A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Cartagena vs. La Serena for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Cartagena or La Serena?

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 Cartagena and La Serena can help you decide which place is right for you.

Where Should I go: Cartagena or La Serena?

Cartagena

The capital of the Bolivar Department of Colombia, Cartagena is one of the most visited cities in the country. It sits on Colombia's northern coast by the Caribbean Sea. It's a port city with a population of almost 900,000, making it the fifth largest city in Colombia. The city has a rich history and was the first Spanish colony on the American continent. It was also one of the first sanctuaries for freed African slaves in the Americas.

La Serena

La Serena is a charming town in Northern Chile. It is Chile's second-oldest city and the thriving capital of Region IV. With its beautiful architecture, its long golden shoreline, dignified stone churches, tree-shaded avenues and pretty plazas, La Serena has everything you could ask for!

Chileans on holidays flood in the city in January and February, though it is fairly peaceful outside the summer rush. Some of the city's architecture is from the colonial era, but most is actually neocolonial thanks to president Gabriel Gonzalez Videla, born in La Serena, and her 'Plan Serena' of the late 1940s.

Which place is cheaper, La Serena or Cartagena?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Cartagena is $47, while the average daily cost in La Serena is $85. 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 Cartagena and La Serena in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cartagena $27
    La Serena $41
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cartagena $54
    La Serena $82
Compare Hotels in Cartagena and La Serena

Looking for a hotel in Cartagena or La Serena? 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 Cartagena


Hotels in La Serena


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: Cartagena Hotel Prices and La Serena Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cartagena $7.41
    La Serena $20

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cartagena

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Cartagena:

  • Walking Tour with Transfers - Gabriel García Márquez & Cartagena Walled City: $110
  • Try find your better than us! Airport transfer service in Cartagena HTL-APT(CTG): $17
  • Try find your better than us! Airport transfer service in Cartagena APT-HTL(CTG): $17
  • Transportation / Transfers: $27
  • Transfer service in Cartagena: $53
  • Transfer in Private Vehicle from Manzanillo del Mar - Cartagena Airport (CTG): $23
  • Transfer in Private Vehicle from Cartagena Airport (CTG) - Manzanillo del Mar: $23
  • Transfer in Private Vehicle from Cartagena Airport (CTG) - City Center: $13
  • Transfer in Private Minivan from Manzanillo del Mar - Cartagena Airport (CTG): $29
  • Transfer in Private Minivan from City Center - Cartagena Airport (CTG): $20
  • Transfer in Private Minivan from Cartagena Airport (CTG) - City Center: $20
  • Transfer in Private Minivan Cartagena Airport (CTG) - Manzanillo del Mar: $18

Is it cheaper to fly into Cartagena or La Serena?

Prices for flights to both La Serena and Cartagena 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
    Cartagena $9.71
    La Serena $26

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cartagena

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Cartagena.

  • Featured in NYTimes > Arepas and Dancing: Danceable Cooking Class in Cartagena: $32
  • Cooking Class In A Real Restaurant At Old City: $38
  • Taste Cartagena Food tour: $40
  • Street Food Tour in Cartagena: $42
  • Guided Street Food Tour with Tastings: $44
  • Local Flavors Food Tour with Native Chef: $50
  • Cruise by the Bay with Dinner and Wine: $55
  • Private Dinner at a Local Chef's House in Cartagena: $58
  • Dinner Cruise Along Cartagena's Bay: $60
  • Flavors of Colombia - Cartagena Street Food Tour: $60
  • Street food tour: $61
  • Cartagena Gourmet: Cooking Class with a View, Elegance & Flavor: $65

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cartagena $21
    La Serena $23

Tours and Activities in Cartagena

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

  • Accessible sightseeing tour of Cartagena: $165
  • Beach Buggy ATV Adventure Tour CARTAGENA: $125
  • Eco cultural Historical Tour beyond Old City! + Pool: $98
  • Exciting Beach Buggy ATV Tour in Cartagena : $150
  • Palenque Native Guide, free entrance tickets, dance show & lunch: $110
  • Playa Blanca Private tour : $162
  • Playa Morena Beach Club Whith Lunch And Walking tour of fort San Fernando: $39
  • Private Beach Tour in Barú and Optional Bird Aviary: $120
  • Private Tour & the best coffee of the world in Cartagena (Also for cruisers): $250
  • Private city tour: $197
  • Rosario Islands Full Day Tour: $156
  • Tour around the Rosario Islands 4 islands: $55

Tours and Activities in La Serena

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

  • Full Day History and Flavors Tour in the Elqui Valley: $50
  • La Serena and Coquimbo City Tour (SIB): $66
  • La Serena and Coquimbo Guided City Tour: $76
  • Full day Tour to Elqui Valley : $80
  • Elqui Valley Full Day Tour: magical towns, pisco and mountains: $89
  • Elqui Valley Tour from La Serena: $120
  • La Serena & Coquimbo City Tour - Short excursion for cruise ships: $128
  • Daily tour to go Whale Watching all inclusive: $130
  • Tour to the internationally renowned Pangue Observatory: $139
  • Tour to Valle del Encanto Archeology, Petroglyphs, Flora, Fauna and Springs: $140
  • Elqui Valley: Pisco Tour, Wine, Beer: $174
  • Elqui Valley and Vicuña Private Tour Including Lunch: $183

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cartagena $9.10
    La Serena $22

Sample the Local Flavors in Cartagena

Also in Cartagena, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Pub Crawl with Dancing and Complimentary Drinks: $18
  • Cartagena's Best Pub Crawl all included!: $20
  • Cartagena Pub Crawl: Let's Party & Matching in Getsemaní: $20
  • Pub Crawl Only Locals Have Fun In The Walled City: $60
  • Pub Crawl Nightlife in Cartagena : $60
  • Pub Crawl: $70


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

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


Which is Bigger, Cartagena or La Serena?

Cartagena has a larger population, and is about 6 times larger than the population of La Serena. When comparing the sizes of Cartagena and La Serena, 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.


When is the best time to visit Cartagena or La Serena?

La Serena has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons, but Cartagena experiences a warm climate with fairly sunny weather most of the year.

Should I visit Cartagena or La Serena in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Cartagena as well as La Serena. Cartagena attracts visitors year-round for its warm weather and sunny climate.

In July, Cartagena is generally much warmer than La Serenain January. Daily temperatures in Cartagena average around 29°C (84°F), and La Serena fluctuates around 18°C (64°F).

The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in La Serena. People are often attracted to the plentiful sunshine in Cartagena this time of the year. In the summer, Cartagena often gets less sunshine than La Serenain January. Cartagena gets 207 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while La Serena receives 247 hours of full sun.

Cartagena usually gets more rain in July than La Serenain January. Cartagena gets 60 mm (2.4 in) of rain, while La Serena receives 4 mm (0.2 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July and January
    Cartagena 29°C (84°F) 
    La Serena 18°C (64°F)

Should I visit Cartagena or La Serena in the Autumn?

Both La Serena and Cartagena are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The warm climate attracts visitors to Cartagena throughout the year.

Cartagena is much warmer than La Serena in the autumn. The daily temperature in Cartagena averages around 27°C (81°F) in October, and La Serena fluctuates around 15°C (59°F)in April.

Cartagena usually receives more sunshine than La Serena during autumn. Cartagena gets 175 hours of sunny skies, while La Serena receives 159 hours of full sun in the autumn.

It's quite rainy in Cartagena. In October, Cartagena usually receives more rain than La Serenain April. Cartagena gets 150 mm (5.9 in) of rain, while La Serena receives 3 mm (0.1 in) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October and April
    Cartagena 27°C (81°F) 
    La Serena 15°C (59°F)

Should I visit Cartagena or La Serena in the Winter?

Both La Serena and Cartagena during the winter are popular places to visit. Plenty of visitors come to Cartagena because of the warm climate and sunshine that lasts throughout the year.

In the winter, Cartagena is much warmer than La Serena. Typically, the winter temperatures in Cartagena in January average around 27°C (81°F), and La Serena averages at about 12°C (54°F)in July.

It's quite sunny in Cartagena. In the winter, Cartagena often gets more sunshine than La Serenain July. Cartagena gets 278 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while La Serena receives 160 hours of full sun.

Cartagena usually gets more rain in January than La Serenain July. Cartagena gets 10 mm (0.4 in) of rain, while La Serena receives 3 mm (0.1 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January and July
    Cartagena 27°C (81°F) 
    La Serena 12°C (54°F)

Should I visit Cartagena or La Serena in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Cartagena and La Serena. Warm weather and sunshine bring visitors to Cartagena year-round.

In April, Cartagena is generally much warmer than La Serenain October. Daily temperatures in Cartagena average around 28°C (82°F), and La Serena fluctuates around 14°C (57°F).

In Cartagena, it's very sunny this time of the year. Cartagena usually receives more sunshine than La Serena during spring. Cartagena gets 209 hours of sunny skies, while La Serena receives 190 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Cartagena usually receives more rain than La Serenain October. Cartagena gets 10 mm (0.4 in) of rain, while La Serena receives 5 mm (0.2 in) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April and October
    Cartagena 28°C (82°F) 
    La Serena 14°C (57°F)

Typical Weather for La Serena and Cartagena

Cartagena La Serena
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 27°C (81°F) 10 mm (0.4 in) 18°C (64°F) 4 mm (0.2 in)
Feb 27°C (81°F) 10 mm (0.4 in) 18°C (64°F) 3 mm (0.1 in)
Mar 27°C (81°F) 10 mm (0.4 in) 17°C (63°F) 3 mm (0.1 in)
Apr 28°C (82°F) 10 mm (0.4 in) 15°C (59°F) 3 mm (0.1 in)
May 29°C (84°F) 50 mm (2 in) 13°C (55°F) 3 mm (0.1 in)
Jun 29°C (84°F) 70 mm (2.8 in) 12°C (54°F) 4 mm (0.2 in)
Jul 29°C (84°F) 60 mm (2.4 in) 12°C (54°F) 3 mm (0.1 in)
Aug 28°C (82°F) 80 mm (3.1 in) 12°C (54°F) 5 mm (0.2 in)
Sep 29°C (84°F) 80 mm (3.1 in) 13°C (55°F) 5 mm (0.2 in)
Oct 27°C (81°F) 150 mm (5.9 in) 14°C (57°F) 5 mm (0.2 in)
Nov 28°C (82°F) 60 mm (2.4 in) 15°C (59°F) 4 mm (0.2 in)
Dec 27°C (81°F) 30 mm (1.2 in) 17°C (63°F) 3 mm (0.1 in)