Should you visit La Plata or El Calafate?
Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between La Plata and El Calafate can help you decide which place is right for you.
Just over an hour from Buenos Aires, the bustling university city of La Plata is notable for being South America's first planned city. Indeed, also known as the City of Diagonal, La Plata's intricate grid system includes diagonal streets that run through it, contributing to easy navigation but confusing intersections.La Plata is the Capital of the Province of Buenos Aires, the main Argentine state, so you will find lots of elaborate government buildings alongside leafy green plazas in this laid back as well as active city. La Plata is a happening university town with a population of over 700,000. You can walk the width of it in under an hour, stopping at trendy craft beer bars, local music joints, and great restaurants along the way. Also, football is a religion in Argentina and if you're looking for some local atmosphere, La Plata is the place to go! Two of Argentina's biggest football teams, Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata and Estudiantes de La Plata challenge each other each year. If you are around during that special day for the city, you will witness thousands of fans wearing the relevant colours heading off to watch the match and parade by calle 7.
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.
Which city is cheaper, El Calafate or La Plata?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in La Plata is $61, while the average daily cost in El Calafate is $71. 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 La Plata and El Calafate in more detail.
Double occupancy rooms typically run around $48 in La Plata For nicer amenities and a premiere location, you can expect to pay a bit more.
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.
On average, meal and food prices in La Plata cost around $24 per person, per day. While this price can vary widely by location, the type of restaurant, and the amount of food ordered, a typical meal often costs around $9.60.
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.
Meals for one day
La Plata $24
El Calafate $26
Typical Food prices in La Plata
Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to La Plata:
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:
Public transportation tends to be much less expensive in La Plata than paying for a taxi or private car service, as is expected. Typically, people spend $17 on transportation in La Plata on average per day.
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.
Hired Cars and Shuttles in La Plata
Also for La Plata, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
La Plata hotels to El Palomar Airport (EPA) - Departure Private Transfer:
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:
Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier with transfers:
Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier without transfers:
Private Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate):
Shared transfer to El Calafate -El Chaltén:
El Calafate Airport Private Transfer:
Bus Transfer from El Calafate to El Chalten:
Private Transfer Hotel-Bus Station or Bus Station-Hotel (Calafate):
Shared Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate):
From Calafate: Round-trip transfer to Perito Moreno Glacier:
Is it cheaper to fly into La Plata or El Calafate?
Prices for flights to both El Calafate and La Plata 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 expenses in La Plata, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $15 per day, per person.
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.
Typical Entertainment prices in La Plata
For La Plata, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:
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:
"Glaciares Gourmet" - Maria Turquesa Cruiser Navigation:
13-Day Best of Patagonia Tour from El Calafate to Ushuaia: Los Glaciares, Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego National Parks:
2-Day Perito Moreno Tour with Boat Ride & 4x4 Safari:
2-day El Chalten Hiking Adventure Tour from El Calafate:
2-day tour: Perito Moreno Glacier + Torres del Paine National Park:
3-Day Tour of El Calafate and the Glaciers:
4 Days Tour in El Calafate & Chalten:
4-Days El Calafate Easy Going Experience:
4WD Ride tour to Cerro Frias from El Calafate:
4x4 Adventure Day Trip to Torres del Paine National Park with lunchbox:
5-Day Adventure Trip in El Calafate:
5-Days El Calafate Experience without limits!:
Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In La Plata, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $8.49.
Typically, people visiting El Calafate spend on average $13 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
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:
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between La Plata and El Calafate, we can see that El Calafate is more expensive. And not only is La Plata much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to La Plata would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in La Plata 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 El Calafate would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in El Calafate than you might in La Plata.
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