A Travel Price Comparison for Ecuador Galapagos Islands vs. Cuenca for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Galapagos Islands or Cuenca?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Galapagos Islands or Cuenca, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Where Should I go: Galapagos Islands or Cuenca?

Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are a small archipelago of islands belonging to Ecuador in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The Galapagos archipelago is world-renowned for its unique and fearless wildlife, much of which was inspiration for Charles Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection. Thanks to a lack of natural predators, friendly wildlife such as sea lions and gigantic sea tortoises let visitors get up close. This archipelago of about 19 islands and many smaller islets found over 620 miles off Ecuador's coast in the Pacific Ocean is a double World Heritage site, where both land and sea are protected. Each island boasts its own unique landscape, ranging from black, volcanic rocks to white sand beaches and gemstone-blue waters. There is no bad time to visit the Galapagos Islands but the busiest months for tourism tend to be June, July and August, as well as mid-December to mid-January. This is when prices are at their highest.


Cuenca is a vibrant colonial city in southern Ecuador, the third largest in the country, and the capital of Azuay Province. Cuenca is considered as Ecuador's most important and beautiful colonial city after Quito. Dating from the 16th century, Cuenca's historic center, a Unesco World Heritage Site with its trademark skyline of massive rotundas and soaring steeples, is a magical sight in which you will feel like you are moving back in time. Cuenca is the center of many craft traditions, including ceramics, metalwork and the internationally famous panama hat. The nearby villages also offer many other handicrafts. Tourists enjoy wandering the ancient streets discovering picturesque alleys and hidden corners, where nuns march along cobblestone streets and kids in Catholic-school uniforms skip past historic churches. Fascinating historic monuments and fabulous views are found at every turn. Cuenca also has outstanding art museums and festivals. For a rewarding cultural experience, visit during Easter to attend the Festival of Religious Music.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in Ecuador, The Best Honeymoon Tours in Ecuador, The Best Luxury Tours to Ecuador, and The Best Budget Tours to Ecuador.

Which place is cheaper, Cuenca or Galapagos Islands?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Galapagos Islands is $138, while the average daily cost in Cuenca is $42. 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 Galapagos Islands and Cuenca in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Galapagos Islands $65
    Cuenca $13
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Galapagos Islands $130
    Cuenca $26
Compare Hotels in Galapagos Islands and Cuenca

Looking for a hotel in Galapagos Islands or Cuenca? 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 Galapagos Islands

Hotels in Cuenca

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: Cuenca Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Galapagos Islands $54
    Cuenca $11

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Galapagos Islands

Also for Galapagos Islands, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Transfer from Baltra Airport to Hotels in Santa Cruz Island: $144
  • Private Transfer from Hotels in Santa Cruz to Baltra Airport: $138
  • Transfer from Santa Cruz Island to Isabela Island: $55
  • Transfer from Santa Cruz Island to Isabela Island: $60
  • Transfer from Santa Cruz Island to San Cristobal Island: $48
  • Transfer from Santa Cruz Island to San Cristobal Island: $64
  • Transfer in + Visit to the giant turtle nature reserve: $205

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Cuenca

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Cuenca:

  • Taxi Ride

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cuenca

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Cuenca:

  • Private Transfer from Cuenca to Guayaquil.: $104
  • Shared transfer from Hotel to Airport in Cuenca: $47

Is it cheaper to fly into Galapagos Islands or Cuenca?

Prices for flights to both Cuenca and Galapagos Islands 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 Meals for one day
    Galapagos Islands $33
    Cuenca $15

Typical Food Prices in Cuenca

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

  • Lunch
  • Snacks
  • Empanada
  • Hot Dog

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cuenca

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Cuenca.

  • Street food Tour in Cuenca,Ecuador: $33
  • Cooking Class & Market Tour in Cuenca: $55
  • Private Cooking Class: $125

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Galapagos Islands $35
    Cuenca $16

Tours and Activities in Galapagos Islands

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Galapagos Islands.

  • Private Tour Sighting Giant Tortoises and Lava Tunnels: $36
  • Isabela Island Wetlands Walking Tour: $40
  • Bay Tour in Santa Cruz - Galapagos Islands: $60
  • Isabela Island Tour in Galapagos with Kayak and Snorkeling: $64
  • FERRY TICKET From: Santa Cruz / To: San Cristobal (PM): $65
  • FERRY TICKET From: Isabela / To: Santa Cruz (AM): $65
  • Hiking Tour to Sierra Negra Volcano: $67
  • Half Day Bay Tour in Santa Cruz Island: $72
  • Private BiciTour Giant Tortoises and Lava Tunnel in Galapagos: $90
  • Half Day Tour in Sierra Negra Volcano & Lava Fields: $90
  • Kayaking Experience in Franklin Bay: $95
  • Tintoreras Islet Tour from Isabela - Hiking & Snorkeling in Galapagos Islands: $99

Tours and Activities in Cuenca

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

  • Cuenca-Ec- City Tour with Panama Hat factory Half Day: $30
  • Amazing Cajas National Park Tour from Cuenca: $48
  • Azuay: San Bartolomé, Gualaceo, and Chordeleg Artisanal Tour: $63
  • Biking Cuenca City Tour: $50
  • Birdwatching Tour in Cajas National Park from Cuenca: $100
  • Birdwatching Tour in Giron and Yunguilla Jocotoco Reserve from Cuenca: $150
  • Birdwatching Tour, Via Gualaceo to the Eastern slope from Cuenca: $130
  • Cajas National Park Half Day Tour from Cuenca: $40
  • Cajas National Park Small-Group tour from Cuenca: $49
  • Cajas National Park Tour from Cuenca: $49
  • Cajas National Park and Cuenca City private Tour: $115
  • Cuenca City Half Day Tour: $52

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Galapagos Islands $15
    Cuenca $14

When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Galapagos Islands and Cuenca, we can see that Galapagos Islands is more expensive. And not only is Cuenca much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Cuenca would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Cuenca 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 Galapagos Islands would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Galapagos Islands than you might in Cuenca.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Galapagos Islands Expensive? and Is Cuenca Expensive?.