The best time to visit South America depends on where you’re going, but in general it’s best to avoid the rainy season from January to March. Look for the cheapest flights during the shoulder months of April, May, September, October and November. Spring and fall also tend to have fewer crowds than June, July and August, which get busy with American and international tourists.
- Summer: December to February
- Autumn: March to May
- Winter: June to August
- Spring: September-November
South America is the fourth-largest continent on the globe and comprises a dozen different countries. Variations in altitude and latitude across the continent means the weather can greatly differ between locations. It’s best to first determine which country or countries you’d like to visit before selecting a time.
- Hiking and outdoor activities: Hiking is best done during the winter months of June, July and August. Winters are generally dry, though bear in mind there may be snowfall at higher altitudes.
- City sightseeing: City sightseeing is good all year round, though ideal during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn. The weather is still fine then and there are fewer tourists.
- Beaches: Summer is the time to hit the beaches. If you wish to avoid the crowds on Copacabana Beach, steer clear of dates around Carnival (Mardi Gras), as this is one of the city’s peak dates. The exact dates of Carnival vary from year to year, but it always starts on a Saturday in February or March and ends on Fat Tuesday.
- Snow sports: Snow is possible in Argentina and Chile. The season runs from July to August.
Best time to visit South America by destination
As South America is such a vast continent, we’ve broken down the best times to visit some of its most popular destinations.
- April to June and August to October.
These cooler months are just outside of the major school vacations, (July to August and December to January) as well as the hugely popular Rio Carnival (late February), so you’ll get good weather without the crowds.
This is Peru’s dry season and offers the most comfortable weather for outdoor pursuits such as the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. Avoid December to March (summer) as these months mark rainy season.
Argentina is good to visit all year round. Winter (July and August) offers the coolest weather — but keep in mind this is peak tourist season coinciding with the Northern Hemisphere’s school vacations. If you’re traveling south to Patagonia, the summer months of December to March are best as the weather is mild and pleasant at this time.
Similar to Argentina, Chile is good to visit all year round. To avoid crowds, travel during September to November (spring) or March to June (autumn).
- For the best weather, travel between May and June or October and December.
Despite featuring wet and dry seasons, the Galapagos Islands are good to visit all year round as there’s always activity on the island, whether it be penguins migrating, tortoises hatching, iguanas nesting or sea lions mating.
The Amazon jungle spans throughout South American countries, including Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil. But the climate doesn’t change much from season to season — you can expect hot and humid weather all year round.
July through December may be best for people who want to do lots of hiking, as the river is lower and trail access is better during this time. On the other hand, people looking to kayak, canoe and partake in other water sports should opt for January through June, when the river is higher and easier to navigate.
During this time, the weather tends to be temperate and spring flowers are blooming — though the heavy crowds of December and January haven’t yet hit.
Cheapest time to visit South America
South America is a popular destination for travelers from other South American countries as well as from North America. Prices tend to spike during school vacations in July, August and late December to meet this demand, so you should avoid traveling during these months if you want to avoid inflated prices and crowded tourist attractions. Search for flight deals during the shoulder seasons of March to June and September to November.
Here’s the cheapest month for flights from the US to every country in South America, according to data from Skyscanner:
- Argentina — June
- Bolivia — March
- Brazil — May
- Chile — May
- Colombia — May
- Ecuador — May
- Guyana — April
- Paraguay — May
- Peru — May
- Suriname — July
- Uruguay — March
- Venezuela — May
Tours in South America
Some of our favorite tour companies that offer trips throughout South America include:
Traveling during COVID-19
The CDC continues to advise caution when traveling within or outside the US, though it no longer requires self-quarantine or a COVID-19 test
for fully vaccinated travelers as of April 2021. It recommends that you delay travel if you are not fully vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading the virus.
When traveling, follow safety measures that include wearing a mask in public, social distancing and washing your hands. If you are diagnosed with, have symptoms of or are waiting for COVID-19 test results — or are otherwise at risk of illness — do not attend gatherings or travel for 14 days.
After you’ve set your travel dates, it’s time to decide whether or not to purchase travel insurance for your South American adventure — compare the pros and cons before making a choice.