From the unmatched Amazon rainforest, thriving with uniquely stunning biodiversity, to the lost, ancient ruins scattered across Peru and Colombia, and then down to the dramatic icy glaciers of Patagonia, South America well and truly has something for everyone.

Over the past decade or so, the continent has started to move away from sour past conceptions and find itself high atop many eager traveler’s bucket lists. More often than not when we travel the world, it’s the larger capital cities that get the love. In South America, however, that isn’t always the case. Heck, some people aren’t even sure what the capital city of Brazil actually is.

So without further ado, let’s check out some of the South American metropolises.

10 Buenos Aires

With a population hovering around the 3-million mark, Buenos Aires is by no means small, however, that doesn’t mean that it’s any less welcoming - not for a second. The Argentinian capital city is one of the most eclectic and vibrant across the continent, dishing us tantalizing locally-loved, meat-heavy dishes, putting on all kinds of upbeat festivities, and offering a plethora of photo-worthy landmarks.

Generally, BA is easy to get to, and despite it being one of the more expense South American capitals, it still provides plenty of bang for your buck for any international western visitors.

9 Montevideo

Just a quick ferry’s ride from Buenos Aires, we’re heading out of Argentina and over to its smaller, less-traveled, also underrated neighbor, Uruguay, its capital city, Montevideo, sits on the southern coast of the country, offering an abundance of top-shelf view of shimmering waters against business-heavy skylines.

The one stop that cannot be looked over is the Plaza de la Independencia, a central hub adjacent to the charming, art-deco orientated Old Town, and not too far from the impressive old port market. Compared to most of the other cities on this list, Montevideo’s tourism is relatively low, which means that prices are yet to be unfairly inflated.

8 Lima

When would-be traveler’s think of Peru, it’s always the lost city of Machu Picchu and the vibrant, party-centric town of Cusco that come to mind. More often than not, Lima is considered as a means to an end, merely a transport hub to fly in and out of. However, it shouldn’t be.

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From the jagged, steep cliffs scattered along the Pacific Ocean, to the black-rock beaches, pre-Columbian art, and preserved colonial city center, Lima has a habit of pleasantly surprising anyone who is willing to give it a sliver of a chance.

7 Bogota

Thanks to the exploits of a certain Mr. Pablo Escobar, the past few decades have seen Colombia garden a sour, overwhelming reputation. As the years have slowly passed, however, the stunning South American nation is starting to be recognized for what it truly is - a land of natural beauty and vibrant culture. If people can leave behind the (now inaccurate) lack of safety preconceptions, good times are all but guaranteed.

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Its capital city, Bogota, is leading the charge in the country’s reemergence into the sphere of tourist relevance. The high-altitude region features an Insta-worthy cobblestoned center, a number of impressive colonial-era landmarks, and a feeling of

6 Quito

After snapping a few pics for of social account in Bogota, we’re heading further north to the largest city in Ecuador - its capital, Quito. Touted to boast the best-preserved historic center across South America, Quito is sure to impress with its array of untouched, old-school architecture.

Keep in mind that Quito sits high up in the Andes at an altitude of close to 10,000 feet above sea level, making it the second-highest major city in the world (after Bolivia’s La Paz), so take a couple of days to acclimatize before taking on anything overly strenuous.

5 Santiago

Chile might be a mere sliver down the western coast of South America but that doesn’t mean that it’s slim pickings when it comes to engaging points of interest. Its diverse capital city, Santiago boasts a truly unique vista, sitting at the base of the dramatic Andes mountain range.

Plus, with almost too many diverse restaurants, hip bars, shopping spots, museums, theaters, and parks to explore, Santiago won’t disappoint anyone who’s willing to pay it a quick visit. Outside of the city itself, Santiago can act as a springboard to check out the Atacama desert, and then continue moving onto the Bolivian salt flats thereafter.

4 Caracas

If we can overlook the sad, unfortunate realities currently faced by the people of Venezuela, the city of Caracas itself shines as a stunning, vibrant, and diverse place.

There’s plenty to pique any visitor’s interest within the city, no matter their tastes, including hordes of centuries-old Romanesque architecture, a number of tantalizing restaurants, and a wild nightlife. Plus, it’s not too far from the coast where surfing and snorkeling opportunities are ample.

Clearly, traveling to Venezuela is not recommended at the moment, however, we all hope that it will be safe to do so again soon, so that the beauty of the nation can be appreciated once again.

3 Brasilia

As the biggest country in South America by a long stretch, and the fifth-largest worldwide, the cultural and geographical diversity of Brazil is truly unlike anywhere else on the planet. Generally, people would assume that Rio de Janeiro is the capital city - either Rio or Sao Paulo - however, most are often mistaken.

Sitting atop the Brazilian highlands, Brasilia is where the seat of government actually resides. It’s rather far off the beaten tourist track, yet it still has plenty to offer. Music performances and movie festivals are abundant, and the number of impressive restaurants and photo-worthy architecture is a pleasant surprise.

2 Sucre

With an array of white-washed colonial-era buildings, it’s not hard to see why the Bolivian capital dons the nickname as “The White City”. To go with the centuries-old architecture, tourists can wander through a number of historical landmarks, such as the Casa de la Libertad and the Chapel Virgen de Guadalupe Cathedral. Despite being a rather non-trafficked tourist destination, that doesn’t mean that Sucre is a waste of time - not by any means.

After visiting La Paz, many travelers make Sucre their next stop and take in the sights before heading via Potosi to the otherworldly Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni salt flats).

1 Asunción

We’ve traveled near and far on our journey across South America, hitting up all of the big-name nations. To finish things off, however, we’re stepping into a city that the wider population probably hasn’t even heard of - Asunción. In fact, most people struggle to even identify Paraguay on a map (it’s smack-bang in the center of the continent, nestled in between Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina).

The capital city of Paraguay, also the country’s most populated locale, sits on the Paraguay River and is known for its grand López Palace, widespread colonial architecture, and the National Pantheon of Heroes.

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