This blog post was updated on March 20, 2019.

this post sponsored by LATAM

With each of its countries offering up visitors unique cultures, cuisines, and experiences, South America is a continent that’s managed to consistently stay on world travelers’ bucket lists for decades. However, for those travelers who need to search out cheap flights and stick to a tight budget, the thought of exploring many of its wonderful and intriguing cities can seem daunting. But don’t worry; we’ve put together this handy list of the most affordable cities you can travel to in South America, without breaking the bank. Enjoy!

Quito, Ecuador

Whether standing in the official middle of the earth or digging into some spit-roasted guinea pig, you’ll find that the world’s first ever UNESCO World Heritage site has the perfect blend of native american influences as well as colonial Spanish flavor to make it an exciting and informative getaway, without hardly making a dent in your wallet. Cheap flights are abundant and the city has a variety of budget hostels and dorm beds while its delicious street food delights like humitas (similar to tamales) and llapingachos (tortillas topped with egg, vegetables, and chorizo) will sustain you for just a pittance.


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Santiago, Chile

Chile’s capital city is full of great things to see and do, and none of them are going to exhaust your funds. You can visit one of legendary poet Pablo Neruda’s museum (formerly his home); enjoy walking through the Plaza de Armas and stopping by the Museo Histórico Nacional for a great lesson on the country’s history; and check out the neighborhoods of La Chascona and Providencia, which are famous for their live music venues. Eating out is perfect for those on a budget, as ordering a tasty completo (a burger or hotdog topped with avocados, tomatoes, and mayonnaise) won’t set you back by much.

La Paz, Bolivia

You don’t have to be too concerned about overspending when in La Paz. Whether it’s looking for spiritual guidance at the Mercado de los Brujas (Withches’ Market), enjoying the bizarre yet empowering spectacle of a Cholita women’s wresting match, or taking a walk through the historic and beautiful Jaen Street, you can actually be rest assured that the best things in life are free (or at least almost free!).

Cusco, Peru

Go ahead — sip on a pisco sour and enjoy the world go by at a easier pace in this old capital of the Inca Empire. You’ll find that your dollars will go far in Cusco, as it would throughout most of Peru. For the prices you will be paying there are a plethora of affordable experiences. You can take a day trip to visit the iconic Incan citadel of Machu Picchu, enjoy the laid-back vibes and artists and musicians of the less touristy San Blas neighborhood, and marvel at the intricate external architecture and interior splendor of its cathedrals. Accommodation can be a little pricey, but if you use your Spanish speaking skills you may be able to land a private room , or a “hospedaje”, which is how most local visitors stay on the cheap.

Cartagena, Colombia

The colorful buildings and enchanting churches will make you feel like Cartagena is a luxury vacation hotspot, but looks can be deceiving. The city is easily explored by foot and finding affordable accommodation is a piece of cake. Make sure to visit the “walled city” that is the Ciudad Amurallada fortress complex, full of shops, bars, and restaurants; make a day trip to chill out at Playa Blanca, one of the finest stretches of beach in the world; and haggle your way through the busy Mercado de Bazurto, where a fantastic meal will cost you just a couple of dollars.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

It takes two to tango and Buenos Aires just asked you to dance! This vibrant city is full of great architecture and food which keeps visitors coming back for more. While some areas and experiences are a bit expensive, there are tons of free activities that can help you have a cost-effective, authentic experience. You can check out the colorful street art and graffiti that have made the barrios of Palermo, Caballito, and Colegiales world famous; get a free tango lesson at Barrancas de Belgrano park; grab a bargain at the buzzing San Telmo flea market; and watch traditional cowboys (gauchos) enter the city with much fanfare at Feria de Mataderos.

Looking to explore South America on a tight budget? Make your way to one of these great locations for an unforgettable adventure!

2 Responses

  1. Candy

    Love, love Cusco, Peru. While in the San Blas neighborhood find Maximo Laura’s gallery of tapestries.

    • Dhinesh Manuel

      Thanks for the tip! We’ll check it out next time we’re in San Blas!


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Socialite, philanthropist, costumed crime fighter by wait...that's bad ... Musician, writer, travel junkie, dog lover, and database of useless information. I love to learn about new cultures, experience new cuisines, meet new people, and have a few laughs along the way!