Have you been wondering about the cheapest places to fly to in South America? Hey, I get it! South America is the fourth-largest continent on Earth. It’s home to so many wonders and the potential for great adventure. With 12 countries and many territories and islands, you may be a bit lost on where to travel and how to do it on a budget. Considering factors such as the airline, airport, and time of year, I’ve created this guide to the cheapest airports in South America that you can fly into right now!
The beauty of South America lies in its great diversity of environments. Whether you’re looking to celebrate during the Carnival Festival in Rio de Janeiro, explore the dense Amazon rainforest, visit the Incan city of Machu Picchu, or take in the majesty of Bolivia’s salt flats, you can find it all in South America. From tropical rainforests and deserts to the Galápagos Islands, the geography of South America is nothing short of spectacular.
Of course, even the boldest world travelers will have to contend with finding the cheapest places to fly to in South America. However, fortunately for all of us, there’s always a solution to the ever-present issue of travel costs.
So join me as we plan a big adventure through this most southern of Americas. Here are the 7 cheapest places to fly to in South America.
#1 tip for finding the cheapest places to fly to in South America
For the last several years, I have been using Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) to locate incredible flight deals to some amazing places. This includes Hawaii, Mexico, and many countries in Europe. It’s pretty crazy how easy it is to use this service. You just sign up for Going’s free email alerts and then input your origin airport and destination. Going will send you all kinds of deals, including mistake fares and other crazy discounts on round-trip airline tickets.
Suffice to say, over the years, Going has helped me to save thousands of dollars on air travel. This includes my most recent trip to Colombia, when I took an $227 roundtrip from Boston to Bogota. Flying to South America from the United States is typically a bit more expensive (depending on where you go) due to higher taxes and fewer airlines running there, so these savings mean a lot to me. On average, I save around $300 on specific flight routes to airports in South America.
Depending on how proactive you are, you can use Going’s free email service or sign up for their premium membership. It starts at $49 a year and provides you with more flight deals at greater frequencies than the free version. You can use my discount code Jon20 to save 20% on the premium membership!
So, if you’re ready to get Going to the cheapest places to fly to in South America, let’s head out!
Other considerations when looking for the cheapest airports in South America
If you’re looking to get away right now to the beaches, rainforests, deserts, and bustling metropolises of South America, you’re in luck. We’ve gathered information from every major airport in the United States to bring you seven of the cheapest places to fly to in South America.
As you think about flights and prices, don’t worry if the airport near you is only a small regional one. You’ll mostly likely be connecting to a flight at a larger hub such as Atlanta, Orlando, or Miami. Also, know that the flight prices to South America will depend on where in the United States you’re flying from. For instance, a flight to Brazil’s financial hub of São Paulo will probably run you higher from Seattle or San Francisco than from Houston or Miami.
But don’t let your vacation get too bogged down with travel details. No matter where you go in South America, you’re guaranteed a fun, adventurous, and unique experience away from home. So dig out those hiking boots, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to experience the gorgeous offerings of South America, from Caribbean coasts to the Galápagos Islands.
1. Buenos Aires, Argentina
First up on our list of the cheapest places to fly to in South America is Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. It among the cheapest places because it’s such a massively popular port of arrivals and departures in the country. This is particularly so at Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE), also called Ezeiza International Airport. It’s located about 20 miles outside the main city of Buenos Aires itself.
This is a city of about three million people, the most populous in a country of more than 45 million. You can see the sheer size of this metropolis right from the air, the massive downtown area rising high into the sky before exploding out into an impressive sprawl.
When you think of Buenos Aires, you should immediately think of two things: football and pato. While football (yes, that means soccer to all you U.S. visitors!) is popular everywhere in Argentina, and Buenos Aires is home to 15 teams of the Argentine Primera División, the country’s national sport is actually a game called pato (“duck”). This sport involves players on horseback attempting to put a ball in a basket. You’ll certainly want to catch some games of each sport while in Buenos Aires!
With other city activities including skydiving, helicopter tours, and tango lessons, you are sure to have a memorable time in this wonderful South American capital.
Want to avoid the crowds and storms of the summer season and the cooler temperatures of winter? Visit Buenos Aires in the prime seasons of spring (October to December) or fall (April to June).
2. Cartagena, Colombia
Another of the cheapest places to fly to in South America is Cartagena. This is a major port city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. It makes complete sense to me to include Cartagena as a cheap place, and anywhere in Colombia, really, since the currency exchange rate is so in favor of the U.S. dollar. A relatively small amount of money to a U.S. visitor can buy you a lot in Colombian pesos. I have found roundtrip flights from Boston to Cartagena for just a few hundred dollars.
You’ll most likely land at Rafael Nuñez International Airport from a large U.S. hub such as New York or Miami. Once you’re in Cartagena, you’ll want to take a bus or taxi to get around and see all the sites. Your itinerary should definitely start with the Ciudad Amurallada, or Walled City.
Cartagena is more than just a cheap place to fly into South America…
One of Cartagena’s main historical claims to fame is its status as one of the earliest Spanish colonies in the New World. The neighborhoods within Ciudad Amurallada, as well as the imposing stone Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, all date to the 16th century and are available for touring. The Spanish built the castle as a coastal defense. When you visit, you’ll also get to take in some pretty amazing views of the gorgeous Caribbean.
When you’re done absorbing the history, you’ll want to get out there and enjoy Cartagena’s beautiful tropical weather. The best time to travel there is between December and April. This is when you can enjoy high temperatures in the 80s, plenty of sunshine, and not too much rain. Outdoor activities include hanging out at one of Cartagena’s many beaches, going paragliding, and checking out the serene Cartagena Botanical Garden.
3. Lima, Peru
The next stop on the cheapest places to fly to in South America is the Pacific capital of Lima, Peru. This desert city has come a long way from its 1535 founding by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro. These days, you can get a roundtrip flight to Jorge Chávez International Airport. This airport is located about seven miles from the city center in Callao, for a few hundred dollars. It’s truly a steal considering what all is on offer here. Plus, the exchange rate comes through for the U.S. dollar again here.
There’s Plenty to See and Learn in Lima
Peru is located on South America’s northwestern coast. As such, it’s one of the first things you’ll probably want to do when you get to Lima is bask on the beaches. However, know that many of Lima’s beaches are actually rocky rather than sandy. Though you can still soak up plenty of sand at beaches like Punta Hermosa.
Once you get enough sand and sun, consider learning a bit about the place you’re in. Ffor that, I can’t recommend anything more highly than Lima’s Historic Centre, known as the Ciudad de los Reyes, or City of Kings.
This World Heritage Site preserves Lima’s Spanish colonial roots in the form of places such as the Plaza de Armas, or Plaza Mayor. That’s where Pizarro founded Lima in the 16th century. When you stand in the middle of this grand square, look with awe on architectural wonders such as the 16th-century Palacio de Gobierno–or Government House, where the executive government of Peru sits–and the 17th-century Lima Metropolitan Cathedral. If you want to do some high-end shopping, you can head to the southern end of the Plaza de Armas to check out Jirón de la Unión, or Union Street, the historically mercantile avenue with origins in the Spanish colonial era.
With so many outdoor things to see and do in Lima, you’ll want to make sure the weather is perfect for your trip. Summers in Peru last from December to April and are generally warm, humid, and sunny. Winters, on the other hand, are cooler and more overcast. You may want to schedule your trip during a moderate Peruvian spring or fall to get the best of both worlds.
4. Mendoza, Argentina
This list of the cheapest places to fly to in South America has to include a location for the wine lovers out there. If we’re on the continent, we just have to visit the Argentine wine country of Mendoza! Now, Mendoza is the name of both a province and its capital city. Often, when people refer to the province or the city of Mendoza, you know they’re talking about the wine, and who can blame them?
You might not naturally consider Mendoza’s Governor Francisco Gabrielli International Airport to be one of the cheapest airports in South America. However, given its remote location at the foot of the Andes Mountains in western Argentina, you can bet that it’s a popular place to visit both for Argentines and international guests. So, you’re likely to find plenty of affordable flights to South America here.
What Can You Do in Mendoza?
Mendoza and the surrounding provincial countryside are located in a desert area. However, through man-made irrigation systems, this region gets plenty of water to grow the grapes used in making Malbec red wine, an Argentine classic. While you’re in Mendoza, you’ll want to take some time to tour the vineyards. Although you can certainly drive or take a bus, you can also plan out a hike or bike ride through the country. Many vineyards double as accommodations if you want to make a few days of your experience here.
Once you’re through with the wineries, get into some Andes hiking in the protected wilderness of Parque Provincial Aconcagua. Here, you can do some horseback riding, paragliding, and explore the absolutely stunning countryside at your leisure.
The best time to travel to Mendoza is between spring and fall, meaning from October to April. Winters in Mendoza can be surprisingly cold, sometimes getting down into the 30s and 40s. So, to take in the true wonders of Argentina’s wine country, you’ll want to stick to the warmer seasons.
5. Bogotá, Colombia
For our next stop on this list of the cheapest places to fly to in South America, we return to Colombia. Specifically, we’ll cover its capital of Bogotá. As with Cartagena, Bogotá is a cheap South American destination mostly due to the exchange rate between U.S. dollars and Colombian pesos. The Colombian capital is also not as widely popular a place as, say, Medellin or Cartagena. However, you can still have plenty of fun in this sprawling, bustling city of more than seven million people.
Taking in the Culture of Bogotá
Once arriving at El Dorado International Airport, you’ll want to head over to the La Candelaria neighborhood of Bogotá. This is a historic division of the city that, like many South American places, traces its history to 16th-century Spanish colonialism. You can walk the streets of La Candelaria, taking in the centuries-old architecture, looking at the artistic graffiti on the walls, and enjoying the museums, art galleries, shops, and restaurants all up and down the streets.
Any visit to Bogotá really should include a stop in Plaza Bolívar, the city’s main square. The plaza is named for famed Venezuelan military officer Simón Bolívar. This is the man who liberated large swaths of South America from Spanish rule in the early 19th century. During your visit to Plaza Bolívar, check out the grand architectural sights that include the Primatial Cathedral of Bogotá, the Palace of Justice of Colombia, and the National Capitol building. While you’re in town, you can also check out salsa dancing tours, rent a bike and go for a spin, catch a football game at Estadio El Campin, or just walk the busy streets to see what you find.
This might surprise you about a South American city, but Bogotá can actually be quite chilly! Its high altitude (more than 8,000 feet above sea level) ensures that its temperatures only reach the upper 60s. Having said that, the best time to visit Bogotá is from December to March, when the climate is dry.
6. Guayaquil, Ecuador
Another of the cheapest airports in South America that you just may not have thought of is José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport. It’s located in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on the northwestern coast of the continent. For the budget-conscious traveler, Guayaquil is a joy to travel to. I have seen roundtrip flights for as low as a few hundred dollars!
As with so many major cities in South America, Guayaquil was founded in the early 16th century by Spanish conquistadors. It became a vital center of Spanish colonial trade and remained so through Ecuador’s early-19th-century independence and into the present time. Today, Guayaquil is Ecuador’s second-largest city, and what a vibrant city it is!
Have Some Fun in This Revitalized City
Once you land, you may want to take things easy while getting to know the city by taking a walk along the Malecón 2000. That’s the boardwalk that runs for about 1.5 miles along the Guayas River. It was part of a revitalization project that Guayaquil undertook in the early 21st century to give itself a facelift. These days, the walkway is a popular tourist attraction. Take in the waterfront views, go shopping, or relax in one of the garden areas.
Another notable activity to take on in Guayaquil includes climbing the 444 steps of Santa Ana Hill. Also, be sure to take in the local seafoods and famous Ecuadorian stews, and visiting Parque Seminario, where you can see a whole lot of iguanas!
Also of note here is the fact that Guayaquil gives you access to one of Ecuador’s main claims to fame, the Galápagos Islands! There, you can have some amazing fun in the sun with some hiking, surfing, snorkeling, biking, and a whole slew of tropical animals, including iguanas and giant tortoises.
You’ll want to head to Guayaquil anytime between May and December. This is the dry season when you should experience much less rain and humidity. Though temperatures will remain hot in the upper 80s.
7. São Paulo, Brazil
Last up on this list of the cheapest places to fly to in South America is São Paulo, Brazil. This is a country we haven’t visited yet on this tour. São Paulo has a lot to live up to, given that it’s the largest city in the largest country in South America and one of Brazil’s major financial centers. Despite São Paulo’s size and prestige, I know many people who fly to the city on a roundtrip ticket for less than $600.
What Can You Do for Fun in São Paulo?
Listing off some of the best things to do once you’re in São Paulo is a decent challenge. After all, this place is massive, and every activity will probably appeal to a different type of traveler. You’ll likely arrive at São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport and then need to take public transport to wherever you’re going. You could rent a car, but it’s somewhat ill advised given the near-constant traffic snares in this bustling metropolis. Instead, subways, trains, and buses will be your best bet.
When in São Paulo, head over to the Estádio do Morumbi for a football match. Also, check out the São Paulo Zoo, take in the beauty of the Gothic revival-style São Paulo Cathedral, and embark on a variety of sightseeing and historical tours of the city. Don’t miss the chance to stroll through Ibirapuera Park, a large green space located right in the middle of the urban sprawl. From shopping to restaurants to sports and theater shows, São Paulo has it all.
São Paulo is a warm and humid city most of the time. The best times to visit are during the fall (between March and May) or spring (September to November). During these times, you’ll enjoy sunny days and not a lot of rain.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the cheapest places to fly to in South America
If you still need some direction on finding the most affordable flights to South America, I have you covered. Here are some frequently asked questions about the best ways to get to South America.
Which airlines offer direct flights to South America?
When efficient travelers look for the cheapest places to fly to in South America, they frequently look at which airlines offer direct service to their destination. Connections and layovers are often just unnecessary inconveniences. After all – who has time sit around an airport for several hours?
Keep in mind that, you sometimes pay extra for convenience. However, here is a list of carriers offering direct flights to South America:
- Dynamic Airways
- Interjet Interjet
- American Airlines
- Air Canada
- Azul Brazilian Airlines
- Air France
- Aerolineas Argentinas
- JetBlue Airways
- Air Jamaica
- Copa Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Gol Transportes Aéreos
- LATAM Airlines Group SA
What is the cheapest South American country to fly into?
As we have seen from this list, there are a number of cheap countries to visit in South America. This is due to a variety of factors, including the cost of living, exchange rate, and the size and popularity of the airport.
Given those criteria, the cheapest country to visit in South America is often cited as Bolivia. It’s followed closely by Colombia and Ecuador. Depending on where you are, these countries might offer accommodations for under $10 a night, with food coming in at even less.
Add in the fact that most South American cities offer public transport, and you’re looking at a fairly budget-friendly vacation.
Is it cheap to travel in South America?
Yes, traveling in South America can be relatively cheap, especially when compared to other parts of the world. You can find budget accommodations, street food, and local transportation options that won’t break the bank.
However, the cost of travel will depend on various factors such as the countries you’re visiting, the time of year, and your preferred mode of transportation. For example, Argentina and Chile can be more expensive than other countries in South America, while Bolivia and Peru are generally cheaper. With a bit of planning and research, you can enjoy all that South America has to offer without spending a fortune. Just make sure to budget for the occasional splurge on some of the region’s amazing food and experiences!
How far in advance should I book a flight to South America?
You probably noticed that the best times to visit South America are usually in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. So, if those are your preferred times to go, you may want to start shopping for the cheapest flights between 2 and 8 months ahead of time.
Of course, you can use Going just a few weeks before to find mistake fares and other crazy-low flight prices. Most flights to South America are pretty affordable anyway. So, any deals you can find on those prices are only going to be even friendlier on your wallet.
Why is it so cheap to fly to Colombia?
First of all, Colombia is an incredibly diverse country that offers visitors everything from stunning Caribbean beaches to Andean mountain ranges, and ancient ruins to modern cities. However, in the past, Colombia has had a reputation for violence and instability, which kept many travelers away.
But fear not. In recent years, the country has undergone a transformation and has become one of the top destinations in South America. With a growing tourism industry, more and more airlines are offering flights to Colombia. This has increased competition and driven down prices.
Another reason why it’s cheap to fly to Colombia is that the country is strategically located in the middle of South America. This makes it a great hub for connecting flights to other countries in the region. So, if you’re planning a trip to South America, it might be cheaper to fly to Colombia first and then catch a connecting flight to your final destination.
Colombia is an amazing destination that offers visitors incredible experiences at a fraction of the cost of other countries. Plus, you might just fall in love with the country and want to stay forever! Just make sure to save some room in your suitcase for some delicious Colombian coffee and a poncho to keep you warm in the Andes.