Americas Travel Guide
Welcome, fellow exploration junkies, to a continent of vibrant culture, captivating landscapes, and unforgettable adventures - The Americas. From the Arctic tundra of North America to the glacial wilderness of the South, the Americas beckon with promises of unbounded exploration and heart-stirring experiences.
This is where the wonders of Mother Nature blend seamlessly with the bustle of cosmopolitan cities, and where the echoes of ancient civilizations co-exist with the rhythm of modern life.
The Americas was the first continent I explored outside of my Europe home, and it holds a special place in my heart; Buckle up, because the Americas have a way of leaving an indelible mark on your traveler's soul. Happy exploring!
Where do you want to go? Click on the region you want to explore.
Explore the vast expanses of Northern America, a region of contrasts. Discover the vibrant metropolises, sweeping landscapes, diverse cultures, and legendary landmarks that make this part of the world truly unique.
North America includes Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Greenland.
Delve into the heart of Central America, where ancient civilizations, tropical jungles, active volcanoes, and idyllic beaches await. This region offers a perfect blend of adventure, history, and relaxation.
Central America includes countries like Panama, Costa Rica, and Guatemala, among others.
Embark on an unforgettable journey through South America. Encounter majestic Andean peaks, expansive Amazonian rainforests, vibrant cities, and rich cultural heritage. This continent will leave you spellbound!
South America includes popular destinations such as Peru, Brazil, and Colombia.
Immerse yourself in the Caribbean’s intoxicating mix of vibrant cultures, crystal-clear waters, and sun-kissed beaches. Every island offers its own unique charm, from rhythm-filled nights to tranquil nature escapes.
The Caribbean includes tourism heavyweights such as the Dominican Republic and Cuba, as well as less-visited islands such as the Grenadines.
Quick Facts About The Americas
- The Americas comprise 35 independent countries, including island nations in the Caribbean.
- The 3 largest countries are Canada, the United States, and Brazil.
- Additionally, there are 25 non-sovereign territories, including Greenland, which is a territory of Denmark, and the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory.
- Americas’ subregions:
- North America: Includes countries such as Canada, the United States, and Mexico, along with Greenland.
- Central America: 7 countries make up this part of the continent, the bridge between North and South America. It goes from Guatemala and Belize in the north, to Costa Rica and Panama in the south.
- Caribbean: A long string of islands from the larger ones in the north, such as Cuba and Hispañola, to much smaller ones towards the south such as Dominica or St Lucia.
- South America: Encompasses 13 countries from Colombia in the north, all the way to Argentina and Chile in the south, including Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, and others.
- Spanish and English are the two most widely spoken languages in the Americas due to the large populations of countries like the United States, Mexico, and many Latin American countries.
- Portuguese is the third most spoken language, mainly because of Brazil’s large population.
- The Americas are home to a vast number of indigenous languages, many of which are still spoken today, such as Quechua, Nahuatl, and Guarani.
- The Americas host a wide array of religious beliefs due to their diverse cultural history.
- Christianity, in its various denominations, is the most practiced religion across both continents.
- Catholicism is particularly dominant in Latin America and parts of Canada, while Protestantism is more prevalent in the United States.
- There are also substantial communities of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and followers of traditional indigenous religions. Atheism and agnosticism are also significant, especially in the United States and Canada.
- The Americas are also the birthplace of several new religious movements, such as the Latter Day Saint movement, Rastafari, and various New Age movements.
The Americas, A Continent of Many Records
- The Americas cover an area of about 42.55 million km² (16.43 million square miles), making it the second largest continent on Earth, and is home to over a billion people.
- Canada is the second-largest country in the world with almost 10 million square kilometers. The United States is the third most populous country in the world, with over 331 million people. Following closely is Brazil, with a population surpassing 211 million.
- The Amazon Rainforest, predominantly located in Brazil, is the world’s largest tropical rainforest, covering an area of approximately 5.5 million km² (2.1 million square miles). It is often referred to as the “lungs of the Earth”.
- The Andes mountain range, stretching across seven South American countries, is the world’s longest continental mountain range, spanning approximately 7,000 km (4,350 miles).
- Aconcagua, located in the Andes in Argentina, is the highest mountain in the Americas, reaching an altitude of 6,960.8 meters (22,837 feet).
- The Amazon River, which flows through Brazil and Peru, is considered the world’s largest river by volume and is thought to be the second longest, only surpassed by the Nile.
- The Great Lakes, shared by the United States and Canada, form the largest group of freshwater lakes in the world by total area, covering over 244,000 km² (94,000 square miles).
- The Atacama Desert in Chile is known as the driest place on Earth. Some weather stations in the Atacama have never recorded a single drop of rain.
- Death Valley, located in the Mojave Desert in the United States, holds the record for the highest recorded temperature on Earth at 56.7°C (134°F), measured in July 1913.
- Yellowstone National Park, in the United States, is recognized as the world’s first national park, established in 1872, and is also home to the world’s most geologically active region with over 10,000 thermal features and more than 300 geysers.
- The Great Barrier Reef in Belize is the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere and the second-largest coral reef system in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
10 Handpicked American Highlights
10 fantastic places and experiences in the Americas, in no particular order.
Explore the majestic grandeur of the Grand Canyon in the United States. Stand on the rim of this awe-inspiring geological marvel, carved by the Colorado River, and let the vista take your breath away.
Immerse yourself in the primal beauty of Patagonia in Argentina and Chile. This vast expanse of wild landscapes, featuring towering mountains, sprawling steppe, and glacial lakes, promises an unforgettable adventure.
Delve into the ancient mystique of Machu Picchu in Peru. The ‘Lost City of the Incas’, nestled amidst cloud-shrouded Andean peaks, stands as a testament to the grandeur of the Incan civilization.
Experience the wonder of the Amazon Rainforest. Embark on a river cruise or trek through the jungle to discover a spectacular array of biodiversity.
Witness the awe-inspiring spectacle of the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, in Canada. Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut offer some of the best vantage points for this natural light show.
Roam the landscapes of Banff National Park in Canada, adorned with turquoise lakes, jagged peaks, and glaciers. Don’t miss the iconic Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.
Feel the pulsating rhythm of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Enjoy the vibrancy of its beaches, the grandeur of Christ the Redeemer, and the exhilarating energy of its Carnival.
Delve into the extraordinary Maya history at the Chichén Itzá in Mexico. The iconic El Castillo pyramid and the vast archaeological site will transport you back in time.
Explore the wild beauty of the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador. These volcanic islands, famed for their unique and fearless wildlife, offer unparalleled opportunities for up-close encounters.
Discover the spellbinding landscapes of the Atacama Desert in Chile. From salt flats and hot springs to geysers and moon-like valleys, the world’s driest desert is packed with surreal beauty.
When to Go to the Americas
Spanning from the Arctic Circle to the southern tip of Patagonia, the Americas encompass a wide range of climates and landscapes.
From tropical rainforests to arid deserts, and from icy tundra to sun-kissed beaches, the ideal time to visit various regions can vary greatly. For more precise information, please refer to individual country guides, but let’s highlight a few general points:
For those looking to visit North America’s national parks, such as Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, or Yosemite, the months between May and September offer the best weather and accessibility, although they can also be the busiest.
If the beaches of Florida or California are calling your name, then aim for late spring or early fall to avoid the peak summer crowds, while still enjoying warm weather.
To witness the dazzling spectacle of the Northern Lights in Canada or Alaska, the winter months from September to April offer the best opportunities. However, bear in mind that these regions can get extremely cold during this time.
Planning a trip to the tropical paradises of the Caribbean or Central America? The dry season, typically from November to April, is the best time to avoid the rains. But remember, it’s also the peak tourist season.
In South America, the timing can be quite diverse. If you’re considering a visit to the Amazon Rainforest, the drier period from June to October is usually the best.
For an adventure in the Andes or a visit to Machu Picchu, the dry season from May to September offers the best conditions.
The wild landscapes of Patagonia in Argentina and Chile are most accessible and enjoyable during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer, from December to March.
Remember, these are general guidelines, and weather can be unpredictable, so always check the local forecasts and conditions closer to your travel dates. The Americas are always ready to welcome you, no matter the season!
Traveling to The Americas
Traveling in the Americas is generally safe but, like anywhere else in the world, it does come with some risks. Here are eight tips to keep in mind for your journey:
- Always research local laws and customs of your destination before you arrive. The Americas are diverse with many different cultures and what’s acceptable in one place might not be in another.
- Crime rates can vary drastically from one region to another. Be aware of your surroundings, especially in urban areas or when traveling at night.
- Natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires can occur in some parts of the Americas. Stay informed about potential threats and know how to respond.
- When exploring natural parks and wilderness areas, understand the risks associated with local wildlife. Never approach wild animals, and educate yourself about potential dangers.
- Ensure you’re up to date with necessary vaccinations. Diseases like Zika and Dengue can be a risk in tropical areas.
- Respect the power of the sun. Wear sunscreen, stay hydrated, and seek shade during peak sunlight hours.
- If you plan to participate in adventurous activities such as hiking, diving, or rafting, make sure you are adequately prepared and equipped, and consider hiring a local guide.
- Always have a plan for medical emergencies, know the location of the nearest hospital, and have travel insurance that covers health issues.
Getting to and Around the Americas
Reaching the Americas is generally straightforward with many international flights landing in numerous countries across the continent. Once there, a plethora of transportation options await:
- Air Travel: With vast distances between some destinations, air travel can be the quickest way to get around. There are numerous regional and domestic airlines in addition to the international ones.
- Car: The Pan-American Highway is a fantastic road trip stretching from Alaska in North America to Ushuaia in South America. Just remember, in some remote areas, the conditions can be challenging.
- Bus: Buses are a prevalent and affordable way to travel, especially in Central and South America. They range from basic and cheap to luxury ‘lie-flat seat’ buses.
- Train: While not as widespread as in other continents, iconic rail journeys exist such as Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer or Peru’s Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
- Boat: Riverboats in the Amazon, cruises in the Caribbean or Alaska, or ferries in the Great Lakes region, water transport is an integral part of travel in the Americas.
The Americas offer a broad range of accommodations to suit all travel styles and budgets:
- Hotels: From luxury resorts to budget hotels, the options are plentiful. Major hotel chains are widespread, especially in North America.
- Vacation Rentals: Platforms like Airbnb offer a chance to stay in local homes or apartments everywhere from major cities to rural areas.
- Hostels: Particularly popular among backpackers in Central and South America, hostels provide budget accommodation and a chance to meet other travelers.
- Camping: With an abundance of national parks and nature reserves, camping can be a wonderful option. Facilities range from basic sites to those with full amenities.
- Eco-Lodges: Especially in the Amazon or other nature-focused destinations, these can provide a unique, environmentally conscious accommodation experience.
Prices can vary significantly based on the location and the level of luxury you’re after. Always remember to book in advance during peak travel seasons to secure the best options and prices.