cheapest cities south america

The 7 Cheapest Cities To Visit In South America

Travelling around South America on a budget? These are the cheapest cities in South America, based on Price of Travel’s Backpacker Index. It calculates costs based on the best budget sleeping, sightseeing, eating, drinking and public transport options available in each city.

While main hotspots can be notoriously expensive, there’s so many beautiful cities to see where your cash will go that bit further.

The Cheapest Cities to Visit in South AmericaHow do these rankings work?

1. Granada, Nicaragua

Average daily cost on a budget: $20.95

Granada is picturesque colonial town on the banks of Central America’s largest lake. The city is full of pastel-coloured buildings and a great buzz. Plus, with plenty of budget hostels and bites to eat, it’s perfect for travelling in South America on a budget.

cheapest cities south america

2. Quito, Ecuador

Average daily cost on a budget: $21.90

Ecuador is famous for being home to the Amazon jungle, Andean highlands and Galápagos Island. You know, where those amazing turtles live!

Quito is known for its Spanish colonial centre and is a stunning city. There’s so much colour to capture here. You’ll soon see why it’s one of the cheapest cities in South America.

best places for solo travelers South America

3. La Paz, Bolivia

Average daily cost on a budget: $26.29

Bolivia is an incredible country in South Central America. From the Andes Mountains to the Atacama Desert – and even Amazon Basin rainforest – this is a country that has something for everybody.

As for La Paz? At 3,500m it is the highest capital city in the world. It’s full of welcoming locals, backpackers and things to do.

La Paz World travel guides

4. Cartagena, Colombia

Average daily cost on a budget: $29.37

A city filled with cobblestone streets and colourful colonial buildings? We love it already. It’s not hard to see why Cartagena is one of the best South American destinations.

The city’s position on Colombia’s Caribbean coast makes it a tropical paradise that’s actually inside a 16th-century fortress. You won’t want to leave this charming spot.


5. Cusco, Peru

Average daily cost on a budget: $30.24

One of the most popular cities in Peru, Cusco is an Inca jewel that’s the gateway to Machu Picchu. It’s a lively spot with stunning cobblestone streets, busy squares, valleys and towns. You could easily plan to spend at least a few days exploring this beautiful bargain city.

Instagram Cusco Peru

6. San Jose, Costa Rica

Average daily cost on a budget: $30.49

With a fast growing reputation for adventure tourism, San Jose is a wonderful place to visit.  Because San Jose is the cultural hub of the country, there are plenty of museums, art galleries, parks and dining options for visitors to choose from. It’s so much more than just a pit-stop!

cheapest cities south america

7. Mexico City, Mexico 

Average daily cost on a budget: $32.05

Mexico City is a vibrant place to visit, with a historic centre, known as Zocalo, that’s a World Heritage site. Exciting neighbourhoods are full of art nouveau and art deco features. It’s a buzzy city with endless things to see and do on a budget.

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Sarah Clayton-Lea
Sarah Clayton-Lea

Co-founder of Big 7 Travel, Sarah created the company through her passion for championing the world's best food and travel experiences. Before her career in digital media, where she previously held roles such as Editor of Food&Wine Ireland, Sarah worked in the hospitality industry in Dublin and New York.

Contact [email protected]

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Kevin Casey
Kevin Casey

This is the danger when people create ‘cheapest’ lists. Many, like this one, are horribly inaccurate. For example, Bolivia has many cities – and La Paz is undoubtedly THE MOST EXPENSIVE of all them. For example, Sucre is MUCH cheaper than La Paz – rent alone is nearly 60% more affordable there. Also, Quito is probably the most expensive city in Ecuador – there are plenty of cheaper options. Same with Cartagena in Colombia – one of the pricier parts of the country, being on the coast. So credibility-wise, you’ve totally lost me with this hastily-put-together list. Any experienced traveller… Read more »