Should you visit Galapagos Islands or Cusco?
If you're trying to decide where to visit between Galapagos Islands or Cusco, this travel cost comparison can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.
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.
Cusco is most famous as the historic capital of the Inca Empire. It is in the southern Sierras and is one of the most popular travel destinations within Peru. The city is located at 3,400 meters above sea level so it is best to acclimate yourself slowly to avoid altitude sickness. (Read this advice about managing the altitude in Cusco and Machu Picchu.)
Which city is cheaper, Cusco or Galapagos Islands?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in Galapagos Islands is $111, while the average daily cost in Cusco is $40. 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 Galapagos Islands and Cusco in more detail.
The prices for places to stay in Galapagos Islands can vary by date, location, and type. Generally, the average cost for accommodation per person is $52, while a typical double-occupancy hotel room for two people will cost around $104.
A hotel room in Cusco is about $36 This assumes double occupancy and modest accommodations.
The average traveler spends about $27 per day in Galapagos Islands for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.
Cusco food costs typically run travelers around $10 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
Galapagos Islands $27
Typical Food prices in Cusco
Some typical examples of dining costs in Cusco are as follows:
Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cusco
Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Cusco.
Small-Group Virtual Peruvian Cooking Experience:
Small-Group Virtual Ceviche Cooking Experience:
Tunupa Cusco Restaurant: Dinner with Show:
CUSCO COOKING CLASS LUNCH 12:00PM TO 1:30PM (Available only in English):
Peruvian Cooking Class and Local Market in Cusco:
Dinner at Calle del Medio restaurant:
Dinner at Pachapapa restaurant.:
Peruvian Cooking Classes:
Dinner at Tunupa restaurant with folkloric show.:
Dinner at Inca Grill Restaurant:
Curious Monkey- The Gordito, Walking Food Tour:
Fully hands-on High End Peruvian Cooking Class & San Pedro Market Guided Visit:
To get around in Galapagos Islands, the average visitor spends $43 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.
The average price of local transportation around Cusco is $9.36 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.
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Galapagos Islands
Also for Galapagos Islands, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Private Transfer In from Baltra Airport to Hotels in Santa Cruz Island:
Typical Local Transportation prices in Cusco
Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Cusco:
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cusco
Some specific examples of transportation prices in Cusco:
Private Transfer from Cusco to Puno:
CUSCO MAGICAL 4D Transfer, Hotel, City Tour, Sacred Valley and Machu picchu:
Airport Transfer, City Tour, Sacred Valley & Machupicchu (All Included):
Private Transfer from Cusco City to Ollantaytambo Train Station by Minibus:
Private Transfer from Alejandro Velasco Astete (CUZ) Airport to Valle Sagrado:
Private Transfer from Alejandro Velasco Astete (CUZ) Airport to Ollantaytambo:
San Sebastián Private Transfer from San Sebastián Airport to City centre:
One-Way Scenic Bus Transfer to Puno from Cusco:
Scenic Journey from Cusco to Puno by Bus Including Hotel Transfers:
Private Transfer from Cusco City to Ollantaytambo Train Station by Minivan:
Cuzco city or airport to Ollantaytambo train station -Departure Private Transfer:
Private Transfer from Cusco City to Ollantaytambo Train Station by Sedan Car:
In Galapagos Islands, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $28 per person, per day.
Cusco's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $22 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.
Tours and Activities in Galapagos Islands
Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Galapagos Islands.
4-Day Galapagos Islands Express Tour:
4-Day Galapagos Land Tour Visiting Isabela and Santa Cruz:
4-day Galapagos on a Budget Experience:
4-Day Budget Isabela Tour:
Galapagos Discovery Tour 4 Days / 3 Nights:
5-day Galapagos on a Budget Experience:
4-Day Galapagos Tour: Santa Cruz & 2 Uninhabited Islands:
5-Day Galapagos Diving Tour: Accommodation and Full-Day Diving Excursions:
5-Day Guided Galapagos & Los Tuneles Tour:
6-day Galapagos on a Budget Experience:
6-Day Galapagos Land Tour: Los Tuneles Program:
7-day Galapagos on a Budget Experience:
Typical Entertainment prices in Cusco
Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Cusco are as follows:
Tours and Activities in Cusco
Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Cusco are as follows:
"Waqrapukara" Great Canyon Full Day Tour:
(H) Cusco 04 Days: City Tour - Sacred Valley - MachuPicchu (Group Tour):
(H) Inka Jungle Trail 04 Days (Group Tour):
01 Day Tour to Machu Picchu The Inca City:
07 Day Andean Experience Through the Living Culture of the Incas:
07 Day: Inca Jungle Adventure with Mountain Bike, Rafting, Zipline & Trek:
1 Day Hike on the Inca Trail + 1 Day in Machupicchu: Private 2 days Tour:
1 Day Luxury Tour to Machu Picchu:
1 Day Tour to Palcoyo Mountain and 4 Lagoons - private service:
1 Day tour to Machupicchu:
1-Day Machu Picchu Tour by Vistadome Train:
1-Day Machu Picchu Tour from Cusco, Peru:
Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Galapagos Islands, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $12.
The average person spends about $7.33 on alcoholic beverages in Cusco per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Galapagos Islands and Cusco, we can see that Galapagos Islands is more expensive. And not only is Cusco much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Cusco would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Cusco 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 Cusco.
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