Should you visit Puerto Madryn or El Calafate?
Should I visit Puerto Madryn or El Calafate? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the data, which all comes from actual travelers.
Puerto Madryn is mostly known as the gateway to Peninsula Valdes, welcoming tourists who come for whale watching. The Peninsula Valdes is a nature reserve designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site; 97 km long and 63 km wide, it is connected to the continent by an isthmus of 35 km from which we can see both gulfs, San Jose at north and the Nuevo at south.
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 Puerto Madryn?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in Puerto Madryn is $99, 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 Puerto Madryn and El Calafate in more detail.
If you're traveling alone, you may be able to find a budget hotel or hostel for around $37. But for two people in a standard two-person hotel room in Puerto Madryn the cost is $74 on average.
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.
Food in Puerto Madryn costs travelers about $40 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.
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
Puerto Madryn $40
El Calafate $26
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:
While taxis and private drivers typically cost much more than public transportation, people usually spend around $23 per day to get around in Puerto Madryn.
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 Puerto Madryn
Some specific examples of transportation prices in Puerto Madryn:
Puerto Madryn Trelew Airport Shuttle Transfer:
Puerto Madryn Airport 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:
From Calafate: Round-trip transfer to Perito Moreno Glacier:
Shared Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate):
Private Transfer Hotel-Bus Station or Bus Station-Hotel (Calafate):
Bus Transfer from El Calafate to El Chalten:
El Calafate Airport Private Transfer:
Shared transfer to El Calafate -El Chaltén:
Private Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate):
Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier without transfers:
Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier with transfers:
Is it cheaper to fly into Puerto Madryn or El Calafate?
Prices for flights to both El Calafate and Puerto Madryn 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.
Activities, things to do, and other forms of entertainment usually cost around $41 per person, per day in Puerto Madryn. This cost includes the price of admission tickets to attractions and museums as well as daily tours.
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 Puerto Madryn
Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Puerto Madryn are as follows:
Whale Watching for Two
Tours and Activities in Puerto Madryn
Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Puerto Madryn are as follows:
3-Day Atlantic Patagonia Wild Nature Experience at Bahia Bustamante Lodge:
Chubut Welsh Colonies Tour:
City Tour and Sea Lions at Punta Loma from Puerto Madryn:
Cruise Shore excursion to Punta Tombo:
Cruise shore excursion to Peninsula Valdes:
Discover Valdes Peninsula Day Tour:
Excursion Sib Tour to the valley of the Chubut river:
Florentino Ameghino Dam Day Tour:
Full Day Tour to Florentino Ameghino Dam from Puerto Madryn:
Full Day Tour to Punta Ninfas from Puerto Madryn:
Patagonia Ranch and El Pedral Penguin Colony Tour from Puerto Madryn:
Peninsula Valdes & Estancia San Lorenzo Full Day Tour:
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:
El Calafate History Museum Tour:
Bamboo Bike self drive tour El Calafate surroundings:
Perito Moreno Glacier Tour with Optional Boat Ride:
Bus ticket to Puerto Natales, Chile:
Perito Moreno Glacier & Optional Boat Cruise:
City Tour in El Calafate with Walichu Caves:
Tour to Punta Walichu and Glaciarium:
Bus Ticket from El Chalten to El Calafate:
El Calafate City Sightseeing Tour Including Walichu Caves:
Bus ticket from El Calafate (Argentina) to Puerto Natales (Chile):
Los Glaciares National Park and Perito Moreno Glacier Tour:
El Calafate Sightseeing Tour with Walichu Caves:
The average person spends about $22 on alcoholic beverages in Puerto Madryn per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.
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 Puerto Madryn and El Calafate, we can see that Puerto Madryn is more expensive. And not only is El Calafate much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to El Calafate would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in El Calafate 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 Puerto Madryn would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Puerto Madryn than you might in El Calafate.
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