10 Cheap South America Vacations to Enjoy on a Budget

by Jen
Cheap South America Vacations to Enjoy on a Budget
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Are you eager to discover some of the most enchanting and budget-friendly destinations in South America? Just wait until you see these cheap South America vacations for budget travelers!

Picture yourself exploring the ancient Incan city of Cusco and the majestic Machu Picchu in Peru, or immersing yourself in the rich history of Quito, Ecuador. South America is a mosaic of affordable travel gems, each radiating its own distinct charm.

So, whether you’re a thrill-seeker, a culture buff, or someone in search of tranquil beauty, our list has something for everyone. We’re about to set off on a voyage through South America’s most affordable and mesmerizing spots – hidden treasures, breathtaking landscapes, and experiences that will etch themselves in your memory. Pack your bags, fly to South America, and let’s embark on an adventure that’s as kind to your senses as it is to your budget!

Cheap South America Vacations to Enjoy on a Budget

Are you thrilled to uncover the most affordable and mesmerizing vacation spots in South America? This guide is your gateway to not only the continent’s renowned budget-friendly destinations but also its charming hidden gems. Let’s embark on this journey of affordable wonders waiting for you across South America.

1. Cusco and Machu Picchu, Peru

Get ready to step back in time in Cusco and Machu Picchu in Peru. This iconic trip is surprisingly one of the best cheap vacations in South America.

Cusco, once the heart of the Inca Empire, is a city where history comes alive. Wander through its cobbled streets, explore the vibrant San Pedro Market, and marvel at the blend of Inca and colonial architecture. Despite its popularity, Cusco remains a budget-friendly destination with plenty of affordable accommodations and eateries. It is also one of the top places to live and visit in South America.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Sacred Valley. Just a short trip from Cusco, it’s home to stunning landscapes and lesser-known Inca sites like Pisac and Ollantaytambo, offering a more budget-friendly experience compared to Machu Picchu.

Speaking of Machu Picchu, this awe-inspiring ancient city is a must-visit. While the entrance fee and train ride can be a bit pricey, savvy travelers can find budget-friendly options like taking a bus to Hidroelectrica and then hiking to Aguas Calientes, the gateway town to Machu Picchu.

Cusco and Machu Picchu are ideal for history buffs, adventure seekers, and anyone looking to experience the magic of the Inca civilization. With careful planning, these Peruvian gems can be enjoyed without straining your wallet.

Cusco and Machu Picchu, Peru is one of the cheap South America vacations to enjoy on a budget.
Explore the Inca magic in budget-friendly Cusco and Machu Picchu, perfect for history buffs and adventure seekers.

2. Quito, Ecuador

Welcome to Quito, Ecuador, a city where rich history and affordability meet to create a travel experience like no other. Nestled high in the Andes, Quito is not only the capital of Ecuador but also one of the most affordable trips in South America.

Quito’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is wall-to-wall well-preserved colonial architecture. Wander through the narrow streets, visit the stunning churches like La Compañía de Jesús, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of Plaza Grande. The best part? Exploring these cultural gems doesn’t have to cost a penny.

Take a trip to the Middle of the World Monument, where you can stand with one foot in each hemisphere. It’s a unique and affordable experience that’s quintessentially Quito.

Beyond its historical allure, Quito serves as a gateway to some of Ecuador’s most breathtaking natural wonders. Day trips to the cloud forests of Mindo, the hot springs of Papallacta, and the majestic Cotopaxi Volcano are all within reach and budget.

Discover the unique blend of rich history and affordability in Quito, Ecuado.
Discover the unique blend of rich history and affordability in Quito, Ecuado.

3. La Paz, Bolivia

Get ready for La Paz, Bolivia, a city that’s as breathtaking as it is budget-friendly. Sitting at a dizzying altitude, La Paz is a unique blend of traditional culture, modern urban life, and natural wonders, all available at a fraction of the cost you might expect.

La Paz is a city of contrasts, where colorful markets like the famous Witches’ Market coexist with contemporary art galleries and vibrant nightlife. The city’s cable car system offers stunning views and is an affordable way to explore different neighborhoods.

Take the chance to cycle down the infamous Death Road. It’s an adrenaline-pumping adventure that’s surprisingly budget-friendly and offers unforgettable views of the Andean landscapes.

Beyond the city, La Paz is a gateway to some of Bolivia’s most incredible natural attractions. The surreal landscapes of the Moon Valley and the breathtaking beauty of Lake Titicaca are just a bus ride away.

La Paz is perfect for adventure seekers, culture buffs, and anyone looking to experience the high-altitude life without the high costs. The city offers a range of budget accommodations and dining options, making it accessible for all types of travelers.

Discover La Paz, Bolivia, a captivating blend of tradition, modernity, and natural wonders.
Discover La Paz, Bolivia, a captivating blend of tradition, modernity, and natural wonders.

4. Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia

Have you ever wanted to visit a place that looks like another planet but thought it’d cost a fortune? Well, let me tell you about the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia. This place is out of this world, and the best part? It’s one of the cheapest vacation spots in South America!

Stand in the middle of the largest salt flat on Earth, surrounded by nothing but bright white salt and clear blue skies. It’s like you’ve stepped into a dream. And when the flats get covered in water, the whole place turns into a giant mirror – it’s unreal!

Make sure to visit during the rainy season (from January to April) for that epic mirror effect. It’s a photographer’s paradise and a once-in-a-lifetime experience that won’t break the bank.

The area is also dotted with colorful lagoons, geysers, and hot springs. You can take a budget-friendly tour that covers all these amazing spots, and trust me, it’s worth every penny.

Uyuni is perfect for adventurers, photographers, and anyone looking for something totally different. And with a range of budget tour options, you won’t have to spend a lot to see a lot.

Visit Uyuni Salt Flats, featuring endless hexagonal salt patterns under a clear blue sky.
Visit Uyuni Salt Flats, featuring endless hexagonal salt patterns under a clear blue sky.

5. Lake Titicaca, Peru & Bolivia

Okay, now for an adventure that’s easy on your wallet and rich in culture. Lake Titicaca, straddling Peru and Bolivia, is where it’s at. This lake is the highest navigable one in the world, and it’s brimming with unique experiences that are surprisingly affordable.

Picture visiting the Uros Floating Islands, where the local community lives on islands made entirely of reeds. A boat trip to these islands can cost as little as $10, and it’s like stepping into another world.

For about $20, take a boat to Isla del Sol on the Bolivian side or Taquile Island on the Peruvian side. You’ll find incredible views, ancient ruins, and a chance to experience traditional Andean life. Plus, the handmade textiles here are amazing and reasonably priced.

Accommodations around Lake Titicaca are super budget-friendly. You can find cozy hostels and guesthouses starting at just $15 per night, and local meals at small restaurants will set you back only about $3 to $5.

So, how about it? Are you up for exploring the stunning and culturally rich Lake Titicaca? This high-altitude wonder offers a wealth of experiences without the hefty price tag.

Lake Titicaca is one of the cheap South America vacations to enjoy on a budget.
Explore the cultural richness around Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake.

6. Lima, Peru

Looking for the cheapest vacation in South America for budget backpackers? Get ready for Lima, Peru, a city where you can indulge in incredible culinary experiences without emptying your wallet. Lima is a foodie’s paradise, offering a blend of traditional and modern flavors at prices that are surprisingly budget-friendly.

Start your culinary adventure with a visit to a local cevicheria, where you can savor fresh ceviche for as little as $5. Street food stalls and markets like Mercado Surquillo offer delicious local dishes at even lower prices, with snacks and small plates often costing under $2.

For an affordable yet memorable experience, join a free walking tour of Lima’s historic center. You’ll explore the city’s rich history and architecture, and most tours offer insights into the best local eateries along the way.

The city boasts beautiful colonial architecture, vibrant neighborhoods like Barranco, and stunning coastal views along the Miraflores boardwalk. Exploring these areas is mostly free, making Lima a great destination for budget-conscious travelers.

Accommodations in Lima cater to all budgets, with comfortable hostels and guesthouses available from around $10 per night. This makes it easy to enjoy a longer stay and fully immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant culture and culinary scene.

Lima, Peru, a vibrant cityscape with a mix of traditional and modern architecture.
Lima, Peru is a vibrant cityscape with a mix of traditional and modern architecture.

7. Huacachina, Peru

Huacachina, Peru is an oasis in the desert that’s as easy on your eyes as it is on your wallet. This small village, built around a natural lagoon and surrounded by towering sand dunes, offers a unique and affordable adventure for travelers.

Zoom over the dunes in a dune buggy and feel the rush of adrenaline and excitement. These tours are not only thrilling but also surprisingly affordable, often costing around $15 to $20. And if you’re up for more adventure, try sandboarding down the dunes – it’s included in most dune buggy tours at no extra cost.

For a relaxing end to your day, take a leisurely paddle boat ride on the Huacachina Lagoon. It’s a peaceful and budget-friendly way to enjoy the oasis, with rentals typically costing just a few dollars.

The village has a range of hostels and budget hotels, with comfortable accommodations starting at about $10 per night. Dining options are also wallet-friendly, with local restaurants offering delicious Peruvian dishes at reasonable prices.

Experience an oasis getaway in Huacachina, Peru, surrounded by towering sand dunes and a natural lagoon.
Experience an oasis getaway in Huacachina, Peru, surrounded by towering sand dunes and a natural lagoon.

8. Mendoza, Argentina

Get ready for Mendoza in Argentina, a destination that’s a dream for those looking for cheap South American getaways. Nestled at the foot of the Andes, Mendoza is famous for its world-class vineyards and wines, particularly Malbec, and the best part? You can enjoy it all without spending a fortune.

Embark on a budget-friendly wine tour, where you can visit several vineyards, learn about the wine-making process, and, of course, taste some of the finest wines. Many tours offer bicycle rentals for around $10, allowing you to leisurely explore the vineyards at your own pace.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the local bodegas (wineries) that offer free or low-cost tastings. Some even provide guided tours for a small fee, giving you an insider’s look at the wine production process.

Mendoza is also a gateway to outdoor adventures. The nearby Andes Mountains are perfect for hiking, horseback riding, and even skiing in the winter, all at budget-friendly prices. The city itself, with its tree-lined streets and laid-back atmosphere, is a joy to explore without spending much.

Explore Mendoza, Argentina renowned for world-class vineyards and Malbec wines.
Explore Mendoza, Argentina renowned for world-class vineyards and Malbec wines.

9. Baños, Ecuador

Nestled in the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano, Baños is known for its natural beauty, outdoor activities while still being one of South America’s top cheap vacation destinations.

Baños is a playground for adrenaline junkies, offering everything from mountain biking and hiking to rafting and zip-lining. The best part? These activities are surprisingly affordable. For example, you can rent a mountain bike for a day for as little as $10 and explore the scenic waterfall route.

Visit the Swing at the End of the World at Casa del Árbol. For just a couple of dollars, you can swing over a steep drop with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains – it’s an Instagram-worthy moment that’s easy on your wallet.

The town is also famous for its thermal baths, which are heated by the nearby volcano. A visit to these relaxing hot springs is a perfect way to unwind after a day of activities, and entrance fees are typically only a few dollars.

Accommodations in Baños are varied and affordable, with hostels and guesthouses available from around $10 per night. The town also offers a range of budget-friendly dining options, from local eateries serving traditional Ecuadorian dishes to street food vendors.

Baños features adrenaline thrills with activities like mountain biking, hiking, rafting, and zip-lining.
Baños features adrenaline thrills with activities like mountain biking, hiking, rafting, and zip-lining.

10. Florianópolis, Brazil

For our final destination, let’s explore Florianópolis in Brazil, a city that offers stunning beaches and a vibrant culture while remaining one of the best cheap travel locations in South America.

Florianópolis boasts over 40 beaches, each with its own unique charm. From the popular and lively Praia Mole to the serene and picturesque Campeche, there’s a beach for every taste. Surfing is big here, and you can rent a board or take lessons without spending a lot.

Florianópolis, Brazil is one of cheap South America vacations to enjoy on a budget.
Explore Florianópolis in Brazil, known for stunning beaches and vibrant culture.

Visit the Lagoa da Conceição, a beautiful lagoon perfect for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and enjoying the local seafood. Rentals and dining here are surprisingly affordable, offering a great way to experience the island’s natural beauty.

Accommodations in Florianópolis are varied, with plenty of budget-friendly options. Hostels and guesthouses start at around $15 per night, offering comfortable and affordable stays for all types of travelers.

The cheap South America vacations to enjoy on a budge for all types of travelers
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