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When’s the best time to travel to South America?

Time your adventure just right based on weather, price and crowds.

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Ruins of Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Andes, Peru

We’ve taken into consideration key factors like weather and tourist traffic to help you find the best time to plan your trip.

  • Good to know: The seasons in South America are reverse from the seasons in North America. So when it’s summer in the US, it’s winter in South America.

    This makes South America ideal when you’re craving an escape from the weather at home. Here’s the breakdown of South America’s seasons:

  • Summer: December-February
  • Autumn: March-May
  • Winter: June-August
  • Spring: September-November

Best time to travel to South America

As South America is such a vast continent, we’ve broken down the best times to visit some of its most popular destinations.

  • Brazil: April to June and August to October. These are just outside of the major school holiday peak periods (July to August and December to January) as well as the hugely popular Rio Carnival (late February). These months also offer cooler weather.
  • Peru: May to September. 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: 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 holidays. 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.
  • Chile: 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).
  • Galapagos Islands: 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. For the best weather, travel between May and June or October and December.

Overview

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.

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 it’s best not to travel during these months if you wish to avoid inflated prices and crowded tourist attractions.

Weather and prices

The best time to visit South America, weather-wise: While the best weather varies from place to place, generally it’s better to visit the northern countries of South America during its winter (June to August) when the weather is pleasant and there’s less rainfall. As the south gets milder summers, it’s good to visit year round. But if you’re planning a trip to the southernmost area of Patagonia, it’s best to visit during the summer (December to March) as opposed to the rainy season in fall and winter.

The cheapest time to visit South America: Search for flight deals during the shoulder seasons of March to June and September to November.

The best time to visit South America for…

  • 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.

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Bottom line

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.

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