13 Super Affordable Cities In Latin America To Travel On A Budget
Traveling through Latin America might be more affordable than you think. Check out these 13 destinations — in these places, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do without putting a huge dent in your budget.
1. Quito, Ecuador
Quito, Ecuador is a city that’s often overlooked because its altitude, which is 2,850 meters above sea level, can make it difficult to get to. But if you do travel to Quito, you’ll find a city that mixes the old and new beautifully, cheap taxi rides and even cheaper meals — that’s right, you can find a decent sized meal in this city for between $1.50 and $2.50 if you aren’t looking for gourmet cuisine.
In 1978, Quito became the first city declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to the city’s historic district. Old town, as it’s called locally, covers 800 acres and is the largest historic center in the Americas. There you’ll find a plethora of ancient colonial building complete with thick walls and tiled roofs and abundance of museums to explore, but Old town’s charm really shines through at the gold-gilded La Compania de Jesus Church and the Basilica del Voto Nacional, which is adorned with native Ecuadorian animals instead of gargoyles.
2. Granada, Nicaragua
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Granada is a colonial town that’s easily one of Central America’s most budget-friendly locale. In fact, the tourist destination is popular with backpackers and has a sizeable expat community because it’s a place where you’ll get a lot for your money. In fact, the Price of Travel website estimates backpackers in Granada spend about $22.14 per day for meals, transportation, and accommodations.
The heart of Granada is the city’s main drag, Calle la Calzada. This pedestrian-only street is lined with restaurants, cafes, and shops. It’s a great play to get a feel for the city, browse the open-air market, and check out some street performers.
3. Cusco, Peru
The start of every trip to Machu Picchu begins in Cusco, Peru. And because the cost of the train from Cusco to Machu Picchu and admission to the Machu Picchu site are fairly costly, it would be easy to assume that Cusco is an expensive destination — but it’s not. In Cusco, you can easily find a hostel for $15 per night, so it’s simple to get by in Cusco for less than $30 per day.
The Plaza da Armas is the historic city center. It’s cobbled, pedestrian-only streets extend away from the town center to some of the area’s more popular attractions. Nearby the Cusco Cathedral, the city’s oldest church, displays massive collections of colonial art from the Cusco School of Art.
4. San Jose, Costa Rica
Visiting San Jose, Costa Rica gives you direct access to volcanic views and amazing beaches. Spend the day soaking up the sun before touring the city.
You’ll find the National Theater right in the heart of San Jose. It’s one of Costa Rica’s most visited sites. While the outside building is amazing on its own, the inside is lavishly decorated and adorned with breathtaking murals.
5. Mexico City, Mexico
Mexico City, Mexico is an exciting metropolis with walkable neighborhoods and old-world architecture. Getting around the city is simple. The metro system will get you anywhere for about 5 pesos — about $0.27. You can even tighten your budget a bit more by staying in a cheap AirBnB and eating street food. There are plenty of hostels throughout Mexico City too.
While Mexico City has a lot of beautiful buildings to admire, the Palacio de Bellas Artes may be one of the best. You can visit on your own, or take a walking tour through the city. Walking tours are a big deal here, and you can find some tours for as little as $30 admission.
6. La Paz, Bolivia
La Paz, Bolivia is the highest capital city in the world. It rests along the Andes’ Altiplano plateau, which is more than 3,500 meters above seas level. The best part the city’s elevation is that you can travel the area by cable car. The Mi Teleferico gets you around the city and provides you with some amazing views along the way.
While La Paz is a great city to explore, it has plenty of outdoorsy areas to peruse as well. Spend your days hiking, because heading back into town for dinner. The average one-week trip to La Paz for one adult costs about $171, according to Budget Your Trip.
7. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Christ the Redeemer overlooks Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and it’s one of the city’s most popular sites. While Rio de Janeiro might not be as cheap as Quito, Ecuador, or La Paz, Bolivia, it doesn’t have to be an expensive destination. According to Budget Your Trip, you should expect to pay about $11 per day for food, $70 per night for accommodations, and a little more than $6 per day for transportation.
When you’re done exploring the city, take some time to visit the Rio’s “fake forest.” A portion of the Amazon rainforest was transferred to the middle of Rio de Janeiro. It was designed in 1808 and includes more than 8,000 plant species.
8. Santa Ana, El Salvador
If you enjoy exploring the great outdoors, Santa Ana, El Salvador, makes a great budget-friendly trip. While hiking around Lago de Coatepeque, you can enjoy some breathtaking views of the area. Before heading back into the city for food, drinks, and relaxation.
The Montecristo National Park in Santa Ana is another great place to visit. Spend the day following the trails through the jungle, which take you across suspended bridges that offer the best views of the area.
9. Antigua, Guatemala
Antigua, Guatemala, is essentially a time capsule filled with so restored and ruined colonial architecture that you could spend days exploring every nook and cranny of the small city. The city is flanked by three volcanos, and has some of the cheapest language school in Latin American, making it ideal for those who want to improve their Spanish.
It’s important to note that some parts of Antiqua can get pricey. But if you avoid visiting during lint, stay in a hostel, eat street food, and avoid drinking too much alcohol, you can get by in Antigua for between $20-$25 per day This should be easy to accomplish if you spend most of your days strolling through the amazing city admiring its architecture and parks.
10. Lima, Peru
Lima, Peru, may be known as The City of Kings, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend like one. According to Budget Your Trip, one adult spends about $60 per day traveling in Lima. But you can spend less if you know where and when to eat. Stay away from touristy hot spots — the prices there are a lot higher, than at places where locals dine. Also, eat your biggest meal at lunch. During lunchtime, big meals are readily available at much lower prices.
When traveling through Lima, agree on a price for the ride because you get into the taxi — and don’t be afraid to haggle. Taxis in Lima don’t have meters. So what you pay is what’s agreed upon before the ride. If you think the taxi driver is charging too much, simply go to another taxi to get a better rate.
11. Santiago, Chile
Imagine waking up in Santiago, Chile to amazing mountainous views. Well, you can, and you don’t have a pay a small fortune to do it. According to Budget your trip, meals in Santiago for one day, for one person, are about $12 and daily transportation will cost you about $5.30. Area Accommodation can be a bit pricey though, so you might want to book a hostel or Airbnb in advance.
You’ll find a lot of interesting places to explore in Santiago, including the Stately office of Chile’s President, the Plaza de Arms, and St, Lucia Hill. While you’re there, hike up San Cristobal Hill for some amazing panoramic views of the city.
12. Montevideo, Uruguay
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If you’re looking for a relaxing, affordable beach vacation, Montevideo is a great destination. It’s a place where you can enjoy city life and the beach without spending a small fortune.
When touring Montevideo, Uruguay, keep an eye out for street art. Street murals are common in this city, and during your trip, you’re bound to discover gem after gem.
13. Buenos Aires, Argentina
While it may not be the cheapest place in Latin America to visit, Buenos Aires, is still an affordable vacation destination. According to Budget Your Trip, you should expect to pay about $53 per night for accommodations, $3.41 for a day’s worth of food, and $0.84 per day for transportation. When you consider that Buenos Aires is a vast metropolis that’s a melting pot of cultures, these prices seem like a steal.
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If you visit Buenos Aires in the spring, you’ll find breathtaking views of jacaranda trees. The light purple blooms make the already vibrant city even more colorful.