MARGS, Porto Alegre, Brazil

For me, Porto Alegre was a necessary stopover on the way to Rio de Janeiro. We arrived on an overnight bus from Montevideo and left the next morning on a plane. I did not have any plans for this city. The guidebook had mentioned two museums and that was all I knew about Porto Alegre when I arrived.

Fortunately, we came across a very helpful woman at the tourist information who helped us make the best of the day we spent in Porto Alegre. And the best about it? All attractions mentioned below are free and perfect for budget-concious travellers.

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Ships on beach, Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

Uruguay looks tiny when compared to its giant neighbours Argentina and Brazil. Many travellers arrive on day trips from Buenos Aires or just plan a quick stop in this country. But Uruguay has enough touris attractions to keep you busy for at least a week or two. We had seven days in this amazing country and barely managed to see its highlights. In fact, I think we could easily have spent another one or two weeks here.

Here is an overview to give you a taste of Uruguay and so you know what not to miss:

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El Galope farm, Uruguay

The horse did not want to follow me. No matter how hard I pulled on the leash, it was more interested in the bucket with food than the prospect of an unexperienced rider on its back. I waited patiently for it to stop chewing, then gave the rope another hard tug. Finally, it looked up and, very slowly, began to move.

It was our second day on the El Galope farm and I was about to get a riding lesson. A real one, with instructions on how to brush a horse and the appropriate posture. As the horse finally came with me, I was more than happy I had decided to stay on a ranch in Uruguay.

But horses are not the only reason to choose to stay on an estancia. Keep reading and I will explain to you why a farm stay is an essential stop on every trip to Uruguay.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina

It is easy to fall in love with Buenos Aires. With its beautiful architecture, its wide boulevards and its friendly inhabitants, the porteƱos, it is unlike any other place in South America. Often called the Paris of the South, it makes for a funny mixture between European and Latinamerican elements. A wide range of attractions and activities can keep you occupied for days. If you’re wondering where to start, here are some of my favourites that I enjoyed while staying in Buenos Aires:

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Manzana Jesuitica, Cordoba, Argentina

Cordoba is one of the oldest cities in Argentina. With more than a million inhabitants, it is the country’s second largest city and is well-known for its many universities. The city center is made up of many beautiful colonial buildings and the student bars make the city come alive at night. If you get tired of Cordoba, you can easily escape to the nearby mountains or one of the surrounding historical villages. But before you do so, make sure to check out the following sights in Cordoba itself:

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View from Cerro San Cristobal, Santiago de Chile

Terremoto was the first Spanish word I learned in Santiago de Chile. It means earthquake and could not be more fitting for the city. Santiago has been destroyed by earthquakes multiple times. In the whole city, only one building, a church, has never collapsed in a natural disaster.

And since earthquakes are a part of Chilean history, it fits that the local drink you can find everywhere in Santiago is called terremoto – if you stand up after drinking one, the ground will shake like in an earthquake.

During your visit to Santiago, the strong cocktail is most likely the only terremoto you will encounter. And besides hitting the local bars, there is lots more to do in this interesting city. If you have a few days here, I have a few suggestions for you on what to do and see.

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Ahu Tongariki, Easter Island, Rapa Nui, Chile

Located almost 4000km from mainland Chile, Easter Island is not an easy destination to get to. You have to fly, either via Santiago or once weekly from Tahiti. It is not a cheap destination to travel to either. But those who go through the effort of coming all the way out here will be rewarded with stunning archaeological sites, from stone heads to temples and caves, and a glimpse into a unique culture.

Plus, even if you are on a budget, there are plenty of things you can do around the island. But see for yourself:

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Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia

“Do you have any suggestions on what to do tomorrow?”

The guy at the tourist information looked at me with wide eyes. “Tomorrow? But tomorrow is Sunday. Everything is closed.”

My last days in Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia, did not sound very promising. I had thought of taking a bus around the island of Tahiti, but as I soon learned, busses didn’t operate on Sunday either. Yet, despite everything being closed, I ended up having a surprisingly good time.

Tahiti can be very expensive. If, like me, you’re conscious about your budget and do not want to rent a car or join an expensive tour, here are some suggestions on what to do.

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Moorea, French Polynesia

To say that I was mildly apprehensive about flying to French Polynesia was a big understatement. When I thought about the Pacific, all that came to my mind were overprized overwater bungalows that I could not afford and cuddling couples on honeymoon. It was less than a week since I had said goodbye to the guy with whom I had spent the last months and I was not in the mood for happy couples. Or cuddling couples. Or even unhappy couples – anything, really, that reminded me of the great relationship that I had just left behind to come here.

It did not help that I could barely find any information about solo travellers or backpackers in Tahiti. Most websites assume that you come here with your significant other, because why else would you travel to the Pacific?

But as I have learned, even as a solo traveller, you can have a lot of fun in French Polynesia. To help you get started, I have put together this guide with a couple of things to do in Moorea that I really enjoyed.

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St Kilda, Melbourne, Australia

While Australia is popular with backpackers, it is also one of the most expensive countries that budget travellers go to. Nowhere else have I seen my money vanish so quickly. Especially in a city like Melbourne, the temptation to spend it is great. An ice cream here, a smoothie there and before you know it, your money is gone.

Fortunately, Melbourne also offers a lot of free things for budget travellers, so you can easily spend a couple of days sightseeing without paying for any entrance tickets.

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