A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Banos vs. El Calafate for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Banos or El Calafate?

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 Banos and El Calafate. 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.

Where Should I go: Banos or El Calafate?

Banos

Banos (de Agua Santa) is a small city in the Andean highlands of Ecuador under volcano Tungurahua. Its name, which is Spanish for "Baths (of sacred water)," comes from the famous hydrothermal springs in the area. It's equally popular with foreigners as with Ecuadorians, and is known as the adventure capital of Ecuador. The streets are lined with hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, and tour agencies. Although it is very touristy, lots of people love it, more for the activities and surroundings than for the city itself. It is an important hub for outdoor sports and jungle tours.

El Calafate

Located in Patagonia, El Calafate has become a popular tourist destination in Argentina because of its beautiful setting on the stunningly blue Lago Argentina. The town sits on the southern border of the lake in the southwestern part of the Santa Cruz Province. It's about 320 kilometers from Rio Gallegos.

The rise in popularity of Patagonia as a tourist destination has truly put this small town on the map. You'll find no shortage of trekkers in the town and it makes an excellent base to explore different parts of the Los Glaciares National Park. Popular places to visit include Perito Moreno Glacier, Cerro Chalten, and Cerro Torre.

El Calafate has a cold semi-arid climate. The summers are cool to warm and very dry while the winters are cold and damp. Lago Argentino has a significant influence over the town's climate. The shallow bay where the town is located is usually frozen during the winter months.

Check out our ultimate guide to Hiking in Patagonia.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Wildlife Tours to Ecuador, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in Ecuador, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in Argentina, and The Best Adventure Tours to Argentina.


Which place is cheaper, El Calafate or Banos?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Banos is $46, while the average daily cost in El Calafate is $9.68. 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 Banos and El Calafate in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Banos $16
    El Calafate $3.29
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Banos $32
    El Calafate $6.58
Compare Hotels in Banos and El Calafate

Looking for a hotel in Banos or El Calafate? 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 Banos


Hotels in El Calafate


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: Banos Hotel Prices and El Calafate Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Banos $10
    El Calafate $3.39

Typical Local Transportation Prices in El Calafate

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in El Calafate:


  • Taxi
    $1.33

Hired Cars and Shuttles in El Calafate

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

  • Laguna de Los Tres Transfer & Self-Guided Hike: $94
  • Perito Moreno Glacier Mini Trek with Transfer: $304
  • Transfers Between Airport and Hotels: $12
  • Excursion to the Perito Moreno Glacier, with guide and transfer to / from the hotel: $60
  • One Way Shared transfer from Hotel downtown Calafate to the Calafate Airport : $15
  • Perito Moreno Full Day Minitrekking with Transfer & Walkways: $420
  • Private Transfer Hotel-Bus Station or Bus Station-Hotel (Calafate): $35
  • Round trip transfer to Moreno Glacier: $50
  • Roundtrip transfer in Private Car from Calafate Airport (FTE)- Calafate City: $49
  • Shared Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate): $32
  • Shared Transfer from El Calafate Airport to downtown Hotel: $15
  • Shared transfer to El Calafate -El Chaltén: $75

Is it cheaper to fly into Banos or El Calafate?

Prices for flights to both El Calafate and Banos 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
    Banos $15
    El Calafate $3.56
Typical Food Prices in Banos

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Banos:


  • Dinner
    $13
  • Ice cream
    $1.50
  • Coffee
    $2.50

Typical Food Prices in El Calafate

For El Calafate, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Dessert
    $0.01
  • Dinner
    $1.73
  • Dinner
    $1.02

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in El Calafate

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

  • Argentine Dinner with Live Music Folklore -Estancia 25 de Mayo: $48
  • Country Afternoon with Dinner Show - Estancia 25 de Mayo: $100
  • Lakes and Caves Tour with Dinner: $166
  • Lakes and Caves Tour with Dinner: $169

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Banos $19
    El Calafate $3.56
Typical Entertainment Prices in Banos

Here are a few typical costs in Banos for activities, ticket prices, and tours that come from previous visitors:


  • Two Rented Bikes for the Day
    $10
  • Cost to see Waterfall
    $2.00
  • Day at the Spa
    $45
  • 2 Bike Rentals (1 Day)
    $10
  • Entrance to Waterfall
    $2.00

Tours and Activities in Banos

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

  • Adventure and Fun River Rafting in Baños Ecuador: $35
  • 1 day jungle tour: $35
  • 2 Hours Small-Group Horseback Riding Experience in Banos: $30
  • 3 Hours Small-Group Horseback Riding Experience in Baños: $40
  • 5-Hour Small-Group Horseback Riding Experience in Baños: $62
  • Adventure Circuit 4 activities in 1. All within an impressive cascade: $25
  • Adventure in Baños 3 Days 2 Nights: $225
  • Animalpark | Theme Park | Tours | naturally fun: $45
  • Baths Nature and Adventure 2 Days.: $190
  • Bike tour of the highest volcano in Ecuador: Chimborazo: $95
  • Canopy Ziplining in Puntzan Adventure Park: $26
  • Canyoning Adventure Tour in the Ravine: $30

Typical Entertainment Prices in El Calafate

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


  • Glacerium Museum
    $1.33

Tours and Activities in El Calafate

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

  • El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier classic tour with guide: $62
  • Perito Moreno Glacier & Optional Boat Cruise: $63
  • Argentine Cuisine Experience in El Calafate: $65
  • Southroad Calafate Balcony Experience with Tour Mode Options: $70
  • Day Tour to the Perito Moreno Glacier from El Calafate: $70
  • Perito Moreno Glacier Sightseeing Tour: $71
  • From Perito Moreno footbridges + optional Boat Tour : $72
  • Panoramic Tour with Punta Walichu: $76
  • Full Day Guided Tour Perito Moreno National Park and Glacier: $80
  • El Chalten Complete Experience Full Day Tour from El Calafate: $80
  • Perito Moreno Glacier Private Tour: $80
  • Half-Day Tour at Estancia 25 de Mayo Field Afternoon: $85

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Banos $9.74
    El Calafate $1.78
Typical Alcohol Prices in Banos

Here are a few samples of the prices for alcohol and nightlife in Banos from other travelers:


  • Beer
    $4.00

Typical Alcohol Prices in El Calafate

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in El Calafate:


  • Beer
    $0.01
  • Alcohol
    $0.36


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

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


Which is Bigger, Banos or El Calafate?

Banos has a larger population, and is about 19% larger than the population of El Calafate. When comparing the sizes of Banos and El Calafate, 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.