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

Should you visit Cartagena or Machu Picchu?

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 Machu Picchu can help you decide which place is right for you.

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.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is a site of ancient Inca ruins located about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Cuzco, Peru, in the Cordillera de Vilcabamba of the Andes Mountains. It is perched above the Urubamba River valley in a narrow saddle between two sharp peaks, Machu Picchu ("Old Peak") and Huayna Picchu ("New Peak"), at an elevation of 7,710 feet (2,350 metres). One of the few major pre-Columbian ruins found nearly intact, Machu Picchu was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. Thus, Machu Picchu is not only an impressive remnant of the Inca civilization, it is also one of the world's most important archaeological sites. A stop at Machu Picchu is an essential part of any traveler's itinerary in Peru, as it is one of the seven wonders of the world.

Which city is cheaper, Machu Picchu 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 Machu Picchu is $78. 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 Machu Picchu in more detail.



Accommodation

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 $60 in Machu Picchu For nicer amenities and a premiere location, you can expect to pay a bit more.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cartagena $22
    Machu Picchu $30
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cartagena $44
    Machu Picchu $60

Food

In Cartagena travelers spend around $7.98 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.

While meal prices in Machu Picchu can vary, the average travelers spends about $18 per day on food. Based on the spending habits of previous travelers, when dining out, an average meal in Machu Picchu should cost around $7.20 per person. Breakfast prices are usually a little cheaper than lunch or dinner. The price of food in sit-down restaurants in Machu Picchu is often higher than fast food prices or street food prices.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Cartagena $7.98
    Machu Picchu $18

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: $30
  • BIKE & BITE food tour: $52
  • Street food tour with Julie: $64
  • Food Tour in Cartagena Walled City: $66
  • Street Food & Local Food Tour: $66
  • SkyKitchen 4 Course Cooking Class: $81
  • Bazurto Market Tour and Cooking Class in Cartagena: $92
  • Cartagena - Food Tour: $100
  • Caribbean Cuisine Cooking Class: $105
  • Shared Local Cooking Class and Lunch in Cartagena: $110
  • Bazurto Local Market Tour & Cooking Class: $115
  • Colombian Cooking Workshop: $201

Local Transportation

The average price of local transportation around Cartagena is $6.09 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 Machu Picchu, 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.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cartagena $6.09
    Machu Picchu $21

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cartagena

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Cartagena:

  • One way private water transfer between Cartagena and the Islands (6 ppl max): $530
  • Private Transfer from La Manga Club to Alicante–Elche (ALC) Airport: $259
  • Private Transfer from Cartagena to Alicante–Elche (ALC) Airport: $249
  • Private Transfer Cartagena to Palomino (or vice versa): $195
  • Private transfer to Barranquilla from Cartagena- Traslado privado a Barranquilla: $170
  • Departure Private Transfer Cartagena City to Cartagena Airport CTG by Minivan: $96
  • Transfer to Tayrona Park, Santa Marta or Barranquilla City from Cartagena: $84
  • Departure Private Transfer Cartagena City to Cartagena Airport CTG by 2x4 Car: $72
  • Private transfer Cartagena airport -Mamonal: $65
  • Transfer Cartagena: $50
  • Transfer service in Cartagena: $50
  • Private Transfer: Cartagena to Rafael Núñez International Airport (CTG): $40

Is it cheaper to fly into Cartagena or Machu Picchu?

Prices for flights to both Machu Picchu 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.





Entertainment

Cartagena's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $17 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 Machu Picchu, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $55 per person, per day.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cartagena $17
    Machu Picchu $55

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: $40
  • 4-Hour Fishing Experience with Locals Near Cartagena: $103
  • 6 Hr Cartagena Fishing Experience: $974
  • Accessible sightseeing tour of Cartagena: $140
  • Audio Guide - Walking Tour with Interactive (Cartagena de Indias): $10
  • Aviario National Park Shared Tour: $63
  • Bar Tour for Guys and Bachelor Parties: $20
  • Bazurto Market + La Popa Convent Cartagena City Tour 4H: $81
  • Bazurto Market Half day tour in Cartagena: $125
  • Biking Tour Cartagena: $19
  • Birdwatching & Photography experience at the National Aviary in Barú: $279
  • Bolivar Pirate Island Experience with Lunch: $75

Typical Entertainment prices in Machu Picchu

For Machu Picchu, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • Gardens of Mandor
    $2.44

Tours and Activities in Machu Picchu

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Machu Picchu.

  • Machu Picchu Admission Ticket: $31
  • Huaynapicchu mountain hike + Machu Picchu entrance ticket: $40
  • Machu Picchu official entrance ticket: $40
  • Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu Admission Ticket: $53
  • Admission Ticket to Machu Picchu Ruin and Mountain: $53
  • Machu Picchu Ticket: Official Entrance Ticket: $63
  • Machu Picchu Official Entrance Ticket: $68
  • Machu Picchu Official Ticket: $68
  • Machu Picchu And Huayna Picchu Morning Entrance Ticket: $88
  • Skip the Line: Entrance Ticket to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu 2020: $89
  • Tickets to Machu Picchu with guided in Machu Picchu.: $99
  • Machu Picchu with Bus and Entrance Ticket: $123

Alcohol

While the amount that someone spends on alcohol while visiting Cartagena may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $7.48 per day on alcoholic beverages.

Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Machu Picchu, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $4.95.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cartagena $7.48
    Machu Picchu $4.95


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Cartagena and Machu Picchu, we can see that Machu Picchu 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 Machu Picchu would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Machu Picchu than you might in Cartagena.

Budget Your Trip

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Cartagena vs. Machu Picchu Travel Comparison

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