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

Should you visit Quito or Cuenca?

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

Should I visit Quito or Cuenca? 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: Quito or Cuenca?

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.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Adventure Tours to Ecuador, The Best Eco Tours in Ecuador, The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in Ecuador, and The Best Honeymoon Tours in Ecuador.


Which place 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 $52, while the average daily cost in Cuenca is $42. 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 Quito and Cuenca in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Quito $22
    Cuenca $13
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Quito $44
    Cuenca $26
Compare Hotels in Quito and Cuenca

Looking for a hotel in Quito or Cuenca? 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 Quito


Hotels in Cuenca


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: Quito Hotel Prices and Cuenca Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Quito $6.99
    Cuenca $11
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:

  • Airport Transfer- Hotel in Quito 1 Way: $55
  • Express Transfer: Mariscal Sucre Airport to Quito: $34
  • From Mindo Cloud Forest Day Trip with Transfer: $119
  • From Quilotoa Lake Private Tour with Transfer & Lunch: $145
  • Mariscal Sucre Airport to and from Quito Hotels Private Transfer : $45
  • Private Departure Transfer from Quito to the Airport - One Way: $21
  • Private Transfer Hotels in Quito to Mariscal Sucre Int. Airport: $70
  • Private Transfer IN or OUT Hotel-Aiport Quito or Aiport-Hotel : $25
  • Private Transfer In from International Airport Mariscal Sucre to Quito : $60
  • Private Transfer Quito Airport To Quito City/hotel : $57
  • Private Transfer from Quito Airport : $25
  • Private Transfer from Quito to Baños or Baños to Quito (one way): $90

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:

  • Private Transfer from Cuenca to Guayaquil.: $104
  • Shared transfer from Hotel to Airport in Cuenca: $47

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.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Quito $20
    Cuenca $15

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Quito

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

  • Old Town Highlights & Food Tour: $35
  • 3 Hours Local Food Tour in Quito: $39
  • Guilty Pleasures Walking Food Tours in Quito: $45
  • Cooking class In-home space: $75
  • Cooking Class in Quito with Chef, Market Tour and Transportation: $88
  • Jacchigua Show Including Dinner + Transfer: $92
  • Ecuadorian Cooking Class and Local Market Tour: $114
  • Ecuadorian Cooking Classes Rooftop (English): $120
  • Premium Cooking Class Quito Tour: $130
  • Cooking Class at the Andes & Roses: PRIVATE Day trip from Quito: $149
  • Quito Private & All Inclusive Cooking Class with Certified Chef: $235

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.

  • Street food Tour in Cuenca,Ecuador: $33
  • Cooking Class & Market Tour in Cuenca: $55
  • Private Cooking Class: $125

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Quito $16
    Cuenca $16
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
  • Middle of the World shuttle Tour: $14
  • 2.5-Hour City Bus Tour: $15
  • Quito City Tour Double Decker Bus: $15
  • Middle of the World Tour with Tickets: $19
  • Pululuahua Reserve & Museo del Sol Tour - "Small Group": $20
  • 1914 Original Trolley City Tour: $20
  • Middle of the World Tour With Tickets - "Small Group": $25
  • Guided City Tour with Tastings and Box Lunch: $25
  • Intiñan Museum Small-Group Tour: $25
  • Old Town Walking Tour with Basilica Church Visit: $30

Tours and Activities in Cuenca

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

  • Panoramic Bus Tour to the Historic South Parth: $12
  • Cuenca, Ecuador Half-Day City Shared Tour: $25
  • Cuenca-Ec- City Tour with Panama Hat factory Half Day: $30
  • Cuenca Half-Day City Tour Including Panama Hat Factory: $30
  • Half-Day Biking and Walking Tour in Cuenca: $30
  • Experience Historical City Tour: $38
  • Private Cuenca City Tour including Turi Viewpoint: $40
  • Cajas National Park Half Day Tour from Cuenca: $40
  • El Chorro waterfalls and Busa lake tour from Cuenca: $44
  • City Sightseeing Tour: $45
  • Cuenca Heritage Complex: Chocolate Tasting, Tour and Museums: $45
  • Cuenca, Ecuador Half-Day City Tour: $46

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Quito $17
    Cuenca $14
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

Sample the Local Flavors in Quito

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

  • Ecuador Spirit Craft Brewery Tasting and Latitude 0 Private Tour: $130


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.

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


Which is Bigger, Quito or Cuenca?

Quito has a larger population, and is about 5 times larger than the population of Cuenca. When comparing the sizes of Quito and Cuenca, 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.