Should you visit El Calafate or La Serena?
Should I visit El Calafate or La Serena? 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.
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 $73, while the average daily cost in La Serena is $88. 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 La Serena 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 $86 in La Serena 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.
La Serena food costs typically run travelers around $27 per day. Eating every meal in a nicer restaurant will drive the cost up, and grabbing fast food or casual meals will help you save money.
Meals for one day
El Calafate $27
La Serena $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:
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.
To get around in La Serena, the average visitor spends $21 per day, per person. This includes the costs of taxi rides and private drivers as well as public transportation, which tends to be much more affordable.
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:
Shared transfer to El Calafate -El Chaltén:
Shared Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate):
Private Transfer Hotel-Bus Station or Bus Station-Hotel (Calafate):
Private Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate):
Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier without transfers:
Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier with transfers:
From Calafate: Round-trip transfer to Perito Moreno Glacier:
El Calafate Airport Private Transfer:
Bus Transfer from El Calafate to El Chalten:
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):
Private Airport Transfer: La Florida Airport (LSC) to La Serena:
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.
In La Serena, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $24 per person, per day.
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 La Serena
For La Serena, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:
Elqui Valley and Vicuña Private Tour Including Lunch:
La Serena and Coquimbo Private City Tour Including Lunch and Archeological Museum:
Full day Tour to Elqui Valley:
Valle de Elqui Fullday Tour:
Typically, people visiting El Calafate spend on average $13 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
Typically, people visiting La Serena spend on average $23 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
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 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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