Should you visit Santa Marta or El Calafate?
Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel cost comparison between Santa Marta and El Calafate can help. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.
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.
Located in Patagonia, El Calafate has become a popular tourist destination in Argentina because of its beautiful setting on the stunningly blue Lago Argentina. The town sits on the southern border of the lake in the southwestern part of the Santa Cruz Province. It's about 320 kilometers from Rio Gallegos.
The rise in popularity of Patagonia as a tourist destination has truly put this small town on the map. You'll find no shortage of trekkers in the town and it makes an excellent base to explore different parts of the Los Glaciares National Park. Popular places to visit include Perito Moreno Glacier, Cerro Chalten, and Cerro Torre.
El Calafate has a cold semi-arid climate. The summers are cool to warm and very dry while the winters are cold and damp. Lago Argentino has a significant influence over the town's climate. The shallow bay where the town is located is usually frozen during the winter months.
Check out our ultimate guide to Hiking in Patagonia.
Which city is cheaper, El Calafate or Santa Marta?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in Santa Marta is $26, while the average daily cost in El Calafate is $71. 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 Santa Marta and El Calafate in more detail.
Travelers usually pay around $22 for a double occupancy room in Santa Marta If you want to be in a premiere location or have high end amenities, you can expect to pay a bit more.
An average hotel room with basic furnishings costs about $48 in El Calafate For the most convenient locations and nicer amenities you can expect to pay a bit more.
Santa Marta food costs typically run travelers around $7.98 per day. Eating every meal in a nicer restaurant will drive the cost up, and grabbing fast food or casual meals will help you save money.
Food in El Calafate costs travelers about $26 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.
Meals for one day
Santa Marta $7.98
El Calafate $26
Typical Food prices in Santa Marta
For Santa Marta, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:
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:
Food Tour in Santa Marta Old City Half-Day:
Santa Marta 2-hour Street Food Tour:
Typical Food prices in El Calafate
For El Calafate, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:
Food Tours and Cooking Classes in El Calafate
For El Calafate, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:
Visit to Estancia Alice El Galpon, Dinner and Folkloric Show:
Gaucho, Dinner and Folklore Full-Day Tour:
Public transportation tends to be much less expensive in Santa Marta than paying for a taxi or private car service, as is expected. Typically, people spend $4.20 on transportation in Santa Marta on average per day.
El Calafate's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $25 per person, per day on transportation in El Calafate.
Typical Local Transportation prices in Santa Marta
Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Santa Marta:
Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santa Marta
Also for Santa Marta, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Transfer in private minivan from Santa Marta city to Santa Marta Airport (SMR):
Transfer in private minivan from Santa Marta Airport (SMR) to Santa Marta city:
Transfer in Private Car from Santa Marta city to Santa Marta Airport (SMR):
Transfer in Private Car from Santa Marta Airport (SMR) to Santa Marta city:
Transfer Round Trip Airport - Hotel (santa Marta):
Santa Marta Arrival or Departure Transfer: Airport / Cruise Ship Terminal:
Round trip transfer in private minivan from-to Santa Marta Airport (SMR) to city:
Round trip transfer in Private Car from-to Santa Marta Airport(SMR) to City:
Private transfer between Santa Marta and Cartagena (or vice versa):
Private Transfer to Cartagena or Barranquilla City from Santa Marta:
Private Transfer to / from Palomino, Tayrona Park or Minca from Santa Marta:
Private Transfer Santa Marta to Palomino (or vice versa):
Typical Local Transportation prices in El Calafate
Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in El Calafate:
Hired Cars and Shuttles in El Calafate
Also for El Calafate, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:
Shared transfer to El Calafate -El Chaltén:
Shared Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate):
Private Transfer Hotel-Bus Station or Bus Station-Hotel (Calafate):
Private Transfer Airport-Hotel-Airport (Calafate):
Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier without transfers:
Kayak in Perito Moreno Glacier with transfers:
From Calafate: Round-trip transfer to Perito Moreno Glacier:
El Calafate Airport Private Transfer:
Bus Transfer from El Calafate to El Chalten:
Is it cheaper to fly into Santa Marta or El Calafate?
Prices for flights to both El Calafate and Santa Marta 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.
Sightseeing expenses in Santa Marta, including the cost of admission tickets for day tours, museums, and attractions, usually cost an average of $11 per day, per person.
Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in El Calafate can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $26 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.
Tours and Activities in Santa Marta
For Santa Marta, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:
"Gabo Márquez" Tour - Aracataca and Cienaga:
2 Day Coastal Motorcycle Tour:
4-Day Lost City Small-Group Tour in Santa Marta:
5-Day Private Guided Hiking Experience to The Lost City:
Aracataca And Ciénaga - Gabriel García Márquez Tour:
Archeological Tour in Taironaka with River Tubing and a small Lost City:
Arrecife and Cañaveral tour from Santa Marta:
BE RELAX TOUR - Bahia Concha:
BE TROPICAL TOUR - Buritaca & Playa Los Angeles:
Cartagena - City Tour:
City Tour Santa Marta:
Coffee Tour La Victoria:
Typical Entertainment prices in El Calafate
Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for El Calafate's activities, tours, and tickets:
Tours and Activities in El Calafate
For El Calafate, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:
"Glaciares Gourmet" - Maria Turquesa Cruiser Navigation:
13-Day Best of Patagonia Tour from El Calafate to Ushuaia: Los Glaciares, Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego National Parks:
2-Day Perito Moreno Tour with Boat Ride & 4x4 Safari:
2-day El Chalten Hiking Adventure Tour from El Calafate:
2-day tour: Perito Moreno Glacier + Torres del Paine National Park:
3-Day Tour of El Calafate and the Glaciers:
4 Days Tour in El Calafate & Chalten:
4-Days El Calafate Easy Going Experience:
4WD Ride tour to Cerro Frias from El Calafate:
4x4 Adventure Day Trip to Torres del Paine National Park with lunchbox:
5-Day Adventure Trip in El Calafate:
5-Days El Calafate Experience without limits!:
Typically, people visiting Santa Marta spend on average $5.34 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
Typically, people visiting El Calafate spend on average $13 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
Typical Alcohol prices in Santa Marta
Here are a few samples of the prices for alcohol and nightlife in Santa Marta from other travelers:
Sample the Local Flavors in Santa Marta
Also in Santa Marta, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:
Nicks 1892 Coffee farm & Brewery:
Typical Alcohol prices in El Calafate
Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in El Calafate:
Sample the Local Flavors in El Calafate
Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in El Calafate:
Calafate Wine Tour | City Tour Peatonal Maridado con Vinos:
Calafate Wine Tour:
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Santa Marta and El Calafate, we can see that El Calafate 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 El Calafate would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in El Calafate than you might in Santa Marta.
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