportation concerns alone

The giant country of Brazil has plenty of things to do, especially if one is looking for a party. The fantastic capital of Rio de Janiero is a must-visit if one wants a big-city vibe, and Iguacu Falls and Copacabana are great places, too. Plus, there are plenty of spots to enjoy a remote vacation in Brazil .

  • Solo Travel: Yes if one is looking for a fun party, although one will want a little Portuguese to get around

The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most spectacular places on the planet, covering a vast 2,300,000 square miles . Visitors can kayak in the Amazon, enjoy outstanding hiking, and see animals one might never spot anywhere else.

Chile's skinny and scenic country stretches all the way toward Antarctica but also encompasses plenty of other climates. Hugging Argentina, it's a bounty of natural wonders. Santiago, Rapa Nui, and The Colchagua Valley are some hot spots to visit. Santiago is a great place to interact with the local backpacking community.

  • Solo Travel: Yes, but be careful hiking solo in the mountains as the landscape can get tricky

Related Link: Top 10 Things To Do In Chile's Lake District

Colombia is an excellent place to enjoy some great coffee, bask on the beaches, and enjoy lovely cities with great climates like Medellin.

Top spots include the stunning Tayrona National Park , Cartagena, and Eje Cafetero. There are tons of friendly hostels in Bogota and Medellin and solo travelers will likely find a backpacking community where they can tag along.

  • Solo Travel: Yes, this is one of the top places to meet fellow travelers on the continent

Ecuador is the gateway to the Galápagos, and it's a great place to visit if one is looking for a more tropical vibe. See the unique animals of the Galápagos, or visit Quito, a thriving city. There's also the Cotopaxi National Park if one is looking for some excellent hiking.

  • Solo Travel: Yes and no: the cities are great for solo traveling, but the major draws, like the Galápagos, are expensive to do alone

Guyana is a smaller country near Colombia with access to the balmy Atlantic Ocean. There's plenty to explore, including the Kanuku Mountains and the Iwokrama Forest. Georgetown, the capital city, is charming, with excellent hospitality and good food.

  • Solo Travel: Experienced solo backpackers will have fun, but it's less developed and tricker to get around especially if one doesn't speak Spanish

Beautiful Paraguay is near Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina, with some of the best architecture and history on the continent. The City of Asuncion is one of the top places to visit, and Cerro Corra National Park will give one a good feel for the natural wonders of this country. There are also plenty of ruins to explore.

  • Solo Travel: Yes, Paraguay's cities are very safe, especially for female-identifying travelers

Notable for Machu Picchu but also full of great small towns and tons of hiking , Peru is a rich and beautiful country in the Andes. Hikers will want to check out the Sacred Valley and the historic towns of Cuzco and Arequipa. Go a bit further south and enjoy Lake Titicaca, one of the most famous lakes in the world.

  • Solo Travel: Absolutely great for solo travel, especially because one can take bus trips around the country and the cities are full of vibrant hostels

The smallest country in South America, Suriname has a big personality and many things to explore. If one is looking for unspoiled nature, this is the spot to go with the Galibi Nature Reserve, Central Suriname Nature Reserve, and Brownsberg Nature Park.

  • Solo Travel: Possibly-- as long as one doesn't mind doing things along and can navigate through nature as Suriname is less developed than other countries with a smaller backpacker community

Staying in hostels throughout South America is a great way to save money, meet other people, and learn about hidden gems and cool new places to visit. They're also an excellent place to book group excursions.

This southeastern country sits near Brazil and Argentina, full of lovely historic cities and towns like Cabo Polonio and Colonia Del Sacramento. Uruguay is an excellent bet if one is looking for something a bit off the beaten path.

  • Solo Travel: Yes, Uruguay is a safe country and the cities are full of backpackers, hostels, and things to do

Venezuela encompasses the Amazon Rainforest, the stunning Angel Falls, and parts of the Andes. Caracas, the capital, is a lovely city with plenty of history.

  • Solo Travel: Generally yes, but at the moment, no because Venezuela is experiencing political insecurity at the moment

Venezuela is very unstable, and the U.S. State Department strongly advises against going there .

Top Safety Advice For Solo Travel In South America

One of the best ways one can protect oneself is by signing up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) , which gives travelers updates on any political or dangerous situations that might be happening in the country.

Enrolling in STEP is especially important for solo travelers because one can let the embassy know where you are staying.

While keeping an eye on whether the water is potable is a good idea no matter what, it's especially important if one is hiking or camping alone because getting sick solo could be dangerous.

Colombians have a phrase, "No Dar Papaya," which means not to put oneself in danger. Keeping vigilant about what's happening is the best way to stay safe in South America.

Related Link: 10 Most Beautiful National Parks In Brazil That Should Be On Your Travel Radar

Make The Most Of A Solo Trip Through South America

These tips will help one have the best vacation possible.

  • Check which places travelers need a visa before going
  • See the best of the country of choice by bus and meet fellow travelers at the same time
  • Stay in cities if one wants to meet a community and learn more about the "backpacker trail"
  • Join online communities to interact with other travelers on the same path
  • Do research ahead of time and enroll in STEP
  • Learn a few key Spanish or Portuguese phrases to get by to connect with the local community

Solo travel in South America can be exciting, enriching, and safe, if travelers know what to expect and how to prepare.

Solo South America: What Should You Know About Traveling Alone In This Continent

Beryl becomes 'extremely dangerous' Category 4 hurricane expected to bring life-threatening conditions to Caribbean

Hurricane Beryl has become an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm as it inches closer to the Windward Islands, bringing life-threatening winds and storm surge to the Caribbean, the National Hurricane Center said Sunday.

Beryl expanded its strength for two days, reaching Category 4 strength on a scale of 5 on Sunday before leveling off, the center said in a late-afternoon advisory.

With sustained winds of 130 mph, the storm was likely to be a destructive force through the early week as it aimed for a possible clash with Mexico's Yucatán peninsula around next weekend, according to the hurricane center.

"Fluctuations in strength are common in major hurricanes in conducive environments, and it is expected that Beryl will also fluctuate in strength for the next day or so," the center said in a separate forecast discussion. "There is high confidence that Beryl will remain an extremely dangerous hurricane through landfall in the Windward Islands."

Its center is expected to move across the Windward Islands early Monday, with hurricane conditions, including heavy rain, expected Sunday evening, the agency said.

A strengthening Tropical Storm Beryl on NOAA satellite on Saturday morning.

The Windward Islands include St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Martinique. As of Sunday night, Beryl was about 200 miles southeast of Barbados with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. It was moving northwest at around 18 mph.

A U.S. hurricane warning is in effect for Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Tobago, where hurricane conditions are possible starting early Monday.

The government of Barbados began opening emergency shelters Sunday evening and ordered all businesses to close by 7 p.m. The Barbados Water Authority asked residents to store potable water as it would shut down water lines across the island Sunday night as a precaution, according to a statement.

The Barbados government said the center of the hurricane would travel 75 to 80 miles south of Barbados sometime Monday morning.

Government forecasters said the hurricane could pulse with renewed strength as it passes beneath Barbados, with winds associated with the storm projected to reach near 145 mph.

Flash flooding and hurricane-force winds are likely, the government said. Barbados officials also warned of a low pressure system behind Beryl that could become a tropical depression and affect the country Wednesday if it continues apace.

A tropical storm warning is in effect for Martinique, and tropical storm watches are in effect for Dominica and Trinidad, which could all experience tropical storm conditions Sunday night.

“Potentially catastrophic wind damage is expected where the eyewall of Beryl moves through portions of the Windward Islands, with the highest risk of the core in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada,” the hurricane center said.

Life-threatening storm surges may raise water levels by 6 to 9 feet above normal tide levels in the hurricane watch areas and bring destructive waves to the coast.

Three to 6 inches of rain is possible across Barbados and the Windward Islands on Sunday into Monday, which may cause flooding in some areas. Up to 10 inches of rain is possible in some areas, especially in the Grenadines.

St. Lucia Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre announced a national shutdown as a result of the hurricane warning that will go into effect Sunday 8:30 p.m. local time. He did not say when it will be lifted. Schools will remain closed Monday, and “employers are expected to cooperate,” he said.

In a Facebook post, the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority asked the public to “remain indoors and away from glass windows once tropical hurricane-force winds affect the area.”

“All persons should avoid entering the ocean. Failure to comply with this request puts human lives at risk, including those of our first responders,” the board said. The board also encouraged tourists to contact their airlines to schedule flights home.

The Royal Saint Lucia Police Force has canceled all police leave in preparation for Beryl.

“All officers are requested to report to the nearest police station by 6:00 p.m. today, Sunday, June 30, 2024,” it s a id on Fa cebook .

In Grenada, a state of emergency will go into effect at 7 p.m. Sunday and remain for a week, “unless earlier revoked,” Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell said at a briefing.

The country’s National Disaster Management Agency encouraged the public to secure three days of nonperishable food and water as Beryl makes impact. Those in areas susceptible to storm surge were encouraged to move to one of the shelters opened across Grenada.

Mitchell warned the public that “this is not a drill.”

“We need to be calm, we need to pray, but most importantly we need to prepare,” Mitchell said.

All police leave has also been canceled in Grenada, and officers were asked to return to work, according to Mitchell.

safe travel in south america

Breaking news reporter

safe travel in south america

Dennis Romero is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital. 

IMAGES

  1. Safest Countries in South America

    safe travel in south america

  2. Safest countries in South America to visit: 6 places to travel stress

    safe travel in south america

  3. How to Travel Safely in South America (Without Missing Out)

    safe travel in south america

  4. Safe Travel in South America: The Expert 2024 Guide

    safe travel in south america

  5. Top 12 Safest Countries in South America & Latin America To Visit [2020

    safe travel in south america

  6. Safest countries in South America to visit: 6 places to travel stress

    safe travel in south america

VIDEO

  1. The Last Thing You Want To See In South America

  2. South America Travel Tips (it's live now!)

  3. 12 INSANELY CHEAP Destinations in South America

  4. 25 Best Places to Visit in South America

  5. Enjoy up to 75% off flights

  6. The most important travel safety video you'll ever watch

COMMENTS

  1. The Safest South American Countries [2024 Guide]

    1. Uruguay. Global Peace Index ranking: 50/163. Global Peace Index score: 1.798. The safest country in South America is Uruguay! Holding the accolade for another year running, Uruguay is also the second-safest country in Latin America as a whole, with only Costa Rica claiming a higher spot on the GPI.

  2. 13 Safest Countries in South America (Ranked by Safety Level)

    After learning the statistics of global safety indexes, peace ratings, and governmental travel advisories, we've prepared the rank of the safest countries for traveling in South America. 13. Venezuela. Venezuela is known as one of the most beautiful countries on the continent. Also, it has a really warm climate.

  3. Ranked: 10 Safest Countries In South America [2024 Update]

    2. Chile. Ranked 58th out of 163 countries on the Global Peace Index, Chile is consistently one of the safest countries in South America. With a stable democracy, strong (though unequal) economic development, and low crime statistics, Chile is a very safe destination for travelers.. As you should wherever you travel, make sure to practice common-sense safety when traveling, especially in cities.

  4. The 10 Safest South American Countries, Ranked (2024)

    1. Uruguay. Rank: 50/163 Government travel advisory: US State Department Sitting at the top of the pile of safest South American countries is Uruguay. According to the 2023 Global Peace Index, Uruguay ranks 50 th out of the world's 163 nations. Despite historically being one of the lesser-known South American countries on the tourism trail, this is now changing thanks to a growing awareness ...

  5. 8 Safest Countries in South America: Data Ranked (Travel Guide)

    Safety Score: 1.795 Worldwide Rank: 46 Population: 3,422,794 (2022) Capital City: Montevideo Tourists Per Year: 3,000,000 (2019); Uruguay is considered to be the safest country in South America.In fact, it's one of the top 50 safest countries in the world for 2022.

  6. The 11 Safest Cities for Travel in South America

    1. Montevideo, Uruguay. Government Travel Advisory: Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution ( US State Department) Country ranking in the 2023 Global Peace Index: 50. According to the Global Peace Index for 2023, Uruguay ranks top in South America for safety, so where better to start than its capital, Montevideo.

  7. Is It Safe to Travel to South America?

    South America is safe for solo travelers so long as they stick to low-risk areas and remain vigilant. Many of its cities and countries are popular tourist destinations with countless hostels frequented by the backpacker set. Solo travelers should stick to these areas— Bogota, Colombia; Jijoca de Jericoacoara, Brazil; Santiago de Chile, Chile ...

  8. Ranked: The Safest Countries in South America 2024 (+ Where To Avoid!)

    2 | ARGENTINA. Argentina takes the runner up spot on this list of South America safest countries 2024. It scored an average of 1.837 on the 2023 Global Peace Index, placing the nation 54th overall in the world. Argentina scores well in the categories of deaths from conflict, political terror, and displaced people.

  9. Is South America Safe to Visit in 2024? (& Safety Tips)

    UN data estimates that 30% of homicides and other violent incidents are tied to organized crime on the continent. That being said, crime rates in South America vary drastically from country to country and from city to city. The most dangerous city is Caracas, Venezuela, with a rating of 83.5 on Cost of Living's crime index.

  10. The Safest Countries in South America to Visit in 2024

    Chile is one of the safest destinations in South America, attracting visitors with its breath-taking views and access to the world's longest above-ground mountain range.But Chile actually has everything, from deserts to glacial lakes. While some might connect Chile with political unrest, it has a 1.87 on the Global Peace Index, making this country safe for tourists.

  11. Top 12 Safest South American Countries To Visit In 2024

    Here are the 12 safest South American countries ranked based on their GPI score. 1. Uruguay. Image Credit: demerzel21/Depositphotos. Uruguay stands out as one of the safest countries in South America and holds a commendable position on the global list of safest countries.

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    As of June 2023, the U.S. government has a Level 2 advisory for crime in urban areas. Uruguay also has good economic stability. It stands as one of South America's most economically developed countries, boasting a high standard of living and an impressively low level of corruption. 2. Chile.

  13. Safest Countries in South America: Avoiding Danger!

    The statistics say Chile is the safest country in South America by the way! Dan in Santa Teresa, Brazil. With its Spanish and indigenous elements and more than 6,000km of Pacific Ocean coastline it's surrounded by the Andes mountains. It is said to be one of the safest places to travel in South America.

  14. 3 Safest Countries in South America to Visit in 2024

    1. Uruguay, the safest South American country. ♦ Overall score of 1.80/5. Uruguay holds the title of the safest South American country, and it's not just about safety; it's a beautiful and fascinating place to explore. Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, ranks among the safest places to go in South America.

  15. Safest Country In South America & Latin America to Visit

    5) Ecuador. Due to its impressive police force, Ecuador is home to some of the safest cities in South America. The main thing to look out for when traveling to Ecuador is the tap water and food. The water is definitely not safe to drink, and food poisoning is, unfortunately, a fairly common occurrence.

  16. Safe Travel in South America: The Expert 2024 Guide

    Safe travel in South America is easier than you think. I hope I've proven how adventurous but safe travel in South America is a real possibility for female backpackers. If you're contemplating a solo trip, this list should prepare you for backpacking in South America and the fact that, yes it'll be an adventurous experience, but ...

  17. The 6 Safest Countries in South America To Visit

    The safest countries in South America are Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia and Peru. Check out why these are the best options. Traveling to South America has plenty of appeal to attract many types of tourists. The continent has at times had a questionable reputation, but continues to be a hub for both travelers and expats .

  18. 14 Safest Cities in South America For Worry Free Travel

    The roads in South America are generally in good shape. Just watch out for the more remote areas—they can be tricky to get to. 5 Expert Tips for Safe Travel in South American Cities. Here are six expert tips to travel safely in South American cities. Tourist spots are full of pickpockets, so keep your stuff safe in a backpack.

  19. The Safest Countries in South America

    With the exception of Ecuador and to a lesser degree Peru, countries in the south have a larger middle class, with less wealth disparity and historically lower crime rates. Ranked in accordance with the Global Peace Index South America's safest countries are Chile, Uruguay, Ecuador, Argentina, and Peru. There are many wonderful reasons to ...

  20. Is It Safe to Travel to South America?

    The truth is, that although travelers can find in South American countries everything from the jungle, ancient ruins, famous treks, glaciers, mountains, colonial townsto beaches when it comes to safety we are used to bundling up all those countries in one and considering South America as one large destination, which can be a mistake as those ...

  21. 6 Safe South American Countries and Tips for Your Trip

    6. Colombia. Safety Tips for Traveling in South America. Discover Safely with the Help of a South America Travel Expert. 1. Chile. Santiago, Chile. Ranking as one of the safest countries in South America and the world, Chile remains a favorite travel destination for its epic scenery and cultural diversity.

  22. These Are The Safest Countries In South America For ...

    Level 2 Destinations In South America. Bolivia. Brazil. Chile. Ecuador. Uruguay. Moving down to Level 3, one level short of a no-go zone, travel should be 'reconsidered'. That has been the case lately with Peru, where political instability has resulted in violent protests in recent months, including the storming of the largest international ...

  23. Is South America safe? Everything you need to know

    4 - Ask the locals. Always ask and follow local recommendations. This is one of the most important travel safety tips in South America, and also the one that has helped us the most. Ask locals for their opinions on your plans. Note: Do this only when they have no interest in selling you anything, don't blindly trust anyone who tries to take ...

  24. Move Over Argentina! This South American Country Is Just As Safe With

    Uruguay Is Safer Than Most South American Countries. Last but certainly not least, Uruguay is by no means the safest country in the world for tourism, but within its geopolitical context, it is relatively safe: when compared to neighboring Brazil, one of the riskiest countries to be a tourist in South America, crime levels are a significant 43% ...

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    Solo Travel In South America: Which Countries To Visit (And Which To Avoid) South America is a continent of extremes, from the dizzying height of the Andes to the balmy Caribbean beaches of ...

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