Should you visit Cartagena or La Serena?
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.
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 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 city 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 $39, while the average daily cost in La Serena is $88. 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 city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for Cartagena and La Serena in more detail.
Cartagena's average price for two people sharing a typical double-occupancy hotel room is $44. A typical place to stay for one person, per day is $22.
Double occupancy rooms typically run around $86 in La Serena For nicer amenities and a premiere location, you can expect to pay a bit more.
In Cartagena travelers spend around $8.10 a day on food. You can save money by choosing casual restaurants or food stalls, or you can spend plenty more by dining in nicer restaurants at every meal.
La Serena food costs typically run travelers around $27 per day. Eating every meal in a nicer restaurant will drive the cost up, and grabbing fast food or casual meals will help you save money.
Meals for one day
La Serena $27
Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cartagena
Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Cartagena.
Cartagena Cuisine Cooking Experience:
BIKE & BITE food tour:
Street food tour with Julie:
Food Tour in Cartagena Walled City:
Street Food & Local Food Tour:
SkyKitchen 4 Course Cooking Class:
Bazurto Market Tour and Cooking Class in Cartagena:
Cartagena - Food Tour:
Caribbean Cuisine Cooking Class:
Shared Local Cooking Class and Lunch in Cartagena:
Bazurto Local Market Tour & Cooking Class:
Colombian Cooking Workshop:
The average price of local transportation around Cartagena is $6.18 per person, per day. As this average includes both taxis and public transport, keep in mind that the prices of private drivers and taxis are significantly more expensive than public transportation.
To get around in La Serena, the average visitor spends $21 per day, per person. This includes the costs of taxi rides and private drivers as well as public transportation, which tends to be much more affordable.
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cartagena
Some specific examples of transportation prices in Cartagena:
Transfer to Tayrona Park, Santa Marta or Barranquilla City from Cartagena:
Transfer service in Cartagena:
Transfer in Private Vehicle from Cartagena City to Airport:
Transfer in Private Minivan from Cartagena City to Airport:
Private transfer to Barranquilla from Cartagena- Traslado privado a Barranquilla:
Private transfer Cartagena airport -Mamonal:
Private Transfers in air conditioning buses:
Private Transfer: Rafael Núñez International Airport (CTG) to Cartagena:
Private Transfer: Cartagena to Rafael Núñez International Airport (CTG):
Private Transfer from Port of Cartagena to La Boquilla:
Private Transfer from Port of Cartagena to El Laguito:
Hired Cars and Shuttles in La Serena
Also for La Serena, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Private Airport Transfer: La Florida Airport (LSC) to La Serena:
Private Airport Transfer: from La Serena to La Florida Airport (LSC):
Cartagena's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $18 per person, per day. This cost can vary widely by the type of activity, however, as this includes admission tickets, day tours, museums, and other things to do.
In La Serena, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $24 per person, per day.
Tours and Activities in Cartagena
Here are a few actual costs in Cartagena for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:
2 Hour Panoramic tour for cruise ship passengers:
4-Hour Fishing Experience with Locals Near Cartagena:
6 Hr Cartagena Fishing Experience:
Accessible sightseeing tour of Cartagena:
Audio Guide - Walking Tour with Interactive (Cartagena de Indias):
Aviario National Park Shared Tour:
Bar Tour for Guys and Bachelor Parties:
Bazurto Market + La Popa Convent Cartagena City Tour 4H:
Bazurto Market Half day tour in Cartagena:
Biking Tour Cartagena:
Birdwatching & Photography experience at the National Aviary in Barú:
Bolivar Pirate Island Experience with Lunch:
Tours and Activities in La Serena
For La Serena, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:
Valle de Elqui Fullday Tour:
Full day Tour to Elqui Valley:
Elqui Valley and Vicuña Private Tour Including Lunch:
La Serena and Coquimbo Private City Tour Including Lunch and Archeological Museum:
While the amount that someone spends on alcohol while visiting Cartagena may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $7.60 per day on alcoholic beverages.
Typically, people visiting La Serena spend on average $23 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
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.
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