A Travel Price Comparison for New Mexico Albuquerque vs. Santa Fe for Old Town, Attractions, Food, and Couples

Should you visit Albuquerque or Santa Fe?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Albuquerque and Santa Fe. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Albuquerque

Albuquerque is a cultural, outdoorsy, and desert town. As this is a very quaint destination, you'll find it has a special atmosphere. It's also popular because of the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a charming, artsy, and cultural historic town. It's a gorgeous place to visit. This is a quaint and attractive place to visit, too. Other reasons to visit include hiking, shopping, and museums.

Albuquerque and Santa Fe: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good music scene
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Albuquerque or Santa Fe?

Visitors will generally find more to do in Santa Fe than Albuquerque. While Albuquerque is larger than Santa Fe, Santa Fe has more sights, attractions, and activities for tourists. Santa Fe is better known for its skiing, music, and impressive beauty, while Albuquerque is more popular for its museums, nightlife, and historical sights. Albuquerque is well known for its adobe architecture, artisan shops, fascinating cultural venues, and surrounding desert landscapes. Santa Fe is well known for its strong arts scene, its Pueblo-style architecture, and its unique local cuisine. Also, Santa Fe is famous for The Museum of New Mexico Complex.

How is Albuquerque different from Santa Fe?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Albuquerque or Santa Fe Better for Skiing?

Albuquerque
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a good destination for skiing. However, Albuquerque is not a skiing destination.

Santa Fe is a great destination for skiing with plenty areas to explore. There are a few good ski resorts not far from Santa Fe. Popular options include Taos Ski Valley, Ski Santa Fe, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, and Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort.

Albuquerque is not a skiing destination.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Albuquerque or Santa Fe?

Albuquerque
Santa Fe

Albuquerque is a great town for its historical sights. Also, Santa Fe is not as popular, but is still a nice historic town for its sights and museums.

Many visitors head to Albuquerque specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. The old town has a lot of history including the San Felipe de Neri Church. Also worth visiting is the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Unser Racing Museum, and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

Santa Fe is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. Head to the Museum of New Mexico Complex, which has four museums that give a great overview of the history of the area. Also make sure you visit the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

Is the Food Better in Albuquerque or Santa Fe? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Albuquerque
Santa Fe

Both Albuquerque and Santa Fe offer a number of high quality restaurants to choose from.

The food selection at local restaurants is excellent in Albuquerque. The city's local cuisine combines Native American and Spanish flavors to make a variety of unique specialties. You should try the green chili stew, breakfast burrito, sopaipillas, and blue corn pancakes.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Santa Fe. There are many local restaurants that use regional ingredients and offer great flavors. There are also cafes and bistros where you can enjoy breakfast or brunch. Local dishes include sopaipillas made with Native American fry bread, slow-cooked beans, and anything made with red and green chili peppers.

Is Albuquerque or Santa Fe Better for Nightlife?

Albuquerque
Santa Fe

Albuquerque is very good for its evening party scene. However, Santa Fe is not known for nightlife.

If you're looking for night time activities Albuquerque has a few options to choose from. Head downtown and to the Nob Hill neighborhood for wine bars, breweries, and billiard halls. These areas have the best nightlife scene and they're also compact enough to explore on foot.

Most people don't head to Santa Fe specifically for the nightlife scene, but you can find a few options. While most of the town quiets down at night, the city has a few areas that stay active late into the night. Live music is popular and diverse. It often includes different genres such as the blues, country, salsa or bluegrass.


Is Albuquerque or Santa Fe Better for Music?

Albuquerque
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a good destination for live music. However, Albuquerque is not a live music destination.

You don't have to look far to find a unique music venue in Santa Fe. The town has an eclectic music scene that includes a mix of the blues, country, Latin American music, and bluegrass.

Albuquerque is not a live music destination.

Is Albuquerque or Santa Fe Better for its Old Town?

Albuquerque
Santa Fe

Albuquerque is an unbeatable place for its historic old town charm. Also, Santa Fe is not as popular, but is still a nice historic town for its historic old town.

With a famous historical old-town, Albuquerque offers plenty to see. There is a wonderful old town where the city's first neighborhood was established. It dates back to the early 1700's and has its roots in Spanish colonial history. The area has many adobe houses, great local restaurants, and artisan shops.

Many visitors go to Santa Fe to see the historical old town. As the 2nd oldest city in the United States, the old town historic district is filled with charm. The Pueblo-style buildings are brightly colored and there are churches throughout.

Is Albuquerque or Santa Fe Better for Hiking?

Albuquerque
Santa Fe

Hiking trails can be found around both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and they are notable.

Albuquerque offers some nice hiking trails. The desert landscape is varied and beautiful. Popular trails in the area include Tree Spring Trail, Birdhouse Ridge, and West Ridge.

Santa Fe is a good destination for hiking. Because it's located right by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, there are many beautiful hikes right outside of town. Popular trails include the Picacho Peak Trail and the Nambe Lake Trail. Bandelier National also has many places to hike.


Is the Shopping Better in Albuquerque or Santa Fe?

Albuquerque
Santa Fe

If you're looking to go shopping, Albuquerque and Santa Fe both offer plenty of high quality spots.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Albuquerque. The city's old town has many cultural artisan shops where you can buy local items. It's a fun and unique shopping experience, and though it sometimes feels a bit touristy, there are many local shops that offer an authentic experience.

Santa Fe is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. There are many unique shops and art galleries that feature local artists and craftsmen.

Is Albuquerque or Santa Fe Better for Families?

Albuquerque
Santa Fe

Both Albuquerque and Santa Fe are notable family-friendly destinations.

Albuquerque offers lots of family activities. The city has a number of nature centers as well as the Albuquerque BioPark Zoo. Outside of town there are many parks and natural areas to explore.

Santa Fe is a family-friendly place to visit. There are a few kids' museums in Santa Fe including the Santa Fe Children's Museum and the Meow Wolf Art Complex. Kids also enjoy the botanical gardens at Museum Hill and Bandelier National Monument just outside of the city.

Is Albuquerque or Santa Fe Better for Couples?

Albuquerque
Santa Fe

Albuquerque is a great town for couples. Also, Santa Fe is not as popular, but is still a nice historic town for romance.

Albuquerque is a great town if you're traveling as a couple. Surrounded by natural beauty, and filled with culture and charm, this city makes a great romantic getaway. It's particularly wonderful during the famous International Balloon Fiesta.

Santa Fe is a nice destination for couples. There are many romantic inns around town, each with a lot of character. The town also has a lot of atmosphere that makes for a romantic getaway.


Is Albuquerque or Santa Fe Better for Students?

Albuquerque
Santa Fe

For students, both Albuquerque and Santa Fe are notable places to visit.

It's common for students to visit Albuquerque. It offers a unique cultural environment that students can appreciate. There are also many outdoor recreational opportunities.

Santa Fe is a good town to visit for students. There are a few colleges and universities in town and students will appreciate the reasonable cost of living and outdoor activities nearby.

Is Albuquerque or Santa Fe Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Albuquerque
Santa Fe

Albuquerque and Santa Fe both offer respectable public transit to get you around.

Public transit is mostly limited in Albuquerque. ABQ Ride is the bus system around town, but most visitors prefer to have their own car.

Public transit is generally limited in Santa Fe. There is a bus system - the Santa Fe Trails Bus Service.

Is Albuquerque or Santa Fe a more walkable city?

Albuquerque
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a great historic town for its walkability. Also, Albuquerque is not as popular, but is still a nice town for its high level of walkability.

Santa Fe is very walkable. The historic district is walkable and it's easy to visit most of the tourist sights in this area on foot.

Albuquerque is a somewhat walkable place. Walkable areas include the old town, the area around the University of New Mexico, and the uptown area.


For even more information, also check out Is Albuquerque Worth Visiting? and Is Santa Fe Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Santa Fe or Albuquerque?

How long in Albuquerque or Santa Fe?

In either Albuquerque or Santa Fe, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Santa Fe than Albuquerque because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 2-4 days is a good amount of time for Albuquerque, and 2-5 days is enough time in Santa Fe.

Couples should spend more time in Albuquerque than Santa Fe. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Albuquerque that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.


  • How many days in Albuquerque or Santa Fe? Ideal Length of Stay
    Albuquerque 2-4 
    Santa Fe 2-5

One day in Albuquerque or Santa Fe?

The town of Albuquerque offers food and shopping. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the cultural historic town of Santa Fe. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A weekend in Albuquerque or Santa Fe?

Albuquerque is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this town makes for a great vacation. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Albuquerque, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Visitors enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the cultural destination of Santa Fe. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. This historic town offers something for everyone. Plenty of people spend a weekend in the area when traveling. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Five days in Albuquerque or Santa Fe?

Albuquerque is a popular choice for travelers. Five days is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Visitors enjoy the museums and skiing when visiting the cultural historic town of Santa Fe. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. Many people spend five days here.If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.


A week in Albuquerque or Santa Fe?

Albuquerque is a great place to explore. Visiting the old town is also a must. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This town offers something for everyone.

Many people enjoy the skiing and live music when visiting Santa Fe. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


Which place is cheaper, Santa Fe or Albuquerque?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Albuquerque is $135, while the average daily cost in Santa Fe is $159. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Albuquerque and Santa Fe in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Albuquerque $69
    Santa Fe $81
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Albuquerque $138
    Santa Fe $162
Compare Hotels in Albuquerque and Santa Fe

Looking for a hotel in Albuquerque or Santa Fe? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Albuquerque


Hotels in Santa Fe


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Albuquerque Hotel Prices and Santa Fe Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Albuquerque $37
    Santa Fe $61

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Albuquerque

Also for Albuquerque, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Albuquerque Airport to Truth or Consequences Round-Trip Transfer: $254
  • Albuquerque Airport (ABQ) to Pagosa Springs Private Transfer: $176
  • Albuquerque Airport to Truth or Consequences Private Transfer: $127
  • Albuquerque Airport (ABQ) to Albuquerque - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $79
  • Albuquerque International Airport One Way Transfer : $48
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Albuquerque Airport (ABQ): $40
  • Private Departure Transfer To Albuquerque Airport ABQ: $40
  • Albuquerque Airport (ABQ) to Albuquerque - Arrival Private Transfer: $40
  • Albuquerque to Albuquerque Airport (ABQ) - Departure Private Transfer: $40

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Fe

Also for Santa Fe, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Departure Transfer to Santa Fe Airport SAF: $125
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Santa Fe Airport (SAF): $62

Is it cheaper to fly into Albuquerque or Santa Fe?

Prices for flights to both Santa Fe and Albuquerque change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Albuquerque $41
    Santa Fe $43

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Albuquerque

For Albuquerque, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Dinner Show - Albuquerque, NM: $79

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Fe

For Santa Fe, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Wander NM Food Tour - Tuesday Farmers' Market: $149
  • New Mexican Flavors Food Tour of the Santa Fe Plaza: $184
  • Santa Fe Farmers Market & Railyard Food Tour: $184
  • Wander New Mexico Food Tour - Railyard Arts District: $189
  • Wander New Mexico Food Tour - Downtown Plaza 'Sip & Savor': $209
  • Downtown Plaza "Sip and Savor" Half-day Food Tour: $209
  • Savor Wine Pairing Dinner: $228

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Albuquerque $24
    Santa Fe $17

Tours and Activities in Albuquerque

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Albuquerque.

  • 12pm - Public High Noon History, Legends & Lore Tour - Guided Old Town Stroll: $35
  • 4pm - 75 Minute Private Ghost Tour Up To 5 People For All Ages in New Mexico: $108
  • 6pm PRIVATE GHOST TOUR of Old Town - 90 Minutes: $135
  • ABQ Beer Tour: A Curated Craft Beer Experience in the Land of Enchantment: $105
  • Albuquerque Old Town Art Tour with Wine & Museum Admission: $85
  • Albuquerque Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • Albuquerque Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $49
  • Albuquerque Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $25
  • Albuquerque Snowshoe Experience: $135
  • Albuquerque’s Family Adventure of A Journey of Discovery: $291
  • Albuquerque’s Family Adventure: A Journey of Discovery: $615
  • Old Town Culture & Heritage Walking Tour: $86

Tours and Activities in Santa Fe

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Santa Fe.

  • 2 Hours Historic E Bike Tour of Santa Fe: $169
  • 2 Hour Pottery Experience (Wheel or Hand-Building): $160
  • 2-Hour Photography Class While Touring Downtown Santa Fe, Smart Phones Welcome!: $85
  • A Walking Tour of Santa Fe's Most Beautiful and Historic Sites: $216
  • Canyon Road Arts District Tour: $70
  • Crime Solving Detective Experience Santa Fe: $15
  • Enchanted Eats of Santa Fe Half-Day Tour: $958
  • Explore Santa Fe's Old Town & the Museum of Art: Private Tour: $195
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Walking Tour in Santa Fe: $70
  • Private Canyon Road Arts District Tour: $138
  • Railyard Sip, Savor, & History Walking Tour in Santa Fe: $85
  • Santa Fe Architectural Walking Tour: $136

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Albuquerque $20
    Santa Fe $9.68

Sample the Local Flavors in Santa Fe

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Santa Fe:

  • Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery Tour and Tasting: $18
  • White Water Rafting and Wine Tour: $217


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, we can see that Santa Fe is more expensive. And not only is Albuquerque much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Albuquerque would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Albuquerque and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Santa Fe would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Santa Fe than you might in Albuquerque.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Albuquerque Expensive? and Is Santa Fe Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Albuquerque or Santa Fe?

Albuquerque has a larger population, and is about 7 times larger than the population of Santa Fe. When comparing the sizes of Albuquerque and Santa Fe, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.