A Travel Price Comparison for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons Cuenca vs. Santa Marta

Should you visit Cuenca or Santa Marta?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the prices of travel for Cuenca and Santa Marta. 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.

Santa Marta

Santa Marta is a city in the Magdalena Department of Colombia's Costa Norte. Over the last decade, security has steadily been replacing the shadow of the Colombia's violent past. One destination in Colombia's northeast region is now attracting more international visitors: the coastal Caribbean area of Santa Marta. Established in 1525 by the Spanish as a base of conquest, Santa Marta sits at the foot of the world's highest coastal mountain range, the towering Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It is South America's oldest European-founded town and the second most important colonial city on Colombia's Caribbean coast. While many travelers complain about Santa Marta's horrible traffic and unsightly urban sprawl, the city holds a numerous amounts of great hotels, bars and restaurants and holds a few fantastic destinations nearby to which you can go during the daytime.

Which city is cheaper, Santa Marta 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 Santa Marta is $27. 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 Santa Marta 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.

Travelers usually pay around $22 for a double occupancy room in Santa Marta If you want to be in a premiere location or have high end amenities, you can expect to pay a bit more.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cuenca $9.97
    Santa Marta $11
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cuenca $20
    Santa Marta $22


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.

Santa Marta food costs typically run travelers around $8.25 per day. Eating every meal in a nicer restaurant will drive the cost up, and grabbing fast food or casual meals will help you save money.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Cuenca $12
    Santa Marta $8.25
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 Santa Marta

For Santa Marta, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Breakfast
    $3.24

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Marta

For Santa Marta, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Food Tour in Santa Marta Old City Half-Day: $60
  • Santa Marta 2-hour Street Food Tour: $75


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.

Public transportation tends to be much less expensive in Santa Marta than paying for a taxi or private car service, as is expected. Typically, people spend $4.34 on transportation in Santa Marta on average per day.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cuenca $8.60
    Santa Marta $4.34
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 Santa Marta

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


  • Gas
    $5.40

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Marta

Also for Santa Marta, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Airport Transfer: From Santa Marta Airport to Hotel in Santa Marta: $18
  • Private Airport Transfer: From Santa Marta Airport to Hotel in Taganga: $35
  • Private Airport Transfer: From Santa Marta Airport to Hotel in Tayrona Park: $59
  • Private Transfer Santa Marta to Palomino (or vice versa): $96
  • Private Transfer to / from Palomino, Tayrona Park or Minca from Santa Marta: $35
  • Private Transfer to Cartagena or Barranquilla City from Santa Marta: $84
  • Private transfer between Santa Marta and Cartagena (or vice versa): $194
  • Round trip transfer in Private Car from-to Santa Marta Airport(SMR) to City: $28
  • Round trip transfer in private minivan from-to Santa Marta Airport (SMR) to city: $43
  • Santa Marta Arrival or Departure Transfer: Airport / Cruise Ship Terminal: $12
  • Transfer Round Trip Airport - Hotel (santa Marta): $10
  • Transfer in Private Car from Santa Marta Airport (SMR) to Santa Marta city: $14


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 expenses in Santa Marta, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $11 per day, per person.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cuenca $13
    Santa Marta $11

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

Tours and Activities in Santa Marta

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

  • Skip the Line: Santa Marta Marine World Aquarium Admission Ticket and Guide: $6.50
  • Musical Experience "Vive Musicaribe": $11
  • BE RELAX TOUR - Bahia Concha: $22
  • Taganga snorkeling experience: $23
  • Santa Marta city tour: $31
  • Graffiti Tour in Santa Marta Old City: $40
  • Old City + Museum Santa Marta City Tour 3H: $48
  • Aquarium and White Beach Tour: $49
  • Tour E-Bike Playa Grande: $49
  • City Tour Santa Marta: $51
  • BE TROPICAL TOUR - Buritaca & Playa Los Angeles: $51
  • Aracataca And Ciénaga - Gabriel García Márquez Tour: $53


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 Santa Marta spend on average $5.53 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cuenca $11
    Santa Marta $5.53

Typical Alcohol prices in Santa Marta

Here are a few samples of the prices for alcohol and nightlife in Santa Marta from other travelers:


  • Beer
    $0.59
  • Beer
    $2.43

Sample the Local Flavors in Santa Marta

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

  • Nicks 1892 Coffee farm & Brewery: $55



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

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Cuenca vs. Santa Marta Travel Comparison

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