A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Recife vs. Santa Marta for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Recife or Santa Marta?

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

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Recife and Santa Marta can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Where Should I go: Recife or Santa Marta?


One of the largest cities on Brazil's northeast coast, Recife is also the capital of the state of Pernambuco. The city gets its name from the Portuguese word for "reef," as it was built around a landscape of natural reef beaches. Many people visit to enjoy these beaches, experience the culture, and explore the history of this important Brazilian city.

Santa Marta

Santa Marta is a city in the Magdalena Department of Colombia's Costa Norte. Over the last decade, security has steadily been replacing the shadow of the Colombia's violent past. One destination in Colombia's northeast region is now attracting more international visitors: the coastal Caribbean area of Santa Marta. Established in 1525 by the Spanish as a base of conquest, Santa Marta sits at the foot of the world's highest coastal mountain range, the towering Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It is South America's oldest European-founded town and the second most important colonial city on Colombia's Caribbean coast. While many travelers complain about Santa Marta's horrible traffic and unsightly urban sprawl, the city holds a numerous amounts of great hotels, bars and restaurants and holds a few fantastic destinations nearby to which you can go during the daytime.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Jungle Trekking Tours in Brazil, The Best Luxury Tours to Brazil, The Best Eco Tours in Colombia, and The Best Food and Culinary Tours in Colombia.

Which place is cheaper, Santa Marta or Recife?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Recife is $166, while the average daily cost in Santa Marta is $32. 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 Recife and Santa Marta in more detail.

  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Recife $88
    Santa Marta $14
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Recife $176
    Santa Marta $28
Compare Hotels in Recife and Santa Marta

Looking for a hotel in Recife or Santa Marta? 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 Recife

Hotels in Santa Marta

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: Recife Hotel Prices and Santa Marta Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Recife $8.47
    Santa Marta $5.27

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Recife

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Recife:

  • Shared Transfer from Recife to Cabo de Santo Agostinho: $33
  • Airport to Porto de Galinhas Transfer: $65
  • Airport to Maragogi Hotels Private Transfer: $85
  • Recife Boat Tour with Transfers: $72
  • Private Transfer from Recife to Tamandare Beach: $114
  • Private Transfer from Recife to Serrambi Beach: $101
  • Private Transfer from Recife to Olinda: $46
  • Private Transfer from Recife to Carneiros Beach: $114
  • Private Transfer from Olinda to Recife (REC) Airport: $46
  • Private Transfer from Igarassu to Recife (REC) Airport : $101
  • Instituto Ricardo Brennand with transfers from Recife: $41
  • Departure Transfer from Olinda to Recife Airport: $100

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Santa Marta

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

  • Gas

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Marta

Also for Santa Marta, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Arrival or Departure Transfer: Simon Bolivar Airport (One Way): $12
  • Arrival or Departure Transfer: Simón Bolívar Airport: $14
  • Transfer in Private Car from Santa Marta Airport (SMR) to Santa Marta city: $14
  • Transfer in Private Car from Santa Marta city to Santa Marta Airport (SMR): $14
  • Transfer in private minivan from Santa Marta Airport (SMR) to Santa Marta city: $21
  • Transfer in private minivan from Santa Marta city to Santa Marta Airport (SMR): $21
  • Transfers to Palomino, Tayrona Park, Buritaca Guachaca from Santa Marta: $23
  • Private Airport Transfer: From Santa Marta Airport to Hotel in Santa Marta: $25
  • Private Transfer from Santa Marta city to Santa Marta Cruise Port: $28
  • Private Transfer from Santa Marta Port to Santa Marta Airport: $28
  • Private Transfer from Santa Marta Cruise Port to Santa Marta city: $28
  • Round trip transfer in Private Car from-to Santa Marta Airport(SMR) to City: $28

Is it cheaper to fly into Recife or Santa Marta?

Prices for flights to both Santa Marta and Recife 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
    Recife $70
    Santa Marta $10

Typical Food Prices in Santa Marta

For Santa Marta, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:

  • Breakfast

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Marta

For Santa Marta, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Santa Marta Walking Food Tour: $40
  • Food Tour in Santa Marta Old City Half-Day : $66
  • Santa Marta Street Food Tour: $75
  • Food Tour in Santa Marta Old City: $75

  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Recife $11
    Santa Marta $14

Tours and Activities in Recife

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Recife are as follows:

  • City Tour Recife with Catamaran included: $150
  • Colonial North Coast beaches - Full-Day Tour: $35
  • Olinda City Tour and Instituto Ricardo Brennand: $94
  • Olinda Scavenger Hunt and Sights Self-Guided Tour: $7.86
  • Recife (Historic Centre) Scavenger Hunt and Self-Guided Tour: $7.68
  • City Tour Recife & Olinda: $27

Tours and Activities in Santa Marta

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

  • Old Town, Harbour & Highlights Self-guided Tour: $6.29
  • Skip the Line: Santa Marta Marine World Aquarium Admission Ticket and Guide: $6.67
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour: the Pearl of America: $6.99
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour - Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino : $10
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour - Botanical Garden: $10
  • Musical Experience "Live Musicaribe": $11
  • Cultural Heritage Tour Santa Marta: $15
  • Santa Marta Bike Tour: $16
  • Full Day Tour to Bahía Concha and Tayrona Park with Pickup: $25
  • Horse Riding at La Mello Adventure Lodge: $35
  • Guided Walking Food Experience: $38
  • Santa Marta Food Experience: $39

  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Recife -
    Santa Marta $6.71

Typical Alcohol Prices in Santa Marta

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

  • Beer
  • Beer

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

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

Which is Bigger, Recife or Santa Marta?

Recife has a larger population, and is about 3 times larger than the population of Santa Marta. When comparing the sizes of Recife and Santa Marta, 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.