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Safe Places to Visit in South America


South America often gets a bad rap when it comes to perceptions of how safe it is. Just the mention of the continent can conjure up images of unstable political landscapes, and high levels of crime and violence. But while there are some parts of South America that are blighted by problems of this nature, the vast majority is perfectly safe to visit.

Make sure you follow basic travel safety measures like not wearing flashy clothes or jewelry, only carrying small amounts of cash on you, and avoiding secluded and poorly lit areas at night. And as with any destination, it always pays to take sensible precautions, research your destination, and make plans based on this information.

1. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Sometimes referred to as the Paris of South America, you’ll immediately notice that there’s a distinctly European vibe to Buenos Aires. The outdoor cafes, and Italian-, German-, and Spanish-influenced cuisine all offer a nod to the city’s history of European settlers.

Learn to tango in the home of the famous sensual dance, sample the delicious wine that the country has earned a burgeoning reputation for, and don’t miss out on asado (barbecue) at one of the bustling parrilla eateries. Restaurants here frequently don’t even open until 11 p.m. and clubs stay open until the sun comes up. This is a city that simply does not sleep.

Argentina has no travel warnings currently issued by the Department of State.

2. Medellin, Colombia

Formerly, Colombia was the battleground for some of the most violent and feared drugs lords the world has ever seen, including the likes of Pablo Escobar. However, Medellin has worked hard to clean up its reputation in recent years, with dramatic effects clearly evident.

Colombia’s third largest city has won numerous awards over the past decade in recognition of its innovations in contemporary urban design. It’s one of the trendiest vacation destinations in South America, with visitors arriving to check out the “City of Eternal Spring,” thanks to its year-round moderate temperature.

While Colombia has a level two travel advisory, Medellin is not mentioned as somewhere to be wary of.

3. Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Uruguay is often overshadowed by its larger and more popular neighbors, and is often seen as a day trip by visitors to Argentina. But it has its very own laid-back charm that’s well worth exploring, and Colonia del Sacramento is the ideal place to start.

This sleepy city is really one for fans of the quiet life, with its historical architecture, cobblestone streets, and small town feel. The perfectly preserved historic quarter is by far the biggest draw, with its mixture of Spanish and Portuguese colonial buildings making for a picturesque destination.

Crime is extremely rare here and travel advisory levels are currently at their lowest, with no warnings whatsoever.

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