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

Should you visit Cusco or El Chalten?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Cusco or El Chalten, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Where Should I go: Cusco or El Chalten?


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.

El Chalten

El Chalten is probably one of the most beautiful areas of Patagonia, especially at the slightest ray of sunshine and one of your cheapest destination while you are travelling in Patagonia. Indeed, you will spend your days hiking and there are no park fees. There are restaurants, souvenir shops, and outdoor stores but most of them will not accept credit cards so before heading out, get cash in El Calafate or your previous stop. For the beginners, it will be long hikes in a magical setting and for the experts perhaps a week long expedition to the greatest glaciers of the world. To discover the way people live in the pampa, you may also decide to stay at an Estancia. In the stunning Estancia Santa Thelma, about 300km away from El Chalten, you will be able to explore the surroundings by horse, live a unique experience in the middle of the nature and its vast plains occupied by thousands of merino sheep and horses and of course eat a typical meal of the region.

Which place is cheaper, El Chalten or Cusco?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Cusco is $51, while the average daily cost in El Chalten is $25. 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 Cusco and El Chalten in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cusco $23
    El Chalten $11
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cusco $46
    El Chalten $22
Compare Hotels in Cusco and El Chalten

Looking for a hotel in Cusco or El Chalten? 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 Cusco

Hotels in El Chalten

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: Cusco Hotel Prices and El Chalten Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cusco $9.99
    El Chalten $5.84
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:

  • One-Way Cusco Airport Departure Transfer: $5.40
  • One-Way Cusco Airport Arrival Transfer: $6.12
  • One-Way Cusco Airport Arrival Transfer: $7.00
  • Transfer Hotel to Airport in Cusco | Private Service |: $7.99
  • Cusco Airport Transfers: $8.00
  • Transfer to Cusco Airport 2023: $8.16
  • Cusco Airport Private Transfer: $8.33
  • Cusco Bus Station Private Transfer: $8.33
  • Cusco Airport Private Transfer : $8.33
  • Private 1-Way Transfer to Velasco Astete Airport: $9.00
  • One-Way Cusco Airport Arrival Transfer: $9.00
  • One-Way Airport Transfer to Hotel: $9.50

Hired Cars and Shuttles in El Chalten

Some specific examples of transportation prices in El Chalten:

  • From El Calafate: Full-Day Private Transfer to El Chaltén: $627

Is it cheaper to fly into Cusco or El Chalten?

Prices for flights to both El Chalten and Cusco 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
    Cusco $13
    El Chalten $9.04
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.

  • Walking Tour San Pedro Market, Cooking Class, & Meal: $15
  • Small-Group Virtual Ceviche Cooking Experience: $25
  • Small-Group Virtual Peruvian Cooking Experience: $25
  • Short Peruvian Cooking Class - by Pete: $30
  • CUSCO COOKING CLASS LUNCH 12:00PM TO 1:30PM (Available only in English): $37
  • Pete's Peruvian Cooking Class: $47
  • Cusco Tunupa Restaurant Folk Show with Dinner : $49
  • 3-Hour Peruvian Cooking Class: $49
  • Cusco Cooking Class by ChocoMuseo in Cusco: $50
  • Market Tour & Traditional Peruvian Cooking Class in Cusco: $53
  • CUSCO COOKING CLASS DINNER 4:30PM TO 7:00PM (Available only in English): $53
  • Fully hands-on High End Peruvian Cooking Class & San Pedro Market Guided Visit: $55

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cusco $29
    El Chalten $6.57
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:

  • Cochahuasi Animal Sanctuary Admission Ticket: $10
  • City Tour Cusco: $10
  • extreme adventure in cusco warachicuy adventure park: $11
  • Cusco Open Tour: Open Bus City Sightseeing Operator: $12
  • City Tour Cusco / Tour in the City: $12
  • Archeological Sites Tour and Forest Photo Experience: $12
  • Open-Top Bus City Tour: $12
  • Cusco Peruvian House of Horror Adventure: $13
  • Half-Day City and Archaeological Sites Guided Tour: $13
  • Half-Day City Tour with Inca Site Visits: $14
  • Cusco City Tour Panorámico Bus: $14
  • Maras Moray Salineras Tour: $14

Tours and Activities in El Chalten

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

  • Rafting experience on the Rio de las Vueltas in Patagonia: $100
  • Rio de las Vueltas Rafting Experience - El Chalten: $100
  • 2-Day Self-guided Adventure Laguna de los Tres, Fitz Roy & Torre Mt: $370
  • Full day 1 night Laguna De Los Tres and Eco Domes Experience: $400
  • 2-Day Hiking Tour of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre from El Chalten: $590
  • 3-Day Eco-Lodge Trekking Tour at Los Glaciares National Park from El Chalten: $900

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cusco $9.49
    El Chalten $3.01

Sample the Local Flavors in Cusco

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

  • Cusco Pub Crawl - Bar Tour Cusco : $18
  • Cusco Pub Crawl: Cusco Bar Hopping Experience : $18
  • Pub Crawl with Skip-the-Line Access and Drinks: $18

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Cusco and El Chalten, we can see that Cusco is more expensive. And not only is El Chalten much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to El Chalten would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in El Chalten 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 El Chalten.

Budget Your Trip is all about finding out how much everything costs so that you can travel cheaper and longer. Created by avid travelers Laurie and Bryan, our goal is to help you plan your next trip on the right budget. With average daily travel costs that are calculated from the budgets of real travelers, plus an analysis of hotel and tour prices, you can find out how much money you need to plan your next adventure. We also have plenty of travel advice, accommodation reviews, and activity suggestions.
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Cusco vs. El Chalten Travel Comparison

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