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.
5% OFF your travel insurance
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.”
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.
- Recommended accommodations:
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.
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.
- Recommended accommodations:
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.
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.
- Recommended accommodations:
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.
5% OFF your travel insurance
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.
5% OFF your international eSIM card
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!