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

Should you visit El Calafate or Cusco?

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

Should I visit El Calafate or Cusco? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Where Should I go: El Calafate or Cusco?

El Calafate

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.


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.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in Argentina, The Best Adventure Tours to Argentina, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Cusco, and The Best 3-Day Tours from Cusco.

Which place is cheaper, Cusco or El Calafate?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in El Calafate is $9.92, while the average daily cost in Cusco is $50. 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 El Calafate and Cusco in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    El Calafate $3.37
    Cusco $23
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    El Calafate $6.74
    Cusco $46
Compare Hotels in El Calafate and Cusco

Looking for a hotel in El Calafate or Cusco? 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 El Calafate

Hotels in Cusco

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: El Calafate Hotel Prices and Cusco Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    El Calafate $3.47
    Cusco $9.96
Typical Local Transportation Prices in El Calafate

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in El Calafate:

  • Taxi

Hired Cars and Shuttles in El Calafate

Also for El Calafate, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Transfers Between Airport and Hotels: $12
  • One Way Transfer from Airport-Hotel downtown(Calafate) vice versa: $16
  • Shared Transfer from El Calafate Airport to downtown Hotel: $16
  • Transfer from Calafate Airport to your Stay in Calafate: $26
  • Shared Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate): $32
  • Excursion to the Perito Moreno Glacier, with guide and transfer to / from the hotel: $60
  • Private Airport Transfer: $64
  • Shared transfer to El Calafate -El Chaltén: $75
  • Laguna de Los Tres Transfer & Self-Guided Hike: $94
  • Perito Moreno Glacier Mini Trek with Transfer: $384

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:

  • Try find your better than us ! Airport transfer service in Cusco HTL-APT (CUZ): $18
  • Transfers in Cusco: $6.00
  • Transfer to Ollantaytambo from Cusco: $49
  • Transfer from Cusco to Ollantaytambo: $40
  • Transfer from Cusco Airport to the Hotel (Cusco): $17
  • Transfer from Cusco Airport to Sacred Valley hotels: $29
  • Transfer Hotel to Airport in Cusco | Private Service |: $10
  • Transfer From Cusco Airport: $10
  • Transfer From Airport to Cusco Center Hotels: $25
  • Transfer Cusco to Urubamba: $40
  • Transfer Cusco Airport to your Hotel in Cusco: $10
  • Transfer Cusco Airport - Hotel or Train Station: $12

Is it cheaper to fly into El Calafate or Cusco?

Prices for flights to both Cusco and El Calafate 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
    El Calafate $3.65
    Cusco $13
Typical Food Prices in El Calafate

For El Calafate, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:

  • Dessert
  • Dinner
  • Dinner

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:

  • Argentine Dinner with Live Music Folklore -Estancia 25 de Mayo: $48
  • Country Afternoon with Dinner Show - Estancia 25 de Mayo: $100
  • Estancia 25 de Mayo Experience with Dinner from Calafate: $175
  • Lakes and Caves Tour with Dinner: $176
  • Lakes and Caves Tour with Dinner: $179
  • Estancia 25 de Mayo in El Calafate - PM visit with dinner: $186

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.

  • Small-Group Virtual Ceviche Cooking Experience: $25
  • Short Peruvian Cooking Class - by Pete: $30
  • Folkloric Andean Show & 3-Course Dinner at Tunupa: $35
  • 3-Hour Peruvian Cooking Class: $49
  • Market Tour & Traditional Peruvian Cooking Class in Cusco: $53
  • CUSCO COOKING CLASS DINNER - Short & Immersive Cooking Class: $53
  • Cusco Cooking Class by ChocoMuseo in Cusco: $54
  • Cooking Class and market tour with a local chef: $56
  • Peruvian Vegan Cooking Class, cocktails, Local Market Tour Cusco: $58
  • Peruvian Cooking Experience & Pisco Tasting in Cusco : $59
  • Peruvian Cooking Class and Local Market in Cusco: $59
  • Peruvian Cooking Class & Market Tour: $65

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    El Calafate $3.65
    Cusco $29
Typical Entertainment Prices in El Calafate

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for El Calafate's activities, tours, and tickets:

  • Glacerium Museum

Tours and Activities in El Calafate

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

  • El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier classic tour with guide: $62
  • Perito Moreno Glacier & Optional Boat Cruise: $63
  • Argentine Cuisine Experience in El Calafate: $65
  • Day Tour to the Perito Moreno Glacier from El Calafate: $70
  • Southroad Calafate Balcony Experience with Tour Mode Options: $70
  • Perito Moreno Glacier Sightseeing Tour: $75
  • Panoramic Tour with Punta Walichu: $76
  • El Chalten Complete Experience Full Day Tour from El Calafate: $80
  • Perito Moreno Glacier Private Tour – El Calafate: $84
  • Perito Moreno Glacier Private Tour: $86
  • Half-Day Tour at Estancia 25 de Mayo Field Afternoon: $90
  • Full Day Tour in El Chalten: $90

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:

  • 1 Day Rainbow Mountain Tour From Cusco: $75
  • 2 Day Pisac Ollantaytambo Salt flats Moray Sacred Valley Tour: $297
  • Cusco City Tour I Half-Day: $28
  • Half-Day Private Tour to Maras and Moray: $90
  • Moray saltmines ATV (Cuatrimotos) Tour: $70
  • Official Machupicchu Ticket: $96
  • Official Ticket- Machu Picchu Lost Citadel: $72
  • Private Tour to Sacred Valley Full Day from Cusco: $130
  • Rainbow Mountain Full-Day | Group Tour |: $26
  • Ticket To Machu Picchu + Machu Picchu Mountain : $89
  • Tour a la montaña de 7 colores vinicunca 1 dia: $37
  • Tour de 1 dià a la montaña de colores : $47

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    El Calafate $1.83
    Cusco $9.46
Typical Alcohol Prices in El Calafate

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in El Calafate:

  • Beer
  • Alcohol

Sample the Local Flavors in Cusco

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

  • Pub Crawl with Skip-the-Line Access and Drinks: $19

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between El Calafate and Cusco, we can see that Cusco 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 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 Calafate.

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

Which is Bigger, El Calafate or Cusco?

Cusco has a larger population, and is about 40 times larger than the population of El Calafate. When comparing the sizes of El Calafate and Cusco, 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.