Cities in South America: Travel Cost Rankings

What are the cheapest cities to visit in South America?

The following travel cost rankings for cities in South America are calculated based on the travel budgets of real travelers. Also referred to as a Travel Cost Index, or a Backpacker Index, the cities below are in order from least to most expensive by their average daily travel price, per person, per day

  • 1
    Medellin, Colombia
  • 2
    Cali, Colombia
  • 3
    Santa Marta, Colombia
  • 4
    Salento, Colombia
  • 5
    Mendoza, Argentina
  • 6
  • 7
    Puerto Iguazu, Argentina
  • 8
    Tilcara, Argentina
  • 9
    Cordoba, Argentina
  • 10
    La Plata, Argentina
  • 11
    Mar del Plata, Argentina
  • 12
    Cartagena, Colombia
  • 13
    Copacabana, Bolivia
  • 14
    Cuenca, Ecuador
  • 15
    Rosario, Argentina
  • 16
    Tena, Colombia
  • 17
    Sucre, Bolivia
  • 18
    Salvador, Brazil
  • 19
    Bogota, Colombia
  • 20
    La Paz, Bolivia
  • 21
    Arequipa, Peru
  • 22
    Banos, Ecuador
  • 23
    El Chalten, Argentina
  • 24
    El Calafate, Argentina
  • 25
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Buenos Aires, federal capital of Argentina, also known as "The City of Tango", is best known for its energetic and unpredictable character. Like a restless child, Buenos Aires is a dynamic and modern city full of surprises. While its French-style palaces, rooftop restaurants, wide avenues and green plazas resemble European-style architecture, Buenos Aires preserves its musical, literary and culinary traditions. You can't miss dining in front of a Tango show,...
  • 26
    Huaraz, Peru
  • 27
    Cusco, Peru
  • Cusco The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin, Plaza del Armas, Cusco, Peru
    Cusco is most famous as the historic capital of the Inca Empire. It is in the southern Sierras and is one of the most popular travel destinations within Peru. The city is located at 3,400 meters above sea level so it is best to acclimate yourself slowly to avoid altitude sickness. (Read this advice about managing the altitude in Cusco and Machu Picchu.) Cusco is the starting point...
  • 28
    Quito, Ecuador
  • 29
  • 30
    Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • 31
  • 32
    Ushuaia, Argentina
  • Ushuaia Ushuaia, Argentina
    Ushuaia is a city on the Tierra del Fuego island of Argentina on the Beagle Strait. The city is considered to be one of the southernmost cities in the world and is often used as a base for cruises to Antarctica. Ushuaia's close proximity to Antarctica and their amazing hiking trails have made it a popular tourist destination over the past few decades. Although Ushuaia is the southernmost city in...
  • 33
  • 34
    Cafayate, Argentina
  • 35
    Pereira, Colombia
  • 36
    Paracas, Peru
  • 37
  • 38
    Montevideo, Uruguay
  • 39
    Cochabamba, Bolivia
  • 40
  • 41
    Puerto Madryn, Argentina
  • 42
    Piriapolis, Uruguay
  • 43
    Ilha Grande, Brazil
  • 44
    Fortaleza, Brazil
  • 45
  • 46
    Lima, Peru
  • 47
  • 48
    Rosario Islands, Colombia
  • Rosario Islands Rosario Islands, Colombia
    The Rosario Islands, also referred to as Coral Islands of Rosario, is an archipelago located off the coast of Colombia, approximately 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Cartagena. The Rosario Islands are integrated by 28 islands and all of them form one of the 46 Natural National Parks of Colombia, created to protect one of the most important coral reefs in the Colombian Caribbean Coast. Only three of these islands are...
  • 49
    Valparaiso, Chile
  • 50
    Valdivia, Chile
  • 51
    Brasilia, Brazil
  • 52
    Temuco, Chile
  • 53
  • 54
    Montanita, Ecuador
  • 55
  • 56
  • 57
  • 58
    La Serena, Chile
  • 59
  • Rio de Janeiro The beaches of Rio
    Rio de Janeiro is the most popular travel destination in Brazil. It is the second largest city in Brazil and the sixth largest in the Americas. A portion of the city has been designated a World Heritage Site. The peak time to visit is during the city's famous Carnival festival, which is one of the most famous festivals in the world. However, Rio's appeal as a travel destination...
  • 60
  • 61
  • 62
    Santiago, Chile
  • Santiago Santiago, Chile
    Santiago is the capital city of Chile. It is centrally located in the long and narrow country, making it a good jumping off point to explore everywhere else. It's convenient location means that you can go skiing in the Andes one day, and hang out at the beach the next. Santiago has a cool semi-arid climate that is similar to Mediterranean climates. The summers, which are between November and March,...
What are the cheapest cities to visit in South America?

The most affordable cities for travel in South America are currently Medellin (Colombia), Cali (Colombia), Santa Marta (Colombia), and Salento (Colombia).

Affordable Travel in South America
Whether it is for a short vacation or a long term trip, there are so many reasons to visit South America. When it comes to amazing wildlife, visiting the tropical rainforest of the Amazon basin is certainly one of the best experiences. Along with the Amazon, South America has many other places where you can see magnificent natural attractions, with the Galapagos Islands ranking high on many bucket lists. There many other celebrations to enjoy in South America, such as the Inti Raymi festival held at an Inca site near the city of Cusco or the annual carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, with over two million people flocking to the city to join the party every year. While the indigenous cultures in South America provide some of the most interesting historic sights to visit in the region, you also have some fascinating colonial architecture and sites that are worth visiting too. When it comes to indigenous culture, the Inca sites such as Sacsayhuaman and Machu Picchu are certainly among the highlights, but there are many sites across the region which have amazing ruins to explore. Some of the best food in the world is in South America, especially if you love seafood. The South American cuisine mainly refers to the delicacies from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Peru, and Bolivia. The speciality of these cuisines is that they are prepared using a myriad of spices and condiments like chili, guacamole, mole, pico de gallo, pebre, and chimichurri. Many people will associate South America with adventure and visiting mythic cultures, but there is also a number of family activities and attractions available on the continent. When it comes to spectacular scenery, whether you look for amazing mountain views, the white glare of glaciers or stunning beaches and coastlines, there is plenty to be enjoyed here. While international travelers immediately think about Southeast Asia when looking to go backpacking on a budget, South America certainly offers a lot for those looking to explore on a shoestring. There is a wealth of affordable hostels to be found in many countries. The low costs of living in Bolivia and Ecuador particularly make them really attractive destinations for backpackers looking for cheap thrills. Although the flight fares to any of the countries in South America can be expensive, once you get there, it's a highly affordable place.

South America is on the whole, budget-friendly and certainly much cheaper than North America and Europe but that said travel costs can easily mount up. Countries like Brazil, Chile and Argentina are developing quickly and as a result prices are going up. Of course cities are usually more expensive than smaller towns for accommodation, so staying outside cities can help you to trim your budget even further. It is also a very large region so trying to see it all is both time-consuming and expensive. Even relatively short-distance airfares are high here so unless you fancy hitchhiking, buses and coaches are pretty much the only way to get around. One of the priciest location in Colombia is the beautiful and historic colonial city of Cartagena, as it is the most touristy place in the country. Beyond this, cities like Bogota, Medellin and especially the countryside are very affordable. Buenos Aires is quite expensive whereas outer cities like Salta and Mendoza are cheaper. Quito in Ecuador and La Paz in Bolivia are some of the cheapest cities to travel to in South America.

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