A Travel Price Comparison for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons El Calafate vs. Puerto Natales

Should you visit El Calafate or Puerto Natales?

Should I visit El Calafate or Puerto Natales? 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.

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.

Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales is a beautiful town located in the Chilean Patagonia on the Senoret Channel. The city is often used as a base camp for trips to the surrounding national parks due to their plentiful restaurant options and access to internet. Puerto Natales is also known for being the base city to the Torres del Paine National Park, which was named the 5th most beautiful place in the world by National Geographic.

Which city is cheaper, Puerto Natales 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 Puerto Natales is $86. 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 Puerto Natales in more detail.



Accommodation

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.

Puerto Natales's average price for two people sharing a typical double-occupancy hotel room is $78. A typical place to stay for one person, per day is $39.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    El Calafate $25
    Puerto Natales $39
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    El Calafate $50
    Puerto Natales $78

Food

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.

Puerto Natales food costs typically run travelers around $28 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.


  • Food Meals for one day
    El Calafate $27
    Puerto Natales $28
Typical Food prices in El Calafate

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


  • Dessert
    $0.10
  • Dinner
    $16
  • Dinner
    $9.65

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
  • Gaucho, Dinner and Folklore Full-Day Tour: $165

Typical Food prices in Puerto Natales

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Puerto Natales:


  • Cake
    $1.34
  • Dinner
    $23
  • Coke
    $1.34

Local Transportation

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.

While taxis and private drivers typically cost much more than public transportation, people usually spend around $20 per day to get around in Puerto Natales.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    El Calafate $26
    Puerto Natales $20
Typical Local Transportation prices in El Calafate

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


  • Taxi
    $13

Hired Cars and Shuttles in El Calafate

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

  • Bus Transfer from El Calafate to El Chalten: $50
  • El Calafate Airport Private Transfer: $57
  • From Calafate: Round-trip transfer to Perito Moreno Glacier: $27
  • Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier with transfers: $461
  • Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier without transfers: $336
  • Private Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate): $90
  • Private Transfer Hotel-Bus Station or Bus Station-Hotel (Calafate): $35
  • Shared Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate): $32
  • Shared transfer to El Calafate -El Chaltén: $75

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Puerto Natales

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Puerto Natales:

  • Shared Transfer From Puerto Natales To Villa Serrano And Lago Grey Round Trip Or One Way: $55
  • Puerto Natales Airport Private Transfer: $19

Entertainment

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.

Activities, things to do, and other forms of entertainment usually cost around $30 per person, per day in Puerto Natales. This cost includes the price of admission tickets to attractions and museums as well as daily tours.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    El Calafate $27
    Puerto Natales $30
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
    $13

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: $11
  • Bamboo Bike self drive tour El Calafate surroundings: $15
  • Perito Moreno Glacier Tour with Optional Boat Ride: $38
  • Bus ticket to Puerto Natales, Chile: $44
  • Perito Moreno Glacier & Optional Boat Cruise: $44
  • City Tour in El Calafate with Walichu Caves: $48
  • Tour to Punta Walichu and Glaciarium: $48
  • Bus Ticket from El Chalten to El Calafate: $50
  • El Calafate City Sightseeing Tour Including Walichu Caves: $53
  • Bus ticket from El Calafate (Argentina) to Puerto Natales (Chile): $56
  • Los Glaciares National Park and Perito Moreno Glacier Tour: $61
  • El Calafate Sightseeing Tour with Walichu Caves: $68

Tours and Activities in Puerto Natales

Here are a few actual costs in Puerto Natales for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • 3-Day Small Group Guided Tour W Trekking -Torres del Paine Highlights Fast track: $1,931
  • 5-Day Tour Glaciers of Patagonia from Puerto Natales: $1,048
  • Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers Sightseeing Cruise from Puerto Natales: $173
  • Bus ticket from Puerto Natales (Chile) to El Calafate (Argentina): $56
  • City Bike Tour in Puerto Natales: $66
  • Excursion City Tour By Bike: $45
  • Full day tour Torres del Paine: $71
  • Full-Day Hiking Tour to the Base of Paine Towers at Torres del Paine National Park: $160
  • Full-Day Tour of Torres del Paine National Park from Puerto Natales: $155
  • Full-Day Tour to Torres del Paine National Park from Puerto Natales(First Class): $98
  • Private Tour: Torres del Paine National Park and Milodon Cave with Lunch: $372
  • Puerto Natales Sightseeing Bike Tour: $60

Alcohol

Typically, people visiting El Calafate spend on average $13 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.

While the amount that someone spends on alcohol while visiting Puerto Natales may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $18 per day on alcoholic beverages.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    El Calafate $13
    Puerto Natales $18
Typical Alcohol prices in El Calafate

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


  • Beer
    $0.08
  • Alcohol
    $3.36

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

Typical Alcohol prices in Puerto Natales

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in Puerto Natales:


  • Alcohol
    $16


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

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El Calafate vs. Puerto Natales Travel Comparison

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