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Best Affordable Vacations in Central and South America

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

While planning a budget-friendly trip, it's easy to cross Central and South America off your list due to generally high airfare and pricey accommodations. But, with advantageous exchange rates and a variety of free first-class attractions awaiting exploration, you shouldn't consider this part of the world out of reach. According to experts and U.S. News readers, these locales are where travelers can get the best bang for their buck.

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Central & South America Rankings

#1 Cusco

#1 in Best Affordable Vacations in Central and South America

Opulent temples, soaring cathedrals and heavenly Machu Picchu – Cusco provides access to premier sites all for relatively low travel costs. Visit in spring or fall for the best hotel rates, fewer crowds and pleasant temperatures. Read More »

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#2 Machu Picchu

#2 in Best Affordable Vacations in Central and South America

Since 1911, culture hounds from far and wide have made the pilgrimage to see Machu Picchu's mystical temples. Exploring the grounds will cost you (as will the train from Cusco); however, a visit between September and November will yield affordable accommodations.

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#3 Lima

#3 in Best Affordable Vacations in Central and South America

Filled with rich history and buzzing culture, Lima is an excellent destination for a South American vacation. It's free to stroll through the plazas and parks (and admire their impressive architecture), or you can relax on the beach. You'll find flights and lodging rates at their cheapest in April, May, September and October, plus pleasant average temps in the 60s during those months. Read More »

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#4 Costa Rica

#4 in Best Affordable Vacations in Central and South America

If you book early enough, you're bound to find a deal in this tropical hot spot. Those looking for a place in the sun should head to Nicoya Peninsula's cream-colored sands. Or, lay your head in Jacó, a relaxed surfing town with easy access to the country's inland rainforests. Read More »

Every Night in Costa Rica View 45 photos
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#5 Bogotá

#5 in Best Affordable Vacations in Central and South America

Colombia's capital is an up-and-coming destination with several key assets: gorgeous architecture, delectable food and a raging nightlife. With all this going for it, Bogotá may not be cheap for very long. You'll also find yourself free to splurge here thanks to low exchange rates.

Bogotá
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#6 Santiago

#6 in Best Affordable Vacations in Central and South America

Chile's capital and largest city offers an urban blend of old and new at the base of the Andes Mountains. Plus, many of the city's top attractions are either free or have low admission rates, making Santiago an ideal location for budget-conscious travelers. Read More »

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#7 Argentine Patagonia

#7 in Best Affordable Vacations in Central and South America

Those that plan ahead should have no problem finding affordable digs in Argentine Patagonia. You'll have to share the frontier with tuxedoed residents and sea lions, but you won't be fighting (with humans anyway) for a glimpse of the area's spectacular natural wonders. Read More »

Hikkers Trekking Across Glacier National Park View 19 photos
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São Paulo

São Paulo Sunrise

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Panama City

Panama City

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Cartagena

Cartagena

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Guatemala

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