A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Big Sur vs. Albuquerque for Couples, Food, Hiking, and Families

Should you visit Big Sur or Albuquerque?

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

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Big Sur and Albuquerque can help you decide which place is right for you.

Big Sur

Big Sur is a breathtaking, scenic, and remote natural area. Many visitors also come because of it's amazing beauty. Other reasons to visit include food, beaches, and hiking.

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.

Big Sur and Albuquerque: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Big Sur or Albuquerque?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Albuquerque than Big Sur, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Albuquerque is better known for its museums, food, nightlife, historical sights, shopping, and quaint atmosphere, while Big Sur is more popular for its beaches, hiking, and impressive beauty. Big Sur is more touristy than Albuquerque and is known for its beautiful state parks, dramatic coastal cliffs, and world class views. Albuquerque is well known for its adobe architecture, artisan shops, fascinating cultural venues, and surrounding desert landscapes. Also, Albuquerque is famous for The Old Town.

How is Big Sur different from Albuquerque?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Big Sur or Albuquerque?

Big Sur
Albuquerque

Albuquerque is great for its historical sights. However, Big Sur is not a good destination 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.

Big Sur offers a few options for museum-goers. Nature is what brings visitors to the area, so most people don't prioritize museums or manmade landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Big Sur or Albuquerque? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Big Sur
Albuquerque

Albuquerque is great for its local flavors and cuisine. Also, Big Sur is not as popular, but is still a nice natural area for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Albuquerque has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. 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.

Big Sur offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. Most of the restaurants offer a breathtaking view. Many use locally-sourced ingredients and they range in style from fine dining to casual eateries.

Is Big Sur or Albuquerque Better for Nightlife?

Big Sur
Albuquerque

Albuquerque is very good for its evening party scene. However, Big Sur is not a good destination 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.

People don't go to Big Sur for the nightlife. There's a taphouse and lounge, but the area is mostly undeveloped with no real nightlife.

Is Big Sur or Albuquerque Better for Beaches?

Big Sur
Albuquerque

Big Sur is a great natural area for its beaches. However, Albuquerque is not a beach destination.

Many people visit Big Sur for it's beautiful beaches. The coastline and beaches are dramatic and beautiful, particularly Pfeiffer Beach, which has a dramatic waterfall. The water is filled with rip tides and strong currents, so swimming isn't advisable in most places.

Albuquerque is not a beach destination.


Is Big Sur or Albuquerque Better for its Old Town?

Big Sur
Albuquerque

Albuquerque is an unbeatable place for its historic old town charm. However, Big Sur does not have a 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.

Big Sur does not have a historic old town.

Is Big Sur or Albuquerque Better for Hiking?

Big Sur
Albuquerque

Big Sur is a great natural area for hiking. Also, Albuquerque is not as popular, but is still a nice town for the nearby hiking options.

Many visitors go to Big Sur for the hiking trails. The dramatic hikes take you along the coastline, to beautiful beaches and through Redwood forests. There are a number of state parks along the route and some of the best hikes include Salmon Creek Trail, Pacific Valley Bluff Trail, and Ragged Point Cliffside Trail.

Albuquerque is a good destination for hiking. The desert landscape is varied and beautiful. Popular trails in the area include Tree Spring Trail, Birdhouse Ridge, and West Ridge.

Is the Shopping Better in Big Sur or Albuquerque?

Big Sur
Albuquerque

Albuquerque is great for its shopping areas. However, Big Sur is not a good destination for shopping.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in 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.

Big Sur has some shopping areas for those that seek them out. There are some galleries and gift shops, but most visitors aren't in the area to go shopping.


Is Big Sur or Albuquerque Better for Families?

Big Sur
Albuquerque

You'll find notable kid-friendly activities in either Big Sur or Albuquerque.

Big Sur offers lots of family activities. Kids will enjoy the hiking and beaches, particularly the Carmel Lagoon at Carmel River State Beach. There are a number of state parks where kids can run around and stretch their legs.

Albuquerque is a family-friendly place to visit. 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.

Is Big Sur or Albuquerque Better for Couples?

Big Sur
Albuquerque

Big Sur is a must-visit destination for romance. Also, Albuquerque is not as popular, but is still a nice town for its romantic activities.

Big Sur is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. Stunning viewpoints and breathtaking coastline make this a wonderful destination for couples. There are romantic inns and impressive hikes along the water's edge or through the dramatic Redwoods.

Albuquerque is a very popular place to visit for couples. 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.

Is Big Sur or Albuquerque Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Big Sur
Albuquerque

Big Sur is a good destination for backpackers and budget travelers. However, Albuquerque is not known for backpackers.

Plenty of backpackers visit Big Sur. There are a couple of hostels in the area, but budget travelers often prefer vacation rentals, which are more common.

Albuquerque is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. There are campgrounds around that offer affordable and fun places to stay, but in general this town isn't particularly backpacker friendly.


Is Big Sur or Albuquerque Better for Students?

Big Sur
Albuquerque

Albuquerque is very good for its student-friendly activities. However, Big Sur is not popular with students.

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.

Big Sur is not popular with students.

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

Big Sur
Albuquerque

Albuquerque is adequate for times when you don't have a car. However, Big Sur is not a good destination for its public transit.

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 limited or non-existant in Big Sur. There is no real public transportation in the area.

Is Big Sur or Albuquerque a more walkable city?

Big Sur
Albuquerque

Albuquerque is very good for its ease of walking around. However, Big Sur is not a good destination for its walkability.

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

Big Sur is not a walkable natural area. While there are hiking trails, Big Sur is a stretch of road that runs along the coast and requires a car to fully access.


For even more information, also check out Is Big Sur Worth Visiting? and Is Albuquerque Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Albuquerque or Big Sur?

How long in Big Sur or Albuquerque?

It's fun to spend time in either Big Sur or Albuquerque. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Albuquerque due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 1-3 days is a good amount of time for Big Sur, and 2-4 days is enough time in Albuquerque.

Families should spend more time in Albuquerque than Big Sur. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Albuquerque, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Albuquerque than Big Sur 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 Albuquerque.


  • How many days in Big Sur or Albuquerque? Ideal Length of Stay
    Big Sur 1-3 
    Albuquerque 2-4

One day in Big Sur or Albuquerque?

Visitors enjoy the food when visiting the scenic natural area of Big Sur. It's also a great beach destination, too. One day should give you a good understanding of everything this natural area has to offer. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

In Albuquerque, you'll find nightlife and food. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. This town offers something for everyone. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do.

A weekend in Big Sur or Albuquerque?

Visitors enjoy the food when visiting the scenic destination of Big Sur. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. This natural area 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.

In Albuquerque, you'll find food and shopping. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. A weekend here is typical. Visiting the old town is also a must. A weekend is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Albuquerque has to offer.

Five days in Big Sur or Albuquerque?

The scenic natural area of Big Sur offers food. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

Albuquerque is a great place to explore. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. Anyone can find something fun to do here.


A week in Big Sur or Albuquerque?

Many people enjoy the food when visiting Big Sur. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most people come for the beaches. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Albuquerque. Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Albuquerque. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Tours Under $1000 in United States of America, The Best Luxury Tours to United States of America, The Best Tours for Seniors to United States of America, and The Best Contiki Tours to United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Albuquerque or Big Sur?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Big Sur is $0.00, while the average daily cost in Albuquerque is $135. 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 Big Sur and Albuquerque in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Big Sur $165
    Albuquerque $69
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Big Sur $330
    Albuquerque $138
Compare Hotels in Big Sur and Albuquerque

Looking for a hotel in Big Sur or Albuquerque? 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 Big Sur


Hotels in Albuquerque


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.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Big Sur -
    Albuquerque $37

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Albuquerque

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

  • Balloon Fiesta Albuquerque 2024 transfers: $999
  • Albuquerque Airport (ABQ) to Pagosa Springs Private Transfer: $177
  • Albuquerque Airport to Truth or Consequences Private Transfer: $127
  • Albuquerque Airport (ABQ) to Albuquerque - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $79
  • 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

Is it cheaper to fly into Big Sur or Albuquerque?

Prices for flights to both Albuquerque and Big Sur 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
    Big Sur -
    Albuquerque $41

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

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Big Sur -
    Albuquerque $24

Tours and Activities in Big Sur

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

  • Big Sur California: Pacific Coast Highway Tour: $15
  • Big Sur Highway 1: Driving Tour: $20

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 Private Ghost Tour of Old Town Albuquerque: $54
  • 6pm Private Ghost Tour of Old Town Albuquerque: $67
  • 8pm Private Ghost Tour of Old Town Albuquerque : $81
  • ABQ Beer Tour: A Curated Craft Beer Experience in the Land of Enchantment: $105
  • ABQ City Guided History Tour: $35
  • Albuquerque Old Town Art Tour with Wine & Museum Admission: $85
  • Albuquerque Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • Albuquerque Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $25
  • Albuquerque Snowshoe Experience: $135
  • Albuquerque’s Family Adventure of A Journey of Discovery: $291
  • Duke City Pedaler: Beverage Tour to Old Town/Sawmill Albuquerque : $35

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Big Sur -
    Albuquerque $20


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

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