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

Should you visit Cuenca or La Serena?

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 La Serena. 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 La Serena?


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.

La Serena

La Serena is a charming town in Northern Chile. It is Chile's second-oldest city and the thriving capital of Region IV. With its beautiful architecture, its long golden shoreline, dignified stone churches, tree-shaded avenues and pretty plazas, La Serena has everything you could ask for!

Chileans on holidays flood in the city in January and February, though it is fairly peaceful outside the summer rush. Some of the city's architecture is from the colonial era, but most is actually neocolonial thanks to president Gabriel Gonzalez Videla, born in La Serena, and her 'Plan Serena' of the late 1940s.

Which place is cheaper, La Serena 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 La Serena is $85. 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 La Serena in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cuenca $13
    La Serena $41
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cuenca $26
    La Serena $82
Compare Hotels in Cuenca and La Serena

Looking for a hotel in Cuenca or La Serena? 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 La Serena

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 La Serena Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cuenca $11
    La Serena $20
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:

  • Shared transfer from Hotel to Airport in Cuenca: $47
  • Shared transfer from Cuenca Airport to Hotel: $47
  • Private Transfer from Cuenca to Guayaquil.: $104
  • Departure Private Transfer: Cuenca City to Cuenca Airport CUE by Minivan: $74
  • Cuenca to Guayaquil Transfer in Fantasy Bus: $25
  • Cuenca Departure Transfer: $34
  • Cuenca Arrival Transfer: $34
  • Arrival Private Transfer: Cuenca Airport CUE to Cuenca City by Minivan: $74

Is it cheaper to fly into Cuenca or La Serena?

Prices for flights to both La Serena 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
    La Serena $26
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

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cuenca $16
    La Serena $23

Tours and Activities in Cuenca

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

  • Cuenca-Ec- City Tour with Panama Hat factory Half Day: $30
  • Inca Trail Cajas National Park tour from Cuenca: $110
  • Amazing Cajas National Park Tour from Cuenca: $48
  • Azuay: San Bartolomé, Gualaceo, and Chordeleg Artisanal Tour: $63
  • Biking Cuenca City Tour: $45
  • Birdwatching Tour Cajas Park and Tamarindo Tropical Forest area from Cuenca: $130
  • 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: $150
  • Birdwatching Tour in Via Sigsig,Chiguinda from Cuenca: $130
  • Cañari Bike Tour: $96
  • Cajas National Park Half Day Tour from Cuenca: $40

Tours and Activities in La Serena

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

  • Full Day History and Flavors Tour in the Elqui Valley: $50
  • La Serena and Coquimbo City Tour (SIB): $66
  • La Serena and Coquimbo Guided City Tour: $76
  • Full day Tour to Elqui Valley : $80
  • Elqui Valley Full Day Tour: magical towns, pisco and mountains: $89
  • Elqui Valley Tour from La Serena: $120
  • La Serena & Coquimbo City Tour - Short excursion for cruise ships: $128
  • Daily tour to go Whale Watching all inclusive: $130
  • Tour to the internationally renowned Pangue Observatory: $139
  • Tour to Valle del Encanto Archeology, Petroglyphs, Flora, Fauna and Springs: $140
  • Elqui Valley: Pisco Tour, Wine, Beer: $174
  • Elqui Valley and Vicuña Private Tour Including Lunch: $183

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cuenca $14
    La Serena $22

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Cuenca and La Serena, we can see that La Serena 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 La Serena would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in La Serena 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 La Serena Expensive?.

Which is Bigger, Cuenca or La Serena?

Cuenca has a larger population, and is about 79% larger than the population of La Serena. When comparing the sizes of Cuenca and La Serena, 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.

When is the best time to visit Cuenca or La Serena?

La Serena has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons, but Cuenca experiences a warm climate with fairly sunny weather most of the year.

Should I visit Cuenca or La Serena in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Cuenca as well as La Serena. Cuenca attracts visitors year-round for its warm weather and sunny climate.

In July, Cuenca is generally a little warmer than La Serenain January. Daily temperatures in Cuenca average around 22°C (72°F), and La Serena fluctuates around 18°C (64°F).

Cuenca usually gets more rain in July than La Serenain January. Cuenca gets 17 mm (0.7 in) of rain, while La Serena receives 4 mm (0.2 in) of rain this time of the year.

  • Summer Average Temperatures July and January
    Cuenca 22°C (72°F) 
    La Serena 18°C (64°F)

Should I visit Cuenca or La Serena in the Autumn?

Both La Serena and Cuenca are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The warm climate attracts visitors to Cuenca throughout the year.

Cuenca is cooler than La Serena in the autumn. The daily temperature in Cuenca averages around 12°C (54°F) in October, and La Serena fluctuates around 15°C (59°F)in April.

In October, Cuenca usually receives more rain than La Serenain April. Cuenca gets 42 mm (1.7 in) of rain, while La Serena receives 3 mm (0.1 in) of rain each month for the autumn.

  • Autumn Average Temperatures October and April
    Cuenca 12°C (54°F) 
    La Serena 15°C (59°F)

Should I visit Cuenca or La Serena in the Winter?

Both La Serena and Cuenca during the winter are popular places to visit. Plenty of visitors come to Cuenca because of the warm climate and sunshine that lasts throughout the year.

Cuenca can be very cold during winter. In the winter, Cuenca is much colder than La Serena. Typically, the winter temperatures in Cuenca in January average around 4°C (39°F), and La Serena averages at about 12°C (54°F)in July.

Cuenca usually gets more rain in January than La Serenain July. Cuenca gets 14 mm (0.6 in) of rain, while La Serena receives 3 mm (0.1 in) of rain this time of the year.

  • Winter Average Temperatures January and July
    Cuenca 4°C (39°F) 
    La Serena 12°C (54°F)

Should I visit Cuenca or La Serena in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Cuenca and La Serena. Warm weather and sunshine bring visitors to Cuenca year-round.

In April, Cuenca is generally cooler than La Serenain October. Daily temperatures in Cuenca average around 10°C (50°F), and La Serena fluctuates around 14°C (57°F).

In April, Cuenca usually receives more rain than La Serenain October. Cuenca gets 35 mm (1.4 in) of rain, while La Serena receives 5 mm (0.2 in) of rain each month for the spring.

  • Spring Average Temperatures April and October
    Cuenca 10°C (50°F) 
    La Serena 14°C (57°F)

Typical Weather for La Serena and Cuenca

Cuenca La Serena
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 4°C (39°F) 14 mm (0.6 in) 18°C (64°F) 4 mm (0.2 in)
Feb 6°C (43°F) 22 mm (0.9 in) 18°C (64°F) 3 mm (0.1 in)
Mar 8°C (46°F) 15 mm (0.6 in) 17°C (63°F) 3 mm (0.1 in)
Apr 10°C (50°F) 35 mm (1.4 in) 15°C (59°F) 3 mm (0.1 in)
May 14°C (57°F) 41 mm (1.6 in) 13°C (55°F) 3 mm (0.1 in)
Jun 19°C (66°F) 35 mm (1.4 in) 12°C (54°F) 4 mm (0.2 in)
Jul 22°C (72°F) 17 mm (0.7 in) 12°C (54°F) 3 mm (0.1 in)
Aug 22°C (72°F) 23 mm (0.9 in) 12°C (54°F) 5 mm (0.2 in)
Sep 17°C (63°F) 20 mm (0.8 in) 13°C (55°F) 5 mm (0.2 in)
Oct 12°C (54°F) 42 mm (1.7 in) 14°C (57°F) 5 mm (0.2 in)
Nov 7°C (45°F) 33 mm (1.3 in) 15°C (59°F) 4 mm (0.2 in)
Dec 5°C (41°F) 15 mm (0.6 in) 17°C (63°F) 3 mm (0.1 in)