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

Should you visit El Calafate or La Serena?

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

Should I visit El Calafate or La Serena? 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 La Serena?

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.

La Serena

La Serena is a charming town in Northern Chile. It is Chile's second-oldest city and the thriving capital of Region IV. With its beautiful architecture, its long golden shoreline, dignified stone churches, tree-shaded avenues and pretty plazas, La Serena has everything you could ask for!

Chileans on holidays flood in the city in January and February, though it is fairly peaceful outside the summer rush. Some of the city's architecture is from the colonial era, but most is actually neocolonial thanks to president Gabriel Gonzalez Videla, born in La Serena, and her 'Plan Serena' of the late 1940s.

Which city is cheaper, La Serena or El Calafate?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in El Calafate is $48, while the average daily cost in La Serena is $70. 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. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for El Calafate and La Serena in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    El Calafate $16
    La Serena $34
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    El Calafate $32
    La Serena $68

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    El Calafate $17
    La Serena $16
Typical Local Transportation prices in El Calafate

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


  • Taxi
    $8.21

Hired Cars and Shuttles in El Calafate

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

  • Shared transfer to El Calafate -El Chaltén: $75
  • Shared Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate): $32
  • Private Transfer Hotel-Bus Station or Bus Station-Hotel (Calafate): $35
  • Private Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate): $90
  • Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier without transfers: $336
  • Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier with transfers: $461
  • Transfers Between Airport and Hotels: $26
  • Private Airport Transfer: $49
  • El Calafate Airport Private Transfer: $57
  • Bus Transfer from El Calafate to El Chalten: $50

Hired Cars and Shuttles in La Serena

Also for La Serena, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Airport Transfer: from La Serena to La Florida Airport (LSC): $26
  • Private Airport Transfer: La Florida Airport (LSC) to La Serena: $26

Is it cheaper to fly into El Calafate or La Serena?

Prices for flights to both La Serena 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
  • Food Meals for one day
    El Calafate $18
    La Serena $22
Typical Food prices in El Calafate

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


  • Dessert
    $0.07
  • Dinner
    $11
  • Dinner
    $6.30

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: $120

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    El Calafate $18
    La Serena $19
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
    $8.21

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: $180
  • 13-Day Best of Patagonia Tour from El Calafate to Ushuaia: Los Glaciares, Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego National Parks: $1,704
  • 2-day El Chalten Hiking Adventure Tour from El Calafate: $406
  • 2-day tour: Perito Moreno Glacier + Torres del Paine National Park: $215
  • 3-Day Tour of El Calafate and the Glaciers: $255
  • 4 Days Tour in El Calafate & Chalten: $190
  • 4-Days El Calafate Easy Going Experience: $965
  • 4WD Ride tour to Cerro Frias from El Calafate: $99
  • 4x4 Adventure Day Trip to Torres del Paine National Park with lunchbox: $165
  • 5-Day Adventure Trip in El Calafate: $1,151
  • 5-Days El Calafate Experience without limits!: $1,426
  • 5-Days Pearls from Argentina and Chilean Patagonia Experience!: $1,345

Tours and Activities in La Serena

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

  • Elqui Valley Spanish Tour from La Serena: $160
  • Elqui Valley and Vicuña Private Tour Including Lunch: $263
  • La Serena and Coquimbo Private City Tour Including Lunch and Archeological Museum: $269
  • Full day Tour to Elqui Valley: $90
  • Valle de Elqui Fullday Tour: $58

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    El Calafate $8.79
    La Serena $18
Typical Alcohol prices in El Calafate

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


  • Beer
    $0.05
  • Alcohol
    $2.19

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: $38
  • Calafate Wine Tour: $48


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between El Calafate and La Serena, we can see that La Serena 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 La Serena would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in La Serena than you might in El Calafate.

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El Calafate vs. La Serena Travel Comparison

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