If you’ve been following along, you’ve seen me wander Cusco, hike the Inca Trail, discover Machu Picchu, and explore the Sacred Valley. You’ve seen packing lists, travel tips, and itineraries. But you might still be wondering, what does it all cost? I put together a list of my own expenses so you can see what your Peru budget might look like if you traveled like me. I tend to live large in cheaper destinations, and scrimp and save in pricier ones.
It is definitely possible to visit Peru on a budget. Compared to the US and Europe, Peru is cheap. It’s easy to find private double rooms in nice hostels for under $55 per night, and you can stuff yourself silly on empanadas for a few bucks. Hiking the Inca Trail, on the other hand, is quite expensive, and will probably be your second largest expense after your plane ticket. Although the Inca Trail is definitely pricey, the cost was well worth it. It made for one of the most epic and rewarding trips of my life.
Here’s the price breakdown for a trip to Peru. The budget is meant to be used with my 10 Day Peru Itinerary, which includes Cusco, the Inca Trail, and Machu Picchu. When you’re done reading, you can download my Peru Budget Spreadsheet to help you budget your own trip to Peru.
*Prices are per person, in US dollars, based on double occupancy in hotel rooms and taxis.
Minneapolis (my home base) isn’t the best city for international flights, so I spent a lot in this category ($1286 to be exact). Flights to Cusco from cities in the US range from around $800 – $1400 depending on where you start and when you go. Consider taking a budget airline from your hometown to a cheaper hub city like Los Angeles. This will be your biggest expense, so it pays to save money here.
The Inca Trail + Machu Picchu…$776
The price you pay highly depends on the trekking company you book with. Some tour companies in the US or abroad sell Inca Trail tours at higher prices and then sell your tour to a company in Peru, pocketing all of the profit. If you book directly with a Peruvian company, you will know exactly what you are getting, and you’ll keep the profits local. Peru Treks is a good local company, treats its porters well, and reinvests profits in the community. Their prices are competitive with the other top-rated trek operators.
- Inca Trail Trek (With Peru Treks. Includes trek permit, Machu Picchu entrance fee, bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes, return train ticket from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, bus from Ollantaytambo to Cusco, meals during trek, camping equipment, guides, and porters to carry equipment)…$605
- Tips for guides and porters…$50
- Extra: Porter (to carry 6 kg of your personal belongings)…$75
- Extra: 2nd day at Machu Picchu (including entrance to climb Machu Picchu Mountain)…$46
Lodging (5 nights in private rooms with ensuite bathrooms)…$150
This is a category where you can either spend a lot or save a lot. In Cusco, a hostel dorm bed starts at $8/night, while a room at a fancy hotel in the center can cost over $200/night. We were thrilled with Hostal Wara Wara, where we got a great view from their nicest room, plus the hostal had a quiet, cosy atmosphere, and friendly owners.
- Cusco private room with ensuite bath (highly rated, breakfast included)…$63/night ($31.50/person)
Aguas Calientes is packed with mediocre hotels with inflated prices. We didn’t want to spend a lot and be disappointed, so we went cheap and stayed at Ecopackers in a private room + bathroom. It wasn’t anything special but the hot shower and real bed was just what we needed after the Inca Trail.
- Aguas Calientes private room with ensuite bath (no frills, backpackers hostel)…$48/night ($24/person)
Food (7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners, snacks)…$144
This is another category where you could spend very little, or a small fortune. We mostly ate light lunches on the go, and sit down dinners at moderate to nice places at least a block away from main squares and major sites to avoid the tourist price bump.
- Breakfasts (included at many hostels and hotels)…free
- Alcohol (We averaged 1 drink per day in Cusco and 0 on the Inca Trail)…$1-$5/drink
This category could range from around $50 to much much more if you book packaged tours. Here’s what we did and what we spent:
- Boleto Turistico de Cusco (The BTC Ticket is practically required if you want to see any of the main sites)…$42
- Cooking class (Marcelo Batata’s Cooking Class was fun and delicious)…$80
- Qorikancha (Temple of the Sun)…$3.50
- Museo de Arte Precolombino…$6.50 adults, $3.25 students
- Local guide at Pisac Ruins…$14 ($7/person)
Local Transportation (taxis, colectivos, buses)…$67
We really splurged in this category. I’m all about maximizing experiences and by hiring a driver for the day in the Sacred Valley, we were able to have a unique and personal experience that was well worth the extra price.
- Driver for the day in the Sacred Valley…$80 ($40/person)
- Taxi between airport and Cusco hostel…$7 ($3.50/person) each way
- Bus from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu (round trip)…$19
- Colectivo from Ollantaytambo to Cusco (after the train from Aguas Calientes)…$4
While the prices in Peru are indeed low, you could still blow your budget with one wild shopping spree or an evening of debauchery. Keep the currency conversion in mind when you’re making purchases and you’ll stay on track.
- Trip insurance (It covers a variety of things from flight cancellations to emergency medical evacuations. You hope you won’t need it, but when you do it’s a lifesaver – literally)…$144 for 10 days ($72/person)
- Shopping (hats and mittens, and a few other souvenirs)…$25
Total Peru Budget…$2,173-$2,773
My total cost per person was $2,659. Where you fall in the range will depend on the cost of your flight. My $1,286 flight made up almost half of the entire budget! Next time I would try to find a cheap flight to a hub city, like LA or New York, and save a couple hundred dollars. I was happy with all of our other expenses. We splurged in a few categories by getting nicer hostels and using taxis instead of buses, but the added experiences were so worth it.
If you’re planning a trip of your own, you might find it useful to download my Peru Budget Spreadsheet.
Which categories would you scrimp and save in, and which ones would be worth the splurge?
All expenses were paid on our own dime, and as always, you receive my honest opinions regardless of who is footing the bill. Feel free to buy travel insurance, or check out Hostal Wara Wara and EcoPackers using these links. At no extra cost to you, a small percentage of the booking will go toward keeping this site up and running. Thanks for your support!