South America is the most attractive travel destination. It has its natural beauty, diverse ecosystems, urban and city lifestyles and diverse culture. That’s why the number of visitors from around the globe is increasing over time.

In earlier times, many parts of the continent were seen as challenging, but security has noticeably improved in recent years. Though no place can be considered entirely risk-free, we can affirm that now is one of the best and safest times to explore the top cities in South America. Without any specific ranking, there are fifteen of the safest cities in South America for travel in 2024,

1. Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo is a beautiful city that lies by the river, offering stunning beaches and a lively walkway called the Rambla. The mix of old and new buildings gives the city a special charm. It’s a place that loves traditions, with theaters like the Solis Theatre and lively festivals like Carnaval. The diverse food scene adds to the fun.

A street scene in Montevideo, Uruguay. Locals and tourists navigate a busy street in the peak of summer.

Montevideo is known for being safe. They’ve worked on making it even safer in recent years. Be cautious, but feel secure exploring the city’s beauty and culture. Montevideo has it all – from pretty views to exciting events – making it a fantastic spot in South America and its one of the 15 safest cities in South America.

2. Asunción, Paraguay

In the center of Paraguay, Asunción is charming with a mix of colonial and modern architecture, visible in landmarks such as the Metropolitan Cathedral. La Costanera offers beautiful views of the river, giving the city a peaceful feel. Asunción’s cultural richness shines through with historic sites, lively markets and vibrant events like the Asunciónico Music Festival.

Palacio de Lopez in Asuncion. The office of the President and the Government of Paraguay

Safety is a priority, creating a safe and welcoming environment. Asunción invites exploration with its unparalleled beauty, vibrant culture, and commitment to a safe and memorable experience.

3. Porto Alegre, Brazil

Talking about the safest cities in South America, In the heart of southern Brazil, Porto Alegre masterfully intertwines contemporary urban allure with the natural grace along the Guaíba River.

The city pulses with life as the São Pedro Theater becomes a stage for a lively fusion of fine arts and performances, breathing vibrancy into its cultural scene. Amidst bustling markets and a diverse culinary tapestry, Porto Alegre becomes a living canvas, inviting visitors to savor the essence of local life.

Old City Hall building in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul. Palm trees adorn the square in front of the buildings. The streets are busy with people in the early morning.

With standard precautions in tow, the city opens its arms, ensuring a safe and inviting environment for exploration. Porto Alegre, in its unique blend of elegance, cultural richness, and spirited energy, extends a warm invitation to experience a delightful tapestry of southern Brazilian charm.

4. Curitiba, Brazil

While discussing the safest cities in South America, Curitiba, located in southern Brazil, offers a fascinating combination of beauty and cultural richness. From carefully planned green spaces to architectural wonders like the Opéra d’Armes and the Museo Oscar Niemeyer, the city is a visual delight.

Photo of “Botanic Garden” located in Curitiba, Brazil.

Cultural vibrancy radiates through theaters, museums, and lively events, reflecting Curitiba’s commitment to the arts. Safety takes center stage with well-maintained public spaces and efficient transportation ensuring a safe environment. In essence, Curitiba invites natural allure, cultural treasures, and harmonious exploration without an assured commitment to safety, making for an enjoyable experience for all.

5. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, is a blend of historic charm and modern elegance. Iconic landmarks like La Boca and Recoleta Cemetery add to its visual appeal.

A cultural hub, Buenos Aires is the birthplace of tango, with vibrant neighborhoods and world-class theaters like Teatro Colón. Street art adds to its dynamic cultural scene.

Tourists walk in Caminito, a typical street with colorful houses in La Boca district with colorful buildings – Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires has improved safety measures in recent years. While staying vigilant is smart, the city is committed to ensuring a secure experience for residents and visitors alike.

6. Mendoza, Argentina

Nestled within the embrace of serene mountains, Mendoza, home to about a million souls, stands out as the global ambassador for its exceptional Malbec wine. This medium-sized city, with its quaint small-town charm, serves as the perfect gateway to explore the majestic nearby peaks.

Beautiful woman photographer in action in the Andes Mountains. Mendoza Argentina.

While Mendoza boasts a rare tranquility with minimal violent crime, visitors should exercise caution against theft and fraud, particularly car break-ins. Unlock the magic of the surrounding region adorned with some of the world’s most splendid vineyards, creating a paradise for wine enthusiasts.

Embark on a journey through these enchanting landscapes, indulging in the local wines that whisper tales of this unique corner of Argentina.

7. Punta Arenas, Chile

At the southern tip of Chile, Punta Arenas offers rugged coastal beauty with colorful buildings echoing maritime history. Serving as a gateway to Torres del Paine National Park, it captivates with natural wonders. It is one of the safest cities in South America.

The city’s cultural narrative, enriched by its maritime heritage, unfolds in the Museo Regional de Magallanes and vibrant events like the Festival Internacional de Jazz.

It’s very impressive to see the colorful rooftops in Punta Arenas from the viewpoint, or mirador, as they say in Spanish Summer has long daylight hours, but the wind is a constant in there. Punta Arenas is known to be the getaway city to Patagonia, and Antarctica.

Punta Arenas is acknowledged for safety, ensuring a secure environment for exploration and allowing visitors to relish its beauty and cultural richness with confidence making it the perfect destination.

8. Santiago, Chile

In Santiago, surrounded by the stunning Andes, modern and historic charms create a perfect blend. Parks offer a peaceful break, and diverse neighborhoods and lively markets showcase the city’s vibrant culture.

Panoramic view of Providencia and Las Condes districts with Costanera Center skyscraper, Titanium Tower and Los Andes Mountain Range, Santiago de Chile

What’s more, Santiago is committed to keeping everyone safe, making it a confident and attractive destination for exploring Chile’s heart and soul. Come and discover the magic where beauty, culture, and safety come together in Santiago!

9. Florianopolis, Brazil

In the southern reaches of Brazil lies Florianopolis, a jewel cradled by pristine beaches and verdant landscapes on its island haven. Amidst historic architecture and lively festivals, the city’s cultural dance unveils a tale woven with Portuguese and Azorean influences.

Beach Brazil water blue Pantano do Sul Florianopolis beach summer

Florianopolis not only captivates with its natural beauty and cultural diversity but also stands as a sanctuary where safety embraces every exploration. Whether treading the sands of its pristine beaches or immersing in local traditions, Florianopolis invites you to unearth a unique fusion of nature’s artistry, cultural symphony, and the comforting embrace of safety.

10. Sucre, Bolivia

Sucre, Bolivia, unfolds as a colonial charm and architectural grandeur. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, the city is a cultural gem adorned with historical landmarks and vibrant traditions. Known for its safety, Sucre welcomes exploration with a reassuring environment.

Sucre, Bolivia – All Saints Day brings a lot of people to the cemetery. The main entrance at Cementerio General in Sucre is lined with trimmed trees.

Whether admiring its whitewashed beauty or delving into indigenous festivals, Sucre invites visitors to discover the perfect fusion of architectural allure, cultural richness, and a sense of security.

11. La Paz, Bolivia

Nestled in the Andes, La Paz is a city known for its extraordinary beauty with sweeping views of snow-capped peaks. Its unique charm is enhanced by a vibrant flea market and a blend of colonial and modern architecture. La Paz thrives as a cultural center, showcasing Bolivia’s artistic heritage in museums and immersing visitors in local traditions through vibrant markets and festivals.

La Paz, Bolivia -The famous Plaza Murillo in central La Paz. Photo taken during the day and contains people, and pigeons, enjoying the square.

Although the city faces challenges due to its altitude, La Paz is generally considered safe. A clear police presence and public safety measures contribute to a safe environment. By taking standard precautions, visitors can confidently explore the culturally rich and visually stunning aspects of La Paz.

12. Cusco, Peru from one of the safest cities in South America

Cusco, nestled in the mountains of Peru, is a city with amazing beauty. It has old Inca buildings mixed with charming colonial ones, all surrounded by big mountains. Cusco used to be the main city of the Inca Empire, so it’s rich in history and culture.

Plaza de Armas in the sunset with local people. It is the center point of Cusco City, Cusco, Peru.

You can visit museums with old art and colorful markets to experience local life. The city cares a lot about safety, making it a good place for visitors. Whether you’re exploring the lively Plaza de Armas, ancient ruins, or busy markets, Cusco offers a mix of nature’s beauty, cultural treasures, and a safe environment.

13. Arequipa, Peru

Arequipa’s one million residents hold a deep sense of pride in the architecture, cuisine, and natural beauty that define their city.

Safety is rarely a concern in Arequipa, allowing residents and visitors alike to explore the city center confidently at any time. Locals are friendly and readily assist visitors with directions and recommendations, although the persistent restaurant touts in Plaza de Armas might be a minor inconvenience.

View from the central square on the volcano in Arequipa, Peru.

Arequipa, known as the ‘White City’ in Peru, owes its name to the volcanic sillar stone that adorns many of its buildings. Notable among these impressive structures are the grand Basilica Catedral de Arequipa near the striking Plaza de Armas and the captivating Monasterio de Santa Catalina.

Given Arequipa’s location in an arid part of the continent, staying well-hydrated and applying sunblock when spending extended periods outdoors is essential.

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14. Cuenca, Ecuador

Perched high in the heart of Ecuador, Cuenca pirouettes gracefully with colonial charm and natural grace. Its streets and historic churches dance along the meandering Tombamba River, painting a picturesque scene against the hills.

Cuenca’s cultural canvas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, showcases colonial masterpieces, the overall magnificent Cuenca The Cathedral. Commitment to safety is the geography of a bright city light where visitors easily pass by with women on covers.

People, locals sitting at the table and eating roasted BBQ pig’s head. At the background is the Dona Elsita Gardens kiosk offering food, and pork at the Farmers Market in Cuenca, Ecuador.

Taking precautionary measures, exploring Cuenca promises a safe and enchanting performance, inviting travelers to waltz into Ecuador’s authentic riches.

15. Bucaramanga, Colombia

Surrounded by the lush landscape of Colombia, Baccaramanga is a city of natural beauty made up of green mountains and inviting parks. Its vibrant cultural scene, including theaters and historical sites, reflects a rich heritage.

Plaza with restaurants and tourists in Chicamocha Canyon, Colombia

Recognized for safety, Baccaramanga provides a safe environment, allowing residents and visitors to explore confidently. In summary, this city is where natural allure, cultural splendor and safety combine to create a welcoming and enjoyable experience in Colombia.

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places to avoid in South America

Like any region, travelers need to be aware of areas with higher crime rates or safety concerns. Remember that safety conditions can change, and it’s advisable to check the latest travel advisories before planning your trip.

1. Certain Areas of Caracas, Venezuela

Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, has experienced security issues in certain neighborhoods. Travelers are advised to exercise caution and stay informed about the current situation.

2. Parts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

While Rio de Janeiro is a popular tourist destination, some neighborhoods have higher crime rates, particularly in the outskirts. Exercise caution in areas known for violence and follow local advice.

3. Parts of Medellín, Colombia

Medellín has made significant strides in improving safety, but like any large city, it has areas with higher crime rates. Stay informed about the neighborhoods you plan to visit and take necessary precautions.

4. Certain Areas of Salvador

Salvador has areas with higher crime rates, particularly in the older parts of the city. Be vigilant, especially in less touristy areas

Final thoughts

Maintaining your safety requires a combination of awareness and confidence. Individuals walking purposefully are less susceptible to becoming targets than tourists engrossed in their phones. In a confrontation, avoiding arguing or resisting is advised, prioritizing personal safety over belongings.

Travelers often face risks while driving in unfamiliar locations. To address road safety concerns, consider opting for public transportation or hiring a car with a local driver who possesses familiarity with the city and driving habits.

Ultimately, thorough trip preparation is paramount for a secure journey. Plan your itinerary, take precautions, and ensure a fantastic and safe vacation experience in South America.

Frequently asked questions

Which South American country is safest?

Uruguay is the safest country in South America. In the 2023 Global Peace Index, it ranks 50th out of 163 countries worldwide.

What is the friendliest country in South America?

In South America, Colombia stands out as one of the friendliest countries globally. In 2023, its warm and joyful residents welcomed 2.2 million tourists.

What is the cheapest country to live in South America?

When looking for the most budget-friendly destination in South America, Bolivia often takes the lead. Moreover, it’s recognized as one of the safest places too!

How many countries are in South America?

South America has 12 countries, and there’s also French Guiana, which is a part of France.

What is the best country in South America to live in?

Montevideo, Uruguay, stands out as the safest city in South America and is a significant destination for expat retirees. Despite a low cost of living, the city maintains a high standard of living, offering a wealth of impressive architecture, vibrant street art, and diverse dining options.

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