A Travel Price Comparison for United States of America Denver vs. Santa Fe for Food, Skiing, Attractions, and Nightlife

Should you visit Denver or Santa Fe?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Denver or Santa Fe, 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.

Denver

Denver is a accessible, sprawling, and park-filled city. Because this is such a big city, visitors will find many sights and attractions around town. It's also popular because of the shopping, skiing, and nightlife.

Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a artsy, cultural, and historic historic town. It's a beautiful place to visit, too. This destination also has one of those special and quaint feelings. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and skiing.

Denver and Santa Fe: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Popular for skiing
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Good music scene
  • Scenic old town
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Denver or Santa Fe?

Travelers will generally find more things to do in Santa Fe than Denver. While Denver is larger than Santa Fe, Santa Fe has more sights and attractions for tourists. Santa Fe is more popular for its museums, food, music, historical sights, shopping, impressive beauty, and quaint atmosphere, while Denver is known for its nightlife and big city activities. Santa Fe is more touristy than Denver and is popular for its strong arts scene, its Pueblo-style architecture, and its unique local cuisine. It is also home to The Museum of New Mexico Complex. Denver is popular for serving as a gateway to the Rocky Mountains and the many national parks that are in the area.

How is Denver different from Santa Fe?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Santa Fe and Denver. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Is Denver or Santa Fe Better for Skiing?

Denver
Santa Fe

For skiing and winter sports, both Denver and Santa Fe provide good options.

For winter sports and skiing, Denver is a great destination to visit. Although there's no skiing in the immediate area, there is a huge list of world class ski resorts within an hour or two of town. Two of the closest are Echo Mountain Resort and Loveland Ski Area.

Head to Santa Fe for some great skiing and other winter activities. There are a few good ski resorts not far from Santa Fe. Popular options include Taos Ski Valley, Ski Santa Fe, Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, and Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort.


Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Denver or Santa Fe?

Denver
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a nice place to visit for its sights and museums. However, Denver is not a good city for its museums and history.

Santa Fe offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. Head to the Museum of New Mexico Complex, which has four museums that give a great overview of the history of the area. Also make sure you visit the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi and the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.

While most people don't head to Denver specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. Many people use Denver as a starting or ending point for their mountain and national park trip, but those who linger can visit some of the city's museums and sights. Popular museums include the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the History Colorado Center, and the Forney Museum of Transportation.

Is the Food Better in Denver or Santa Fe? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Denver
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a well-known place for its local cuisine and restaurants. However, Denver is not a good city for its restaurants.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Santa Fe. There are many local restaurants that use regional ingredients and offer great flavors. There are also cafes and bistros where you can enjoy breakfast or brunch. Local dishes include sopaipillas made with Native American fry bread, slow-cooked beans, and anything made with red and green chili peppers.

Denver may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. It's a pretty large city, so you'll find some nice local restaurants, but the foodie scene is still emerging in many neighborhoods. A number of restaurants offer outdoor seating, which is nice. You'll also find a growing selection of international restaurants. For something uniquely local, you should try the Bison steak and fried pickles.

Is Denver or Santa Fe Better for Nightlife?

Denver
Santa Fe

Denver is very good for its evening party scene. However, Santa Fe is not known for nightlife.

If you're looking for night time activities Denver has a few options to choose from. The city has come a long way with its nightlife. There's a great craft beer scene and the downtown area has really come to life. Popular bars and clubs in town include the Grizzly Rose and 54Thirty Rooftop. Many places are concentrated in the Soco Nightlife District.

Most people don't head to Santa Fe specifically for the nightlife scene, but you can find a few options. While most of the town quiets down at night, the city has a few areas that stay active late into the night. Live music is popular and diverse. It often includes different genres such as the blues, country, salsa or bluegrass.


Is Denver or Santa Fe Better for Music?

Denver
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a nice place to visit for its live music scene. However, Denver is not a live music destination.

The music scene helps keep Santa Fe active and fun. The town has an eclectic music scene that includes a mix of the blues, country, Latin American music, and bluegrass.

Denver is not a live music destination.

Is Denver or Santa Fe Better for its Old Town?

Denver
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a well-known place for its old town. However, Denver does not have a historic old town.

Many visitors go to Santa Fe to see the historical old town. As the 2nd oldest city in the United States, the old town historic district is filled with charm. The Pueblo-style buildings are brightly colored and there are churches throughout.

Denver does not have a historic old town.

Is Denver or Santa Fe Better for Hiking?

Denver
Santa Fe

Denver and Santa Fe are both places where visitors can find good hiking trails.

Denver has hiking trails worth exploring. The city is very close to many beautiful parks and hiking areas in the Rocky Mountains. It's not hard to make a day trip from town and enjoy some great hiking. Nice options include the Trading Post Trail in Red Rocks Mountain Park, Bergen Peak near Evergreen, and Chimney Gulch Trail near the town of Golden.

Plenty of visitors go hiking around Santa Fe. Because it's located right by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, there are many beautiful hikes right outside of town. Popular trails include the Picacho Peak Trail and the Nambe Lake Trail. Bandelier National also has many places to hike.


Is the Shopping Better in Denver or Santa Fe?

Denver
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a well-known place for its shopping opportunities. Also, Denver is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its shopping areas.

Santa Fe is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. There are many unique shops and art galleries that feature local artists and craftsmen.

Denver has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. The city has many outlet malls that budget shoppers appreciate. There are also weekend farmer's markets, boutique shopping areas, and all of the major chains that you'll find in most larger cities.

Is Denver or Santa Fe Better for Families?

Denver
Santa Fe

Denver and Santa Fe are both good destinations for the whole family.

Denver is a family-friendly place to visit. It is a family-friendly city with museums, playgrounds, and plenty of outdoor activities. There are also a few ropes courses near town that kids and adults alike will enjoy. Popular activities include the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus.

Santa Fe is a family-friendly city. There are a few kids' museums in Santa Fe including the Santa Fe Children's Museum and the Meow Wolf Art Complex. Kids also enjoy the botanical gardens at Museum Hill and Bandelier National Monument just outside of the city.

Is Denver or Santa Fe Better for Couples?

Denver
Santa Fe

Denver and Santa Fe are both good to visit as a couple.

Denver makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. There are many beautiful and romantic outdoor activities in the area such as parks and botanical gardens. There are also spas, including the impressive Spa at the Brown Palace, as well as upscale restaurants and fun bars and clubs to explore.

Santa Fe is a good city for couples to visit. There are many romantic inns around town, each with a lot of character. The town also has a lot of atmosphere that makes for a romantic getaway.


Is Denver or Santa Fe Better for Students?

Denver
Santa Fe

Denver and Santa Fe are both good destinations for students and younger travelers.

Denver is a good city to visit for students. There are a few students in the city, but there isn't a college town vibe that you'd get at other nearby university areas.

Plenty of students visit Santa Fe. There are a few colleges and universities in town and students will appreciate the reasonable cost of living and outdoor activities nearby.

Is Denver or Santa Fe Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Denver
Santa Fe

Denver is very good for times when you don't have a car. However, Santa Fe is not known for its public transit.

While Denver offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. If you're not planning to leave town, the light rail and bus systems offer good access to much of Denver.

Public transit is generally limited in Santa Fe. There is a bus system - the Santa Fe Trails Bus Service.

Is Denver or Santa Fe a more walkable city?

Denver
Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a well-known place for its high level of walkability. However, Denver is not a good city for its ease of walking around.

Santa Fe is a very walkable historic town. The historic district is walkable and it's easy to visit most of the tourist sights in this area on foot.

Denver is not a very walkable city. While the downtown area is generally walkable, this is still a sprawling city where you'll really want to have a car to access areas outside of town.


For even more information, also check out Is Denver Worth Visiting? and Is Santa Fe Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Santa Fe or Denver?

How long in Denver or Santa Fe?

In either Denver or Santa Fe, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Santa Fe than Denver because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 2-3 days is a good amount of time for Denver, and 2-5 days is enough time in Santa Fe.

Families should spend more time in Santa Fe than Denver. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Santa Fe, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Santa Fe than Denver. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Santa Fe that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Santa Fe than Denver if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Santa Fe.


  • How many days in Denver or Santa Fe? Ideal Length of Stay
    Denver 2-3 
    Santa Fe 2-5

One day in Denver or Santa Fe?

The city of Denver offers skiing and nightlife. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Many travelers enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the destination of Santa Fe. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Denver or Santa Fe?

Denver is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this city makes for a great vacation. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Denver, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Santa Fe is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Five days in Denver or Santa Fe?

Denver is a popular choice for travelers. Five days is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Santa Fe. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


A week in Denver or Santa Fe?

Denver is a great place to explore. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This city offers something for everyone.

Travelers enjoy the skiing and live music when visiting the charming destination of Santa Fe. This historic town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Las Vegas, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Anchorage, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Los Angeles, and The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from New York City.


Which place is cheaper, Santa Fe or Denver?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Denver is $218, while the average daily cost in Santa Fe is $159. 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 Denver and Santa Fe in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Denver $87
    Santa Fe $81
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Denver $174
    Santa Fe $162
Compare Hotels in Denver and Santa Fe

Looking for a hotel in Denver or Santa Fe? 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 Denver


Hotels in Santa Fe


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: Denver Hotel Prices and Santa Fe Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Denver $101
    Santa Fe $61

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Denver

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Denver:

  • Denver Airport (DEN) to Steamboat - Arrival Private Transfer: $285
  • Denver Airport (BJC) to Beaver Creek Ski Resort -Arrival Transfer: $219
  • Denver Airport (DEN) to Aspen hotel or address - Arrival Private Transfer : $219
  • Round trip transfer in private minivan from-to Denver Intl. Airport to Downtown: $206
  • Private One Way Transfer From and To Denver Colorado: $200
  • Denver Airport to Breckenridge/Keystone/Copper - Arrival Transfer: $197
  • Denver Airport (DEN) to Breckenridge - Arrival Private Transfer: $194
  • Round trip transfer in Private Car from-to Denver Int. Airport (DEN) to Downtown: $176
  • Denver Airport (DEN) to Keystone resort - Arrival Private Transfer: $175
  • Private One-way Transfer from Denver Airport to Denver: $174
  • Arrival Transfer Denver Airport DEN to Denver City by Luxury Car: $161
  • Departure Private Transfer: Denver to Denver Airport DEN in Luxury SUV: $136

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Fe

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

  • Private Arrival Transfer from Santa Fe Airport (SAF): $62
  • Private Departure Transfer to Santa Fe Airport SAF: $125

Is it cheaper to fly into Denver or Santa Fe?

Prices for flights to both Santa Fe and Denver 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
  • Food Meals for one day
    Denver $42
    Santa Fe $43
Typical Food Prices in Denver

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


  • Sushi Dinner (for 2)
    $61

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Denver

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

  • RiNo Arts District Food Tour: $79
  • Downtown Denver Food Tour: $79

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Fe

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

  • New Mexican Flavors Food Tour of the Santa Fe Plaza: $184
  • Santa Fe Farmers Market & Railyard Food Tour: $184
  • Wander New Mexico Food Tour - Railyard Arts District: $189
  • Wander New Mexico Food Tour - Downtown Plaza 'Sip & Savor': $209
  • Downtown Plaza "Sip and Savor" Half-day Food Tour: $209
  • Savor Wine Pairing Dinner: $228

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Denver $52
    Santa Fe $17

Tours and Activities in Denver

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

  • Small-Group Cocktail Tour in Denver: $99
  • 1-Hour Ghost Tour with Ghost Hunting Gear in Cheeseman Park: $25
  • 1.5 Hour RiNo Art District Walking Tour: $28
  • 2 Hour Guided Segway Tour: $69
  • 2 Hour LoDo Historic Walking Tour in Denver: $28
  • 3 Hour Private Walking Tour in Denver with Professional Guide: $229
  • 3 Hour Whiskey and History Tour: $99
  • Adventure Jeep Tour Garden of Gods & Pike's Peak from Denver: $245
  • Beginner Rock Climbing Tour: $200
  • Best of Denver Tour: $64
  • Breckenridge Ultimate Full Day Mountain Tour from Denver: $139
  • Cheesman Park Ghost Tour: $28

Tours and Activities in Santa Fe

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Santa Fe.

  • Historic Downtown Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour: $6.75
  • Santa Fe Historic Downtown Smart Phone Audio App Self Guided GPS Walking Tour : $7.80
  • Santa Fe's Historic Gems: A Self-Guided Walking Tour: $9.99
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Santa Fe by Crazy Dash: $10
  • Self-guided adventure hunt: Santa Fe Secrets: $13
  • Self-Guided Walking Audio Tour of Historic Santa Fe: $15
  • Murder Mystery Detective Experience in Santa Fe NM: $15
  • Santa Fe Scavenger Hunt Adventure: $21
  • Santa Fe Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $25
  • Willa Cather's Walking Tour in Santa Fe: $40
  • Santa Fe Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour and Game: $49
  • Canyon Road Arts District Walking Tour: $69

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Denver $5.31
    Santa Fe $9.68

Sample the Local Flavors in Denver

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

  • Pub Crawl Through Denver RiNo Arts District : $25
  • California Vs. Colorado Wine Tasting: $30
  • Private Vintner's Wine Tasting Experience in Colorado: $40
  • Denver Terrors Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl: $42
  • Wild West Pub Crawl in Golden: $65
  • Denver Pedicab Brewery Tour: $130

Sample the Local Flavors in Santa Fe

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Santa Fe:

  • Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery Tour and Tasting: $18
  • Architectural Walking Tour & Wine Tasting: $135


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

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


Which is Bigger, Denver or Santa Fe?

Denver has a larger population, and is about 8 times larger than the population of Santa Fe. When comparing the sizes of Denver and Santa Fe, 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.