A Travel Price Comparison for Colombia Medellin vs. Cartagena for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Medellin or Cartagena?

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

Should I visit Medellin or Cartagena? 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.

Where Should I go: Medellin or Cartagena?

Medellin

In addition to big improvements in public safety, Medellin has witnessed a huge surge in urban development projects, including Colombia's first metro system and cable cars to service poorer neighborhoods located high on the mountain sides. There is an abundance of parks, libraries, museums and public spaces with many cultural events taking place. Many travelers also enjoy visiting the surrounding villages, where life is simple and landscapes and nature reserves are wonderful. Medellin has now become one of the "it" cities in the world, with tons of tourists visiting and foreigners settling and retiring here. Beautiful mountains, warm weather, friendly locals, and a vibrant culture are just a few of the reasons why you should visit Medellin.

Cartagena

The capital of the Bolivar Department of Colombia, Cartagena is one of the most visited cities in the country. It sits on Colombia's northern coast by the Caribbean Sea. It's a port city with a population of almost 900,000, making it the fifth largest city in Colombia. The city has a rich history and was the first Spanish colony on the American continent. It was also one of the first sanctuaries for freed African slaves in the Americas.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Adventure Tours to Colombia, The Best Eco Tours in Colombia, The Best Food and Culinary Tours in Colombia, and The Best Luxury Tours to Colombia.


Which place is cheaper, Cartagena or Medellin?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Medellin is $23, while the average daily cost in Cartagena is $48. 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 Medellin and Cartagena in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Medellin $4.75
    Cartagena $27
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Medellin $9.50
    Cartagena $54
Compare Hotels in Medellin and Cartagena

Looking for a hotel in Medellin or Cartagena? 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 Medellin


Hotels in Cartagena


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: Medellin Hotel Prices and Cartagena Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Medellin $4.14
    Cartagena $7.64
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Medellin

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


  • Taxi
    $1.65

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Medellin

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Medellin:

  • Arrival Private Transfer from Medellin Airport to City by MiniSuv: $98
  • Arrival Transfer Medellin Airport MDE to Medellin City by Minivan: $129
  • Jose Maria Cordova Airport(MDE) to Medellin - Round-Trip Transfer: $41
  • Medellín Airport Transfer: $50
  • Medellín Private Transfer from Medellín City to Olaya Herrera (EOH) Airport: $43
  • Medellín Transfer: José María Córdova Airport : $30
  • Medellin Airport (EOH) to Medellin hotels - Arrival Transfer: $27
  • Medellin Airport (MDE) to Downtown hotels - Arrival Transfer: $21
  • Medellin Airport (MDE) to Downtown hotels - Round-Trip Transfer: $41
  • Medellin Airport MDE to Downtown Arrival Private Transfer: $21
  • Medellin hotels to Medellin Airport (EOH) - Departure Transfer: $27
  • Medellin to Jose Maria Cordova Airport (MDE) - Departure Transfer: $21

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cartagena

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Cartagena:

  • Private Transfer from Bocagrande to Port of Cartagena: $25
  • 18.Transfer (Rafael N-Hotel Decameron Baru Airport) or vice versa: $90
  • 20. Transfer Rafael N. Airport-HOTEL LAS ISLAS-CALABLANCA: $142
  • 8. Transfer to BARRANQUILLA from Cartagena Private or vice versa: $128
  • Air Conditioning Bus transfer: $21
  • Airport Transfer - Hotel Cartagena: $23
  • Airport Transfer Hotel: $26
  • Airport Transfers Cartagena: $39
  • Arrival Private Transfer Cartagena Airport CTG to Cartagena City by Minibus: $129
  • Arrival Private Transfer Cartagena Airport CTG to Cartagena City by Minivan: $93
  • Arrival Transfer Cartagena Airport CTG to Cartagena by MiniSuv: $106
  • Baru: Rafael Nunez International Airport Private Transfer: $87

Is it cheaper to fly into Medellin or Cartagena?

Prices for flights to both Cartagena and Medellin 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
    Medellin $9.61
    Cartagena $10
Typical Food Prices in Medellin

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


  • Lunch
    $2.10

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Medellin

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

  • Homemade Paisa Dinner at a Local's Home in Medellín: $71
  • Half-Day Food Tour Visiting the Best Viewpoints in Medellín!: $75
  • Sabor Colombiano Cooking Studio: $75
  • Food Tour in An Authentic Culinary Experience: $109
  • Combo Tour: Street Art, Christmas Lights and Food Tour in Medellin: $131
  • Medellin tour with Fernando Botero´s, street art and food tour: $138
  • Medellin City Tour Including The History of Tango and Lunch or Dinner: $138
  • Full Day Private Medellin City, Street Art and Food Tour: $145
  • Private tour: Medellin City – Pablo Escobar and Food Tour: $166
  • Combo Tour: Metro System, Christmas Lights and Food Tour of Medellin: $166
  • Combo Tour: Dark days & Christmas tour Including Lunch or Dinner: $166
  • A Night Out in Medellin with Dinner and Drinks Included: $175

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cartagena

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

  • Featured in NYTimes > Arepas and Dancing: Danceable Cooking Class in Cartagena: $32
  • Cooking class of typical food at the beach and sunset view: $39
  • Taste Cartagena Food tour: $40
  • Street Food Tour in Cartagena: $42
  • Guided Street Food Tour with Tastings: $45
  • Local Flavors Food Tour with Native Chef: $50
  • Cruise by the Bay with Dinner and Wine: $55
  • Private Dinner at a Local Chef's House in Cartagena: $58
  • Cartagena Gourmet: Cooking Class with a View, Elegance & Flavor: $59
  • Street food tour: $61
  • Street Food & Local Food Tour: $67
  • Street Food Tour in Cartagena Walled City and Getsemani: $74

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Medellin $13
    Cartagena $22

Tours and Activities in Medellin

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

  • Skip the Line: Museum of Antioquia Admission Ticket: $7.20
  • Graffiti Tour | Commune 13 guided by locals and Snacks: $11
  • Graffitour Medellín: History, Transformation and Overcoming": $13
  • Shared Tour of the Historical and Cultural Center of Medellín: $13
  • Post-conflict and Violence Tour (after Pablo) in Medellin: $13
  • Shared Tour of El Poblado "Sin Taboos" in Medellin: $13
  • GRAFITOUR COMUNA 13 more than a tour an EXPERIENCE: $15
  • Walking Historical tour of Medellín, walking reality.: $15
  • Medellin Shared Walking Tour Metro ticket included: $16
  • Commune 13, cable car. Graffititour. History. All inclusive: $19
  • Comuna 13 History and Graffiti Tour with Cable Car: $20
  • Tour Stairs and Cemetery Commune 13: $21

Tours and Activities in Cartagena

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

  • Emeralds Tour: $0.03
  • Into the Walls of The City: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $5.99
  • Cartagena de Indias: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $5.99
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour - The Great Battle: Fort of San Felipe: $6.99
  • Shared walking tour in the historic center: $9.95
  • Emerald Museum and Factory Tour: $10
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour: The Rise of the Wall City Part I: $10
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour - Legends of the Streets of Downtown : $10
  • Historic Free Tour Slavery and Gethsemane Heritage: $10
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour: Ghost of Downtown: Fear in the streets. : $10
  • Republican Architecture Self-Guided Audio Tour in Cartagena: $10
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour of Getsemaní Neighborhood: $10

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Medellin $7.21
    Cartagena $9.39

Sample the Local Flavors in Medellin

Also in Medellin, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Medellin Pub Crawl Including Food and City Tour: $139

Sample the Local Flavors in Cartagena

Also in Cartagena, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Pub Crawl with Dancing and Complimentary Drinks: $18
  • Cartagena's Best Pub Crawl all included!: $20
  • Cartagena Pub Crawl: Let's Party & Matching in Getsemaní: $20
  • Pub Crawl Only Locals Have Fun In The Walled City: $35
  • Pub Crawl: $70
  • Nightlife Pub crawl in Cartagena: $73


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

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


Which is Bigger, Medellin or Cartagena?

Medellin has a larger population, and is about 2 times larger than the population of Cartagena. When comparing the sizes of Medellin and Cartagena, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.