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

Should you visit Banos or Santa Marta?

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 Santa Marta. 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 Santa Marta?

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.

Santa Marta

Santa Marta is a city in the Magdalena Department of Colombia's Costa Norte. Over the last decade, security has steadily been replacing the shadow of the Colombia's violent past. One destination in Colombia's northeast region is now attracting more international visitors: the coastal Caribbean area of Santa Marta. Established in 1525 by the Spanish as a base of conquest, Santa Marta sits at the foot of the world's highest coastal mountain range, the towering Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It is South America's oldest European-founded town and the second most important colonial city on Colombia's Caribbean coast. While many travelers complain about Santa Marta's horrible traffic and unsightly urban sprawl, the city holds a numerous amounts of great hotels, bars and restaurants and holds a few fantastic destinations nearby to which you can go during the daytime.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Wildlife Tours to Ecuador, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in Ecuador, The Best Eco Tours in Colombia, and The Best Food and Culinary Tours in Colombia.


Which place is cheaper, Santa Marta 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 Santa Marta is $32. 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 Santa Marta in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Banos $16
    Santa Marta $14
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Banos $32
    Santa Marta $28
Compare Hotels in Banos and Santa Marta

Looking for a hotel in Banos or Santa Marta? 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 Santa Marta


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 Santa Marta Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Banos $10
    Santa Marta $5.27

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Santa Marta

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Santa Marta:


  • Gas
    $5.24

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Marta

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

  • Arrival or Departure Transfer: Simón Bolívar Airport: $14
  • Barranquilla / Santa Marta Transfer: $245
  • Cartagena / Santa Marta Transfer: $340
  • Cartagena to or from Santa Marta Private Transfer: $146
  • Exclusive transfer Santa Marta Airport - Tayrona Park Sector: $64
  • Private Airport Transfer: From Santa Marta Airport to Hotel in Santa Marta: $25
  • Private Arrival or Departure Transfer: Simon Bolivar Airport (One Way): $12
  • Private Transfer Santa Marta to Palomino (or vice versa): $121
  • Private Transfer from Santa Marta Cruise Port to Cartagena hotels: $68
  • Private Transfer from Santa Marta Cruise Port to Santa Marta city: $31
  • Private Transfer from Santa Marta Port to Cartagena Airport (CTG): $76
  • Private Transfer from Santa Marta Port to Cartagena Airport (CTG): $68

Is it cheaper to fly into Banos or Santa Marta?

Prices for flights to both Santa Marta 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
    Santa Marta $10
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 Santa Marta

For Santa Marta, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Breakfast
    $3.14

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Marta

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

  • Food Tour in Santa Marta Old City Half-Day : $66
  • Santa Marta Street Food Tour: $75
  • Food Tour in Santa Marta Old City: $77

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Banos $19
    Santa Marta $14
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
  • 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
  • Canopy Ziplining in Puntzan Adventure Park: $26
  • Canyoning Adventure Tour in the Ravine: $30
  • Chimborazo Volcano Bike Tour: $95
  • Chimborazo Volcano from Baños private day Tour: $139

Tours and Activities in Santa Marta

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

  • Old Town, Harbour & Highlights Self-guided Tour: $6.28
  • Skip the Line: Santa Marta Marine World Aquarium Admission Ticket and Guide: $6.67
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour: the Pearl of America: $6.99
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour - Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino : $10
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour - Botanical Garden: $10
  • Musical Experience "Live Musicaribe": $11
  • Cultural Heritage Tour Santa Marta: $16
  • Full Day Tour to Bahía Concha and Tayrona Park with Pickup: $25
  • Horse Riding at La Mello Adventure Lodge: $35
  • Guided Walking Food Experience: $38
  • Santa Marta Food Experience: $39
  • Sunset Cruise Around the Bay: $41

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Banos $9.74
    Santa Marta $6.71
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 Santa Marta

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


  • Beer
    $0.58
  • Beer
    $2.36


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Banos and Santa Marta, we can see that Banos is more expensive. And not only is Santa Marta much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Santa Marta would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Santa Marta 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 Santa Marta.

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


Which is Bigger, Banos or Santa Marta?

Santa Marta has a larger population, and is about 50 times larger than the population of Banos. When comparing the sizes of Banos and Santa Marta, 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.