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

Should you visit Cuenca or Cartagena?

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

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Cuenca and Cartagena. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Where Should I go: Cuenca or Cartagena?

Cuenca

Cuenca is a vibrant colonial city in southern Ecuador, the third largest in the country, and the capital of Azuay Province. Cuenca is considered as Ecuador's most important and beautiful colonial city after Quito. Dating from the 16th century, Cuenca's historic center, a Unesco World Heritage Site with its trademark skyline of massive rotundas and soaring steeples, is a magical sight in which you will feel like you are moving back in time. Cuenca is the center of many craft traditions, including ceramics, metalwork and the internationally famous panama hat. The nearby villages also offer many other handicrafts. Tourists enjoy wandering the ancient streets discovering picturesque alleys and hidden corners, where nuns march along cobblestone streets and kids in Catholic-school uniforms skip past historic churches. Fascinating historic monuments and fabulous views are found at every turn. Cuenca also has outstanding art museums and festivals. For a rewarding cultural experience, visit during Easter to attend the Festival of Religious Music.

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.

Which city is cheaper, Cartagena or Cuenca?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Cuenca is $34, while the average daily cost in Cartagena is $34. 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. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Cuenca and Cartagena in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cuenca $9.97
    Cartagena $19
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cuenca $20
    Cartagena $38
Compare Hotels in Cuenca and Cartagena

Looking for a hotel in Cuenca or Cartagena? 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 Cuenca


Hotels in Cartagena


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.


Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cuenca $8.60
    Cartagena $5.32
Typical Local Transportation prices in Cuenca

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Cuenca:


  • Taxi Ride
    $2.00

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cuenca

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Cuenca:

  • Arrival Private Transfer: Cuenca Airport CUE to Cuenca City by Minivan: $74
  • Cuenca Airport Shuttle Transfer: $19
  • Cuenca Arrival Transfer: $15
  • Cuenca Departure Transfer: $15
  • Cuenca to Alausi Transfer in Fantasy Bus: $25
  • Cuenca to Guayaquil Transfer in Fantasy Bus: $25
  • Departure Private Transfer: Cuenca City to Cuenca Airport CUE by Minivan: $74
  • Private Transfer from Cuenca City Center to Madrid City Center: $147
  • Private Transfer from Cuenca to Guayaquil.: $83
  • Transfer In Cuenca Airport - Hotel: $25

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cartagena

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Cartagena:

  • Air Conditioning Bus transfer: $8.00
  • Cartagena Airport Transfer (in and out) - Touristic Area Hotels - Sedan: $34
  • Cartagena Airport: Private Arrival or Departure Transfer: $14
  • Cartagena Arrival or Departure Transfer: Airport / Cruise Ship Terminal: $13
  • Cartagena Private Transfer from Bocagrande to Rafael Núñez (CTG) Airport: $17
  • Cartagena Private Transfer from El Laguito to Rafael Núñez (CTG) Airport: $17
  • Departure Private Transfer Cartagena City to Cartagena Airport CTG by 2x4 Car: $72
  • Departure Private Transfer Cartagena City to Cartagena Airport CTG by Minivan: $96
  • Hotel to Airport Transportation in Cartagena (transfer service): $14
  • One way private water transfer between Cartagena and the Islands (6 ppl max): $530
  • PRIVATE Transfer from the AIRPORT to the hotel.: $19
  • PRIVATE Transfer from the cruise terminal.: $13

Is it cheaper to fly into Cuenca or Cartagena?

Prices for flights to both Cartagena and Cuenca 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
    Cuenca $12
    Cartagena $6.97
Typical Food prices in Cuenca

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Cuenca:


  • Lunch
    $10
  • Snacks
    $5.00
  • Empanada
    $1.50
  • Hot Dog
    $1.00

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cuenca

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

  • Cooking Class & Market Tour in Cuenca: $55
  • Cuenca City Tour & Cooking Class (PRIVATE Tour): $95
  • Private Cooking Class: $125

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
  • Cruise by the Bay with Dinner and Wine: $55
  • 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

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cuenca $13
    Cartagena $15

Tours and Activities in Cuenca

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

  • Guided tour to Cuenca City: $9.95
  • Cuenca City Tour: $20
  • Cuenca City Tour: $20
  • Cuenca City tour: $25
  • Half-Day Tour of Cuenca Including Panama Hat Factory: $30
  • Walking Cuenca City Tour with Pumapungo Complex Half Day: $30
  • Biking and Walking City Tour Cuenca: $30
  • Half-Day Biking and Walking Tour of Cuenca, Ecuador: $30
  • Cajas National Park Half Day Tour: $40
  • Private Half-Day City Tour Including Turi Viewpoint: $41
  • Biking Cuenca City Tour: $45
  • Full Day Tour to National Park of Cajas: $45

Tours and Activities in Cartagena

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

  • Cartagena de Indias: India Catalina to Plaza Santo Domingo Audio Tour - VoiceMap: $5.34
  • Cartagena de Indias: Into the Walls of The City Walking Audio Tour by VoiceMap: $5.34
  • Ghost of Downtown: Fear in the streets. Cartagena Sensorial Tour: $6.99
  • Monasterio de la Popa, tickets de entrada: $7.00
  • Cartagena City Tour By Bicycle: $8.00
  • City Tour Cartagena With Bazurto Market: $8.00
  • Audio Guide - Walking Tour with Interactive (Cartagena de Indias): $10
  • Free walking tour Gethsemane old town & Forever colonial: $10
  • Cartagena Ryhtm & Sunset - Musical experience: $12
  • Virtual Cartagena LiteraTour through Nobel Garcia Marquez work: $15
  • City Sightseeing Cartagena Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour Shore Excursion: $18
  • Chiva Party Bus Tour in Cartagena: $18

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cuenca $11
    Cartagena $6.54


When comparing the travel costs between Cuenca and Cartagena, we can see that Cartagena is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in South America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.


When is the best time to visit Cuenca or Cartagena?

Both destinations experience a tropical climate with warm weather most of the year. Instead of summer and winter seasons, they usually have a rainy season and a dry season.

Should I visit Cuenca or Cartagena in the Summer?

Both Cartagena and Cuenca are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. The warm tropical climate attracts visitors to Cuenca throughout the year. The warm tropical climate attracts visitors to Cartagena throughout the year.

In July, Cuenca usually receives less rain than Cartagena. At this time of the year, Cuenca gets 17 mm (0.7 in) of rain, while Cartagena receives 60 mm (2.4 in) of rain.

Cuenca is cooler than Cartagena in the summer. The temperature in Cuenca is usually 22°C (72°F) in July, and Cartagena stays around 29°C (84°F).


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Cuenca 22°C (72°F) 
    Cartagena 29°C (84°F)

Should I visit Cuenca or Cartagena in the Autumn?

Both Cartagena and Cuenca during the autumn are popular places to visit. Plenty of visitors come to Cuenca because of the warm tropical climate that lasts throughout the year. Plenty of visitors come to Cartagena because of the warm tropical climate that lasts throughout the year.

Cartagena gets a good bit of rain this time of year. Cuenca usually gets less rain in October than Cartagena. Cuenca gets 42 mm (1.7 in) of rain, while Cartagena receives 150 mm (5.9 in) of rain this time of the year.

In the autumn, Cuenca is much colder than Cartagena. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Cuenca in October are around 12°C (54°F), and Cartagena is about 27°C (81°F).


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Cuenca 12°C (54°F) 
    Cartagena 27°C (81°F)

Should I visit Cuenca or Cartagena in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Cuenca and Cartagena. Cuenca attracts visitors year-round for its warm weather and tropical climate. Cartagena attracts visitors year-round for its warm weather and tropical climate.

In January, Cuenca usually receives more rain than Cartagena. At this time of the year, Cuenca gets 14 mm (0.6 in) of rain, while Cartagena receives 10 mm (0.4 in) of rain.

Cuenca can be very cold during winter. In January, Cuenca is generally much colder than Cartagena. Temperatures in Cuenca average around 4°C (39°F), and Cartagena stays around 27°C (81°F).


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Cuenca 4°C (39°F) 
    Cartagena 27°C (81°F)

Should I visit Cuenca or Cartagena in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Cuenca as well as Cartagena. The warm tropical climate attracts visitors to Cuenca throughout the year. The warm tropical climate attracts visitors to Cartagena throughout the year.

Cuenca usually gets more rain in April than Cartagena. Cuenca gets 35 mm (1.4 in) of rain, while Cartagena receives 10 mm (0.4 in) of rain this time of the year.

Cuenca is much colder than Cartagena in the spring. The temperature in Cuenca is usually 10°C (50°F) in April, and Cartagena stays around 28°C (82°F).


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Cuenca 10°C (50°F) 
    Cartagena 28°C (82°F)

Typical Weather for Cartagena and Cuenca

Cuenca Cartagena
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 4°C (39°F) 14 mm (0.6 in) 27°C (81°F) 10 mm (0.4 in)
Feb 6°C (43°F) 22 mm (0.9 in) 27°C (81°F) 10 mm (0.4 in)
Mar 8°C (46°F) 15 mm (0.6 in) 27°C (81°F) 10 mm (0.4 in)
Apr 10°C (50°F) 35 mm (1.4 in) 28°C (82°F) 10 mm (0.4 in)
May 14°C (57°F) 41 mm (1.6 in) 29°C (84°F) 50 mm (2 in)
Jun 19°C (66°F) 35 mm (1.4 in) 29°C (84°F) 70 mm (2.8 in)
Jul 22°C (72°F) 17 mm (0.7 in) 29°C (84°F) 60 mm (2.4 in)
Aug 22°C (72°F) 23 mm (0.9 in) 28°C (82°F) 80 mm (3.1 in)
Sep 17°C (63°F) 20 mm (0.8 in) 29°C (84°F) 80 mm (3.1 in)
Oct 12°C (54°F) 42 mm (1.7 in) 27°C (81°F) 150 mm (5.9 in)
Nov 7°C (45°F) 33 mm (1.3 in) 28°C (82°F) 60 mm (2.4 in)
Dec 5°C (41°F) 15 mm (0.6 in) 27°C (81°F) 30 mm (1.2 in)


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Cuenca vs. Cartagena Travel Comparison

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