Tango, hikes in the Amazon, and delicious wine. South America is a great place to visit but what is the safest country in South America to visit? And what about other safe countries to travel to?
For many people, South America can seem intimidating, particularly if you watch Narcos.
If you’re thinking twice about planning a trip here, we’re here to tell you that its not all drugs and cartels in this region.
If you’re looking for safe countries to travel to in South America, we’ve rounded up the top seven. Let’s get into it.
Note– With minimal violent crime and little to no threat of natural disasters, the most you’ll need to worry about is wanting to stay even longer than you planned.
Book hotels and hostels in advance, keep a record of where you’re staying and going if your phone runs out of battery while traveling.
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- All The Best Hikes In South America
- An Ultimate Guide To Surfing in South America
- Solo Female Travel Safety Tips
- Free Accommodation for Travellers
- Best Backpacker Insurance-The Ultimate Guide
1.Costa Rica (Global Peace Ranking: 32)
Sun, surf, sand. This is what Costa Rica is known for. It’s also the safest country in South America.
With stunning reefs and great surf breaks, if you’re a beach lover, you’re not going to want to miss this. If you’re worried about safety, the most danger you’ll experience is probably coming face to face with the incredible wildlife.
Things To See And Do
This Peninsula is well known for being one of the five “blue zones” in the world.
Meaning the locals live noticeably longer and healthier lives. You know you’ve got a winner when that’s what an area is known for, meaning it’s in the mix as the safest country in South America.
If you’re after a detox and switching off from the hustle and bustle, make sure to spend some time here.
This is one of the most popular and well-recognized of Costa Rica’s volcanoes.
It used to be the country’s most active, so book in with a bilingual naturalist guide searching for old lava flow and wildlife, and bring your camera. This region is home to a variety of exotic species because of the unique micro-climates you’ll want to capture.
Corcovado National Park
This national park is in the Osa Peninsula and hosts the largest lowland tropical rainforest in this region. It’s famously dubbed the “most biologically intense place on Earth.” If you’re a nature lover, you’re not going to want to miss this.
2.Uruguay (Global Peace Ranking: 35)
Uruguay is often overlooked when it comes to people planning to travel to this region. Still, given that it’s one of the safest countries in South America, this tiny nation is a strong contender for the best South American country to visit.
If laid-back is your vibe, this is the country for you. With minimal violent crime and little to no threat of natural disasters, the most you’ll need to worry about is wanting to stay even longer than you planned.
Things To See And Do
This is the nation’s capital. It’s rich with cultural life, and the historic downtown business district houses art deco to neoclassical buildings. The architecture is stunning, and you’ll also find great markets to sample Asados – Uruguay’s national dish. But, as with our advice for any city in South America, keep safe by keeping an eye out for petty crimes like pickpockets.
Punta del Este – where the beautiful people go to lie
This is a hub for the wealthy. But, even if you’re not packing stacks of cash, it’s a real insight into the different cultures in Uruguay. It’s dubbed the “Hamptons of South America.” During summer, many wealthy South Americans will flock here to lay on the beaches and dine at waterfront restaurants. It’s the glitzy side of Uruguay.
Colonial del Sacramento
This is located on the country’s east coast. The historic quarter of Colonia has colorful facades and palm-fringed boardwalks. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s one of the places where you can just roam around enjoying the scenery while losing track of time.
3.Chile (Global Peace Ranking: 45)
Chile is one of the safest places to travel in South America. The country boasts diverse scenery and attracts both city and nature lovers from all over the world.
There may be the occasional earthquake, but a slight rumble is most likely all you’ll feel. Chile has some stunning hiking tracks, so grab a good map, some sturdy shoes and explore the beautiful terrain.
Things To See And Do
Torres del Paine National Park
If you’re after a rugged and beautiful landscape to score you some adventure points, this is it. This national park is unparalleled. WIth sunsets on the lagoon, glaciers, and sweeping views, you will not be disappointed.
Play with Penguins
What’s not to love about the cartoon Happy Feet? However, suppose you’re wanting to see some cute penguins up close. In that case, Chile has four different species of penguins that are native to the region, particularly on the island of Tierra del Fuego.
Take in street art in Valparaiso
If you’re wanting an urban escape, Valparaiso is for you. This Chilean city has a bohemian vibe, and you can get lost in alleyways full of street art, craft beer, and cocktails. It’s called the “Jewel of South America” for a reason.
4.Panama (Global Peace Ranking: 56)
Panama is your go-to if golf is part of your holiday plans. Panama is also known for producing some of the world’s best coffee, so what more could you want. In addition, When discussing the safest country in South America, Panama certainly needs to be considered. So grab a Panama hat, play a round of golf on one of their stunning courses. Idyllic.
Things To See And Do
It’s a bit of a trek to get here, but it’s well worth it. A drive and then a ferry, and you’ll be on a deserted island. If you have a little more time, sailing San Blas is an excellent way of experiencing it from the water. Most trips are all-inclusive, so you just have to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Golf at beautiful courses
Americans brought the game to this country, and there are many well-established golf courses on the city’s outskirts. It’s an excellent spot for some vacation golfing, so make sure to pack your clubs and check out one of their eight golf courses.
Coiba is the largest island in the region and used to be inhabited by only criminals and political prisoners. However, it is rich in history with a large marine reserve. So you’ll not only get a history lesson, but you’ll also get face to face with some of the world’s rarest marine wildlife. It’s a two for one that you don’t want to miss.
5.Argentina (Global Peace Ranking: 74)
Tango, steak, and Evita. Argentina is famous for a lot of things, and being safe is one of them. As with anywhere, you travel to, just keep your wits about you for petty crime, particularly in Buenos Aires. Also known as the “Paris” of South America, Buenos Aires is one of the best cities to live in South America.
Don’t miss these – places and attractions
Argentina takes steak to a whole new level. Make sure to visit the parrillas (steak houses) if you like your meat. You won’t be asked how you want your steak because the locals know the best way to cook the meat. Also – don’t ask for creamy sauces. Chimichurri will be left on the table for you to add, but the steak is delicious as is.
Just pick your cut and get ready for a taste explosion. Don Julio and Los Talas del Entrerriano in Buenos Aires, are known for their great cuts so check them out when you visit.
Usually, a visit to a cemetery isn’t something you’d add to your to-do list. But Recoleta is an area that’s steeped in history. The tombs are mini houses and date back generations.Most of Argentina’s leaders are buried here, including the famous Eva Peron (Evita).
Biking wine tour around the Mendoza region
Mendoza is the land of the famous Malbec. You can visit each vineyard on foot, but a fun way of making it a day trip is to book a bicycle tour.
You’ll cycle from vineyard to vineyard, tasting your way through the different vintages. Just make sure you can still cycle in a straight line by the end of it, or you may have to walk your bike back.
6.Paraguay (Global Peace Ranking: 75)
Paraguay is a quiet country and doesn’t usually get many travelers. So if you’re looking for the safest country in South America, without the massive tourist crowds, Paraguay is it. It’s off the beaten track, and the capital city is steeped in history with beautiful architecture.
Don’t miss these – places and attractions
This town lies on the bank of the mighty Parana River and is a gateway to the Jesuit Missions ruins. These ruins are a UNESCO site, so even if you only have one day here, you can spend your whole day exploring the ruins and say that you had a great day.
The country’s capital city. This city possesses a charming atmosphere, beautiful buildings, and an exciting mixture of history written on its walls. You’ll see people in suits and people in indigenous dress as the cultures mix, adding to the vibrant landscape.
Eco Reserva Mbatovi
Don’t worry; there are eco reserves in Paraguay. This eco reserve offers thrill-seekers the ability to get the adrenaline pumping while also learning about the unique flora and fauna. It’s also kid-friendly, so you can bring your tiny humans along with you.
7.Ecuador and Galapagos (Global Peace Ranking: 90)
This one’s for nature lovers. Ecuador has one of the most biodiverse environments globally. It is also one of the safest places to travel in South America. From here, you can venture onto the Galapagos Islands and experience the rare wildlife and climb the famous Andes.
Don’t miss these – places and attractions
This national park sits right on the equator, between the Andes mountain range and the Amazon rainforest. It’s said to be the world’s most biologically diverse place on the planet, so it’ll be hard to wrap your head around all the things you’ll see. Keep your camera close.
Theory of Evolution
Charles Darwin, the founder of the Theory of Evolution, once famously visited the Galapagos Islands. He talks a lot about the islands in his books because of the unique marine animals and wildlife species he saw. So if you’re a budding ecologist, don’t miss a visit to these islands.
Ecuador is home to some of the highest quality cacao beans in the world. Cacao is what’s used to create chocolate.
The higher the cacao percentage, the darker the chocolate. So if you like your chocolate dark, make sure to do a tasting and grab a few bars to snack on while you travel.
Global Peace Index Rating: Deciding What’s Safe
When deciding what was the safest country in South America, we used the Global Peace Index Rating which is an annual rating that ranks all the countries in the world.
Every year the Vision of Humanity use a composite index measuring the peacefulness of countries. The measures are made up of 23 quantitative and qualitative indicators, each weighted on a scale of 1-5.
The lower the score the more peaceful the country. Iceland remains the most peaceful country in the world but Costa Rica, number one in South America, is ranked 32nd in the world.
General Safety In South America
The recommended vaccination to travel in South America is Yellow Fever. When you’re traveling through the rainforests and rural areas, it’s essential to make sure you have this. There are a couple of other vaccinations you may need, such as Hepatitis A and B, but this will be dependent on where you’re traveling. Check with your doctor before you travel.
Organized tours can keep you safe while you travel through South America. Many of the issues you may face may be localized or based on driving from place to place. With a lack of public transport and roads and signs you may not understand, joining a tour takes all of this stress off your shoulder.
Don’t carry all your cash with you. It’s recommended that you only use ATMs inside branches of banks and not on street corners.
Also, if you’re taking chunks of cash out at one time, return to where you’re staying straight after, and split your cash so that you’re not carrying all your money with you at a single time. Only take with you what you’re prepared to lose.
Generally, don’t visit any ATMs at night. Even if you think no one is watching you, there may be eyes everywhere.
Most South American countries require that your passport has at least six months validity on your passport before you travel. Most South American countries don’t require visas, but this is very dependent on the country you’re from, so make sure to check this before you book your flights.
When you’re traveling between places, keep a copy of your passport with you. Your original passport should be kept in a safe place.
Many people lose their passports while traveling, which throws a massive spanner in the works. Don’t be one of these people, and make sure you keep your passport safe.
Smart Traveler Program
The SmartTraveler page constantly updates information on current events all over the world. It’s a great starting point for planning a trip to see what is happening where you are planning to go.
Things change and normalize very quickly, so keeping up to date with the latest news is smart. South America has been relatively calm, and most of the tourist hotspots are relatively safe to visit.
Dangerous South American Countries – Where You Shouldn’t Travel To
In terms of safety in South America, there are dangers in both the environment and crime in society. Many South American countries run along a fault line, so you may experience earthquakes while you’re there. Most of the time, these are light tremors, so you should be okay.
In terms of crime in society, some countries are more dangerous than others. Brazil and Columbia are known to be dangerous.
This is because of the gangs and the cartels. In Brazil, you need to make sure you take our safety tips into account. It isn’t rare that petty thieves will carry knives, and if you’re traveling, this sort of robbery can be very traumatic.
Venezuela also has increased crime and civil unrest, making it a country that isn’t safe to travel.
There have been reports of kidnapping and arbitrary arrest and detention of US citizens, so the US State Department has issued warnings against traveling to Venezuela.
If you still choose to travel to these countries, make sure you do your research before you go so you’re well informed.
Solo Travel In South America
In general, South America is a safe place to travel alone, but it’s necessary to always be vigilant as with any solo travel. Book hostels in advance, keep a record of where you’re staying and going if your phone runs out of battery while traveling.
When you’re out and about, make sure you know where you’re going so that you’re less of a target for thieves. Don’t walk around on your own at night, and if you are out late, make sure you have enough cash on you to take a taxi home. Try to steer clear off public transport at night.
Taking these simple precautions will take the stress off in case anything happens.
Which Of These Safest South American Countries Will You Book A Ticket To?
Now that you’ve got the Top 7 round-up, where are you going to go? Costa Rica is the safest country in South America, based on the Global Peace Index. So will you book a ticket to some sun and surf, or will you choose to get face to face with some unique marine wildlife in Panama?