Should you visit El Calafate or El Chalten?
Should I visit El Calafate or El Chalten? 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.
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 city is cheaper, El Chalten or El Calafate?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in El Calafate is $67, while the average daily cost in El Chalten is $66. 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 El Chalten in more detail.
An average hotel room with basic furnishings costs about $46 in El Calafate For the most convenient locations and nicer amenities you can expect to pay a bit more.
The average price for accommodation for two people in El Chalten is $58. This is for two people sharing a typical double occupancy hotel room.
Food in El Calafate costs travelers about $25 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 El Chalten can vary, the average travelers spends about $24 per day on food. Based on the spending habits of previous travelers, when dining out, an average meal in El Chalten should cost around $9.60 per person. Breakfast prices are usually a little cheaper than lunch or dinner. The price of food in sit-down restaurants in El Chalten is often higher than fast food prices or street food prices.
Meals for one day
El Calafate $25
El Chalten $24
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:
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 $23 per person, per day on transportation in El Calafate.
The cost of a taxi ride in El Chalten is significantly more than public transportation. On average, past travelers have spent $16 per person, per day, on local transportation in El Chalten.
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:
From Calafate: Round-trip transfer to Perito Moreno Glacier:
Shared Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate):
Private Transfer Hotel-Bus Station or Bus Station-Hotel (Calafate):
Bus Transfer from El Calafate to El Chalten:
El Calafate Airport Private Transfer:
Shared transfer to El Calafate -El Chaltén:
Private Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate):
Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier without transfers:
Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier with transfers:
Is it cheaper to fly into El Calafate or El Chalten?
Prices for flights to both El Chalten 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.
Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in El Calafate can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $25 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.
Entertainment and activities in El Chalten typically cost an average of $18 per person, per day. This includes fees paid for admission tickets to museums and attractions, day tours, and other sightseeing expenses.
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:
El Calafate History Museum Tour:
Bamboo Bike self drive tour El Calafate surroundings:
Perito Moreno Glacier Tour with Optional Boat Ride:
Bus ticket to Puerto Natales, Chile:
Perito Moreno Glacier & Optional Boat Cruise:
City Tour in El Calafate with Walichu Caves:
Tour to Punta Walichu and Glaciarium:
Bus Ticket from El Chalten to El Calafate:
El Calafate City Sightseeing Tour Including Walichu Caves:
Bus ticket from El Calafate (Argentina) to Puerto Natales (Chile):
Los Glaciares National Park and Perito Moreno Glacier Tour:
El Calafate Sightseeing Tour with Walichu Caves:
Tours and Activities in El Chalten
Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for El Chalten are as follows:
2-Day Chalten Adventure tour: Laguna de los Tres, Mount Fitz Roy & Cerro Torre:
2-Day Hiking Tour of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre from El Chalten:
3-Day Eco-Lodge Trekking Tour at Los Glaciares National Park from El Chalten:
El Chalten Rafting Experience:
El Chalten Rafting Experience:
Module Fitz Roy Adventure:
Typically, people visiting El Calafate spend on average $12 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
The average person spends about $8.11 on alcoholic beverages in El Chalten per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.
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 comparing the travel costs between El Calafate and El Chalten, we can see that El Calafate is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in South America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.
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