Should you visit El Calafate or Cafayate?
Should I visit El Calafate or Cafayate? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the data, which all comes from actual travelers.
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.
Cafayate is located in the province of Salta, in the central zone of the Valles Calchaquies. The small town has about 12,000 residents and is 1,329 kilometers from Buenos Aires.
People head to the small town of Cafayate to explore its vineyards and unique rock formations. It has become an important tourist destination in the area and there is a large golf course under construction just outside of town.
Cafayate is an important wine production center. The wines in the area thrive from the low humidity mild weather of the valleys. The town receives less than 250 millimeters of precipitation a year.
Which city is cheaper, Cafayate or El Calafate?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in El Calafate is $73, while the average daily cost in Cafayate 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 city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for El Calafate and Cafayate in more detail.
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.
Double occupancy rooms typically run around $64 in Cafayate For nicer amenities and a premiere location, you can expect to pay a bit more.
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.
While meal prices in Cafayate can vary, the average travelers spends about $35 per day on food. Based on the spending habits of previous travelers, when dining out, an average meal in Cafayate should cost around $14 per person. Breakfast prices are usually a little cheaper than lunch or dinner. The price of food in sit-down restaurants in Cafayate is often higher than fast food prices or street food prices.
Meals for one day
El Calafate $27
Typical Food prices in El Calafate
For El Calafate, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:
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:
Gaucho, Dinner and Folklore Full-Day Tour:
Typical Food prices in Cafayate
Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Cafayate:
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.
Public transportation tends to be much less expensive in Cafayate than paying for a taxi or private car service, as is expected. Typically, people spend $17 on transportation in Cafayate on average per day.
Typical Local Transportation prices in El Calafate
Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in El Calafate:
Hired Cars and Shuttles in El Calafate
Also for El Calafate, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier with transfers:
Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier without transfers:
Private Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate):
Shared transfer to El Calafate -El Chaltén:
El Calafate Airport Private Transfer:
Bus Transfer from El Calafate to El Chalten:
Private Transfer Hotel-Bus Station or Bus Station-Hotel (Calafate):
Shared Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate):
From Calafate: Round-trip transfer to Perito Moreno Glacier:
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.
Sightseeing expenses in Cafayate, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $38 per day, per person.
Typical Entertainment prices in El Calafate
Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for El Calafate's activities, tours, and tickets:
Tours and Activities in El Calafate
For El Calafate, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:
"Glaciares Gourmet" - Maria Turquesa Cruiser Navigation:
13-Day Best of Patagonia Tour from El Calafate to Ushuaia: Los Glaciares, Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego National Parks:
2-Day Perito Moreno Tour with Boat Ride & 4x4 Safari:
2-day El Chalten Hiking Adventure Tour from El Calafate:
2-day tour: Perito Moreno Glacier + Torres del Paine National Park:
3-Day Tour of El Calafate and the Glaciers:
4 Days Tour in El Calafate & Chalten:
4-Days El Calafate Easy Going Experience:
4WD Ride tour to Cerro Frias from El Calafate:
4x4 Adventure Day Trip to Torres del Paine National Park with lunchbox:
5-Day Adventure Trip in El Calafate:
5-Days El Calafate Experience without limits!:
Tours and Activities in Cafayate
Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Cafayate.
Cachi Full-Day Tour:
Cafayate and Calchaqui Valley Winery Tour:
From Salta: Full-Day Wine and Valley Tour to Cafayate:
Half-Day Wine Road Premium Tour From Cafayate:
Quebrada De Las Conchas Bike Tour from Cafayate:
Tour Quebrada De Las Conchas - Cafayate - Salta:
Typically, people visiting El Calafate spend on average $13 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Cafayate, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $35.
Typical Alcohol prices in El Calafate
Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in El Calafate:
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:
Calafate Wine Tour:
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between El Calafate and Cafayate, we can see that Cafayate is more expensive. And not only is El Calafate much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to El Calafate would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in El Calafate 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 Cafayate would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Cafayate than you might in El Calafate.
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