TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Landmarks in South America
Every year, TripAdvisor announces the top-rated destinations, hotels, landmarks and more around the world in its Travellers’ Choice Awards. It’s an excellent guideline for understanding which places and experiences travellers are loving right now, and is particularly handy as regions and countries are segmented so you can find popular highlights specifically in the destinations you are headed to. If South America is on your mind, then read on as we take a look at the Top 10 Landmarks in South America in TripAdvisor’s 2019 Travellers’ Choice Awards.
- Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
- Machu Picchu, Peru
- El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Argentina
- Recoleta Cemetery, Argentina
- Sacsayhuaman, Peru
- Catedral de Pedra, Brazil
- Catedral Metropolitana, Brazil
- Teatro Amazonas, Brazil
- Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru
- Maras Salt Mines, Peru
1. Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
Rising from Mount Corcovado in pulsating Rio de Janeiro, Christ the Redeemer is an iconic South American landmark that watches over Brazil’s party city. Indeed, this 38m-tall statue can be seen from virtually every corner of Rio, stretching its arms outwards in the iconic stance as though embracing the whole city. The art deco sculpture is voted the #1 landmark in South America in 2019 by TripAdvisor users, and this comes as no surprise. To gaze up at Cristo Redentor from the city streets is one thing, but to get up close to it and enjoy sweeping views of Rio de Janeiro is an entirely unique experience altogether.
2. Machu Picchu, Peru
Who could deny the majesty and ingenuity of Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Inca? Nestling in a mountainous corner of the Sacred Valley, Peru, Machu Picchu is made up of 150 buildings and around 3,000 steps that were built by the Inca civilisation in the 15th century. Having created a palatial city tucked between majestic jagged peaks, they were forced to flee at the time of the Spanish conquest, and the city was left abandoned for centuries. It would later be rediscovered by American explorer Hiram Bingham, in 1911, and today is the #2 top landmark in South America, according to TripAdvisor. Machu Picchu certainly deserves that recognition, and contrary to popular belief can be accessed via train and not just the strenuous Inca Trail!
3. El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Argentina
The Grand Splendid in Buenos Aires has had many lives. After being constructed a hundred years ago, in 1919, it began as a theatre and tango hall then became a cinema, but today has been given a new lease of life as a bookstore. And it’s a splendid one at that. Visitors can expect to find a regal interior festooned with frescoes, velvety scarlet drapes, gilded carvings, and even balconies curving elegantly over two floors, lined with bookcases for your perusal. There’s a coffee shop here too and the same stage which was graced by the likes of Carlos Gardel – a famous tango performer from Argentina.
4. Recoleta Cemetery, Argentina
Another Buenos Aires landmark, the #4 top-rated site is a cemetery – but this is no ordinary graveyard. The Recoleta Cemetery in Argentina is considered the most beautiful in the world, a warren of elaborate architectural gems built in a range of styles: baroque, art deco, art nouveau, Greek and neo-gothic. As you walk through this unusual and strangely peaceful cemetery, which resides in Buenos Aires’ most upmarket neighbourhood, Recoleta, expect to find colonnaded structures hewn from marble and plenty of religious iconography.
5. Sacsayhuaman, Peru
An imposing fortress enthroned on a hill above Cusco, Sacsayhuaman is a mighty archaeological complex and another marvel from the Inca era. What makes this vast fort so unique is its stone slabs, which are huge yet unidentical in shape and size, so it looks like a big 3D puzzle to this day. These are the foundations of a once great fortress and temple, the largest building the Inca ever created, and still an impressive landmark in the ever-beautiful Sacred Valley of Peru.
6. La Catedral de Pedra, Brazil
The Cathedral of Stone – or Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes – is a fascinating English gothic-style cathedral located in Canela, Rio Grande do Sul. This unusual architectural structure stands out on the plaza of Canela, though looks more suited to the rolling hills of England than those of Brazil! Its 65m tower, bronze bells and exquisite wooden altar are no doubt a huge part of the reason that this elaborate cathedral has been voted the #6 top South American landmark on TripAdvisor.
7. La Catedral Metropolitana, Brazil
Another cathedral in Brazil making the top 10 TripAdvisor list flaunts an entirely different style altogether. Created in 1970 by famous Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer, the Metropolitan Cathedral in Brasilia, the capital, is a beguiling but beautiful construction. Outside stand four bronze statues rising up to three metres, representing the Four Disciples, while the pyramidal-shaped cathedral emerges behind them. At the top of the structure is what appears to be a white crown, while inside there are a cluster of angels seemingly suspended in the air. It’s an ethereal sight to behold, and a testament to Niemeyer’s ingenuity.
8. Teatro Amazonas, Brazil
Think of the Amazon Rainforest, and you’ll probably imagine a tangle of impenetrable jungle, immense biodiversity and nature at its most raw. This is certainly the case, but did you know that in the middle of it all you can find a grand opera hall? It is a rather delightful surprise to gaze upon the Teatro Amazonas, a pretty 19th-century building situated in Manaus, the gateway to the Amazon in Brazil. Adorned in salmon-pink and pristine white, the resplendently designed theatre is characterised by elegant columns, carvings and an exquisite dome on the outside. Within, meanwhile, you can enjoy film screenings, opera shows and musical performances, a real contrast to the wildlife safaris you’ll be enjoying here in the Amazon!
9. Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru
South America has many beautiful squares, but there’s something particularly special about the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru. Part of its enchanting allure is the architecture that surrounds it: an opulent cathedral here, perfectly preserved colonial townhouses there, a lovely fountain at its heart and gardens too. It could also be the fact that Cusco’s Plaza de Armas was built by the Spanish atop a similar ‘square’ created by the Inca – which would’ve actually been twice as big as the colonial version. Another amazing thing about the Plaza de Armas is the atmosphere, which feels wonderfully relaxed and conducive to moments spent people-watching, drinking it all in.
10. Maras Salt Mines, Peru
The #10 landmark in South America in 2019 is the Salinas de Maras, salt pans found in the Sacred Valley of Peru. Not too far from Machu Picchu, the Maras Salt Mines actually pre-date the Inca civilisation, used, of course, to extract salt from the land. Not only does the heritage of Maras impress – these centuries-old ponds are still used to this day to harvest salt – but visually, it’s a real treat. The sparkling white pans are spread over the mountainside, with the earthy landscape of Urubamba Valley beyond contrasting beautifully. It’s no wonder this ancient site is one of the top ten landmarks in South America.
Inspired to start planning your trip to South America? You can use our online trip-building tool to handpick the hotels and activities you want, adjust the durations depending on how long you want to stay in each place, and have fun in the process! Surtrek is always at hand to help out. Call us on 1 866 978 7398 (Canada and USA) or 080 8189 0438 (UK) to talk to an expert, and Discover Your South America with Surtrek!