When is the best time to visit South America?

Updated: Dec 18, 2021

Travelers usually start here, asking us: “when is the best time to visit South America?”

Although this seems to be an easy question it is not quite so simple to answer it.

First of all, when thinking about the best time to visit South America you need to think that the seasons correspond to the southern hemisphere which basically means that:

  • Summer runs from December to March;

  • Autumn from April to June;

  • Winter from July to September;

  • and then Spring from September until November;

Some destinations are closer to the equator and for that reason, they become an all year round destination, like Peru or Ecuador.

But besides the seasons, you should also take into consideration the wet and dry seasons, which are important facts to consider understanding which places are better to visit such as the Amazonas or the Deserts in Chile and Bolivia.

It is good to mention that there is no such thing as a “bad moment to explore South America” since there are always places to enjoy for the whole year. There are no extreme winters or unbearable summers.

I would like this post to be helpful and give you a general idea for each season in South America, nevertheless I will be posting some new articles for each country separately, since it will be really helpful if you want to spend more time just in one country at a time.

Best Time to Visit South America: Summer – warm from December until March.

It’s high season in many places like Brazil, Patagonia, and the Atlantic coast; beaches, festivals and new year´s eve celebrations are really busy although worth the try. At the same time, it’s definitely the best time to visit Patagonia. The Austral summer months are ideal for visiting the southern tip of South America since winters make it a bit unkind for traveling here.

What is it perfect for and what to expect?

The beaches in Uruguay – José Ignacio and La Pedrera, are my favorites. • Hike in Patagonia – Fitz Roy in Chalten or the classic W of Torres del Paine and trekk the spectacle that is Perito Moreno glacier. • Wildlife in Patagonia and Antarctica – penguins in Peninsula Valdes and Ushuaia, all the diversity of the marine fauna in Antarctica at its glory. • Carnival festival and New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro – both massive colorful celebrations.

➢ Also read from the Blog: 5 places to visit in South America for new year´s eve

Dry Season for the deserts – Atacama and Uyuni Desserts are amazing places to explore. March, for example, offer a shoulder-season period offering travel to South America a really pleasant time.

My itinerary recommendation for the summertime in South America: Antarctica & Patagonia Tour

Best Time to Visit South America: Autumn vibrant from April to June.

Autumn is the best time to visit South America if you want to explore the cities; temperatures ease slightly from hot summers and a lot fewer tourists are around. When it comes to Patagonia this is almost like the best time to go as well, after the summer time and high season but not as cold yet as the winter to come it makes perfect to explore as it is a shoulder-season and hotels are less expensive.

What is it Perfect for and what to expect?

• Iguassu Falls – ideal time to explore this jungle experience, the weather is really pleasant so it’s a lot better to enjoy the amazing falls. • City escape in Buenos Aires – a more pleasant weather it’s the perfect time to explore the city and walk its streets in San Telmo, Recoleta, and Palermo. • City escapes Rio de Janeiro – the temperature eases from the hot summer and although you have to expect the rain to continue (10 days per month approximately) it’s a lovely time to see Rio and its natural side with a lot fewer tourists • Galapagos – although any month is great for this destination, June, for example, is amazing because it offers cooler temperatures and clear sunny skies. Mendoza and wine route – If you want to avoid the crowds, March and April are charming months to visit Mendoza. In fall, many vineyards are finishing the harvest and starting the winemaking process, so it’s making it an enjoyable time to taste grapes and get involved in winemaking. • Trekking Patagonia – stunning photos while saying goodbye to crowds are the main reasons to choose this time of the year to go trekking in Patagonia. More details in Clara´s post  Five reasons to go hiking in Patagonia in Autumn (fall)

I suggest this “perfect itinerary” for autumn in South America: South America: The Luxurious Lifetime Exploration

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Best Time to Visit South America: Winter – stunning from the end of June until middle September.

Winters are normally pleasant and warm in the north and cold in the southern parts especially when it comes to Patagonia in Chile and Argentina, experiencing frequent frost and snow.

However, winter weather is not as severe as in the northern hemisphere. In the southern part of South America temperatures could go a bit below 0 °C (32 °F). On the other hand, the Andes Mountains in Peru and Ecuador offer very dry winters so its ideal for example to visit Machu Picchu and if you want to visit Galapagos you can enjoy a cooler weather and while enjoy seeing more dolphins and whales.

What is it Perfect for and what to expect?

• The Pantanal in Brazil – definitely it’s the best time to see animals since its the dry season, running from April/ May to October. • Winter sports in Argentina and Chile – from Las Lenas in Mendoza to Bariloche and Ushuaia in Argentina you can either enjoy skiing at the end of the world or head to Chile Valle Nevado ski resort. • Machu Picchu & Inca Trail – Warm days, cool nights and lowest rainfall of the whole year: the winter months are known as the ‘dry season’ and you’ve got a very high chance of encountering a sunny day. ➢ Read more in our blog: “When is the best time to visit Machu Picchu?” • Tango world festival in Buenos Aires – Tango can be enjoyed all over the year in Buenos Aires, however, August is predominantly important since the Tango’s International Festival and Dance World Cup takes place this time of the year. • Pachamama Festival in San Antonio de Los Cobres, Salta, this amazing and local tradition celebrating the “Mother Earth” happens every August at the Quebrada de Humahuaca a magical place located in the northwest of Argentina.

I love this Itinerary for winter in South America: South American Essentials

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Best Time to Visit South America: Springtime – lovely from September until end of November.

It’s dry season in the Amazon, making for fine wildlife watching. Fewer crowds and lower prices make this a good time to visit Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. Patagonia is less expensive than summer and also a great time to visit the region since trekking and hiking are now possible thanks to the end of the winter.

What is it Perfect for and what to expect?

• Wildlife in Peninsula Valdes – Sea lions, seals, killer whales and the Southern Right Whale are the other main characters during this time of the year. • Wildlife in Amazon – low water season means is from June to November so either during Winter or Spring the jungle trails are not flooded which allows the naturalist guides to get deeper into the jungle by foot, and also escorted by fewer mosquitoes than during the high water season. Polo Open Buenos Aires taking places from November until December each year and Argentina has the greatest players in the world. • Copacabana time! Yet not so warm like in the summer months, so allows enjoying the beach of Rio de Janeiro as a local in Copacabana – give beach volley a try!

Check out here an ideal itinerary for springtime in South America: Cruising the Amazon

So When is the best time to visit South America? as you can see not only you can visit South America any time of the year, you can actually visit South America more than once a year (!) since there is no such thing as the best time to visit South America. Ultimately it depends on what you want to experience; still, don’t let the “seasons” stop you from visiting this marvelous and exceptional part of the world.

Let us help you plan your unforgettable holiday. We’ll help you craft a journey of a lifetime any time of the year. Contact Across SouthAmerica for more info

Maria Barciela

Founder and sales director at Across South America