A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Guatemala City vs. Santa Elena for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Guatemala City or Santa Elena?

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

Should I visit Guatemala City or Santa Elena? 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.

Guatemala City

Referred to by the locals as "Guate," Guatemala City is the largest and most modern city in Guatemala, as well as its capital. While the atmosphere of the place is big, dirty, and dangerous with city fumes and skyscrapers, it is the hub of the country. It is the place where travelers first step foot into Guatemala and, though it is a place of modern chaos, it does have some of the best galleries and museums as well as a selection of bars, cafes, and restaurants.

Santa Elena

Santa Elena is a cute town, and the closest to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. It's one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica, and is a great place to experience the cloud forest and see some of country's unique wildlife.

In the Monteverde Cloud Forest you have a good chance of seeing rare quetzals which are the national bird of Costa Rica. Other common animals include white-faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, orange-kneed tarantulas, any of 8-9 species of hummingbirds, and sloth.

Santa Elena is about 1,400 meters above sea level and has a humid and damp environment. The average yearly temperature is 64 degrees Fahrenheit and the average rainfall is 3,000 millimetres. Humidity can be anywhere between 74% and 97%.

Which city is cheaper, Santa Elena or Guatemala City?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Guatemala City is $35, while the average daily cost in Santa Elena is $56. 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. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Guatemala City and Santa Elena in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Guatemala City $19
    Santa Elena $33
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Guatemala City $38
    Santa Elena $66

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Guatemala City $4.95
    Santa Elena $6.75

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Guatemala City

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Guatemala City:

  • Private Transfer from Guatemala City to Coban: $155
  • Ground Transfer Guatemala City To Panajachel, Lake Atitlan: $128
  • Private Transfer from Guatemala City to Lake Atitlán: $120
  • Transfer from Airport to Antigua: $70
  • Private Airport Transfer: Guatemala to La Aurora International Airport (GUA): $38
  • Private Transfer from La Aurora Airport to Antigua Guatemala: $28
  • Airport transfer from Guatemala City airport to Antigua: $26
  • Collective Transfer From Guatemala City to La Aurora Airport: $20
  • Shared Arrival Transfer: Guatemala City Airport to Antigua: $16
  • Shared Arrival Transfer: Guatemala City Airport to Hotels: $14
  • Shared Departure Transfer: Guatemala City Hotels to Airport: $14

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Elena

Also for Santa Elena, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • One Way Private Transfer from Monteverde to Samara: $262
  • One Way Private Transfer from Monteverde to Manuel Antonio: $265

Is it cheaper to fly into Guatemala City or Santa Elena?

Prices for flights to both Santa Elena and Guatemala City 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
    Guatemala City $12
    Santa Elena $14

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Guatemala City

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

  • Taste Antigua Guatemala Walking Food Tour: $70
  • Guatemala Food Tour from Guatemala City: $117
  • Small-Group Cooking Class in Antigua from Guatemala City: $118
  • Antigua Market, Cooking Class and Choco Museum from Guatemala City: $178

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Guatemala City $0.97
    Santa Elena $18

Tours and Activities in Guatemala City

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Guatemala City are as follows:

  • 11-Day Mayan Ruins Tour: Guatemala and Copán: $1,859
  • 2 Day Tour Share and Private to Copan and Quirigua: $247
  • 2 Day Tour: Chichicastenango Market and Lake Atitlan from Guatemala City: $150
  • 2-Day Chichicastenango and Lake Atitlan Tour from Guatemala City or Antigua: $265
  • 2-Day Tour: Auto Safari Chapín Zoo and Monterrico Black Sand Beach from Guatemala City or Antigua: $276
  • 3-Day Tour of Cobán and Semuc Champey from Guatemala City: $391
  • 4-Day Tour: Guatemala City, Antigua, Chichicastenango Market and Lake Atitlan: $345
  • 5-Day Tour from Antigua, Chichicastenango, Panajachel and Santiago Atitlán: $439
  • 6-Day Tour: Traditional Guatemala Including Antigua, Chichicastenango Market, Lake Atitlan and Tikal: $910
  • 8-Day Best of Guatemala Tour: Antigua, Pacaya Volcano, Lake Atitlan and Tikal Ruins: $1,508
  • Acatenango Volcano Overnight Adventure from Guatemala City: $295
  • Antigua City Tour Full Day From Guatemala City: $60

Tours and Activities in Santa Elena

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Santa Elena.

  • The Original Canopy Tour Monteverde: $50
  • Night Walk Tour: $53
  • Coffee Tour 3 in 1 (Coffee Chocolate and sugar cane): $56
  • 100% Adventure Park Combo: Zipline, Superman, and Mega Tarzan Tour in Monteverde: $58
  • Monteverde Cloud Forest Canopy Tour: $77
  • Horseback Riding Tour in Monteverde: $81
  • Tikal Sunset Tour in Small Group from El Remate: $93
  • Tikal Sunrise Tour from El Remate in Small Group: $96
  • Ceibal Day Tour from Flores: $100
  • Tikal Guided Sunrise Tour in Small Group from Flores: $103
  • Night Walk Tour plus Coffee Tour 3 in 1(Coffee Chocolate and sugar cane): $110
  • Canopy Tour Plus Night Walk: $111

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Guatemala City $5.49
    Santa Elena $3.77


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

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Guatemala City vs. Santa Elena Travel Comparison

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