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

Should you visit Cuenca or Cusco?

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 Cusco. 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 Cusco?


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.


Cusco is most famous as the historic capital of the Inca Empire. It is in the southern Sierras and is one of the most popular travel destinations within Peru. The city is located at 3,400 meters above sea level so it is best to acclimate yourself slowly to avoid altitude sickness.

Cusco is the starting point for many travelers making their way to the famed Machu Picchu or other Inca sites in the surrounding area.

The city is very beautiful and has impressive architecture throughout. The history is obvious as you walk around town and there are impressive ruins nearby, with the most impressive being Sacsayhuaman. The city also has a significant indigenous population that is obvious from their traditional clothing and style.

Cusco has a subtropical highland climate with a pleasant daytime temperature year around. There are two distinct seasons with the dry season being between May and August and the wet season between December and March. During the dry season there is plenty of sun with occasional nighttime freezes. Frost is less common in the wet season.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Wildlife Tours to Ecuador, The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in Ecuador, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Cusco, and The Best 3-Day Tours from Cusco.

Which place is cheaper, Cusco or Cuenca?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Cuenca is $42, while the average daily cost in Cusco is $50. 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 Cuenca and Cusco in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cuenca $13
    Cusco $23
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cuenca $26
    Cusco $46
Compare Hotels in Cuenca and Cusco

Looking for a hotel in Cuenca or Cusco? 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 Cusco

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: Cuenca Hotel Prices and Cusco Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cuenca $11
    Cusco $9.96
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Cuenca

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

  • Taxi Ride

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cuenca

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Cuenca:

  • Ecuador: Airport Transfers on Quito, Guayaquil and others.: $30
  • Shared transfer from Hotel to Airport in Cuenca: $47

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Cusco

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

  • Taxi Ride

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cusco

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Cusco:

  • Arrival Transfer & Cusco City Tour (Private Service): $80
  • Cusco – Puno Direct Transfers: $24
  • Cusco Airport Departure Transfer: $15
  • Cusco Airport Departure Transfer: $9.67
  • Cusco Airport: Private 1-Way Transfer: $15
  • Cusco Private Transfer to Poroy Railway Station: $15
  • Cusco to Ollantaytambo: One-Way Private Transfer: $55
  • Abode of the Gods ATV Tour with Transfer: $30
  • Alpaca and Llama Farm Tour w/ Transfer & Weaving Demo: $34
  • Full-Day Trip to Machu Picchu with Hotel Transfers: $335
  • One-Way Airport Transfer to Hotel: $9.50
  • One-Way to Ollantaytambo Transfer: $40

Is it cheaper to fly into Cuenca or Cusco?

Prices for flights to both Cusco 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 Meals for one day
    Cuenca $15
    Cusco $13
Typical Food Prices in Cuenca

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

  • Lunch
  • Snacks
  • Empanada
  • Hot Dog

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cuenca

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

  • Street food Tour in Cuenca,Ecuador: $33
  • Cooking Class & Market Tour in Cuenca: $55
  • Cuenca City Tour & Cooking Class (PRIVATE Tour from Cuenca): $112
  • Private Cooking Class: $125

Typical Food Prices in Cusco

Some typical examples of dining costs in Cusco are as follows:

  • Sandwich
  • Mango

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cusco

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

  • Short Peruvian Cooking Class - by Pete: $30
  • Folkloric Andean Show & 3-Course Dinner at Tunupa: $35
  • 3-Hour Peruvian Cooking Class: $49
  • Market Tour & Traditional Peruvian Cooking Class in Cusco: $53
  • CUSCO COOKING CLASS DINNER - Short & Immersive Cooking Class: $53
  • Cusco Cooking Class by ChocoMuseo in Cusco: $54
  • Cooking Class and market tour with a local chef: $56
  • Peruvian Vegan Cooking Class, cocktails, Local Market Tour Cusco: $58
  • Peruvian Cooking Class and Local Market in Cusco: $59
  • Peruvian Cooking Experience & Pisco Tasting in Cusco : $59
  • Peruvian Cooking Class, Cocktails & Local Market Tour: $65
  • Peruvian Cooking Class & Market Tour: $65

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cuenca $16
    Cusco $29

Tours and Activities in Cuenca

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

  • Cuenca, Ecuador Half-Day City Shared Tour: $25
  • Experience Historical City Tour: $26
  • Cuenca-Ec- City Tour with Panama Hat factory Half Day: $30
  • Cuenca Half-Day City Tour Including Panama Hat Factory: $30
  • Cajas National Park Half Day Tour from Cuenca: $40
  • Private Cuenca City Tour including Turi Viewpoint: $40
  • Highlights Historic Tour & New Cathedral balcony: $40
  • El Chorro waterfalls and Busa lake tour from Cuenca: $44
  • City Sightseeing Tour: $45
  • Cuenca, Ecuador Half-Day City Tour: $46
  • Amazing Cajas National Park Tour from Cuenca: $48
  • Cuenca City Tour: $48

Typical Entertainment Prices in Cusco

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Cusco are as follows:

  • Salsa Class

Tours and Activities in Cusco

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Cusco are as follows:

  • Por Free Walking Tour Cusco Centro Historico: $2.00
  • Free Walking Tour of Cusco: $2.00
  • From Free Walking Tour of Cusco | San Pedro Market |: $2.00
  • Cusco : Half Day City Tour: $9.00
  • Walking tour city and Viewpoint: $10
  • Cusco City Tour: $10
  • Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary Admission Ticket: $10
  • extreme adventure in cusco warachicuy adventure park: $11
  • Mirabus Cusco city tour | Panoramic view |: $12
  • Open-Top Bus City Tour: $12
  • San Pedro Market and Walking tour: $12
  • Open Bus Tour of the City’s Wonder’s: $12

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cuenca $14
    Cusco $9.46

Sample the Local Flavors in Cusco

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

  • Pub Crawl with Skip-the-Line Access and Drinks: $18

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

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

Which is Bigger, Cuenca or Cusco?

Cusco has a larger population, and is about 13% larger than the population of Cuenca. When comparing the sizes of Cuenca and Cusco, 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.