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With its picturesque, cobblestone streets and sceneries, Antigua is arguably one of the most beautiful towns to visit in all of Central America (let alone just Guatemala). Filled with colonial architecture, bustling markets, and spiraling volcanoes that assault from all corners, Antigua is an absolute must-visit.

In this guide, we’ll explore this Central American gem, including FIVE of the very best free things to do in Antigua, Guatemala. We’ll explore each individually, including everything you’ll need to know such as how to get there as well as the history behind each destination.

Free Thing 1: Explore The Plaza Central Park

As well the picture-perfect landmarks, Antigua is also known for its charming yet bustling plazas. For anyone backpacking Guatemala the Plaza Central Park is the heart of the town and is a great place to pass by during any time of the day. Exploring this plaza makes the top of our list as the best free thing to do in Antigua Guatemala.

Exploring the Plaza Central Park is one of our favorite free things to do in Antigua

Exploring the Plaza Central Park is one of our favorite things to do in Antigua

Within the park, you’ll find a large fountain, as well as many benches for you to sit on and watch local life unfold in front of your eyes. There are also lots of vendors around here, selling cheap ice creams, drinks, and typical dishes of Guatemala, all for a cheap price. 

Like many Latin American Plazas, this one is also surrounded by many important buildings on its outskirts, such as the Ayuntamiento and the Catedral San José. What is quaint and relaxing during the day quickly turns into atmospheric when the night comes. 

During the evening you’ll find tonnes more locals out and about, with public performances and activities on regularly. 

It is known that many street vendors work here and wait for tourists to arrive, so if you’re approached and not interested, simply a polite “no gracias” will suffice. 

For reference, the plaza is around two blocks away from the Santa Catalina arch, so it’s worthwhile combining both on a short walk around town.

Free Thing 2: Mercado Central Antigua

Guatemala is known for its unique and vibrant culture, and there’s no better introduction than through its bustling town markets. The Mercado Central Antigua is located on the western edge of town, at the end of 3a Calle Poniente. Wandering around the market is one of our favorite free things to do in Antigua, Guatemala.

Free things to do in Antigua - The bustling Mercado Central Antigua

The bustling Mercado Central Antigua

Here you’ll find locals selling everything from foods to artisanal products and electronics, however, the main experience is simply joining-in with the somewhat chaotic herd as you enter the busy ring of stalls. Here you can also spot many of the local “chicken buses” that Guatemala is famous for. 

Our main tip when visiting this market is to leave all valuables at home, and any phone and wallet in your front pockets or in a safe pouch in you. 

Like most Latin American countries, Guatemala also has a reputation for pickpocketing, so a little preparation before will ease most of your worries. 

Also, be sure to dress down and leave flashy accessories at home; not just to avoid any unwanted attention, but also to show locals respect as many live in poverty. 

Free Thing 3: Arco de Santa Catalina

Antigua truly is full of amazing architecture and beautiful landmarks. If you’re looking for free things to do in Antigua, Guatemala, you could simply wander around and take in the sights. However, the Arco de Santa Catalina has to be up there as one of the very best landmarks. Type ‘Antigua’ (followed by Guatemala of course – or else you’ll get the Caribbean island instead) into Google and this will most likely be the first image you’ll see. 

The iconic Arco de Santa Catalina in Antigua, Guatemala

The iconic Arco de Santa Catalina in Antigua, Guatemala

This faded yellow arch and clock tower is one of the very best things to see in town, and not just for the sight itself. Located along the busy 5th Avenue Norte, here you’ll also see many locals working as well as chicken buses riding through from time to time, giving a much more authentic view of everyday Guatemalan life. 

Whilst nowadays a snap-worthy site, the Santa Catalina arch used to be a walkway for the local nuns, so that they could pass into the convent without leaving the monastery. 

There are some backpacker hostels close by but if you stay outside the immediate area, we recommend heading there in the early morning when the mist from the previous night is still lingering which makes for a great photo. Another great time to visit is at dusk, especially if you’re lucky to see the red lava flows of Volcán Fuego in the distance. 

Whichever you decide, be sure to bring a couple of layers since temperatures plummet around these times in Antigua!

Constructed in the early 18th century, the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall in English) is one of the most stunning buildings to see in Antigua. 

Free Thing 4: Walk through the Ayuntamiento

With noticeable baroque features, rows of stone pillars, and looping arches, it’s quite intriguing to see the different eras of Antigua’s rich past combine here, where you’ll be able to see a variety of contrasting styles. 

Due to Guatemala’s hot tectonic activity, the town hall had been rattled by a series of earthquakes, which was then followed by restoration efforts in the 19th century. Whilst still used today by the municipal government, it’s open for viewing pleasure to the public from 8:00-12:00, and also from 14:00-18:00, making it one of the best things to do for free in Antigua Guatemala.

We recommend heading between 8:00-9:00, as you’ll beat all the crowds who come later and can have the place more or less to yourself. 

We also recommend combining this with a walk in the Plaza Central Park and also to the Santa Catalina arch, since they’re all within a stone’s throw of each other (not to mention the town of Antigua being pretty small anyhow).

Free Thing 5: Cerro de la Cruz

What makes Antigua especially great is its epic landscapes, with volcanoes looming pretty much everywhere you look! Volcán de Fuego is still active, meaning you’ll also be able to see puffs of smoke every now and then, and if you’re lucky, a hot red flow of lava at night. 

The Cerro de la Cruz with a view to Volcan Agua

The Cerro de la Cruz with a view to Volcan Agua

And as far as viewpoints go to see all of this beauty, Cerro de la Cruz is by far the best. Located just outside of Antigua on a hill (in the north), you can walk here in around 30 minutes from the town center.

As well as the views over the town, there’s also a giant cross which is great for a snap or two. Here you’ll find local vendors selling local Guatemalan dishes if you get peckish too. 

Be sure to bring lots of water, as it can get quite warm during the day when you’re hiking up to the viewpoint. The absolute best time to head here is around 5 pm, just as the afternoon draws to a close. 

You can thank us later! From here you can actually continue upwards into the highlands if you fancy. The path continues up to the road, and if you follow for around an hour (or get a taxi if you must!) you’ll come to a small village higher up with even better views.

Overview

And that’s all for our guide on free things to do in Antigua, Guatemala! This stunning colonial town is one of the best destinations to visit in Guatemala

With an abundance of volcanoes to be explored, and historical sights and landmarks aplenty, it rightfully so is a must-visit when in this area of Central America. 

In this guide, we’ve explored 5 of the very best things to see and do for free, which range from awesome viewpoints to picturesque buildings and sights. 

We’ve also given our own recommendations on each to help you have the best experience possible, as well as how to get to each individual attraction.

Living La Vida Loca? Sorry, Ricky Martin, it’s all about the Pura Vida (“Pure Life”) in Costa Rica. And the best way to experience this is by visiting the multitude of national parks — 28 in total. And, because the country’s so small, it’s easy to visit many of them in a short trip. So, let’s dive into the best hikes in Costa Rica for your next visit.

The Catarata del Toro Waterfall Hike

 

Catarata del Toro Waterfall cascading into a volcanic crater - hiking in costa rica

Catarata del Toro Waterfall cascades into a volcanic crater

About two hours outside San Jose is a towering waterfall you won’t want to miss.

As you hike, tropical rainforests engulf you like a pig-in-a-blanket. There are a few viewpoints you’ll pass before arriving at the waterfall. Snap some pictures along the way before you descend to the waterfall itself. 

If you were thinking this was an ordinary waterfall, you’d be wrong. This waterfall is an astounding 270 feet high, and it sits inside the crater of a now-extinct volcano. The impressive waterfall alone makes this one of the best hikes in Costa Rica.

Because this waterfall isn’t as visited as other sights, you’ll experience wildlife living undisturbed by civilization. Hummingbirds, butterflies, and more zip from tree to tree as you wander the trail.

So, take your time and enjoy the experience; it’s sure to be good.

Hike Details

Length: 1 mile

Difficulty: Easy

Getting to the trail: The start of the hike is located between San Jose and La Fortuna. Two hours driving from San Jose, this trail is easily accessed for anyone staying in the capital. The closest town is Bajas del Toro, which is a good starting point. You can find the start of the trail on Google Maps here.

Rio Celeste Hike

The other-worldly colors of the Rio Celeste - one of the best hikes in Costa Rica

The other-worldly colors of the Rio Celeste – one of the best hikes in Costa Rica

Timing is essential to this hike. It’s straightforward, and signs are posted to help you stay on the trail. But, to experience the magic of what makes this one of the best hikes in Costa Rica, you’ll want to visit during the dry season — from December to April.

Why go during this time?

When it rains, mud mixes into the water and turns it a dark brown. But, when it’s a clear day, the water turns to Cool Blue Gatorade, and it’s beautiful.

Whether you get to catch the blue waters or not, the hike itself is full of flora and fauna for you to observe. Snakes, birds, and rare plants litter this hike, so keep your eyes peeled for any animals or plants who may be hiding just out of view.

Hike Details

Length: 4 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Getting to the trail: Rio Celeste is located inside Tenorio Volcano National Park. The closest town is Bijagua de Upala. However, trips can be arranged from La Fortuna, a more popular option for visitors to Costa Rica. La Fortuna is 29 miles from the national park.

You can find the start of the trail on Google Maps here.

La Leona Madrigal Trail

Parque Nacional Corcovado - one of the best hikes in Costa Rica to experience wildlife

Parque Nacional Corcovado – one of the best hikes in Costa Rica to experience wildlife

National Geographic labeled Corcovado National Park as the most biologically intense place on the planet. And it contains a plethora of hiking options. 

So, you’re sure to have a close-up experience with various wildlife, making this one of the best places to go hiking in Costa Rica.

What type of wildlife exactly? Tapirs, monkeys, jaguars, and eagles are some animals you’re sure to see on your hike.

I recommend the La Leona Madrigal Trail if you’re looking for a hike that will give you a dose of all that this park has to offer.

This out-and-back trail will take you along the coast, where you can enjoy the stunning beaches of Costa Rica. But that’s not all. It also takes you inland to the jungles, so you can live out your inner Indiana Jones.

You can book overnight stays in the park, which will give you an immersive experience in the wild. Or, you can stay in one of the nearby towns for easy access. The closest towns are Puerto Jimenez and Drake Bay.

Hike Details

Length: 6 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Getting to the trail: The trail begins between Carate Mixeo Wildlife Refuge and Playa Madrigal, located on the southern end of Corcovado National Park. You can follow National Route 245 to easily access the area.

You can find the trail start on Google Maps here.

Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges

One of the many hanging bridges on the trail in Arenal

One of the many hanging bridges on the trail in Arenal

The area around Arenal is known for it’s many hiking options. A shorter hike near the Arenal Volcano offers a more accessible way to experience the cloud forest. But that doesn’t mean it’s not still full of novelty and intrigue.

The Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges hike consists of 15 total bridges, six of which are hanging. As you navigate the forest, you’ll get fantastic views of the volcano and the occasional visit from monkeys, birds, and other wildlife.

This hike would be excellent to pair with another hike near the Arenal Volcano — which are plentiful.

I’d recommend the Los Tucanes hike, a 2.5-mile hike across hanging bridges and lava fields. Wildlife fills Arenal National Park, so you’ll encounter unique animals on this hike.

Hike Details

Length: 2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Getting to the trail: Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park is located on the northern side of Arenal Volcano. From La Fortuna, it’s about a 30-minute drive via Route 142. The park contains a large parking lot, so renting a car is an excellent option.

You can find the start on Google Maps here.

Cerro Chirripo

View of San Gerardo de Rivas and Cerro Chirripó National Park in the background

View of San Gerardo de Rivas and Cerro Chirripó National Park in the background

Up for a more significant challenge? How about climbing to the top of the tallest mountain when hiking in Costa Rica?

This one isn’t for the faint-hearted, as it’s over 12 miles one way. That doesn’t sound bad until you add over 7,000 feet of elevation gain. Yeah, this one is going to challenge you.

But, you don’t have to do it all in one day. Most people choose to do a two or three-day option. Three miles away from the summit, most hikers will stay at the Crestones Base Camp lodge.

Once you reach the top, though, you’re greeted with views out over Costa Rica — from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean on each side. It is easy to see what makes this one of the best hikes in Costa Rica – especially for experienced backpackers who are looking to get off the beaten path.

Hike Details

Length: 24 miles (round trip)

Difficulty: Difficult

Getting to the trail: To get to the beginning of the trail, you will start in the nearby town of San Gerardo de Rivas. Booking a stay in this small town is an excellent option so you can have easy access at the beginning and end of your hike. From there, it’s a short drive to the park entrance.

You can find the start on Google Maps here.

Best Hikes in Costa Rica – Final Thoughts

Costa Rica doesn’t see almost two million tourists a year because it lacks options. In fact, around 80% of its visitors come to experience the staggering amount of ecology on offer.

And there’s no better way to experience that ecological beauty than hitting the trails and leaving civilization behind.

You’re equipped to do exactly that on your next visit with this guide to the best hikes in Costa Rica. Now go get a taste of that Pura Vida!

15 years ago, if you mentioned the name “Merida” to travelers, most wouldn’t know where you were talking.

Fast forward to today, and it’s a rising travel destination. Everybody’s heard of Cancún, Tulum, and Cozumel. Merida is the new kid on the block in Mexico.

“Why is Merida quickly becoming a tourist hotspot?”

Well, how much time do you have?

The Maya influenced the cuisine in Yucatán today, which results in a spicy, but delectable set of dishes. There is also an abundance of Mayan ruins near Merida that you can easily visit on a day trip. And, it’s easy to access nearby areas to immerse yourself in the city and its surroundings.

This leads us to the best day trips from Merida Mexico. To be honest, this list could be much longer. But, for brevity, I kept it to 10.

So, without further ado.

Visit the Uxmal Ruins near Merida

Chichen Itza is the first image that comes to most people’s minds when you mention Mayan ruins near Merida. But, only an hour from Merida is another remarkable set of ruins (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site) named Uxmal (pronounced oosh-mawl). 

And, best of all, no crowds or pesky vendors! As you hike your way around the area (which is larger than expected), the only other visitors will be the plethora of iguanas.

Visit Uxmal - one of the few Mayan ruins that you can still climb!

Visit Uxmal – one of the few Mayan ruins that you can still climb!

Even better, you can climb the ruins at Uxmal! No other day trip from Merida offers this one! 

Try doing that at Chichen Itza, and the police will haul you away. So, if you’ve ever had a dream of being a Mayan King, Uxmal is your best chance to play out your vision.

Explore Dzibilchaltún Ruins, then Swim in a Cenote

Is one set of Mayan ruins not enough for you? That’s alright; there are plenty of ruins near Merida throughout the Yucatán Peninsula. Dzibilchaltún may not look like a lot on its face, but there’s a lot more than meets the eye.

If you’re visiting for the Spring or Fall Equinox, you can witness a rare spectacle when the sun rises perfectly between the Temple of the Seven Dolls. It’s a testament to the mathematical and building skills of the Maya.

After you check out the ruins, head to Cenote Xlacah — located right next to the ruins — for a refreshing dip in a natural pool.

You’ll see many Mexican families gather here on the weekend to spend time with their families, so it’s an excellent local experience as well.

For a short trip, Dzibilchaltún is one of the best day trips from Merida.

Sunbathe at Progreso Beach

Progreso Beach is an ideal day trip from Merida for those who want sun and sand on their trip. Under an hour to the north of Merida is this gorgeous white-sanded beach.

Park yourself under an umbrella, order some ceviche and micheladas and stay put. Unless it’s to take a dip in the turquoise waters that fill the Gulf of Mexico.

Visit Progreso Beach on a short day trip from Merida

Visit Progreso Beach on a short day trip from Merida

If you get tired of sunbathing, check out some surrounding activities, including:

  • Check out Progreso Pier (The world’s longest pier)
  • Visit El Corchito Ecological Reserve
  • Go fishing near Scorpion Reef

Get a Dose of Culture in Valladolid

Buses of tourists fly past this overlooked town every day, missing out on all Valladolid offers and one of the best day trips from Merida. If you want a real piece of genuine Mexican culture? This is the place for you.

Colonial architecture in Valladolid at the Iglesia de San Servacio

Colonial architecture in Valladolid at the Iglesia de San Servacio

You can spend hours roaming the unique museums and colorful markets and streets. You’ll catch one of Valladolid’s traditional dances if you’re lucky. There isn’t a lack of options here.

If you visit, be sure to check out:

  • Casa de los Venados
  • Mercado Municipal
  • Convent of San Bernardo
  • Cenote Zaci

See the Rainbows in Campeche

Tucked on the inner coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, this undersized UNESCO World Heritage is about two hours from Merida by car.

But, if culture and history are your passions, that’s two and a half hours of worth it.

Campeche was used as a Caribbean port from the 1600-to-1700s. But, it was a port often under siege from pirate raids. In response, the citizens constructed large walls and fortifications around the city as a shield to keep themselves safe.

Inside this strong exterior is an Instagram hashtag in city form. Colorful buildings line every street. Yellows, greens, blues, oranges — every hue imaginable surrounds you.

Looking to fit a lot of Mexico into a short period? Campeche is one of the best day trips from Merida you can choose.

Play in the Water at Hacienda Muycuche

There are tons of cenotes near Merida. But, if you’re looking to get away from the masses of tourists, Hacienda Mucuyche is a fantastic option. You’ll have to earn it, though. And that’s by locating it.

You can message the place yourself to book a reservation if you want to make it easy for yourself. But, if you’re driving, know that this place can be tough to find for locals, too.

But the rewards are fantastic.

Crystal clear waters, Batman-like caves, and…a guided tour? That’s right. You have to book a guided tour for access. Still, it’s a pleasant tour, and the guides offer some intriguing information about the formation of the cenotes.

Don’t miss out on Hacienda Mucuyche if you’re inclined to get outside the typical tourist path.

See a World Wonder at Chichen Itza

It’s unthinkable to leave Chichen Itza off the list of the best day trips from Merida Mexico. Despite its popularity, the classic Mayan ruins are always a must-see if you’re visiting Merida. It’s not every day you get to see a world wonder.

The imposing Chichen Itza - a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World

The imposing Chichen Itza – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World

The site is only an hour and a half from Merida, so it’s an easy drive for a self-guided day trip. Or, you can book one of the many tour options that leave from Merida.

Either way, you should visit Chichen Itza if you haven’t yet. Otherwise, you should be looking up ticket prices now (around $27).

Take in the Pink Waters of Las Coloradas

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you when you see the bubble gum pink waters of Las Coloradas. These waters are abnormal, and they’ll have your friends thinking you photoshopped them.

But there’s no editing involved here. 

Algae and sea life thrive in the area due to the water’s high salt content. And, when sunlight hits the water, you get something akin to a giant Kool-Aid spill.

The location is private property, so you can only get so close to the waters for pictures.

Luckily, that’s not the only thing to see here, as Las Coloradas lies in the Río Lagartos Biosphere Reserve. This reserve is home to various wildlife, including flamingos, crocodiles, and jaguars.

Watch the World Go By in Celestún

Want more flamingos? Then Celestún is one of the best day trips from Merida you can take.

Watch the playful flamingos at Celestún, an easy day trip from Merida

Watch the playful flamingos at Celestún, an easy day trip from Merida

The city itself is charming enough — containing a small square and a few beautiful beaches.

But, most visit the Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve to see the high concentration of flamingoes. There’s much more birdlife to witness throughout the reserve to make this a birdwatcher’s paradise.

Celestún is the perfect place for a day trip where you want to take it slow. The easy vibes of Celestún will help you settle right in.

Ride a Horse-Drawn Mining Cart to the Cuzamá Cenotes

Want a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else? How about a horse pulling you to three different cenotes?

If that sounds like your idea for a good day trip, then the hour drive to the Cuzamá Cenotes is well worth it.

Each cenote is fantastic, but the last one — Chelentun — is the best of them all. Steps lead down to a stone platform where you can ease yourself into the deep blue waters or jump straight in to get a head-start over your friends.

Enjoy your time in the cool waters here before heading back on the cart and into the Yucatán heat.

Day Trips from Merida – Final Thoughts

If Merida isn’t on your list of places to visit yet, you should add it immediately. The mixture of culture, history, and food is perfect for travelers looking to dive into a country.

Hopefully, these best day trips from Merida will help you experience every last bit of the area.

Pin 10 Best Day Trips from Merida Mexico

Pin 10 Best Day Trips from Merida Mexico

If you are someone who loves to travel as much as I do, you’ll be familiar with the traditional advice on how to travel inexpensively. Hostels, couch surfing, camping… and eating nothing but buttered pasta for weeks on end. What if I told you that there is an easier way to travel the world, save money, and have a memorable once-in-a-lifetime experience? Imagine summiting Machu Picchu, getting a tan on the beaches of Lima, or dancing in Rio. Worldpackers makes finding volunteer work while backpacking South America more accessible than ever!

Volunteer in South America via a Reputable Agency

If volunteer work in South America sounds like something you want to do, it’s best to do it via a reputable agency. An agency will help screen volunteer programs and hosts in South America to make sure you have support every step of the way.

Finding a Host on Worldpackers

Worldpackers is a service that connects travellers with volunteer work in South America and around the world. Travellers and hosts use the service to find each other, and each provides an integral part of the exchange.

The hosts will offer a place to stay. Perhaps a hostel, camp, family home, farm, or NGO to a traveller in exchange for hours worked or volunteered on the property. A traveller works on the property a set number of hours per week in exchange for free accommodation, and sometimes other perks such as free food, free bike rentals, free tours… the list is endless!

How to build your Worldpackers profile

To begin on Worldpackers as a traveller, all you need to do is sign up, pay a yearly membership, USD $49.99 and begin searching for your dream volunteer program in South America. You can apply to as many experiences you like. If a host thinks that you’ll be a good fit, you’ll be pre-approved. All that’s left to do is book your flight and pack!

The Worldpackers interface is extremely intuitive and easy to use. You can search experiences by destination, purpose of the trip, availability, skills you offer, style of travel, hours of collaboration, trip length, additional benefits and more. That makes searching through their thousands of experiences easy and manageable. You can also read all reviews from other Worldpackers who have lived that experience, so you have the peace of mind that you’re making the right choice in applying. 

The site also offers hundreds of articles, videos and courses about how to stand out as a volunteer. You can earn badges and certificates for your profile which will make you a more desirable candidate and can increase your chances of being selected by the hosts you want! 

Long Term Volunteer Work in South America

Most Worldpackers volunteer trips in South America require the volunteers to stay between 2-4 weeks. However, you will find a huge variety of minimum time commitments on the site. 

The benefits of long-term travel are plenty. Connecting to a location, immersing yourself in a different culture, contributing to a local community and making lifelong connections are just a few of the highlights past Worldpackers shared in their reviews. 

There is also value in establishing a home base with a volunteer program when you are backpacking South America. When travelling and living out of a backpack for long periods of time, it can be a great reset to feel at home for a while. 

Your hosts and fellow travellers can become a family away from home and they can be a great resource for planning for your next destinations. 

Volunteer Trips In South America

Let’s look at some current volunteer opportunities for those backpacking South America. 

There are over 1500 volunteer positions available in South America at the time of writing this article. Some require as short of a time commitment of only one week! I’m happy to highlight just a few opportunities available this spring & summer.

Volunteer at the reception of a hostel in Bogotá, Colombia

This position is looking for a warm and friendly individual to work behind the counter greeting guests at their hostel. As a volunteer, you’d work 32 hours a week. You would also be asked to give a hand in the kitchen. 

Aside from a free bed, this experience also offers you free breakfast each morning, use of their kitchen, bikes at your disposal and discounts on drinks. This hostel has achieved top host status, meaning that they have consistently received great reviews from travellers who have lived this experience. 

Past Worldpackers have said this experience excels in helping them immerse themselves in the culture, meet locals, develop social awareness, and meet other international travellers. 

Explore more volunteer work in Colombia

Share your knowledge in Catuama, Brazil

Share your knowledge and experience on skills that you have developed or learned.

Do you have a special skill or talent? Why not bring yourself to Brazil to teach in a hostel! Whether it be teaching a sport, organizing events, or running a craft workshop – this experience may be for you!

This host is asking Worldpackers to stay at least 15 days. In exchange you get 3 days off per week, pickup, and transport to the hostel when you arrive, access to the kitchen and discounts on accommodation for your stay in other hostels as you continue with your travels.   

Other Worldpackers recommend this experience for getting in touch with nature, learning about sustainability and developing greater environmental awareness. 

Explore more volunteer work in Brazil

Volunteer at our Zoo in the Peruvian Andes Valley, Lima Peru

Join us as a Zoo volunteer! Work alongside skilled veterinarians and staff, at our local Zoo in the Peruvian Andes. As a volunteer, you will learn about each species and support by feeding animals, spending time/sharing loving energy with animals, helping veterinarians administer medications, cleaning, gardening, and maintaining the atmosphere for the animals.

If cost isn’t a limiting factor during your travel, there are even more opportunities available to you. This experience, and a select few others, may charge an additional fee. For instance, are you an animal lover? While backpacking South America, you could volunteer at a local zoo, helping to care for animals. 

This position only requires 3 hours of work each weekday, which frees up the rest of your time to explore this beautiful country! This position also provides breakfast and lunch each day. 

They accept couples as well as single volunteers, so if you are travelling with a partner or friend, they are welcome too. 

Those who have volunteered here say this experience was great for meeting locals, immersing in the local culture, and getting in touch with nature. 

Explore more volunteer work in Peru

Community Manager & Web Programmer in Cordoba, Argentina

If you’re looking for volunteer work in South America that would also look great on your resume, why not consider helping out as a community manager and web programmer during your backpacking trip?

 We are looking for a creative person who has knowledge in digital marketing, social networks and can also help us advertise the hostel organically and using digital ads.”

For anyone with tech skills to spare, this position could be not only fun, but also a great career opportunity to bolster your resume. 

This stunning hostel in Argentina is seeking a talented person to run their social media accounts, and the minimum time requirement is only one week.

You would work 32 hours a week which leaves plenty of time for exploring and spending time with your new friends from around the world.

Explore more volunteer work in Argentina

Multiply and cultivate ornamental plants in Chile

“We reproduce and research ornamental plants, especially the native ones… We’re 5 km away from the touristic city of Valdivia, close to national parks and other attractions. Come help us with different activities in our vivero.”

If you’ve got a green thumb and would love to be surrounded by nature while backpacking South America, why not volunteer in beautiful Chile on a working farm? You’d work farming, gardening, and helping with general labour around the property. 

This experience includes all meals, free laundry, and 2 days off a week. You can also use the on-site bicycles to get into town on your days off.

Explore more volunteer work in Chile


In conclusion, you don’t have to pay a ton of money to travel around the world or have unique experiences. Worldpackers is an incredible resource for backpackers, budget travellers, or those searching for enriching volunteer programs in South America. 

Their site’s search functions make it so easy to find the best volunteer work when backpacking South America. Regardless of your unique travel itinerary, I cannot recommend Worldpackers enough.

With 2022 full of hope, it’s time to dust off your backpack and think about where to go next. If you’re on a budget, you may be wondering about the cheapest backpacking destinations in the world. The thing is, especially if you’ve been aching to get back out there, ‘budget travel’ can be a bit of an oxymoron. People go traveling to see something new, and once it finally becomes possible to go backpacking in 2022, the last thing you want to do is restrict yourself.

The way to travel on a budget without feeling too limited is to go backpacking destinations where food, accommodation, and transport are cheap. This will allow you to stretch your budget and splurge on the occasional special activity to get the most out of your trip. The good news is, after you figure out a cheap way to get to your destination, it is possible to travel around some of the most beautiful destinations on earth for less than $20 a day. Believe it or not, it can sometimes be cheaper to be on the road than to stay at home considering your normal rent and daily expenses! 

So without further ado, here is our updated list of the cheapest backpacking destinations for 2022.

Bulgaria – The best Eastern European country for budget travel

Even though Bulgaria is the cheapest backpacking destination to visit in Eastern Europe, it has an abundance of gorgeous landscapes that rival its neighbors. During our 5 days in Bulgaria were able to see Alpine mountains, forested countryside, sandy beaches on the Black Sea, plus beautiful cities like Sofia and Veliko Tărnovo.

The Rila Monastery near Sofia in Bulgaria, one of the cheapest backpacking countries in the world

The Rila Monastery near Sofia, Bulgaria

Because we were traveling in the off season, we were able to splurge on the occasional high-end luxury accommodation for less than $100 a night. Of course, you can always find cheaper hostels in Bulgaria. Food and drink are also super affordable, with the average price of a beer being about a dollar.

Learn more: Backpacking in Bulgaria

India

India is one of those countries where budget travel is almost entirely dependent on your willingness to haggle. If you strike the right tone, India can be one of the cheapest backpacking destinations in the world.

When booking guesthouses, you’ll most certainly get a better price by booking directly with the guest house versus booking online through an agency. Transportation-wise, it is super cheap to get around in India. In the big cities, we recommend using Uber it’s actually much cheaper than the prices you’ll be quoted for a tuk-tuk ride. For intercity travel, trains cost between $8 – $30, and you can even find flights within that price range!

Learn more: Backpacking in India

Portugal – The cheapest backpacking destination in Western Europe

Portugal is a great option in Western Europe for travelers on a budget. You’ll be able to experience the vibrant European culture as well as world-famous food and wine at a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay in France or Spain. 

Learn more: Backpacking in Portugal

Cambodia

Cambodia has so much to offer, and you can travel there for about $20 a day. Private rooms in a nice guesthouse will cost you about $10, and tuk-tuk rides are a savvy way to get around. Our guest house helped us arrange a private tuk-tuk driver to help us visit the many temples of Angkor Wat for just $12!  You can even get a 30-day SIM card with 1.5 GB of data for $2.

Ta Prohm Temple in the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Cambodia, one of the cheapest backpacking countries

Ta Prohm Temple in the Angkor Wat Temple Complex

Learn more: Backpacking in Cambodia

Georgia

With medieval fortresses, majestic mountains, and friendly locals, the country of Georgia should be much higher on the list of top backpacking destinations. And with delicious meals starting at $3, and $1 local buses, it’s one of the best countries for budget travel. You don’t have to withhold on the cultural activities here, since most entrance tickets cost around $2.

The Caucasus Mountains in Georgia

The Caucasus Mountains in Georgia

Learn more: Backpacking in Georgia

The Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, the old trope ‘beer is cheaper than water’ is actually true. While the Czech Republic boasts much of the same beauty as its neighbors like Germany and Austria, it’s possible to travel here at a fraction of the cost.

Learn more: Backpacking in the Czech Republic

Bolivia – the cheapest backpacking destination in South America

Bolivia is one of the cheapest backpacking destinations in the world and is very popular with adventurers. Here, it is possible to get a 3-course meal for less than $2. Accommodation in a hostel dorm room costs between $8-$12 a night, and local and long-distance buses are a cheap way to get around. Even the most famous backpacker destination in Bolivia, the Uyuni Salt Flats, won’t break the bank, costing around $200 for 3 days, which is relatively cheap for this bucket-list destination!

Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia

Salar de Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia

Learn more: Backpacking in Bolivia

Nepal

Trekking in Nepal doesn’t have to cost as much as you might imagine. Other than the Everest Base Camp Trek (an exorbitant expense), there are plenty of beautiful Himalayan treks where it is possible to go by yourself. The Short Annapurna Circuit, for example, is well-marked with guesthouses along the path for about $5 a night, so you won’t have to carry tons of gear. (If you want to go all the way to Annapurna Base Camp, you’ll need to go with a guide). Food and drink in Nepal are also very affordable, with meals costing between $2-$3.

Learn more: Backpacking in Nepal

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is certainly one of those countries where you can travel on a budget or live in the lap of luxury for relatively affordable prices. Their infamous train system (a bucket-list item in itself) is the cheapest way to get around the country. Or, you could hire a private taxi to travel between cities with a few other people from your hostel. Keep a special travel budget set aside for entrance fees to nature reserves and UNESCO Heritage sites!

Learn more: Backpacking in Sri Lanka

Colombia

Colombia is one of our favorite backpacking destinations because of the friendly locals, diverse landscapes, and of course, affordability. You could easily backpack in Colombia for a month with just $1000 in your bank account. By taking long-distance buses, staying in hostel dorm rooms, and cooking your own food in the hostel kitchens, you can visit destinations like Medellín, Cartagena, and Salento on a budget.

The Cocora Valley near Salento, Colombia

The Cocora Valley near Salento, Colombia

Learn more: Backpacking in Colombia

Honorable Mention

Denmark

This country certainly doesn’t scream ‘budget travel’ but it’s the cheapest destination in Scandinavia. If visiting this part of the world has been a dream of yours, we can definitely recommend Denmark in comparison with its more expensive Scandinavian neighbors Norway, Sweden, or Finland.

Nyhavn Canal in Copenhagen, Denmark, one of the cheapest backpacking countries in Scandinavia

Nyhavn Canal in Copenhagen, Denmark

Learn more: Backpacking in Denmark