A Travel Price Comparison for Colorado Aspen vs. Durango for Skiing, Food, Hiking, and Families

Should you visit Aspen or Durango?

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

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Aspen and Durango can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Aspen

Aspen is a vibrant, artsy, and outdoorsy ski town. It offers plenty of small town charm along with sights and activities, too. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. This is a quaint and attractive place to visit, too. Other reasons to visit include food, hiking, and shopping.

Durango

Durango is a scenic, nature-filled, and historic small town. Because it offers so much small town charm with a variety of activities, it attracts plenty of visitors for a good reason. It offers plenty of beauty for visitors. With a quaint atmosphere, it also offers a unique feeling. Other popular activities here include hiking and museums.

Aspen and Durango: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Nice resorts
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Popular at Christmas
  • Known for Christmas markets
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good public transit
  • Very walkable
  • Small town charm
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Small town charm
  • Quaint atmosphere
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for skiing
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Less popular at Christmas
  • Less popular with couples
  • Public transit not as usable
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Aspen or Durango?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Aspen than Durango, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Aspen is better known for its skiing, food, nightlife, music, resorts, shopping, christmas markets, and impressive beauty, while Durango is more popular for its museums, historical sights, small town charm, and quaint atmosphere. Aspen is more touristy than Durango and is popular for its world-class skiing, many food, film, and music festivals, and its stunning mountain hikes. Also, Aspen is famous for The Maroon Bells. Durango is well known for its historic narrow gauge railroad, its charming small town atmosphere, and its many family-friendly activities.

How is Aspen different from Durango?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Is Aspen or Durango Better for Skiing?

Aspen
Durango

Aspen is a world-class destination for skiing and snowboarding. However, Durango is lacking in good options for winter skiing.

Aspen is a top destination for snow skiing, and it attracts visitors from around the world. Near the town, there are 4 separate ski resorts. In town you'll find Aspen Mountain, which is known for it's black-diamond runs. Aspen Highlands, a couple miles away, has a mix of slopes and is less crowded. Buttermilk attracts many freestyle skiers and Aspen Snowmass is considered one of the best family-friendly ski areas.

Durango is a fun local destination for snow skiers. Purgatory Ski Resort is about 20 minutes from town and it's a family-friendly mountain with beginner and intermediate runs. It's small, and geared specifically to the beginner and younger crowd.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Aspen or Durango?

Aspen
Durango

Durango is a small town with good options for its museums and landmarks. However, Aspen does not have museums and landmarks.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Durango. Most visitors come to town specifically to ride the Silverton & Durango Narrow Gauge Railroad. There's also the D&SNGRR Railroad Museum, and the Fish Hatchery and Wildlife Museum.

Aspen does not have museums and landmarks.

Is the Food Better in Aspen or Durango? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Aspen
Durango

Aspen is a world-class destination for its restaurants. However, Durango is lacking in good options for its restaurant scene.

Eat your way through Aspen, as it has many local or world renowned restaurants to choose from. The town hosts many food festivals and there is a growing selection of diverse restaurants. In town you'll find cafes and restaurants that cater to both the local crowd and the travelers who flock to the area during peak seasons.

You'll find the standard options when it comes to food in Durango. Most of the restaurants are casual and family-friendly, serving up burgers or sandwiches for a reasonable price. You'll also find some coffeeshops and even a few food trucks and international restaurants.

Is Aspen or Durango Better for Nightlife?

Aspen
Durango

Aspen is a very popular place for nightlife. However, Durango is lacking in good options for nightlife and partying.

Aspen has a large number of nightlife venues. The people in Aspen know how to have a good time. The nightlife scene includes craft beer, live music, and dancing. There's a local vibe, particularly during the off-season times when the tourist crowds are less.

Things get quiet in the evenings in Durango. It's a small town that attracts tourists mainly for its train, so you won't find much in the way of a nightlife scene.


Is Aspen or Durango Better for Music?

Aspen
Durango

Aspen is a very popular place for live music. However, Durango is not a live music destination.

It's worth checking out the music scene in Aspen while you're in town. Popular music venues in town include Silver City Mountain Saloon and Belly Up Aspen.

Durango is not a live music destination.

Is Aspen or Durango Better for Resorts?

Aspen
Durango

Aspen is a very popular place for its luxury resorts. However, Durango is not a resort destination.

There are plenty of resorts in Aspen to choose from. Popular resorts in the area include The Little Nell, Hotel Jerome, and St. Regis Aspen.

Durango is not a resort destination.

Is Aspen or Durango Better for its Old Town?

Aspen
Durango

Durango is a small town with good options for its historic old town charm. However, Aspen does not have a historic old town.

Durango offers a nice historic old town area. Filled with character, the downtown feels like you've stepped into a Western. The town has a long history as a mining and railroad community, which you can see throughout the historic area. It really feels like you're in the "Wild West."

Aspen does not have a historic old town.


Is Aspen or Durango Better for Hiking?

Aspen
Durango

Both Aspen and Durango are destinations which offer very good hiking.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Aspen. During the summer and fall seasons, hiking is a great way to explore Aspen's nearby beauty. Popular trails include the Ute Trail, the Lost Man Trail, and the famous Maroon Bells Scenic Trail.

Many visitors go to Durango for the hiking trails. It's surrounded by plenty of natural beautiful and there is an endless supply of hikes in the region. Popular nearby hikes include Animas Mountain Trail, Falls Creek Trail, and Purgatory Trail.

Is the Shopping Better in Aspen or Durango?

Aspen
Durango

Aspen is a very popular place for shopping. However, Durango is lacking in good options for its shopping opportunities.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Aspen. There are many great local shops and art galleries where you can pick interesting items or fine art.

If you're looking to go shopping, Durango has some nice offerings. The charming town has some boutiques that sell beautifully made Native American jewelry and other interesting items. There are also souvenir shops and other venues that target tourists specifically.

Is Aspen or Durango Better for Christmas?

Aspen
Durango

Aspen is a world-class destination for its Christmas holiday experiences. Also, Durango is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its Christmas activities.

Aspen offers plenty of sights and activities around Christmas. There are a number of beautiful activities that will bring the holiday season to life in the town.

Durango offers some nice Christmas activities. It is a great Christmas town where you can meet Santa, go skiing, and even take the Polar Express.


Is Aspen or Durango Better for Christmas Markets?

Aspen
Durango

Aspen is a very popular place for visiting Christmas markets. However, Durango does not offer Christmas markets.

Aspen offers plenty of Christmas markets. The town has a charming Christmas market that is fun to explore and has around 40 vendors.

Durango does not offer Christmas markets.

Is Aspen or Durango Better for Families?

Aspen
Durango

Durango is a great destination for its family-friendly activities. Also, Aspen is still popular, but not quite as popular for its kid-friendly activities.

Durango is known to be a very family-friendly place to visit. In the area you'll find ziplining, alpine slides, and plenty of outdoor areas to explore - and of course there's the railroad.

Aspen offers lots of family activities. Families that enjoy skiing together, hiking, rock climbing, and having adventures will enjoy a visit to this town. Aspen Mountain is not a great option for beginning skiers, but further away, Aspen Snowmass offers good beginner slopes.

Is Aspen or Durango Better for Couples?

Aspen
Durango

Aspen is a very popular place for romance. However, Durango is lacking in good options for its romantic activities.

Aspen makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Aspen is both a popular ski destination as well as an established town. There are many great restaurants and activities that couples can enjoy and the setting is cute and very scenic, making it a beautiful and romantic destination.

Most people don't think of Durango as a couple's destination. The town may not be the first romantic destination that comes to mind, but the railroad combined with wandering the downtown can make for a great couple's getaway.


Is Aspen or Durango Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Aspen
Durango

Durango is a small town with good options for backpackers. However, Aspen is a ski town with minimal options for backpackers and budget travelers.

Durango is a good small town to visit for backpackers. With plenty of parks and outdoor areas nearby, backpackers will have plenty of places to explore.

Aspen is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. Because it is both a town and a ski resort, there are a couple of more affordable accommodation options. Even so, this is an expensive destination that isn't always ideal for budget travelers.

Is Aspen or Durango Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Aspen
Durango

Aspen is a good destination for times when you don't have a car. However, Durango is lacking in good options for its public transit.

Aspen has some public transit options. There are several shuttle buses around the town.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Durango. It's a small town with no real public transit options so a car is a must.

Is Aspen or Durango a more walkable city?

Aspen
Durango

Aspen is a very popular place for its walkability. However, Durango is lacking in good options for its high level of walkability.

Aspen is very walkable. The town is compact enough that it can be explored on foot. If you're planning to head into the mountains to hike, you'll likely need a car.

Durango is generally not very walkable. While the Main Street through town is walkable, it's not as pedestrian-friendly as some small towns.


For even more information, also check out Is Aspen Worth Visiting? and Is Durango Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Durango or Aspen?

How long in Aspen or Durango?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Aspen and Durango. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Aspen than in Durango. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for Aspen, and 2-3 days is enough time in Durango.

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Aspen than Durango if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Aspen.


  • How many days in Aspen or Durango? Ideal Length of Stay
    Aspen 3-5 
    Durango 2-3

One day in Aspen or Durango?

Aspen is a small town with plenty to do. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. This ski town offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

In Durango, many people enjoy the museums that this scenic small town offers. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. This small town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

A weekend in Aspen or Durango?

Aspen might be a small town, but there's plenty to do in the area. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Durango. For many, it makes a great getaway for a weekend. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. This would be the perfect place to spend a weekend, as it has just the right amount of activities. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Five days in Aspen or Durango?

Aspen is a great place to explore. It is common to spend five days here. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. Five days is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Aspen has to offer. Anyone can find something fun to do here.

Durango is a fun place to experience. Travelers enjoy the museums when visiting the quaint small town of Durango. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.


A week in Aspen or Durango?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Aspen. Since Aspen is a small town, it's easily explored when your time is limited. It's also a relaxing resort destination. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

You'll find museums around the nature-filled small town of Durango. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Bicycle Tours in United States of America, Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in United States of America, The Best Coach Bus Tours in United States of America, and The Best Adventure Tours to United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Durango or Aspen?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Aspen is $293, while the average daily cost in Durango is $153. 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 Aspen and Durango in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Aspen $170
    Durango $79
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Aspen $340
    Durango $158
Compare Hotels in Aspen and Durango

Looking for a hotel in Aspen or Durango? 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 Aspen


Hotels in Durango


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: Aspen Hotel Prices and Durango Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Aspen $56
    Durango $27

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Aspen

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Aspen:

  • Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE) - Private Transfer Arrival or Departure: $269
  • Aspen hotel or address to Denver Airport (DEN) - Departure Private Transfer: $221

Is it cheaper to fly into Aspen or Durango?

Prices for flights to both Durango and Aspen 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
    Aspen $85
    Durango $50

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Aspen $45
    Durango $46

Tours and Activities in Aspen

Here are a few actual costs in Aspen for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Aspen Puzzling Adventure: $35
  • Aspen's DarkSide Ghost Tour: $40
  • Aspen's Off the Beaten Path Scenic Walking Tour: $40
  • Aspen's Off the Beaten Path Tour: $40
  • Aspen's Past to Present Historic Tour: $40
  • City Highlights Walking Tour: $40
  • Dark History Ghost-Themed Guided Walking Tour: $40
  • From Past to Present History Walking Tour: $40
  • Highlights of Aspen Tour: $40

Typical Entertainment Prices in Durango

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Durango's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Hot Springs (for 2)
    $50
  • Tubing (for 2)
    $40

Tours and Activities in Durango

For Durango, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour in Mesa Verde National Park: $13
  • Colorado: Million Dollar Highway Self-Driving Audio Tour: $17
  • Million Dollar Highway Self-Driving Audio Tour: $17
  • Mesa Verde Sunrise Tours: $26
  • Durango Puzzling Adventure: $35
  • Scenic Waterfall's & Ghost Town Jeep Tour La Plata's~ 2.5 hours: $84
  • La Plata Canyon Scenic Waterfalls Jeep Tour: $86
  • La Plata Canyon Exclusive Access Jeep Tour: $99
  • La Plata Mountains - Half Day Tour: $100
  • Waterfalls and Mountains La Plata Canyon Jeep Tour: $100
  • 4 Hours Durango Colorado - Jeep Tour : $102
  • 700 Year Tour - Half Day Mesa Verde Cultural Tour: $108

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Aspen $20
    Durango $30


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Aspen and Durango, we can see that Aspen is more expensive. And not only is Durango much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Durango would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Durango 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 Aspen would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Aspen than you might in Durango.

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


Which is Bigger, Aspen or Durango?

Durango has a larger population, and is about 3 times larger than the population of Aspen. When comparing the sizes of Aspen and Durango, 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.