A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Rio de Janeiro vs. Cuenca for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit Rio de Janeiro or Cuenca?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel cost comparison between Rio de Janeiro and Cuenca can help. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is the most popular travel destination in Brazil. It is the second largest city in Brazil and the sixth largest in the Americas. A portion of the city has been designated a World Heritage Site. The peak time to visit is during the city's famous Carnival festival, which is one of the most famous festivals in the world. However, Rio's appeal as a travel destination is apparent year around. The city has a wonderful natural harbour that is surrounded by Sugar Loaf Mountain, Corcovado Peak, and the hills of Tijuca, creating an absolutely breathtaking and awe-inspiring setting. And you can't miss the beach, either!

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 Rio de Janeiro?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Rio de Janeiro is $81, 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 Rio de Janeiro and Cuenca in more detail.



Accommodation

The average price for accommodation for two people in Rio de Janeiro is $100. This is for two people sharing a typical double occupancy hotel room.

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
    Rio de Janeiro $50
    Cuenca $9.97
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Rio de Janeiro $100
    Cuenca $20

Food

The average traveler spends about $15 per day in Rio de Janeiro 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 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
    Rio de Janeiro $15
    Cuenca $12
Typical Food prices in Rio de Janeiro

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for food and meal costs in Rio de Janeiro:


  • Popcorn
    $0.57
  • Corn on the Cob
    $0.76
  • Hamburger
    $0.95

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Rio de Janeiro

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Rio de Janeiro.

  • Food Tour Rio de Janeiro: $30
  • Cooking Class for Cacao Lovers: $51
  • Feijoada Food Tour in Rio de Janeiro with Hotel pick-up and drop-off: $55
  • Plant-based Brazilian Flavours Cooking Class: $56
  • Dinner & Rio Scenarium Nightclub Admission with Transfer: $60
  • Private Tour in Rio Scenarium with Dinner: $65
  • Skip the line: Samba Show Admission & Transfer with Dinner Option: $70
  • Dinner and Brazilian Music Show in Rio Scenarium: $70
  • Small-Group Boozy 7-Recipe Brazilian Cooking Class: $75
  • Brazilian Food And Caipirinhas Cooking Class: $75
  • Food Tour Experience in Rio de Janeiro (Small Groups or Private): $80
  • Secret Food Tours Rio de Janeiro: $82

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

While taxis and private drivers typically cost much more than public transportation, people usually spend around $6.22 per day to get around in Rio de Janeiro.

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.
    Rio de Janeiro $6.22
    Cuenca $8.60
Typical Local Transportation prices in Rio de Janeiro

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Rio de Janeiro:


  • Taxi Ride
    $2.86

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Rio de Janeiro

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Rio de Janeiro:

  • ARMORED Airport Transfer - Rio de Janeiro (COVID-19 Prepared): $387
  • Airport transfer: Rio de Janeiro - Buzios / Ilha Grande: $242
  • All-You-Can-Eat Brazilian Churrascaria in Rio de Janeiro with Transfer: $55
  • Angra dos Reis Private Transfer from Rio de Janeiro: $115
  • Angra dos Reis Shared Transfer From Rio de Janeiro: $61
  • Angra dos Reis to Daily Transfer: $54
  • AquaRio Aquarium Guided Tour, Admission & Transfer: $58
  • Arraial do Cabo Private Transfer From Rio de Janeiro: $115
  • Arraial do Cabo Shared Transfer From Rio de Janeiro: $52
  • Arrival Private Transfer GIG or SDU Airport to Rio City by Minivan: $144
  • Arrival Private Transfer Galeão Airport GIG to Rio City by Business Car: $135
  • Arrival Private Transfer Galeão Airport GIG to Rio City by Luxury Van: $98

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 Rio de Janeiro or Cuenca?

Prices for flights to both Cuenca and Rio de Janeiro 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

Activities, things to do, and other forms of entertainment usually cost around $17 per person, per day in Rio de Janeiro. This cost includes the price of admission tickets to attractions and museums as well as daily tours.

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.
    Rio de Janeiro $17
    Cuenca $13

Tours and Activities in Rio de Janeiro

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

  • Rio Line Panoramic City Tour - Boulevard Route: $10
  • Inside Rio Photography Walking Tour: $10
  • Hiking Tour to Pedra do Telégrafo (Telegraph Stone): $12
  • Carnival Backstage Tour - Visit a traditional Samba School: $16
  • Rocinha Lucky Tour: $16
  • Rio Street Art Experience 2 Hours: $19
  • Half-Day Downtown Walking Tour: $19
  • 2 Hour Vidigal Favela Tour Discovery the Most Laidback Favela: $19
  • Favela Tour -The path of Michael Jackson in Rio: $20
  • Historical Downtown and Lapa - Walking Tour: $20
  • Private Walking and Cultural Tour Rocinha-Rio de Janeiro: $25
  • Boat Tour Guanabara Bay - Rio de Janeiro - Sightseeing: $25

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 Rio de Janeiro may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $9.43 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
    Rio de Janeiro $9.43
    Cuenca $11

Sample the Local Flavors in Rio de Janeiro

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Rio de Janeiro:

  • Pub Crawl Rio de Janeiro: $11
  • Skip the line: Ipanema Pub Crawl: $28
  • Beautiful Imperial Petropolis City Tour Optional Lunch & Bohemia Brewery: $34
  • Rio By Night Tour: Pub Crawl Experiencing Music, Dancing, Drinks & Local Culture: $105
  • Petrópolis City and Brewery Bohemia Tour - Best of Rio's Mountains: $135
  • Rio: Sitio Burle Marx and Cachaça Distillery Private Tour: $160


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Rio de Janeiro and Cuenca, we can see that Rio de Janeiro 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 Rio de Janeiro would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Rio de Janeiro than you might in Cuenca.

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Rio de Janeiro vs. Cuenca Travel Comparison

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