A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers San Pedro La Laguna vs. Santa Elena for Vacations, Tours, and Honeymoons

Should you visit San Pedro La Laguna or Santa Elena?

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

Should I visit San Pedro La Laguna or Santa Elena? 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: San Pedro La Laguna or Santa Elena?

San Pedro La Laguna

Located in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, Lake Atitlan is a beautiful volcanic lake ringed by small towns and villages that are highly frequented by backpackers. Panajachal is one of the best known of the towns, as well as the main entry point of the region, while others like San Pedro La Laguna are quieter and more off the beaten path. Lake Atitlan and its villages attract visitors for its scenic beauty, outdoor activities, and Mayan culture nearby.

Santa Elena

Santa Elena is a cute town, and the closest to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. It's one of the most popular destinations in Costa Rica, and is a great place to experience the cloud forest and see some of country's unique wildlife.

In the Monteverde Cloud Forest you have a good chance of seeing rare quetzals which are the national bird of Costa Rica. Other common animals include white-faced capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys, orange-kneed tarantulas, any of 8-9 species of hummingbirds, and sloth.

Santa Elena is about 1,400 meters above sea level and has a humid and damp environment. The average yearly temperature is 64 degrees Fahrenheit and the average rainfall is 3,000 millimetres. Humidity can be anywhere between 74% and 97%.

For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Adventure Tours to Guatemala, The Best Eco Tours in Guatemala, The Best G Adventures Tours to Costa Rica, and The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in Costa Rica.


Which place is cheaper, Santa Elena or San Pedro La Laguna?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in San Pedro La Laguna is $36, while the average daily cost in Santa Elena is $89. 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 San Pedro La Laguna and Santa Elena in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    San Pedro La Laguna $8.25
    Santa Elena $53
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    San Pedro La Laguna $17
    Santa Elena $106
Compare Hotels in San Pedro La Laguna and Santa Elena

Looking for a hotel in San Pedro La Laguna or Santa Elena? 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 San Pedro La Laguna


Hotels in Santa Elena


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.


Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    San Pedro La Laguna $13
    Santa Elena $11

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Elena

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

  • Shuttle Transfer Lake crossing from Monteverde To Arenal: $27
  • Private Transfer Lake crossing from Monteverde To Arenal From 1 to 6 passengers: $249
  • Private Transfer From Monteverde to San Jose With 2 Stops: $216
  • Peñas Blancas to Liberia Airport (LIR) Departure Private Transfer: $39
  • One-Way Private Transfer: Monteverde to Quepos and Manuel Antonio: $276
  • One Way Private Transfer from Monteverde to Samara : $269
  • One Way Private Transfer from Monteverde - Liberia: $276
  • Direct transfer from Monteverde to San Jose, English Speaking Driver: $183

Is it cheaper to fly into San Pedro La Laguna or Santa Elena?

Prices for flights to both Santa Elena and San Pedro La Laguna 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
    San Pedro La Laguna $11
    Santa Elena $23
Typical Food Prices in San Pedro La Laguna

For San Pedro La Laguna, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Lemonade
    $2.06
  • Cake
    $1.29
  • Ice cream
    $0.39
  • Hot Cocoa & Banana Bread
    $2.97

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in San Pedro La Laguna

For San Pedro La Laguna, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Temazcal sauna and dinner, cultural sharing experience: $44
  • Maya Cooking Class from Panajachel: $50

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santa Elena

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

  • Night Walk in Monteverde with Dinner Included: $55

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    San Pedro La Laguna $22
    Santa Elena $29
Typical Entertainment Prices in San Pedro La Laguna

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for San Pedro La Laguna's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Canopy Tour (for 2)
    $39
  • Kayaking (for 2)
    $1.94
  • Coffee Tour (for 2)
    $6.97

Tours and Activities in San Pedro La Laguna

For San Pedro La Laguna, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Lake Atitlan Boat tour from Puerto Quetzal (Group): $125
  • 5-Hour Private Birdwatching Experience in San Juan La Laguna: $50
  • Authentic local experience with a community of women.: $69
  • Beading Class and tour a Non-profit vocational training center a Fun cultural sharing experience: $28
  • Bicycle Tour Around Lake Atitlan with Weaving Coops and Coffee Plantations: $112
  • Biking tour through the towns of Santa Catarina and San Antonio: $46
  • Boat tour in Mayan villages: $85
  • Chichicastenango Market Day Tour from Panajachel: $83
  • Coffee Tour in Lake Atitlán: $36
  • Day of the Dead Giant Kite Festival Cultural Experience: $35
  • Full Day Tour to Chichicastenango from Panajachel : $160
  • Get fun with an Adventure Tour - Zip Line (Canopy): $51

Tours and Activities in Santa Elena

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Santa Elena.

  • Cloud Forest hanging bridges with a local naturalist tour guide: $33
  • Curi-cancha Bird-Watching tour semi private : $50
  • Wildlife Tour in Curicancha : $25
  • 1 hour Private Butterfly Conservatory Tour in Costa Rica: $45
  • 3 Hours Bird Watching Guided Experience in Bajo Cebadilla: $90
  • 3 hours of the Longest and Highest Extreme Zip line Experience in Monteverde: $80
  • Adventure Day - Outdoor activities for Family and Friends Special Package.: $29
  • Adventure Park High Ropes Course : $69
  • Bird Watching Experience in Monteverde: $90
  • Bird Watching Tour in Monteverde: $100
  • Bird-Watching private tour : $100
  • Birdwatching Tour in Monteverde : $85

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    San Pedro La Laguna $5.60
    Santa Elena $6.02


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

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is San Pedro La Laguna Expensive? and Is Santa Elena Expensive?.