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.
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.
Now that you know when to go, get the latest deals to South America
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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.
Frequently asked questions
The Amazon jungle spans throughout South American countries, including Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil. That said, the climate doesn’t change much from season to season — you can expect hot and humid weather all year round.
Still, 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, where the river is higher and easier to navigate.
The best months to visit Patagonia are October and November. 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.
Some of our favorite tour companies that offer trips throughout South America include:
Stephanie Yip is the travel editor at Finder and has been writing about travel and lifestyle for over a decade. She has written for a range of travel publications including Thomas Cook Magazine and Showpo. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, and has visited over 50 countries (and counting). She has a passion for sharing her experiences and knowledge of travel and helping consumers stretch their travel cash while on holiday.
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