Ever since Spanish conquistadors and European explorers came across the Atlantic, tales of South America's wonders have inspired and enthralled travelers. Some tell of soaring Patagonian mountains that crumple into glaciers and spike the cloudless skies like daggers. Others tell of whole cities filled with sleepless cantinas and rollicking fiestas. Moving from coast to coast on this vast continent, it's possible to find everything from low-key surf towns to futuristic metropolises to primeval jungles where jaguars still stalk. History is around every corner, too. From age-old missions to the legendary cloud city of Machu Picchu, you'll never be short on sights. Cheap flights to South America are possible to a whole host of places, but the best-priced tickets are likely to be into hubs like Rio, Lima, Bogota, and Santiago.
Hike to the Perito Moreno Glacier to see colossal sheets of ice calving off one of the most dramatic wonders in all of Patagonia.
Built more than 600 years ago by the Incas, the gravity-defying city of Machu Picchu sits proudly on a plateau in the Peruvian Andes.
For boat trips through primeval rainforests, glimpses of jaguars and poison dart frogs, and days of piranha fishing, it's got to be the Amazon – the world's largest tropical rainforest.