A Travel Price Comparison for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons Cuenca vs. El Calafate

Should you visit Cuenca or El Calafate?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the prices of travel for Cuenca and El Calafate. 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. So, let's dig into it.

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.

El Calafate

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 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 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 Cuenca and El Calafate in more detail.




Accommodation

Accommodation prices vary by location and style, but travelers pay on average about $20 for a double occupancy room in Cuenca.

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.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cuenca $9.97
    El Calafate $25
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cuenca $20
    El Calafate $50


Food

Food in Cuenca costs travelers about $12 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.

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.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Cuenca $12
    El Calafate $27
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

Typical Food prices in El Calafate

For El Calafate, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Dessert
    $0.11
  • Dinner
    $16
  • Dinner
    $9.73

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: $120
  • Gaucho, Dinner and Folklore Full-Day Tour: $165


Local Transportation

The average price of local transportation around Cuenca is $8.60 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.

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.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cuenca $8.60
    El Calafate $26
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:

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

Typical Local Transportation prices in El Calafate

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in El Calafate:


  • Taxi
    $13

Hired Cars and Shuttles in El Calafate

Also for El Calafate, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Bus Transfer from El Calafate to El Chalten: $50
  • El Calafate Airport Private Transfer: $57
  • From Calafate: Round-trip transfer to Perito Moreno Glacier: $27
  • Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier with transfers: $461
  • Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier without transfers: $336
  • Private Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate): $90
  • Private Transfer Hotel-Bus Station or Bus Station-Hotel (Calafate): $35
  • Shared Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate): $32
  • Shared transfer to El Calafate -El Chaltén: $75


Entertainment

Cuenca's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $13 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.

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.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cuenca $13
    El Calafate $27

Tours and Activities in Cuenca

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

  • 4-Day Magic Tour Cuenca, Alausi town, Baños, Quilotoa, Cotopaxi and Quito: $675
  • 5-Day Rock Climbing Tour in Cojitambo, Paute, Girón, Cajas and Sayausi: $400
  • 5-Day Trekking Rock, Climbing, Canyoning and Paragliding Tour: $474
  • BIKE TOUR "Descent of The Andes": $59
  • Baños Private Guided 4-day tour from Cuenca: $691
  • Biking Cuenca City Tour: $45
  • Biking and Walking City Tour Cuenca: $30
  • Birdwatching Tour in Cajas National Park from Cuenca: $100
  • Birdwatching Tour in Cajas National Park from Cuenca: $100
  • Birdwatching Tour in Giron and Yunguilla Jocotoco Reserve from Cuenca: $129
  • Birdwatching Tour in Tamarindo Tropical Forest area from Cuenca: $130
  • Birdwatching Tour in Via Sigsig,Chiguinda from Cuenca: $130

Typical Entertainment prices in El Calafate

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for El Calafate's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Glacerium Museum
    $13

Tours and Activities in El Calafate

For El Calafate, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • El Calafate History Museum Tour: $11
  • Bamboo Bike self drive tour El Calafate surroundings: $15
  • Perito Moreno Glacier Tour with Optional Boat Ride: $38
  • Bus ticket to Puerto Natales, Chile: $44
  • Perito Moreno Glacier & Optional Boat Cruise: $44
  • City Tour in El Calafate with Walichu Caves: $48
  • Tour to Punta Walichu and Glaciarium: $48
  • Bus Ticket from El Chalten to El Calafate: $50
  • El Calafate City Sightseeing Tour Including Walichu Caves: $53
  • Bus ticket from El Calafate (Argentina) to Puerto Natales (Chile): $56
  • Los Glaciares National Park and Perito Moreno Glacier Tour: $61
  • El Calafate Sightseeing Tour with Walichu Caves: $68


Alcohol

While the amount that someone spends on alcohol while visiting Cuenca may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $11 per day on alcoholic beverages.

Typically, people visiting El Calafate spend on average $14 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cuenca $11
    El Calafate $14

Typical Alcohol prices in El Calafate

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in El Calafate:


  • Beer
    $0.08
  • Alcohol
    $3.38

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: $38
  • Calafate Wine Tour: $48



When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Cuenca and El Calafate, we can see that El Calafate 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 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 Cuenca.

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Cuenca vs. El Calafate Travel Comparison

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