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

Should you visit Quito or Galapagos Islands?

Should I visit Quito or Galapagos Islands? 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.

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.

Which city 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 $41, while the average daily cost in Galapagos Islands is $111. 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 Galapagos Islands 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.

The prices for places to stay in Galapagos Islands can vary by date, location, and type. Generally, the average cost for accommodation per person is $52, while a typical double-occupancy hotel room for two people will cost around $104.


  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Quito $18
    Galapagos Islands $52
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Quito $36
    Galapagos Islands $104

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.

The average traveler spends about $27 per day in Galapagos Islands for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.


  • Food Meals for one day
    Quito $16
    Galapagos Islands $27

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

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.

To get around in Galapagos Islands, the average visitor spends $43 per day, per person. This includes the costs of taxi rides and private drivers as well as public transportation, which tends to be much more affordable.


  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Quito $5.59
    Galapagos Islands $43
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:

  • 8-Day Tour of Galapagos and Quito Including Hotels and Transfers: $1,318
  • 7-Day Tour of Galapagos and Quito Including Hotel and Transfers: $1,240
  • Private transfer: Quito to Quito International Airport (UIO): $622
  • Private transfer: Quito International Airport (UIO) to Quito: $622
  • 2-Night Quito Experience: Transfer, Tour and Mariscal Accommodation: $140
  • transfer airport to hotel in Quito or from Quito to airport: $117
  • Quito Airport Private Transfer Service: $112
  • Private transfers To Mindo: $96
  • Private transfer in or out Quito airport. Bilingual guide-driver: $80
  • Transfer IN & OUT of Quito: $80
  • Transfer IN & OUT of Quito: $75
  • Round-Trip Transfer in Private Minivan from Quito Airport (UIO) to Quito City: $73

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Galapagos Islands

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

  • Private Transfer In from Baltra Airport to Hotels in Santa Cruz Island: $115

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.





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.

In Galapagos Islands, the costs for things to do, activities, admission tickets, and other sightseeing expenses are on average $28 per person, per day.


  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Quito $13
    Galapagos Islands $28
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:

  • 10 days True Ecuador Experience: $2,300
  • 12 Day Galapagos Snorkeling Tour: $3,211
  • 15-Day Ecuador and Galapagos Highlights Tour from Quito: $7,780
  • 15-day Adventure: Experiencing the Andes and Amazon of Ecuador: $2,103
  • 16-Day Ecuador Adventure: Andes, Amazon & Galapagos: $4,513
  • 1914 Original Trolley City Tour of Quito: $15
  • 2 Day Private Tour to Mindo Cloud Forest from Quito: $295
  • 2 Day Private Tour to Otavalo Market & surroundings from Quito: $258
  • 2 Full Days Exploring The Ecuadorian Amazon | Tour Start In Quito: $267
  • 2-Day Avenue of the Volcanoes and Baños Tour from Quito -"Small Group": $417
  • 2-Day Baños Full Adrenaline Tour from Quito: $581
  • 2-Day Private Sightseeing Tour Cotopaxi and Quilotoa: $328

Tours and Activities in Galapagos Islands

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

  • 4-Day Galapagos Islands Express Tour: $714
  • 4-Day Galapagos Land Tour Visiting Isabela and Santa Cruz: $876
  • 4-day Galapagos on a Budget Experience: $1,090
  • 4-Day Budget Isabela Tour: $1,106
  • Galapagos Discovery Tour 4 Days / 3 Nights: $1,126
  • 5-day Galapagos on a Budget Experience: $1,195
  • 4-Day Galapagos Tour: Santa Cruz & 2 Uninhabited Islands: $1,239
  • 5-Day Galapagos Diving Tour: Accommodation and Full-Day Diving Excursions: $1,286
  • 5-Day Guided Galapagos & Los Tuneles Tour: $1,289
  • 6-day Galapagos on a Budget Experience: $1,320
  • 6-Day Galapagos Land Tour: Los Tuneles Program: $1,412
  • 7-day Galapagos on a Budget Experience: $1,530

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.

Alcoholic beverages can often be a significant portion of a traveler's budget, and the costs can vary greatly from person to person. In Galapagos Islands, the average amount that a visitor spends on alcoholic beverages per day is $12.


  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Quito $14
    Galapagos Islands $12
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 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.

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Quito vs. Galapagos Islands Travel Comparison

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