Should you visit El Calafate or Puerto Varas?
Should I visit El Calafate or Puerto Varas? 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.
Puerto Varas is a city in Southern Chile, in the Los Lagos (Lakes) Region, Llanquihue Province. It is a charming town, only 23 km away from Puerto Montt and surrounded by the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes as well as the impressive Llanquihue lake. In terms of landscape, accommodation and activities, Puerto Varas is well served! Kayak, paddle, canyoning, rock climbing, trekking, ski, fishing, you name it! If you decide to stop in that area, we recommend that you stay in Puerto Varas, as it provides the perfect starting point for many memorable excursions in the area.
Which city is cheaper, Puerto Varas or El Calafate?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in El Calafate is $71, while the average daily cost in Puerto Varas is $105. 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 Varas in more detail.
An average hotel room with basic furnishings costs about $48 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 Puerto Varas is $130. This is for two people sharing a typical double occupancy hotel room.
Food in El Calafate costs travelers about $26 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 Varas food costs typically run travelers around $24 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 $26
Puerto Varas $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 $25 per person, per day on transportation in El Calafate.
The average price of local transportation around Puerto Varas is $20 per person, per day. As this average includes both taxis and public transport, keep in mind that the prices of private drivers and taxis are significantly more expensive than public transportation.
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:
Bus Transfer from El Calafate to El Chalten:
El Calafate Airport Private Transfer:
From Calafate: Round-trip transfer to Perito Moreno Glacier:
Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier with transfers:
Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier without transfers:
Private Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate):
Private Transfer Hotel-Bus Station or Bus Station-Hotel (Calafate):
Shared Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate):
Shared transfer to El Calafate -El Chaltén:
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Puerto Varas
Some specific examples of transportation prices in Puerto Varas:
Transfer from Puerto Varas to Puerto Montt Airport:
Puerto Varas Bus Terminal Private Transfer:
Puerto Varas Airport Shuttle Transfer:
Puerto Varas Airport Private Transfer:
Puerto Montt Departure Transfer from Hotel in Puerto Varas:
Cruce Andino Office Shuttle Transfer from Puerto Varas:
Cruce Andino Office Private Transfer from Puerto Varas:
Is it cheaper to fly into El Calafate or Puerto Varas?
Prices for flights to both Puerto Varas 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 $26 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.
Puerto Varas's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $18 per person, per day. This cost can vary widely by the type of activity, however, as this includes admission tickets, day tours, museums, and other things to do.
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 Puerto Varas
Here are a few actual costs in Puerto Varas for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:
Chiloe Island Tour from Puerto Varas in Private:
Frutillar & Llanquihue Private Tour from Puerto Varas:
Frutillar Bike Tour from Puerto Varas:
Frutillar Tour: Southern Traditions:
Full-Day Guided Tour to Villa Peulla from Puerto Varas:
Full-Day Tour to Petrohue Falls Through the Lake District , Chile:
Greater Island Chiloe Tour from Puerto Varas:
Half-Day Small-Group Rafting Experience in Petrohué River:
Lake Llanquihue Bike Tour in Puerto Varas:
Osorno Volcano Tour:
Petrohue Falls and Osorno Volcano Bike Tour:
Petrohue Waterfalls & Osorno Volcano Half-Day Tour:
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 Varas may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $6.30 per day on alcoholic beverages.
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:
Sample the Local Flavors in Puerto Varas
Also in Puerto Varas, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:
Osorno Volcano & Brewery Tour in Puerto Varas:
Heritage City Tour and Brewery in Puerto Varas:
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between El Calafate and Puerto Varas, we can see that Puerto Varas 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 Varas would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Puerto Varas than you might in El Calafate.
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