A Travel Price Comparison for Argentina Puerto Madryn vs. El Calafate for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Puerto Madryn or El Calafate?

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

Should I visit Puerto Madryn or El Calafate? 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: Puerto Madryn or El Calafate?

Puerto Madryn

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.

El Calafate

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.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 2-Week Tours in Argentina, The Best 3-Week Tours in Argentina, The Best One-Week (7-Day) Tours from Buenos Aires, and The Best 2-Week Tours from Buenos Aires.

Which place 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 $14, while the average daily cost in El Calafate is $10. 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 Puerto Madryn and El Calafate in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Puerto Madryn $5.25
    El Calafate $3.42
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Puerto Madryn $11
    El Calafate $6.84
Compare Hotels in Puerto Madryn and El Calafate

Looking for a hotel in Puerto Madryn or El Calafate? 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 Puerto Madryn

Hotels in El Calafate

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: Puerto Madryn Hotel Prices and El Calafate Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Puerto Madryn $3.28
    El Calafate $3.53

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Puerto Madryn

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Puerto Madryn:

  • Trelew Airport Shuttle Transfer To Puerto Madryn : $47
  • From Punta Tombo Day Trip with Hotel Transfer: $131

Typical Local Transportation Prices in El Calafate

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in El Calafate:

  • Taxi

Hired Cars and Shuttles in El Calafate

Also for El Calafate, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Transfer from the airport to your hotel in El Calafate: $12
  • Transfers Between Airport and Hotels: $12
  • Shared Transfer from El Calafate Airport to downtown Hotel: $15
  • Shared Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate): $32
  • Private Transfer Hotel-Bus Station or Bus Station-Hotel (Calafate): $35
  • Roundtrip transfer in Private Car from Calafate Airport (FTE)- Calafate City: $49
  • Excursion to the Perito Moreno Glacier, with guide and transfer to / from the hotel: $60
  • Private Airport Transfer: $64
  • Shared transfer to El Calafate -El Chaltén: $75
  • Laguna de Los Tres Transfer & Self-Guided Hike: $101
  • Perito Moreno Glacier Mini Trek with Transfer: $456

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.

  • Food Meals for one day
    Puerto Madryn $5.69
    El Calafate $3.71

Typical Food Prices in El Calafate

For El Calafate, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:

  • Dessert
  • Dinner
  • Dinner

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:

  • Argentine Dinner with Live Music Folklore -Estancia 25 de Mayo: $48
  • Estancia 25 de Mayo Tour with Dinner & Transfer: $126
  • Lakes and Caves Tour with Dinner: $143
  • Estancia 25 de Mayo Experience with Dinner from Calafate: $155
  • Estancia 25 de Mayo in El Calafate - PM visit with dinner: $186

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Puerto Madryn $5.77
    El Calafate $3.71
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:

  • 4 x 4 experience around Puerto Madryn: $100
  • Cruise Shore Excursion Ea San Lorenzo Peninsula Valdes - Patagonia - Argentina: $229
  • Cruise Shore Excursion Peninsula Valdes - Pto Madryn - Patagonia - Argentina: $119
  • Cruise Shore Excursion Punta Tombo - Tickets included - Puerto Madryn Patagonia: $129
  • Excursion to Punta Loma and Puerto Madryn for Cruisers: $60
  • From City and Punta Loma Tour: $70
  • From Florentino Ameghino Dam Day Tour: $194
  • From Penguin Tour & Península Valdés Day Trip: $152
  • From Valdes Peninsula Full-Day Tour: $130
  • Full Day Peninsula Valdes Experience: $90
  • Full Day Peninsula Valdes Experience - optional Whale Watching : $87
  • Full Day Punta Tombo - Walking Among Penguins Experience - Madryn: $87

Typical Entertainment Prices in El Calafate

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for El Calafate's activities, tours, and tickets:

  • Glacerium Museum

Tours and Activities in El Calafate

For El Calafate, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Panoramic Tour with Punta Walichu: $57
  • Perito Moreno Glacier & Optional Boat Cruise: $62
  • Argentine Cuisine Experience in El Calafate: $65
  • Southroad Calafate Balcony Experience with Tour Mode Options: $70
  • Calafate City Tour with Walichu Caves: $78
  • Round Trip Ticket-Bus to Perito Moreno Glacier from El Calafate: $79
  • From Full-Day Tour to El Chaltén: $79
  • Full Day Guided Tour Perito Moreno National Park and Glacier: $80
  • El Chalten Complete Experience Full Day Tour from El Calafate: $80
  • El Calafate City Tour and Walichu caves: $81
  • Perito Moreno Glacier Sightseeing Tour: $87
  • Full Day Tour in El Chalten: $90

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Puerto Madryn $3.13
    El Calafate $1.86

Typical Alcohol Prices in El Calafate

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in El Calafate:

  • Beer
  • Alcohol

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.

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

Which is Bigger, Puerto Madryn or El Calafate?

Puerto Madryn has a larger population, and is about 8 times larger than the population of El Calafate. When comparing the sizes of Puerto Madryn and El Calafate, 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.