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

Should you visit El Calafate or Machu Picchu?

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

Should I visit El Calafate or Machu Picchu? 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 Machu Picchu?

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.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is a site of ancient Inca ruins located about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Cuzco, Peru, in the Cordillera de Vilcabamba of the Andes Mountains. It is perched above the Urubamba River valley in a narrow saddle between two sharp peaks, Machu Picchu ("Old Peak") and Huayna Picchu ("New Peak"), at an elevation of 7,710 feet (2,350 metres). One of the few major pre-Columbian ruins found nearly intact, Machu Picchu was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. Thus, Machu Picchu is not only an impressive remnant of the Inca civilization, it is also one of the world's most important archaeological sites. A stop at Machu Picchu is an essential part of any traveler's itinerary in Peru, as it is one of the seven wonders of the world.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Hiking & Trekking Tours in Argentina, The Best Adventure Tours to Argentina, The Best Eco Tours in Peru, and The Best Sightseeing Tours in Peru.


Which place is cheaper, Machu Picchu or El Calafate?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in El Calafate is $9.68, while the average daily cost in Machu Picchu is $99. 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 Machu Picchu in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    El Calafate $3.29
    Machu Picchu $41
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    El Calafate $6.58
    Machu Picchu $82
Compare Hotels in El Calafate and Machu Picchu

Looking for a hotel in El Calafate or Machu Picchu? 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 Machu Picchu


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 Machu Picchu Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    El Calafate $3.39
    Machu Picchu $29
Typical Local Transportation Prices in El Calafate

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


  • Taxi
    $1.33

Hired Cars and Shuttles in El Calafate

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

  • Perito Moreno Full Day Minitrekking with Transfer & Walkways: $420
  • Perito Moreno Glacier Mini Trek with Transfer: $365
  • Laguna de Los Tres Transfer & Self-Guided Hike: $94
  • Shared transfer to El Calafate -El Chaltén: $75
  • Excursion to the Perito Moreno Glacier, with guide and transfer to / from the hotel: $60
  • Private Transfer Hotel-Bus Station or Bus Station-Hotel (Calafate): $35
  • Shared Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate): $32
  • Transfer from Calafate Airport to your Stay in Calafate: $26
  • Transfer iPrivate Vehicle from Calafate Airport (FTE) - Calafate City: $25
  • One Way Shared transfer from Hotel downtown Calafate to the Calafate Airport : $15
  • Shared Transfer from El Calafate Airport to downtown Hotel: $15
  • Transfer from your hotel to El Calafate airport: $14

Is it cheaper to fly into El Calafate or Machu Picchu?

Prices for flights to both Machu Picchu 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 $3.56
    Machu Picchu $19
Typical Food Prices in El Calafate

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


  • Dessert
    $0.01
  • Dinner
    $1.73
  • Dinner
    $1.02

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
  • Lakes and Caves Tour with Dinner: $170

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    El Calafate $3.56
    Machu Picchu $72
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
    $1.33

Tours and Activities in El Calafate

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

  • Argentine Cuisine Experience in El Calafate: $65
  • "Glaciares Gourmet" - Maria Turquesa Cruiser Navigation (classic): $285
  • 4WD Adventure in El Calafate with Optional Hike or Zipline: $112
  • Adventure Horseback Riding on Cerro Frias: $119
  • Blue Safari Experience: Hiking and Navigation on Glaciers: $200
  • Calafate City Tour with Walichu Caves: $100
  • Calafate Panoramic tour: The best balconies of Calafate 4x4: $220
  • Calafate: Kayak through Perito Moreno and Walkways Tour: $430
  • Chalten Full Day Trekking Experience - Laguna de los Tres: $180
  • Chalten full day Trekking - Laguna de los Tres Experience: $210
  • Darwin Experience: $254
  • Day Tour to the Perito Moreno Glacier from El Calafate: $70

Typical Entertainment Prices in Machu Picchu

For Machu Picchu, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • Gardens of Mandor
    $2.65

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    El Calafate $1.78
    Machu Picchu $6.74
Typical Alcohol Prices in El Calafate

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


  • Beer
    $0.01
  • Alcohol
    $0.36


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