Should you visit Antigua Guatemala or Santa Elena?
If you're trying to decide where to visit between Antigua Guatemala or Santa Elena, this travel cost comparison can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.
Before a disastrous earthquake in 1773, Antigua was the colonial capital of Guatemala. For 200 years it had reigned as so and today shows remnants of its glorious past with Spanish colonial buildings and other architectural landmarks still standing. Due to this large amount of preserved architecture, Antigua was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is now the most touristed city of Guatemala.
Santa Elena is a cute town, and the closest to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. It's one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica, and is a great place to experience the cloud forest and see some of country's unique wildlife.
In the Monteverde Cloud Forest you have a good chance of seeing rare quetzals which are the national bird of Costa Rica. Other common animals include white-faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, orange-kneed tarantulas, any of 8-9 species of hummingbirds, and sloth.
Santa Elena is about 1,400 meters above sea level and has a humid and damp environment. The average yearly temperature is 64 degrees Fahrenheit and the average rainfall is 3,000 millimetres. Humidity can be anywhere between 74% and 97%.
Which city is cheaper, Santa Elena or Antigua Guatemala?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in Antigua Guatemala is $50, while the average daily cost in Santa Elena is $60. 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 city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Antigua Guatemala and Santa Elena in more detail.
The prices for places to stay in Antigua Guatemala can vary by date, location, and type. Generally, the average cost for accommodation per person is $17, while a typical double-occupancy hotel room for two people will cost around $34.
For a normal double-occupancy room in Santa Elena, $72 is the average cost for a hotel room. Also in Santa Elena, the typical price for a place to stay for one person is $36, such as in a hostel.
The price of a meal in Antigua Guatemala can vary widely. However, the average price for food per day is $11 per person, and a typical meal will cost around $4.40 based on the spending of previous visitors. Less expensive dining options can be found by eating street food or at fast food restaurants.
Santa Elena food costs typically run travelers around $15 per day. Eating every meal in a nicer restaurant will drive the cost up, and grabbing fast food or casual meals will help you save money.
Meals for one day
Antigua Guatemala $11
Santa Elena $15
Typical Food prices in Antigua Guatemala
Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Antigua Guatemala:
Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Antigua Guatemala
For Antigua Guatemala, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:
Short Cooking Class in Antigua, Guatemala:
Guatemalan Food Cooking Class:
Food Tour in Antigua Traditional Market:
Market and Mayan Cooking Class:
Guatemalan Mestizo and Gourmet Food Tour in Antigua:
Authentic Guatemalan Cooking Class:
Guatemalan Cooking Class and Market Tour:
Food Tour in the lovely town of Antigua, Guatemala:
Guatemala City Market and Food Tour from Antigua:
Antigua Guatemala's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $9.88 per person, per day on transportation in Antigua Guatemala.
Santa Elena's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $7.23 per person, per day on transportation in Santa Elena.
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Elena
Also for Santa Elena, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
One Way Private Transfer from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio:
One Way Private Transfer from Monteverde to Samara:
Is it cheaper to fly into Antigua Guatemala or Santa Elena?
Prices for flights to both Santa Elena and Antigua Guatemala 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.
Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Antigua Guatemala can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $12 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.
Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Santa Elena can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $20 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.
Tours and Activities in Antigua Guatemala
Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Antigua Guatemala.
2-Day Kayak and Hike Adventure Package from Antigua:
3-Day Tour of Lake Atitlan & Chichicastenango Market:
Antigua ATV Coffee Tour:
Antigua ATV Cultural Adventure:
Antigua ATV Mountain Adventure:
Antigua ATV Sunset Tour:
Antigua ATV Villages Tour:
Antigua Guatemala Walking Group Tour:
Antigua Market Culture and Cuisine Tour:
Antigua Walking Tour:
Antigua Walking Tour Morning and Afternoon:
Antigua old city Walking tour:
Tours and Activities in Santa Elena
Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Santa Elena.
100% Adventure Park Combo: Zipline, Superman, and Mega Tarzan Tour in Monteverde:
Canopy Tour Plus Night Walk:
Canopy Tour Plus Walk in Monteverde Cloud Forest:
Canopy plus Coffee Tour 3 in 1 (Coffee Chocolate and sugar cane):
Ceibal Day Tour from Flores:
Coffee Tour 3 in 1 (Coffee Chocolate and sugar cane):
Crocodile Tour on the Tarcoles River from Monteverde:
El Mirador Helicopter Tour:
Guatemala Birding Tour at Tikal and Uaxactún National Park:
Horseback Riding Tour Plus Coffee Tour 3 in 1 (Coffee Chocolate and sugar cane):
Horseback Riding Tour in Monteverde:
Horseback Riding Tour in Monteverde Plus Walk in Monteverde Cloud Forest:
Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Antigua Guatemala, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $9.10.
Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Santa Elena, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $4.04.
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Antigua Guatemala and Santa Elena, we can see that Santa Elena is more expensive. And not only is Antigua Guatemala much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Antigua Guatemala would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Antigua Guatemala 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 Elena would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Santa Elena than you might in Antigua Guatemala.
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