Should you visit Colonia del Sacramento or El Calafate?
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 Colonia del Sacramento and El Calafate can help you decide which place is right for you.
Colonia del Sacramento
Colonia del Sacramento is in the Rio de la Plata region of Uruguay. It is filled with old colonial buildings and cobbled streets, and is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Colonia del Sacramento was founded in 1680 by the Portuguese, sandwiched in between the Portuguese colony of Brazil and the Spanish Viceroyalty of the River Plate, later Argentina, Uruguay and Southern Brazil. Its strategic position and use as a smuggling port meant that its sovereignty was constantly contested and the city changed hands several times between Spain and Portugal. The irresistibly picturesque town's charm and its proximity to Buenos Aires draw thousands of Argentine and other visitors on weekends and in summer. Prices rise in these periods and it can be difficult to find a room so make sure to book your trip well in advance.
Located in Patagonia, El Calafate has become a popular tourist destination in Argentina because of its beautiful setting on the stunningly blue Lago Argentina. The town sits on the southern border of the lake in the southwestern part of the Santa Cruz Province. It's about 320 kilometers from Rio Gallegos.
The rise in popularity of Patagonia as a tourist destination has truly put this small town on the map. You'll find no shortage of trekkers in the town and it makes an excellent base to explore different parts of the Los Glaciares National Park. Popular places to visit include Perito Moreno Glacier, Cerro Chalten, and Cerro Torre.
El Calafate has a cold semi-arid climate. The summers are cool to warm and very dry while the winters are cold and damp. Lago Argentino has a significant influence over the town's climate. The shallow bay where the town is located is usually frozen during the winter months.
Check out our ultimate guide to Hiking in Patagonia.
Which city is cheaper, El Calafate or Colonia del Sacramento?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in Colonia del Sacramento is $48, while the average daily cost in El Calafate is $74. 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 Colonia del Sacramento and El Calafate in more detail.
Double occupancy rooms typically run around $48 in Colonia del Sacramento For nicer amenities and a premiere location, you can expect to pay a bit more.
An average hotel room with basic furnishings costs about $50 in El Calafate For the most convenient locations and nicer amenities you can expect to pay a bit more.
Hotel or hostel for one person
Colonia del Sacramento $24
El Calafate $25
Typical double-occupancy room
Colonia del Sacramento
While meal prices in Colonia del Sacramento can vary, the average travelers spends about $13 per day on food. Based on the spending habits of previous travelers, when dining out, an average meal in Colonia del Sacramento should cost around $5.20 per person. Breakfast prices are usually a little cheaper than lunch or dinner. The price of food in sit-down restaurants in Colonia del Sacramento is often higher than fast food prices or street food prices.
Food in El Calafate costs travelers about $27 per day on average. Restaurants can vary significantly in price, so choose wisely if you're trying to save money. Fast food and street stalls are typically your cheapest options, which sit down restaurants can be significantly more expensive.
Typical Food prices in El Calafate
For El Calafate, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:
Food Tours and Cooking Classes in El Calafate
For El Calafate, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:
Visit to Estancia Alice El Galpon, Dinner and Folkloric Show:
Gaucho, Dinner and Folklore Full-Day Tour:
To get around in Colonia del Sacramento, the average visitor spends $12 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.
El Calafate's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $26 per person, per day on transportation in El Calafate.
Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
Colonia del Sacramento $12
El Calafate $26
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Colonia del Sacramento
Also for Colonia del Sacramento, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Colonia Port Terminal Private Transfer:
Colonia Bus Terminal Private Transfer:
Typical Local Transportation prices in El Calafate
Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in El Calafate:
Hired Cars and Shuttles in El Calafate
Also for El Calafate, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Shared transfer to El Calafate -El Chaltén:
Shared Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate):
Private Transfer Hotel-Bus Station or Bus Station-Hotel (Calafate):
Private Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate):
Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier without transfers:
Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier with transfers:
From Calafate: Round-trip transfer to Perito Moreno Glacier:
El Calafate Airport Private Transfer:
Bus Transfer from El Calafate to El Chalten:
In Colonia del Sacramento, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $17 per person, per day.
Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in El Calafate can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $27 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.
Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
Colonia del Sacramento $17
El Calafate $27
Tours and Activities in Colonia del Sacramento
For Colonia del Sacramento, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:
Colonia Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour:
Colonia del Sacramento City Tour:
Full Day Birdwatching and Nature Tour:
Half day city tour in Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay:
Half day city tour in Montevideo:
Typical Entertainment prices in El Calafate
Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for El Calafate's activities, tours, and tickets:
Tours and Activities in El Calafate
For El Calafate, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:
"Glaciares Gourmet" - Maria Turquesa Cruiser Navigation:
13-Day Best of Patagonia Tour from El Calafate to Ushuaia: Los Glaciares, Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego National Parks:
2-Day Perito Moreno Tour with Boat Ride & 4x4 Safari:
2-day El Chalten Hiking Adventure Tour from El Calafate:
2-day tour: Perito Moreno Glacier + Torres del Paine National Park:
3-Day Tour of El Calafate and the Glaciers:
4 Days Tour in El Calafate & Chalten:
4-Days El Calafate Easy Going Experience:
4WD Ride tour to Cerro Frias from El Calafate:
4x4 Adventure Day Trip to Torres del Paine National Park with lunchbox:
5-Day Adventure Trip in El Calafate:
5-Days El Calafate Experience without limits!:
Typically, people visiting Colonia del Sacramento spend on average $4.12 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
Typically, people visiting El Calafate spend on average $14 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
Typical Alcohol prices in El Calafate
Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in El Calafate:
Sample the Local Flavors in El Calafate
Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in El Calafate:
Calafate Wine Tour | City Tour Peatonal Maridado con Vinos:
Calafate Wine Tour:
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Colonia del Sacramento and El Calafate, we can see that El Calafate is more expensive. And not only is Colonia del Sacramento much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Colonia del Sacramento would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Colonia del Sacramento 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 El Calafate would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in El Calafate than you might in Colonia del Sacramento.
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