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

Should you visit Quito or Galapagos Islands?

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

Should I visit Quito or Galapagos Islands? 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 Galapagos Islands?


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.

Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are a small archipelago of islands belonging to Ecuador in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The Galapagos archipelago is world-renowned for its unique and fearless wildlife, much of which was inspiration for Charles Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection. Thanks to a lack of natural predators, friendly wildlife such as sea lions and gigantic sea tortoises let visitors get up close. This archipelago of about 19 islands and many smaller islets found over 620 miles off Ecuador's coast in the Pacific Ocean is a double World Heritage site, where both land and sea are protected. Each island boasts its own unique landscape, ranging from black, volcanic rocks to white sand beaches and gemstone-blue waters. There is no bad time to visit the Galapagos Islands but the busiest months for tourism tend to be June, July and August, as well as mid-December to mid-January. This is when prices are at their highest.

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, Galapagos Islands 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 Galapagos Islands is $138. 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 Galapagos Islands in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Quito $22
    Galapagos Islands $65
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Quito $44
    Galapagos Islands $130
Compare Hotels in Quito and Galapagos Islands

Looking for a hotel in Quito or Galapagos Islands? 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 Galapagos Islands

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.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Quito $6.99
    Galapagos Islands $54
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

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Quito

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Quito:

  • Private Transpor for tours, transfers, visits, etc, for 8 hours: $165
  • From Quilotoa Lake Private Tour with Transfer & Lunch: $145
  • From Mindo Cloud Forest Day Trip with Transfer: $119
  • Quito Airport Private Transfer Service: $112
  • Transfer to Mashpi Reserve one way : $99
  • Private City Tour & Intiñam Museum Visit w/ Transfer: $94
  • Private Transfer from Quito to Baños or Baños to Quito (one way): $90
  • Transfer in and Transfer out: $75
  • Private Transfer Hotels in Quito to Mariscal Sucre Int. Airport: $70
  • Private Transfers Quito to Tena: $65
  • Quito Airport (UIO) to Quito hotels - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $61
  • Private Transfer In from International Airport Mariscal Sucre to Quito : $60

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Galapagos Islands

Also for Galapagos Islands, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Transfer from Baltra Airport to Hotels in Santa Cruz Island: $144
  • Private Transfer from Hotels in Santa Cruz to Baltra Airport: $138
  • Transfer from Santa Cruz Island to Isabela Island: $55
  • Transfer from Santa Cruz Island to Isabela Island: $60
  • Transfer from Santa Cruz Island to San Cristobal Island: $48
  • Transfer from Santa Cruz Island to San Cristobal Island: $64
  • Transfer in + Visit to the giant turtle nature reserve: $205

Is it cheaper to fly into Quito or Galapagos Islands?

Prices for flights to both Galapagos Islands 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 Meals for one day
    Quito $20
    Galapagos Islands $33

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

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Quito $16
    Galapagos Islands $35
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

Tours and Activities in Quito

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

  • Flavors, Colors and History of Quito Private Tour: $185
  • Otavalo Market Private Sightseeing and Surroundings: $110
  • Tour Full-Day Mercado de Otavalo + Cotacachi, Ecuador.: $57
  • 1 Day Cultural Tour Otavalo And Cuicocha Lagoon: $65
  • 2-Day Private Tour from Quito:Baños and Quilotoa Lagoon: $329
  • 2-Day Private Tour to Otavalo Market, Cuicocha Lake, Peguche and Condor´s Park: $295
  • 2-Day Tour of Cotopaxi Volcano and Quilotoa Lagoon with hotel: $222
  • 2-day Quilotoa Lagoon and the adventure city of Baños: $265
  • 3-Day Andes Adventure Visiting Cotopaxi, Quilotoa and Baños: $239
  • 3-Day Private Tour of Quito: $120
  • 3-Days Andes & Amazon | Tour From Quito: $848
  • 8 Hours Mindo Cloud Forest Tour from Quito : $100

Tours and Activities in Galapagos Islands

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Galapagos Islands.

  • Private Tour Sighting Giant Tortoises and Lava Tunnels: $36
  • Isabela Island Wetlands Walking Tour: $40
  • Bay Tour in Santa Cruz - Galapagos Islands: $60
  • Isabela Island Tour in Galapagos with Kayak and Snorkeling: $64
  • FERRY TICKET From: Santa Cruz / To: San Cristobal (PM): $65
  • FERRY TICKET From: Isabela / To: Santa Cruz (AM): $65
  • Hiking Tour to Sierra Negra Volcano: $67
  • Half Day Bay Tour in Santa Cruz Island: $72
  • Private BiciTour Giant Tortoises and Lava Tunnel in Galapagos: $90
  • Half Day Tour in Sierra Negra Volcano & Lava Fields: $90
  • Kayaking Experience in Franklin Bay: $95
  • Tintoreras Islet Tour from Isabela - Hiking & Snorkeling in Galapagos Islands: $99

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Quito $17
    Galapagos Islands $15
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

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 Galapagos Islands, we can see that Galapagos Islands is more expensive. And not only is Quito much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Quito would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Quito 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 Galapagos Islands would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Galapagos Islands than you might in Quito.

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