The 10 Best Spots for a Sizzling South America Honeymoon

From Rio's Copacabana and Carnival to the off-grid hikes in Patagonia, your marriage couldn't be off to a more exciting start.
Cartagena, Colombia honeymoon destination in South America
Photo: Starcevic / Getty Images
Lane Nieset
by Lane Nieset
Updated Apr 09, 2024
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Newlyweds tend to look to far-flung islands as the ultimate honeymoon, but there are plenty of South America honeymoon spots just as picture-perfect in more unexpected spots that are (somewhat) closer to home.

South America's cosmopolitan capitals, ancient cities, Caribbean islands and well-preserved wildlife make this continent one of the most diverse in terms of honeymoon options for couples of all budgets and styles. Cruise the Galápagos Islands on the same yacht that was a honeymoon gift to Princess Grace or strap on your hiking boots and hit the trails in Patagonia, resting your feet in sumptuous suites and lodges along the way. Bask on Brazil's golden shores that have been immortalized in songs and films or taste your way through Chile's wine regions, selecting bottles that can age and be popped at your next anniversary. Whether you're after a vibrant city or prefer something more low-key (and off the beaten path), the 10 best honeymoon destinations in South America are sure to make your trip a truly memorable one. If you're still unsure about your honeymoon locale, consult a travel specialist who can help you plan the vacation of a lifetime.

The Knot's Top 10 Travel Destinations in South America

With so many gorgeous and unique destinations to choose from, South America is a beloved spot for honeymooners—but where should you go? Your first step in choosing a location is deciding the type of honeymoon you'd like to plan. The list below is a great starting point.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina honeymoon destination
Photo: John W Banagan / Getty Images

Nicknamed the "Paris of South America," the European-influenced capital of Buenos Aires is among the most vibrant on the continent. Home to some of the widest boulevards in the world, which are lined with stunning Beaux Arts buildings, the buzzy city is one of the most romantic to stroll around in. Punctuated with parks, gardens and flower-lined paths, you'll get a nice mix of city life and nature—plus nonstop culture in the form of top-notch art and museums, charming cafes and restaurants (a trip isn't complete without sampling the classic barbecue, or parrilla!), and tango dance halls.

Things to Do: You can't visit the birthplace of tango without learning the dance. Take a class with a local dancer or spend the evening watching the pros at a dinner show. If you don't have time to visit the country's wineries, get a deep dive into Argentina's winemaking culture with a wine tasting in a private cellar.

Where to Stay: Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires isn't your average five-star hotel. Housed in an early 20th-century Belle Epoque mansion, this luxurious enclave offers everything from a heated pool (the only in Recoleta) to afternoon fire pit barbecues in the secret garden. The Philippe Starck-designed Faena Hotel Buenos Aires is another favorite—and sits right on the waterfront in Puetro Madero

Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru honeymoon destination
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A two-part honeymoon that combines the best of both city life in Lima and one of the New Seven Wonders of the Modern World, Machu Picchu is a bucket list experience for couples — especially if you journey through the heart of the Inca Empire in the utmost of style on board Belmond's Hiram Bingham train through the Sacred Valley, up to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Toast to your new nuptials with pisco sours from the comfort of the vintage cocktail car, admiring the dramatic landscape of the Andes as you cruise by.

Things to Do: Hiking is the main draw to the area, and the Inca Trail is the most popular option when it comes to experiencing the ancient city. If you're not a huge hiker, you can set off on a shorter two-day trek on a condensed hiking tour.

Where to Stay: Sanctuary Lodge, A Belmond Hotel sits at the gateway to the Inca Empire, in the shadows of the Lost City, making it a top choice for honeymooners who want to be the first visitors into the citadel at dawn.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil honeymoon guide
Photo: Anton Petrus / Getty Images

Time your trip during the Southern Hemisphere's summer season (December through March), which coincides with one of the largest parties on the globe: the week-long Rio Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. The pulsating city is crowned by world-famous beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema; forested mountains home to Tijuca National Park; and an impressive blend of historic and modern architecture that earned it the title of world capital. The golden sands! The sunsets! The samba music! Rio checks nearly every box—and is a city that doesn't sleep, so you're sure to find around-the-clock action (and plenty of caipirinha cocktails and samba until sunrise).

Things to Do: Check off Rio's iconic sites on a full-day tour through the forest in Tijuca, which heads up to the Christ the Redeemer statue and via cable car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain. Stroll around the saucer-shaped Niterói Contemporary Art Museum or Parque Lage, a hidden gem inside the botanical garden.

Where to Stay: The grand dame where everyone from Brigitte Bardot to Princess Diana have stayed is the Art Deco Copacabana Palace, which sits on the namesake beach — meaning you'll have Belmond's signature service pampering you and your other half in sun loungers along the sand.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago, Chile honeymoon travel guide
Photo: diegograndi / Getty Images

Encased by snow-capped mountains, Chile's cosmopolitan capital is a great base for couples who want a mix of gastronomic experiences, fantastic wines, galleries and boutiques, and nature. Plus, you can easily day trip to nearby wine regions like Maipo or Colchagua Valley (If you can't make it out to a winery, taste your way through the country's top vino at popular wine bar Baco.). Dine at French-influenced Ambrosia or indulge in a 16- to 20-course culinary feast at Boragó. It's worth saving time for a day trip to the former home of poet Pablo Neruda in the colorful port city of Valparaíso, where restaurants, bars and galleries line the steep, street art-lined lanes of the hilly UNESCO World Heritage site.

Things to Do: For a panoramic viewpoint over the city and Andes Mountains, head up to the peaks of the Parque Metropolitano (Cerro San Cristóbal), the largest green space in the city that's home to everything from a botanical garden to a funicular that'll whisk you to the summit. Don't miss the weekend Persa Víctor Manuel flea market or La Casa de la Cueca, a dance hall with Friday night classes.

Where to Stay: The sister to the Patagonia property, The Singular Santiago in Lastarria is conveniently placed in the center of the city with a rooftop bar and expansive terraces offering picture-perfect views of Santiago unfolding below.

Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean

Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean honeymoon guide
Photo: Brandon Rosenblum / Getty Images

Bonaire forms the "B" in the ABC Islands (which includes Aruba and Curaçao) in the Dutch Caribbean. Off the coast of Venezuela, Bonaire may not be as popular as Aruba, but this is what makes the island a great honeymoon option for couples looking to get slightly off the beaten path (and away from throngs of tourists). An easy spot to reach from the East Coast (you'll find direct flights from hubs like Newark, Miami and Houston), the unspoiled island is a paradise for nature-lovers and scuba divers, with reefs and shipwrecks that have made it one of the Caribbean's best dive sites.

Things to Do: Go beach hopping and discover some of the island's hidden gems on a boat tour through the national marine park, or paddle in a clear-bottom kayak through Lac Bay's mangroves on a snorkel tour.

Where to Stay: Boutique hotel The Bellafonte is a favorite for its views (one of the best reefs sits off the pier out front) and oceanfront plunge pool, while the seaside Plaza Beach & Dive Resort is a top pick if you're looking for an all-inclusive experience.

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador honeymoon guide
Photo: Andre Distel Photography / Getty Images

If you really want to get off-grid but don't have the time to take off a few weeks to cruise to Antarctica, the Galápagos Islands are a much easier (and more accessible!) alternative with experiences that are just as once-in-a-lifetime. Spend a night or two on the mainland in Quito, where you can tour the capital's cultural attractions with the help of an operator like Quasar Expeditions, before flying over to Santa Cruz Island, the main entry point to the Galápagos. Spend a day or two in town before boarding the luxurious Quasar Grace Yacht, a 16-passenger ship that was originally a honeymoon gift to Grace of Monaco.

Things to Do: The best way to get the most out of the Galápagos is on a cruise, pausing to snorkel and paddle with penguins and sea lions at islands like Santa Fe and San Cristobal. Even if you're not a fan of cruises, small ships and sailing yachts will change your mind — and offer newlyweds plenty of privacy.

Where to Stay: The most luxurious hotel option in the Galápagos is eco-chic Pikaia Lodge, perched on the edge of an extinct volcanic crater. The only beachfront hotel in Santa Cruz, Finch Bay is surrounded by a protected national park and offers six suites with private balconies overlooking the ocean.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia honeymoon guide
Photo: Pablo Cuadra / Getty Images

The patchwork-like Salar de Uyuni — the world's largest salt flat — spans across nearly 4,000 square miles of the Altiplano, making the horizon seem practically endless. The prehistoric salt lake that once extended across southwest Bolivia is just one of the country's otherworldly wonders. Adventurous couples with a passion for photography can capture nearly every type of landscape while trekking along Andean peaks or sleeping under the stars in secluded domes on a glamping experience like no other.

Things to Do: Tour the salt flats and surrounding hot springs, geysers and lagoons with the help of luxury travel planning pros like Jacada Travel or Black Tomato, whose personalized Blink experience includes a private, secluded dome camp in the Salar de Uyuni desert, giving you and your other half prime seats for sunrise.

Where to Stay: For an experience you won't be able to replicate anywhere else, sleep in the world's first salt hotel, Palacio de Sal. Located on the shores of the Salar de Uyuni, the property is decorated with sculptures crafted from salt and suites feature dome-shaped ceilings and wraparound windows that frame views of the flats outside.

Panama City, Panama

Panama City, Panama honeymoon travel guide
Photo: David Shvartsman / Getty Images

Panama's most famous attraction may be its canal, but the country that connects two continents is one of the most underrated honeymoon destinations in Central and South America. Don't limit your stay to a cruise ship stop — post up in the UNESCO-protected Casco Viejo, the oldest European settlement still standing on the Pacific Coast of North and South America. Stroll the winding brick streets lined with centuries-old churches and pastel-colored, colonial-style buildings accented with wrought-iron balconies akin to New Orleans. The pedestrian-friendly neighborhood is the perfect base for tasting your way around the capital's diverse culinary scene, which includes one of Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants, Maito.

Things to Do: Get your culture fix at the immersive Museo de la Mola or at the Frank Gehry-designed, Smithsonian-run Biomuseo; plunge in pristine bays on a catamaran cruise off the coast; or sample some of the country's sought-after Geisha coffee at a cafe like Mentiritas Blancas. Turn your trip into a two-part honeymoon, jetting over to private island eco-lodge Isla Palenque, where you can spend your days basking on one of seven beaches or cozying up in a luxe beachfront casita.

Where to Stay: Sleep in one of the beautifully restored landmarks in Casco Viejo, like Hotel La Compañía or Sofitel Legend Casco Viejo, or opt for something just as charming but at a more budget-friendly price point, like Hotel Casa Magnolia Inn.

Patagonia, Argentina & Chile

Patagonia, Argentina & Chile honeymoon destination idea
Photo: Fotografías Jorge León Cabello / Getty Images

The southern part of South America, Patagonia spans across Chile and Argentina, encompassing two coasts along the Atlantic and Pacific with landscape so striking, you'll be happy you made the journey down. Think of this as the true South American wilderness, where the scenery shifts from glaciers and fjords to ancient forests and valleys practically made for trekking — which is one of the main draws to the region. For adventurous couples who don't mind slightly roughing it, this is a dream destination — one that's sure to draw travel envy when friends back home see photos.

Things to Do: The Tierra del Fuego, or "Uttermost End of the World," is one spot not to miss, since it's the gateway to Antarctica and departure point for expeditions and cruises to the continent.

Where to Stay: One of the more upscale options, The Singular Patagonia, Puerto Bories Hotel sits on 100 acres lining the Last Hope Fjord, so you'll be in the perfect base for expeditions to nearby glaciers and horseback riding on private ranches.

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia honeymoon travel guide
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Cartagena's crayon-colored colonial buildings and charming cobblestone streets shielded by the Old Town walls are part of what has made this coastal Colombian city a favorite for destination weddings and honeymoons. A more affordable option in South America, you can soak up the town's Old World charm, fantastic restaurants and nearby islands dotting the bay at a fraction of the price of other locales. Plus, you can land here on a nonstop flight in just three hours from Miami — meaning less time on a plane and more time posting up on Caribbean shores.

Things to Do: Take a cycling tour around the city's UNESCO-listed monuments, learn how to prep coffee beans and brew like a pro, or set off horseback riding on La Boquilla beach.

Where to Stay: Sleep in style at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena, housed in a 17th-century building with spectacular suites perched over the Caribbean (plus luxe amenities like butler service).

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