15 Small Towns in South America Everyone Wants to Visit

Many of the backpacking routes across South America hit the biggest cities in the region’s most popular destinations, including cities like Medellin in Colombia, Buenos Aires in Argentina, and Quito in Ecuador. But what of the smaller and more charming towns and villages along the way? These are the 15 most beautiful and impressive small towns in South America to add to your travel itinerary.

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

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Located along the Rio de la Plata and just a short ferry ride from Buenos Aires, Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay is one of the most popular destinations for visitors in this tiny South American country. Strolling through its historic district, visitors can enjoy the countless eclectic shops, art galleries, and quaint cafes of this UNESCO World Heritage Site for a glimpse into Uruguay’s rich past.

Paraty, Brazil

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The small town of Paraty offers more than just historic charm: it’s also a gateway to Brazil’s coastal forests, where travelers can embark on eco-tours, waterfall hikes, and boat trips to secluded islands. With its picturesque cobblestone streets and colorful colonial buildings, Paraty beckons travelers with all it has to offer.

Colonia Tovar, Venezuela

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What feels like a slice of Germany in Venezuela, the town of Colonia Tovar enchants with its Alpine-style architecture, beautiful mountain setting, and even traditional beer gardens. Founded by a group of 390 immigrants from Germany, the town still retains much of its traditional German culinary and cultural offerings.

Pucón, Chile

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Travelers to the lakeside town of Pucón can unwind in the town’s thermal hot springsthat sit in the shadows of the towering Villarica volcano. Located in the heart of Chile’s stunning lakes district, Pucón is a mecca for adventure enthusiasts, offering thrilling outdoor activities and natural beauty.

Cafayate, Argentina

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Mendoza is the undeniable center of Argentina’s increasingly rich wine industry, though the vineyards of Cafayate aren’t bad, either. Beyond its vines, the town offers opportunities to explore nearby geological wonders such as the Quebrada de las Conchas, where vibrant rock formations paint a surreal landscape, providing a glimpse into the region’s geological past.

Villa La Angostura, Argentina

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Surrounded by the Andes and framed by pristine lakes, Villa La Angostura invites visitors in this part of central Argentina to indulge in outdoor pursuits from hiking and skiing to simply soaking in its serene beauty. Enjoy some artisanal chocolate at local shops and boutique stores, or local gourmet flavors at the restaurants that line its streets.

Punta del Diablo, Uruguay

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The beach town of Punta del Diablo, Uruguay charms with its rugged coastline, sandy shores, and relaxed atmosphere. The town maintains a vibrant, bohemian vibe, coming alive at night with beach bonfires, live music, and cultural events under starry skies.

Ouro Preto, Brazil

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Ouro Preto, Brazil enchants with its one-of-a-kind Baroque architecture, its rich if troubled history of gold mining having brought significant wealth to the region. Considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ouro Preto has numerous artisan workshops and museums that offer insight into Brazil’s colonial history and long tradition of craftsmanship using the area’s most famous precious metal.

Salento, Colombia

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Salento, Colombia is one of several charming towns in the heart of Colombia’s famous Eje Cafetero, the country’s coffee-producing heart. Visitors can embark on horseback riding adventures through verdant valleys and surrounding cloud forests before settling in for an overnight at one of the area’s many coffee plantations turned bed and breakfasts.

Villa General Belgrano, Argentina

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Famous for its Oktoberfest celebrations, Villa General Belgrano exudes Bavarian charm with its Alpine-style buildings, beer gardens, and traditional festivals. The town’s annual beer festival transforms its streets into a lively carnival of music and dancing, drawing beer enthusiasts and revelers from far and wide.

El Chaltén, Argentina

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The trekking capital of Argentina, El Chaltén is a gateway to the stunning landscapes of Los Glaciares National Park. In addition to its numerous incredible hikes, El Chaltén is a charming small town usually packed with backpackers and intrepid travelers, creating a vibrant and social environmental visitors love.

Puerto Natales, Chile

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A quaint port town and convenient base for exploring Torres del Paine National Park, Puerto Natales, Chile captivates with its waterfront promenade, colorful houses, and rugged Patagonian scenery. The town’s cozy cafes and seafood restaurants offer a taste of local flavors and warm hospitality for travelers as they prepare to embark on any of the area’s beloved treks.

Mompox, Colombia

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Time seems to stand still as horse-drawn carriages clatter along the cobblestone streets of Santa Cruz de Mompox, Colombia, known as one of the country’s most charming historic villages. Located along the banks of the Magdalena River, Mompox enchants with its well-preserved colonial architecture and small-town feel, having yet to draw too many visitors to overwhelm it with new development.

Cachi, Argentina

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Nestled in the Calchaquí Valley, Cachi captivates with its adobe buildings, historic church, and breathtaking Andean landscapes, offering a serene escape in Argentina’s northwest. The town’s central plaza comes alive with bustling markets, where indigenous artisans sell their crafts and produce, while the surrounding mountains offer endless opportunities for outdoor adventures.

Villa de Leyva, Colombia

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Villa de Leyva its wells know for hosting cultural events and festivals throughout the year like the renowned kite festival, adding to its vibrant allure and sense of community. Nestled in the Andean highlands, Villa de Leyva captivates with its well-preserved colonial center, bustling Plaza Mayor, and surrounding countryside dotted with fossils and vineyards.

Jose Rojas Avila

José Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based editor, content marketer, and web developer. He is the co-founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana and has written for publications like MSN and Thrive Global. José is a Havana, Cuba native and serial entrepreneur. Find him scouting out the best hiking trails around town and teaching himself yet another programming language.