A Travel Price Comparison for Ecuador Quito vs. Cuenca for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Quito or Cuenca?

Should I visit Quito or Cuenca? 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.

Quito

Nestled between two mountain ranges lies the world's highest capital city, Quito, Ecuador. For history lovers, Quito is a very desirable destination as it's home to the Quito Historic Center – one of the largest and best-preserved historic centers in the Americas.

Even though Quito is full of people – in fact, it's the second most populous city in the country – very few of its inhabitants speak English. Luckily, however, the citizens of Quito tend to speak a slower and more clear Spanish than surrounding areas. This is the perfect place to practice what you read in your Intro to Spanish book.

Before visiting Quito, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, give yourself a few days to grow accustomed to the elevation. Staying 9,350 feet above sea level takes some getting used to. Second, don't be fooled into thinking that just because you're visiting a town on the equator that you'll need all your summer clothes. Because of the city's elevation, the area keeps a relatively cool climate year round.

Cuenca

Cuenca is a vibrant colonial city in southern Ecuador, the third largest in the country, and the capital of Azuay Province. Cuenca is considered as Ecuador's most important and beautiful colonial city after Quito. Dating from the 16th century, Cuenca's historic center, a Unesco World Heritage Site with its trademark skyline of massive rotundas and soaring steeples, is a magical sight in which you will feel like you are moving back in time. Cuenca is the center of many craft traditions, including ceramics, metalwork and the internationally famous panama hat. The nearby villages also offer many other handicrafts. Tourists enjoy wandering the ancient streets discovering picturesque alleys and hidden corners, where nuns march along cobblestone streets and kids in Catholic-school uniforms skip past historic churches. Fascinating historic monuments and fabulous views are found at every turn. Cuenca also has outstanding art museums and festivals. For a rewarding cultural experience, visit during Easter to attend the Festival of Religious Music.

Which city is cheaper, Cuenca or Quito?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Quito is $41, while the average daily cost in Cuenca is $34. 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 Quito and Cuenca in more detail.



Accommodation

If you're traveling alone, you may be able to find a budget hotel or hostel for around $18. But for two people in a standard two-person hotel room in Quito the cost is $36 on average.

Accommodation prices vary by location and style, but travelers pay on average about $20 for a double occupancy room in Cuenca.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Quito $18
    Cuenca $9.97
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Quito $36
    Cuenca $20

Food

In Quito travelers spend around $16 a day on food. You can save money by choosing casual restaurants or food stalls, or you can spend plenty more by dining in nicer restaurants at every meal.

Food in Cuenca costs travelers about $12 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 Meals for one day
    Quito $16
    Cuenca $12

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Quito

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

  • Quito Like a Local Cooking Class: $75
  • Ecuadorian Cooking Classes Rooftop (English): $78
  • Quito Best Markets and Local Food Tour: $81
  • Quito Top Ecuadorian Food Tour and Canelazo at “La Ronda”: $87
  • Quito Cooking Class: $89
  • Jacchigua Show Including Dinner + Transfer: $90
  • Ecuadorian Cooking Class in Quito + Local Market Tour & Exotic Fruit Tasting: $102
  • Quito Culinary Tour and Cooking Class: $105
  • Gourmet Cooking Class in Historic Quito + Market Tour with Chef Pancho: $120
  • Cooking Class at the Andes & Roses (PRIVATE DAY TOUR): $149

Typical Food prices in Cuenca

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


  • Lunch
    $10
  • Snacks
    $5.00
  • Empanada
    $1.50
  • Hot Dog
    $1.00

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cuenca

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

  • Cooking Class & Market Tour in Cuenca: $55
  • Cuenca City Tour & Cooking Class (PRIVATE Tour): $95

Local Transportation

The average price of local transportation around Quito is $5.59 per person, per day. As this average includes both taxis and public transport, keep in mind that the prices of private drivers and taxis are significantly more expensive than public transportation.

The average price of local transportation around Cuenca is $8.60 per person, per day. As this average includes both taxis and public transport, keep in mind that the prices of private drivers and taxis are significantly more expensive than public transportation.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Quito $5.59
    Cuenca $8.60
Typical Local Transportation prices in Quito

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


  • Taxi from Bus Terminal to Hotel
    $10

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Quito

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Quito:

  • 2-Night Quito Experience: Transfer, Tour and Mariscal Accommodation: $140
  • 7-Day Tour of Galapagos and Quito Including Hotel and Transfers: $1,240
  • 8-Day Tour of Galapagos and Quito Including Hotels and Transfers: $1,318
  • Airport Transfer Service in Quito City: $27
  • Arrival Private Transfer: Quito Airport (UIO) to Quito City in 4x4 vehicle: $42
  • Arrival Private Transfer: Quito Airport (UIO) to Quito City in a Minibus: $25
  • Arrival Private Transfer: Quito Airport (UIO) to Quito City in a Minivan: $70
  • Departure Private Transfer: Quito City to Quito Airport (UIO) in 4x4 vehicle: $42
  • Departure Private Transfer: Quito City to Quito Airport (UIO) in a Minibus: $25
  • Departure Private Transfer: Quito City to Quito Airport (UIO) in a Minivan: $70
  • English & Spanish Speaking Transfer Service In & Out All Ecuador: $48
  • Express Transfer: Mariscal Sucre Airport to Quito: $44

Typical Local Transportation prices in Cuenca

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


  • Taxi Ride
    $2.00

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cuenca

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Cuenca:

  • Arrival Private Transfer: Cuenca Airport CUE to Cuenca City by Minivan: $74
  • Cuenca Airport Shuttle Transfer: $19
  • Cuenca Arrival Transfer: $15
  • Cuenca Departure Transfer: $15
  • Cuenca to Alausi Transfer in Fantasy Bus: $25
  • Cuenca to Guayaquil Transfer in Fantasy Bus: $25
  • Departure Private Transfer: Cuenca City to Cuenca Airport CUE by Minivan: $74
  • Private Transfer from Cuenca City Center to Madrid City Center: $147
  • Private Transfer from Cuenca to Guayaquil.: $83
  • Transfer In Cuenca Airport - Hotel: $25

Is it cheaper to fly into Quito or Cuenca?

Prices for flights to both Cuenca and Quito 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.





Entertainment

Quito's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $13 per person, per day. This cost can vary widely by the type of activity, however, as this includes admission tickets, day tours, museums, and other things to do.

Cuenca's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $13 per person, per day. This cost can vary widely by the type of activity, however, as this includes admission tickets, day tours, museums, and other things to do.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Quito $13
    Cuenca $13
Typical Entertainment prices in Quito

Here are a few typical costs in Quito for activities, ticket prices, and tours that come from previous visitors:


  • Entrance to Guyasimine Museum for Two
    $8.00

Tours and Activities in Quito

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

  • Skip the Line: La Compañia Church Admission Ticket: $5.50
  • Skip the Line: Capilla del Hombre and Guayasamin's Museum Ticket: $10
  • Tour Guide and Driver: $10
  • Quito City Tour Hop-On Hop-Off: $12
  • Quito 3-Hour City Tour at Night: $15
  • Quito at Night & Urban Legends Tour - "Small Group": $15
  • The Original Quito City Tour in Trolley with Hotel Pick-up - "Small Group": $15
  • Quito Hop-on Hop-off City Bus Tour: $15
  • 1914 Original Trolley City Tour of Quito: $15
  • Equatorial Monument: 3-Hour Tour from Quito: $19
  • Middle of the World Tour With Tickets - "Small Group": $19
  • Original Quito City Tour in Trolley: $20

Tours and Activities in Cuenca

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

  • Guided tour to Cuenca City: $9.95
  • Cuenca City Tour: $20
  • Cuenca City tour: $25
  • Half-Day Tour of Cuenca Including Panama Hat Factory: $30
  • Walking Cuenca City Tour with Pumapungo Complex Half Day: $30
  • Cuenca City Tour: $30
  • Biking and Walking City Tour Cuenca: $30
  • Half-Day Biking and Walking Tour of Cuenca, Ecuador: $30
  • Private Half-Day Cuenca City Tour: $38
  • Cajas National Park Half Day Tour: $40
  • Private Half-Day City Tour Including Turi Viewpoint: $41
  • Biking Cuenca City Tour: $45

Alcohol

While the amount that someone spends on alcohol while visiting Quito may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $14 per day on alcoholic beverages.

While the amount that someone spends on alcohol while visiting Cuenca may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $11 per day on alcoholic beverages.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Quito $14
    Cuenca $11
Typical Alcohol prices in Quito

Here are a few samples of the prices for alcohol and nightlife in Quito from other travelers:


  • Beers for Two
    $9.00


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

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Quito vs. Cuenca Travel Comparison

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