Bitesize LatAm: Which country to visit in Latin America?

Best country in latin america: south and central america compared

Sometimes, I use affiliate/sponsored links with my recommendations, which if bought through might earn me a few pennies at absolutely no extra cost to you. This helps with the cost of keeping this site alive so I can continue to guide you on your travels. Please remember that I would never ever ever recommend anything I don’t or wouldn’t use myself. Big thanks to each and every one of you who have trusted my recommendations so far! Lozzy x


Still in the early planning stages of a LatAm trip and feeling confused by all the detail out there about which countries are best for what? I’ve written brief summaries of each Latin nation I’ve visited in order to help you decide which country to visit in Latin America.

Too often, LatAm is grouped into one homogenous region, and people expect all the countries to have the same culture and activities, but they couldn’t be more different! This post on which country to visit in Latin America should show you how diverse they can be 🙂

Needless to say, these are my own views based on my experiences in each Latin American country listed – with the exception of Paraguay, Honduras & Belize, I spent a minimum of 1 month in each, some as long as 9 months. I aim to be honest on this blog in order to best inform you, so honest I shall be!

which best country to visit in latin america south america central

After this post to help you find your best country to visit in Latin America, you should definitely have a read of all you need to know to backpack in South America. There’s a lot of necessary know-how in there that will help you plan your trip!

If you’re particularly worried about language barriers, don’t miss out on my round-up of the best places for your first time in Latin America if you don’t speak Spanish.

Sign up as a subscriber and you’ll get updates whenever I have something big to share, plus a pdf on safety advice for travelling this part of the world! 🙂

So, which country to visit in Latin America?


which country to visit in Latin America argentina la cumbrecita what to do where to go cordoba de las sierras traveling travelling planning trip travel where to go visit stay must see tourism planning summary best south america countries

Cost: $$$ (out of 5)

English spoken: *** (out of 5)

Visit for: steak, hiking, steak, tango, steak, vineyards, steak. Also, steak.

Pros: easy to feel at home with a more European vibe; some of the best food in South America; landscapes are out of this world; plenty of hikes for outdoorsy travellers; fantastic nightlife in the bigger cities.

Cons: the country is vast and towns are far apart; Buenos Aires and Patagonia are particularly pricey; tough accent to understand for those who were taught Spain or Mexico Spanish; a small minority is not super welcoming to the British (for obvious reasons…).

Must-sees in Argentina: Las Sierras de Córdoba, the nightlife of Palermo district (Buenos Aires); the culturally-rich La Boca barrio of BA; Llao Llao hike from Bariloche; W trek in Torres del Paine; vineyard bike tours from Mendoza, the tip of Latin America in Ushuaia.

Ready to visit Argentina? Read my all posts on Argentina travel here.


Belize (non-LatAm bonus country!)

Best country in latin america: Things to do in Placencia Belize central america
Cost: $$$$

English spoken: ***** (their official language!)

Visit for: amazing dive spots; world’s second largest coral reef; learning about Creole, Garifuna and Mayan cultures; ancient ruins & sacrificial sites.

Pros: incredibly friendly locals; size of the country makes it relatively easy to get around and is perfect for shorter trips; cheap chicken buses; Caribbean-style food & reasonably-priced street lobsters, Belize dollar fixed 2:1 with USD and used interchangeably, so unfair currency exchanges are not possible from USD.

Cons: tours are eye-wateringly expensive and basic accommodation can be pricey – even supermarket food is not cheap; not really a beach destination; some areas can be gentrified and resorty; public transport timetables aren’t well publicised.

Must-sees in Belize: ATM caves near San Ignacio; wild manatees, sharks & rays at the world’s second largest reef near Caye Caulker; calm beaches of Placencia; rich Garifuna culture in Hopkins; Mayan ruins at Xunantunich; Great Blue Hole from a propeller plane.

Ready to visit Belize? You can find all my posts for Belize travel here.



Cost: $

English spoken: *

Visit for: natural beauty; authentic indigenous culture; cheap Spanish tuition; getting slightly off the Gringo Trail.

Pros: cheap; less touristy outside Uyuni and La Paz; incredible landscapes; slow, clear dialect.

Cons: much of the country is at high altitude; climate can be pretty cold in places; terrible infrastructure and public transport (seriously, fly wherever possible).

Must-sees in Bolivia: Salar de Uyuni (salt flats); caves & dinosaur footprints at Torotoro, Sucre architecture, Death Road (from La Paz), Las Cuevas at Samaipata.

Ready to visit Bolivia? Take a look at my Bolivia posts here.



Best country in latin america: brazilCost: $$$
English spoken: ***

Visit for: BBQ, street parties, white-sand beaches, Amazon exploration, waterfalls.

Pros: crazy colourful culture, huge diversity, insane terrains and to-die-for dishes.

Cons: Brazil is as large as Europe, so travelling within the country is long and often expensive, plus the cheapest airlines don’t like you paying with international cards; need to keep your guard up in big cities like Rio de Janeiro; Portuguese can present a language barrier for those who have been focused on improving their Spanish throughout the region!

Must-sees in Brazil: Iguazu Falls; Barra da Lagoa in Florianópolis; Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sul; Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro; a street party in Rio (if outside Carnival time); Praia de Trinidade, Paraty; Salvador old town; Lençóis Maranhenses​ dunes of São Luis; Amazon river tour, Manaus, kayaking with dolphins in Pipa.

Ready to visit Brazil? Read all of my Brazil posts here, including my ideal 2 weeks South Brazil itinerary. 



Best country in latin america: south america chile milky way
Cost: $$$

English spoken: ***

Visit for: party cities, star-gazing, vineyards, diverse geography.

Pros: everything under one roof: glaciers to deserts; easy gateway into the Salar de Uyuni (Bolivian salt flats); more coastline than you can shake a palo at.

Cons: it can be difficult to understand locals’ slang (even for native Spanish-speakers!); you need to pack everything you own to be prepared for all climates.

Must-sees in Chile: the Milky Way in the Atacama desert; Bahía Inglesa; stilt houses of Castro, Chiloe Island, nightlife in Valparaíso; Santiago panorama from the top of Cerro San Cristobál; Capillas de Marmól (marble cathedrals) of Patagonia.

Ready to visit Chile? Take advantage of my Chile guides here.



colombia cocora valle valley how to get to visit south america best countries itinerary where to visit go latin

Cost: $$

English spoken: **

Visit for: Gorgeous beaches, Caribbean climates, authentic salsa, small coffee towns, life-changing arepas; parties you don’t remember.

Pros: fairly similar weather all year round; easy-to-understand Spanish; months’ worth of must-sees; the majority of the country is safe despite a bad reputation; not yet over-touristy thanks to said reputation.

Cons: several cities have 2 rainy seasons; certain public transport routes still aren’t safe at night (advisable to travel through the very south on a day bus or via plane).

Must-sees in Colombia: Isla de Providencia, the Rosario islands; beaches of the north coast; The Lost City/Ciudad Perdida; Valle de Cocora (pictured); a coffee farm/finca (Salento); Comuna 13 in Medellín; Monserrate in Bogotá; El Santuario de las Lajas; La Piedra de Guatapé, Las Gachas de Guadalupe

Ready to visit Colombia? Have a gander of my many Colombia posts here, including my ideal 2 weeks Colombia itinerary. If you need more convincing, these Colombia vlogs may help!


Costa Rica

Costa Rica Samara palm trees which country to visit in Latin America

Cost: $$$ to $$$$$ depending on how you travel

English spoken: ****

Visit for: Latin America for beginners; a taste of Central America without feeling too much like you’ve left the USA. If you’re deciding which country to visit in Latin America for a 1 or 2 week holiday with your family, I see Costa Rica as a perfect place – plenty of adventure activities, beaches, wildlife and tours available.

Pros: enjoy Caribbean and Pacific cultures all in one country, INCREDIBLE wildlife (like, really insane), good tourism infrastructure in terms of tours offered, qualification of guides, private shuttles, etc.

Cons: bar Bolivia, Costa Rica has the worst roads and public transport I’ve encountered (but I’ll let Bolivia off because, you know, hardly any money), and it’s truly infuriating. The country is expensive on Latin terms anyway, but large numbers of tourists from the US has led to high expectations for tipping from foreigners on top, even when pura vida got in the way of the service. Some parts can feel a little void of authentic culture.

Must-sees in Costa Rica: rehabilitated animals at the Jaguar Rescue Centre in Puerto Viejo, bike rides to the beaches around Puerto Viejo, wild horses on Sámara beach, sloths anywhere and everywhere, ATV around the peninsula from Santa Teresa to Manzanillo.

Ready to visit Costa Rica? Take advantage of my Costa Rica guides here.



ecuador what to do where to go visit banos baños waterfalls south america latin travel trip itinerary, planning traveling travelling

Cost: $$

English spoken: ***

Visit for: Amazonian experiences, colonial architectural beauty, empty beaches.

Pros: fairly similar weather all year round; main cities all have very distinct styles; landscapes are epic; US $ makes currency calculations easier!

Cons: domestic tourism can make things crowded at weekends; some other countries request Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate if you’ve been to Ecuador, (even if you only stayed in urban areas) – not really a con as you’ll be protected but a slight inconvenience if it doesn’t apply to your route! It’s not the cheapest Latin country, but not as bad as people make out – $4 meals are still a thing.

Must-sees in Ecuador: the route of waterfalls in Baños; empty beaches of Ayampe; La Basilica of Quito; the Galapagos Islands (though these are pricey!); Amazonian experience at Puerto Misahuallí or Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve.

Ready to visit Ecuador? Get all of my Ecuador travel posts here, including my ideal 2 weeks Ecuador itinerary.



If we only had 2 weeks: Guatemala Itinerary | Rio Dulce Finca Paraiso hot thermal sprint waterfall | Guatemala Travel Guide by Cuppa to Copa Travels

Cost: $

English spoken: ** (little Spanish spoken in indigenous areas!)

Visit for: learning about authentic indigenous culture, cheap Spanish language schools, natural wonders.

Pros: easy and cheap shuttle buses, decent standard of accommodation at low prices; the Spanish spoken is slow due to it being a second language for many; there is enough tourism to make plenty of friends, but not so much that it’s overwhelming.

Cons: you need to be careful of your surroundings on chicken buses and in Guatemala City, especially; strong WiFi can be difficult to find; keep up to date with volcano eruptions!

Must-sees in Guatemala: a stay at Maya Moon Lodge on Lake Atitlán; the sunrise Indian Nose Hike at Lake Atitlán; Siete Altares in Lívingston; toast marshmallows on Volcán Pacaya; Acatenango hike to see El Fuego erupting at dawn (high difficulty!); Semuc Champey, ancient Mayan ruins at Tikal; market days in Antigua; Finca el Paraíso near Río Dulce.

Ready to visit Guatemala? Read my ultimate Guatemala bucketlist, as well as my ideal 2 weeks Guatemala itinerary.



lake yojoa honduras best country to visit in latin america

Cost: $

English spoken: *

Visit for: cheap diving; raw cities, peaceful nature, zero crowds (Honduras has the least number of visitors per year in all of Latin America – though Venezuela may have taken that title now with all that’s going on)

Pros: locals seem really eager to help you, there really are barely any other tourists, food and transport are crazy cheap, beautiful peaceful nature, one of the least expensive places in the world to get PADI certified, lots of ancient history yet to be ruined by tourism

Cons: only the most touristy places offer tours; some areas can feel pretty sketchy; high crime rate in the cities; traffic is a nightmare in the capital; less info available on what to do and how to do it than other destinations

Must-sees in Honduras: dive spots from the Bay Islands; kayaking on Lake Yojoa; ziplining across the Pulhapanzak Waterfall; checking out Mayan ceremonial sites at Copán; exploring the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve

Ready to visit Honduras? Check out my Honduras content here



Best country in latin america: mexico

Cost: $$ to $$$$ depending on how you travel

English spoken: *** (out of 5)

Visit for: cultural festivities, ridiculous street food and stunning landscapes.

Pros: Transport is decent, and you’ll routinely stumble across the most unreal tacos you’ve ever tasted, mostly served up against a backdrop of either white beaches or beautiful mountains. There’s literally always something cultural going on – festivities and bunting are not just reserved for Día de los Muertos!

Cons: spring-breakism, especially in Cancún which I ABSOLUTELY suggest you avoid at all costs, but there’s a lot of holiday tackiness in surrounding towns like Playa del Carmen, too. Safety can be iffy in big cities, but stick to the right areas and you’ll likely be just fine.

Must-sees in Mexico: the many cenotes of Tulum (I recommend hiring a car to see as many as you can!), Hierve el Agua, the hipster bars of Roma barrio in Mexico City, Mercado de Tlacolula in Oaxaca, vibrant colour in San Cristobal in Chiapas, the old town vibes of Valladolid, the seven blues of Lake Bacalar.

Ready to visit Mexico? Read my all posts on Mexico travel here.



Nicaragua best countries to visit in Latin America Central sunset in Las Peñitas Granada

Cost: $$

English spoken: *** (out of 5)

Visit for: lack of crowds, active volcanoes, Caribbean island paradise, all of the lakes.

Pros: tourism hasn’t picked back up yet following 2018’s civil unrest, so tourist crowds are minimal; it’s a country full of beautiful options for hiking of different levels; unique geographies (from active volcanoes forming lake islands to canyons and crater lakes); colonial architecture here is really stunning.

Cons: though accommodation is still very reasonable, living costs are not as cheap as I was told they were, presumably as they recover from the recent shut-down of tourism. For women, there’s lots of cat-calling, especially in Granada; it’s hard to get a grasp on how much transport should cost as lots of the bus attendees have a habit of charging foreigners whatever they feel like that day.

Must-sees in Nicaragua: stunning architecture of Granada; boarding down an active volcano in León; Masaya Volcano’s lava-filled crater; sunset from Catedral Inmaculada Concepción in Granada; Sunday Funday in San Juan del Sur; San Ramon waterfall on Isla Ometepe; paradise beaches of Little Corn Island; learn to surf in Popoyo; sunrise over Laguna de Apoyo – the lake within a crater (rent a paddle-board from Paradiso Hostel!).

Ready to visit Nicaragua? Catch all of my Nicaragua travel guides here.



Panama City Trump Tower rainy season infinity pool | which country to visit in latin america central america

Cost: $$$$

English spoken: ****

Visit for: paradise beaches, small Caribbean islands, Miami-like development.

Pros: as a Westerner, you can very much feel at home in Panama City – expect to see all your favourite shops and restaurants; as Latin countries go, Panama has a relatively good relationship with its indigenous population, enabling them to rule over and protect their San Blas Islands from over-tourism.

Cons: it’s the kind of place rich white retirees go to pick up a young new plaything, which is both hilarious and gross to watch; Panama as a country is not as rich in things to do as others in the region.

Must-sees in Panama: San Blas Islands boat tour (to or from Colombia); Bocas del Toro island hopping; Casco Viejo in Panama City; Panama Viejo in Panama City.

Ready to visit Panama? Check out my Panama guides here.



Best country in latin america: paraguay

Cost: $$

English spoken: *

Visit for: well and truly off the Gringo Trail, wild terrain, safaris, cheap shopping, cost-saving route to Iguazú Falls (if coming from the West or North).

Pros: of those deemed safe to visit, this is probably Latin America’s most under-rated country, and that means… NO OVER-TOURISM, YAY! Hikes and trails to waterfalls in the South, safaris on the plains to the West.

Cons: no over-tourism also means little tourism infrastructure, so the travel here is more raw. Internal tourism is still a thing among the upper classes, so there are some busier holiday areas around San Bernandino on weekends. Everything is unpolished, which is a pro or con depending on your travel style!

Must-sees in Paraguay: San Jeronimo, Asunción, at the weekend; party with the elite at Morgan Warehouse in Asunción; hike to waterfalls and rock formations at Tobatí; see monkeys in Ybycuí national park; soak up holiday vibes at San Bernardino; safari in Gran Chaco; cheap shopping at Ciudad del Este.



Arequipa at sunset | Why go to Peru | Bitesize country summary planning guide for your trip to South America | Cuppa to Copa Travels

Cost: $$

English spoken: ***

Visit for: epic wonders of the world; rich history; diverse terrain; colonial architecture; partying.

Pros: excellent public transport; ease of visiting places of interest on tours; good tourism infrastructure.

Cons: touristy in places; sheer size means it takes a long time to get anywhere by bus; very popular with both long and short term travellers (both a pro and a con!).

Must-sees in Peru: Machu Picchu (obv); Rainbow Mountain; Miraflores barrio in Lima, Laguna 69 (from Huaraz); sand dunes of Huacachina.

Ready to visit Peru? Read all my Peru posts here, including my ideal 2 weeks Peru itinerary.



Cost: $$$$

English spoken: *

Visit for: gringo-less travels, rolling countryside, incredible beaches.

Pros: very safe country; untouched beaches; underrated by most (so not over-crowded).

Cons: Some parts are full of tourists (mostly from Brazil and Argentina) during high season and then completely closed during low season (such as Punta del Este); close to Western European prices; food is sometimes lacking in flavour, variety and vegetables; tough accent to understand.

Must-sees in Uruguay: Beaches near Punta del Diablo; the off-grid town of Cabo Polonio; the cobbled streets of Colonia del Sacramento.

Ready to visit Uruguay? Read my Uruguay travel guides here.

So, there you have it! My comprehensive guide on which country to visit in Latin America. I hope that you can use this to be able to select the countries that suit you and your travel style best. Let me know in the comments which country to visit in Latin America you would choose!


best of latam travel destination guides blog


Liked this post on which country to visit in Latin America?

Save the below image on Pinterest to read again later!

Which country to visit in Latin America COUNTRY SUMMARIES TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR TRIP

Last Updated on 11 January 2024 by Cuppa to Copa Travels

7 thoughts on “Bitesize LatAm: Which country to visit in Latin America?”

  1. Your website is so well laid out and informative. Definitely should be a go to for anyone looking to travel here. Not sure how well I can learn Spanish though 🤔😬 xx

  2. This is super useful! Love that you have costs, highlights, pros and cons for each country.

    We are currently planning a trip in Latin America and this perfectly sums up everything for each country we were considering 🙂
    Thanks !!

    1. CuppaToCopaTravels

      Thanks for reading! If you need any help with the finer details of your trip feel free to reach out!

Leave a comment :)

Scroll to Top