Safest Places to Visit in Central America and South America

10 Safest Places to Visit in Latin America

If you’re gearing up for your next tour, and want to explore new places in the world, check out the safest places to visit in Latin America!

Latin America may not have the greatest reputation when it comes to safety, but a lot of the hesitation is based on myths and stereotypes. There are dangerous areas in every single country – but if you visit the right places, keep your wits about you, and behave respectfully, you can visit Latin America confidently and without fear. It’s simply a matter of knowing where to go, and where not to go. Travellers love going to Latin America for its vibrant culture, fascinating history, natural wonders and delicious food. In no particular order, here are the top ten safest places to visit in Latin America (updated 2019). 

Fun fact: All of these countries and regions rank above the USA, Greece, and China in terms of their 2018 global peace index. Skip to your favourite by clicking the list below: 

1. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

For the most part, the Galapagos islands are extremely isolated and unpopulated. Located 1,000 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador, the islands are a hot spot for travellers with a love of nature thanks to its untouched beauty and wildlife. Because getting to the islands requires a flight from the mainland, the population is very small and there is virtually no crime or corruption.

On top of that, Ecuador ranks within the top 100 safest countries in the world and is one of the safest places to visit in Latin America.

Take a look at these tours in the Galapagos Islands.

Marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) on Isabela, Galapagos Islands
Marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) on Isabela, Galapagos Islands | © Dallas Krentzel/Flickr

 

2. Costa Rica

Costa Rica is consistently rated as the safest country in all of Central America and the Caribbean – an awesome piece of news for anyone looking for a tropical paradise to escape to. Home to dozens of untouched beaches, tropical temperatures, hiking trails to volcanoes, and pools covered by waterfalls, Costa Rica is truly a slice of heaven on earth.

The most common crime against tourists is theft, which can be said for just about every tourist destination in the world. So as long as you keep your belongs tucked away, you can rest easy and relax in paradise.

Take a look at these tours in Costa Rica.

3. Panama

Coming in fast on the list of safest countries in Central America, Panama has become an increasingly popular tourist destination for anyone looking for relaxation and adventure. The perfect combination of travel and vacation, Panama is jam-packed with tropical beaches, fascinating wildlife, a boatload of history, and the world-renowned engineering marvel: The Panama Canal.

With safety being less of a concern, a vacation to Panama can be enjoyed freely with no limitations on adventure or relaxation.

Take a look at these tours in Panama.

a canoe sails on turquoise waters on San Bals Islands, Panama
San Blas Islands, Panama | © Angel Silva/Unsplash

 

4. The Amazon

Okay, the Amazon may not be a country, but it’s one of the safest regions throughout all of Latin America. Spreading across Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and a handful of other countries, the Amazon takes great effort to get to and often involves experienced guides or tour operators. Oddly enough, the isolation contributes to the safety of the region, meaning most of the inhabitants are tourists or local villagers.

If you’re looking for something that’s safer than safe, there are a number of river cruises that will take you to the depths of the Amazon and are considered one of the safest ways to visit the region.

Take a look at these river cruises in the Amazon River

5. Chile

Spanning over 4000-kilometres in length, Chile has much to offers travellers that come to its shores. Along with its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, Chile’s neighbouring countries, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina are dream destinations as well! The country harbours some of the driest places on earth, you can experience terrains that are literally out of this world, the Atacama Desert has been compared to the surface of Mars! But amazingly, Chile is also tailor-made for experiencing nature, snowboarding, climbing volcanoes, and posing in front of glaciers, all within the same border.

Consistently ranked as one of the safest destinations in South America, Chile is one place you can travel without fear. The worst thing you could encounter is pickpocketing, which happens in nearly every major city. Stay with your fellow travellers, respect the culture and you shouldn’t run into any problems.

Take a look at these tours in Chile

The natural beauty of Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile | © Olga Stalska/Unsplash

 

6. Uruguay

As one of the smaller and relatively unknown countries of Latin America, Uruguay is the perfect destination for anyone looking for a vacation free of crowds and oodles of tourists. Regardless of its size, Uruguay still offers beautiful beaches and resorts, along with fishing and boating outings for the more adventurous. Plus it’s safe, with no travel bans and a comfortable position on the global peace index.

The wine is spectacular, and the locals are friendly, so there’s very little to worry about aside from what activity you’ll do next.

Take a look at these tours in Uruguay

7. Paraguay

Similar to Uruguay in more than just the name, Paraguay is another Latin American country that’s somehow managed to stay off the tourist radar. Landlocked between Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia, Paraguay is home to a landscape of subtropical forests and sprawling savannas. Complete with rivers, waterfalls, natural lakes, and a handful of historic landmarks, it’s one country that might not be on your travel checklist – but it should be.

Ranked at number 77 on the global peace index and with no current travel bans, as one of the safest places to visit in Latin America, Paraguay is an underrated travel destination that will endlessly surprise you.

Take a look at these tours in Paraguay

Water Jungle Nature Paraguay Wetland Swamp
Paraguay’s stunning wetlands | © Max Pixel

 

8. Argentina

Most people don’t realize that Argentina is the eighth largest country in the world and the second largest country in South America. Thanks to its massive size and prime location, Argentina boasts a number of beautiful landscapes, from ice and snow to deserts and beaches. For any waterfall chaser, the Iguazu Waterfalls is a must see, and the cities boast colourful markets and tango filled nightclubs.

It also happens to be one of the safest countries in South America and even ranks in the top 100 safest countries in the world. So pack your swimsuits, hiking gear, and dancing shoes and get ready for an Argentinian adventure. 

Take a look at these tours in Argentina

9. Peru

If you’re an adventurer who loves history, culture, and archaeology, Peru must be on your travel bucket list. Peru is an absolute goldmine when it comes to ancient culture and ruins, including one of the most famous archaeological sites: Machu Picchu – the fortified Inca town hidden at the very top of the Andes. And when you’ve maxed out your ancient history lesson, head on over to Lima, a bustling city with a rocky coastline perfect for surfing and exploring.

In Peru, crimes against foreigners are extremely rare and often only involve theft – something that many travellers are aware of can happen anywhere.   

Take a look at these tours in Peru.

An arial shot of the site of Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu is one of the most iconic sites in all of South America | © Mariusz Prusaczyk/Unsplash

 

10. Nicaragua

Rated as the third safest country in Central America, Nicaragua is beautiful and safe for travel under a few thoughtful circumstances. While the country has been experiencing some political unrest, if you travel with caution, you can travel safely. One of the best ways to do so is by visiting the country with a reputable tour company.

That warning aside, Nicaragua is filled with breathtaking landscapes, from volcanic rock to superb beaches. Plus if you’re into colonial architecture, you’ll probably have your camera out the entire time. If this country is on your travel bucket list, don’t hesitate, travel with your usual amount of caution.

Take a look at these tours in Nicaragua.

TOURING TIP: While these might be some of the safest places to visit in Latin America, like every other country in the world, travel should always be done with safety in mind. Do your research before you travel, behave responsibly, and always remain aware of your surroundings. Considering travelling with a professional tour company if you are concerned about safety – and that goes for travel in any country, not just in Latin America.

Jesse is a blogger and content creator who loves travel, the outdoors, and her dog, Molly. When she isn't planning her next trip, she can be found watching Netflix documentaries, enjoying time by the water, or eating soft-serve ice cream. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, or check out her blog.

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