Peru

How much a trip to Peru REALLY costs

Machu Picchu photoessay

My post from earlier this year on “How much a Disney cruise really costs” has been quite popular so I thought I would do a second one on a now favorite destination of mine, and one that many people have at the top of their bucket lists-Peru.

I believe a large number of people think that Peru is a destination they could never afford. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not as expensive as you would think, especially if you compare the numbers I list below with a week’s stay at Walt Disney World, for instance (depending on personal preferences, it probably is cheaper than a week at Disney World).

How much a trip to Peru REALLY costs

Peru is by all accounts an extremely inexpensive destination. And if you want to go the really cheap route (i.e. the backpacker), you would be amazed at how low cost your trip would be. However, if you’re like me and have no interest in going “that” route (not saying there’s anything wrong with it, it’s simply not for me) and would still like a bit of luxury with your travel, then follow my planning!

How much a trip to Peru REALLY costs

Note: I’m not by any means saying that $5,000 isn’t a lot of money. It’s a huge amount of money. But as you know, D and I both have full-time jobs and work hard to travel comfortably, without pinching pennies and having to strictly adhere to a budget or else. However, I have looked at numerous tours to Peru over the years and many are around this figure or even more for just one person. So this post is more to reflect that you don’t have to “break the bank” or not visit until you’re retired in order to cross off this once in a lifetime destination.

If you’re in need of a refresher of my Peru itinerary here it is (the only thing I would have changed was having more time in the capital city of Lima)

Day 1-Arrive late…crash at Lima Airport hotel (unfortunately, most flights to Lima from the United States arrive late in the evening and if you have an early flight out the next morning, it’s not at all worth it trying to stay in Lima’s downtown…the traffic between the airport and there will do you in…trust me.

Day 2-Fly to Cusco, transfer to Ollantaytambo

Day 3-Based in Ollantaytambo, full day tour of Sacred Valley sites

Day 4-Based in Ollantaytambo, visit to Machu Picchu

Day 5-Transfer to Cusco.

Day 6-Cusco

Day 7-Fly back to Lima

Day 8-Full day tour of Lima, flight back to the United States at midnight

How much a trip to Peru REALLY costs

~The following prices are in American dollars~

International Airfare- $1600 r/t (estimate anywhere between $600 and $1200 per person depending on where you’re flying from)

I think that unless your local airport happens to be Miami, your international airfare is going to be the most expensive item for you. I was flying from Pittsburgh, which is not home to any hubs and is a smaller airport to begin with, so airfares are generally more expensive than in other larger cities. I ended up booking when I did because for the first time in months, the airfare from Pittsburgh to Lima had dropped below $1000 per ticket. I would definitely recommend setting up a fare watch on a site like Kayak, which is what I did as it was what alerted me to the drop in price.

Domestic Airfare-$685 on LAN Airlines

While there are a couple of airlines that fly the route between Lima and Cusco, I decided to go with the biggest and most well-known, LAN Airlines. That’s not to say there is anything wrong with the others (Star Peru for instance). In fact, the smaller and more newer airlines were actually a lot cheaper than LAN. However, LAN had the most flights a day between these two cities and one thing I read and heard from other travelers is that flights are chronically delayed in Peru, especially coming or going from high altitude cities, due to fog (Cusco sits at over 11,000 feet), and even worse, are regularly canceled. I figured that if the worst were to happen and our flight was canceled, it would be easier to rebook for a flight later that day on an airline that offered numerous flights all day versus going on one that only had five flights the entire day. So yes, I spent a bit more money on our domestic flight tickets but this was more a personal preference due to wanting peace of mind.

1 night at the Costa del Sol Ramada Lima Airport-$212

As I mentioned above, most flights from the United States (annoyingly) arrive late in the evening. And if your flight is delayed, you’ll probably arrive in the overnight hours. I figured that since our flight to Cusco the next day was in the morning, it wouldn’t be worth it to go into the city center late at night only to make the return trip back to the airport less than 12 hours later (this was especially warranted after our two hour drive to the Lima Airport from our Lima hotel). So that’s where the Costa del Sol Ramada Lima Airport hotel comes in. Yes, it’s horrifically overpriced but unless you want to sleep at the airport (umm, no) or you want to take a gamble with some sketchy airport motel, your best bet is staying here. Nothing was greater than exiting customs, walking across the street and entering the hotel; it’s literally that close. Same rinse and repeat the very next morning. Yes, it was an expensive shower and night’s sleep, but after traveling x amount of hours, sometimes that’s all you need, right?

Round-trip transfers between Cusco and the Sacred Valley-$100

These I had arranged through our hotel, private transfers in a sedan, although it seems the private transfers business in Peru is quite booming (i.e. this can be easily taken care of). $50 between Cusco and Sacred Valley destinations seemed to be a pretty standard rate (I was quoted $65 if a minivan size vehicle was needed).

3 nights in the Sacred Valley (El Albergue)-$275

El Albergue was more of a bed and breakfast style hotel and it was simply lovely. You can read my full review of it here, but it offered a great price, especially since I opted for the more deluxe rooms, and its location right next to the station where we caught the train to Machu Picchu couldn’t be beat.

Private tour of the Sacred Valley-$190 (this cost was for 2-6 people)

Just as with the private transfers, there are also a ton of tourist outfitters that offer private tours of sites in the Sacred Valley. Prices do vary drastically for the “private tour” experience; I didn’t go with the cheapest one but I also didn’t do any of the expensive ones (i.e. $200 per person). Having had too many mediocre “group” tour experiences in other countries, I wanted my time in Peru to be how I decided, so splurging for a private tour definitely seemed the way to go.

Peru Rail train tickets-$238

There exists three levels of train service between Cusco/Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Hiram Bingham is the most expensive level, then there is the Vistadome (second class), and finally the Expedition (third class, or backpacker if you will). Logistically, the H.B. level was out since it didn’t go through Ollantaytambo (our base in the Sacred Valley), and while I had always thought I would do the Vistadome, due to times being better with the Expedition level, that’s what I ended up booking. And honestly? There was nothing “third class” about it. It’s a 90 minute journey through some of the most spectacular scenery you’ll ever see. Forgo the train niceness and spend your soles elsewhere.

Machu Picchu tickets-$100

While it was nightmare to purchase these tickets (due to Peru’s rather crappy Internet/credit card fraud issues), the tickets themselves were inexpensive. $50 USD is the approximate rate for all adult foreign visitors to Machu Picchu. It is the best $50 you will probably ever spend.

2 nights at the JW Marriott Cusco-$534

I wish we could have used some of our Marriott points to stay here, but thankfully, the JW Marriott IS one of those hotels where if you can splurge, I feel it is worth it. Sure, there are countless less expensive places to stay in Cusco, but this is one hotel that will truly offer you a luxurious experience. For my full review, click here.

1 night Casa Andina Private Collection Lima-$200

I wasn’t overly impressed with the Casa Andina Private Collection. The unfortunate thing is that $200 is a more inexpensive hotel rate in a major city like Lima. However, it did include a full American style buffet breakfast, so that is something. For my full review click here.

Private tour in Lima-$250 (for 2 people)

Since we had such limited time in Lima at the end of our trip, I wanted to see as much of the city as possible, meaning, I didn’t want to take public transportation or haggle with taxi drivers over fares. I wanted the comfort and convenience of knowing that we would be going to XY and Z spots and all I would have to do was sit back. Unfortunately, what I thought was a private guide was really just a private driver. I’m not really sure the $250 was worth it. But just as with private tours in the Sacred Valley, there are many in Lima as well, just do your research

Round-trip transfers between Lima Airport and city center-$50

The abysmal Lima traffic was no fault at all of our drivers, and with that said, I can’t recommend the company Lima Cabs enough.

Attractions-between $25-$50

At most of the places we visited with our private tours the attractions were included, but for the ones that weren’t, I’m using the above figure as a rough number. Attractions generally were a couple of dollars.

Average cost of meal-$30

Once again, food was extremely inexpensive. Our most expensive meal was $100 at Huaca Pucllana and actually included three people; our next expensive meal was at Chicha por Gaston Acurio which was around $50. Honestly, you could get a good meal (i.e. at an actual restaurant/cafe) for anywhere between $15 and $35 USD.

Obviously, if you scrimp in areas like food and lodging, your costs will be much lower and the reverse is true if you spend a ton on food and lodging. But if you’re someone like me who doesn’t like to rough it, appreciates a bit of luxury and just wants to enjoy themselves, then these figures should give you a good starting point on how much a trip to this amazing country costs.

 El Albergue 5

You Might Also Like

19 Comments

  • Reply
    Angela
    January 5, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Great breakdown of costs. You don’t want to know how cheap we traveled to Peru, but I found a flight deal from NYC to Lima for $270. However, we did pay $300 for vaccinations/shots since we were in the rainforest for part of it. You are inspiring me to track more of my costs for trips though. Great angle to share with your readers!
    Angela recently posted…Early Snow on Bootjack MountainMy Profile

    • Reply
      Julie
      January 5, 2015 at 4:35 pm

      Thanks Angela! And nah, at the end of the day it all comes down to what you feel comfortable with and more importantly, what makes you happy as a traveler. I know this was a couple of years ago but I am still dumbstruck on your plane ticket!!! Even flying from New York that seems crazy (in a good way of course!). Good point about the shots! We did visit a travel medicine doctor (my h needed some immunizations) and also got a few recommended prescription jobs and yes, that stuff can get expensive very fast.

      I think for the bigger trips or ones that some people may have misconceptions about, it definitely helps to know some ballpark figures, besides just “here’s the airfare.”

  • Reply
    Bridget @ A Traveling B
    January 8, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    I love trip budgets! I always do a before and after. Peru seems very affordable (much more afforable than my 12 days in Iceland, that is for sure!). I have heard great things about the JW Marriott in Cusco – good choice!
    Bridget @ A Traveling B recently posted…#Take12Trips: Q4 2014 EditionMy Profile

    • Reply
      Julie
      January 9, 2015 at 9:58 am

      Yes, it definitely is a budget friendly place. I mean, I’m sure I could have shaved off a grand (or more) if I had scaled back some of the things we did/stayed at etc. Ahh Europe. I haven’t been in a couple of years and while I dying to return as I still have so many countries to check out, I don’t miss those prices!
      It’s definitely neat looking back and adding up your expenses. I hope to at least continue this practice for the big trips!

  • Reply
    Dave Thompson
    February 20, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    I thought a tour of Peru would cost way more than what you put in the article. I love how you break down the cost of everything from airfare to the cost of meals everyday. This guide will defiantly help me plan my next big adventure to Peru. Do you have any other guides for other foreign countries?

    • Reply
      Julie
      March 3, 2015 at 10:19 am

      Thanks for commenting Dave. It involves more planning but my trip definitely came out cheaper than some of the tours I had looked at (plus I got to do everything I wanted, no making concessions). I did another cost planning guide for a Disney cruise although I hope to write more in the future!

  • Reply
    Rose
    December 9, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    I’m in love with this, however how did you set this all up? Was it before hand? How do set up tour guides? Would it be easier to do this via travel agent?

    • Reply
      Julie
      December 11, 2015 at 4:25 pm

      Hello Rose-thanks for commenting! I basically did all of the planning for Peru myself. I had a guidebook to work with, but did a lot of research via the Internet. I used TripAdvisor mainly to find out about companies to arrange private tours with and worked from there. Everyone I booked, I was able to communicate via email and arrange everything. I think you can definitely do a trip like this yourself since often in today’s times, you may even know more than a travel agent. If you have any other questions, general or specific, feel free to ask!

  • Reply
    brenda
    January 14, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Hi,

    I would love to travel by myself but I think it is extremely scary and I feel vulnerable as a female. Did you have any problems with that?

    • Reply
      Julie
      January 15, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      Hi Brenda,

      Thanks for commenting! Solo travel can definitely be a bit intimidating in the beginning but I think once you’ve done it, you’ll definitely feel a bit more confident. For me, I exercise the same common sense that I would anywhere in the world, whether at home or abroad. I also am always aware of my surroundings and I know this has benefited me too, but I’ve never been too much of a night owl. In the real touristy areas of Peru, you will meet tons of foreigners (i.e. Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu, Lima, Cusco) and you’ll find enough people speak some English in case you don’t know any Spanish but knowing the basics helps too! I haven’t stayed in hostels in years but they are good ways to be able to meet other travelers. If you have any other question, general or specific please feel free to ask! 🙂

  • Reply
    Ann
    June 16, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    I went to AAA agent & they got on the phone with Avanti Destinations.

    I was quoted a trip to Peru for four persons fr July 2nd to July 10 for $10,000.00.

    My husband said this was a joke.

    It did not include our international flights.

    I decided then to plan the trip on my own!

    • Reply
      Julie
      June 17, 2016 at 10:28 am

      I find if you have the time, you can definitely book a big international trip with great success and often end up knowing more than the average travel agent. The rates they charge are ridiculous in some instances like you found yourself 🙂

  • Reply
    Roberta Sarokon
    July 14, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    My husband and I are also from PA, about 50 miles north of Pittsburgh. We are traveling to Peru September 8-18. Our transportation, hotels, tours, and about half our meals are included in our package. We shall be in Lima, take the Nazca Lines flyover, the Sacred Valley, Cusco/Machu Picchu and the Uros Islands. Any suggestions on how much money to convert for the other meals and souvenirs would be greatly appreciated. We plan to covert the money before we leave home.

    • Reply
      Julie
      July 15, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      Hi Roberta-Thanks for commenting and how neat you’ll be headed to Peru soon! It’s hard to say a ballpark figure since people’s individual tastes vary so much in terms of souvenirs and eating. But I’d think if half your meals are covered, you would probably be good with about $600 in cash for the rest of your meals and souvenirs. The other thing to keep in mind is that at “fancier” places in Lima and Cusco (I use the term fancy loosely, more just bigger places operations wise), they’ll take credit cards. In the more rural areas like the Sacred Valley, this really won’t be the case. Meals in general are considerably cheaper in Peru (you’ll spend a fraction what you would in the U.S.) and the same even goes for souvenirs at “fancy” stores. Just try to get lower denomination bills (sometimes it’s hard to get change for larger bills) and that they’re immaculate and crisp (unlike here, some vendors may not accept creased/slightly torn bills due to counterfeiting issues (a pain I know…). Let me know if you have any other questions!

      • Reply
        Roberta Sarokon
        July 16, 2016 at 12:28 pm

        Thanks so much for the information. We’ll let you know how the trip goes!

    • Reply
      Carol Ogle
      September 13, 2016 at 9:12 am

      Which tour company are you going with?

  • Reply
    Sateesh
    November 26, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Julie,
    How did you find the local tourist guides, the cost on many websites that I find through travelocity is expensive, I tried contacting some local agents and they are not quite cheap either. We are a family of four and looking to visit in Aug 2017. Does the hotels arrange daily trips in Lima/cuso..,

    • Reply
      Julie
      November 28, 2016 at 9:51 am

      Hi Sateesh,

      Thanks for your comment. I did a lot of research on TripAdvisor for private guides/travelers in the respective cities/areas I was interested in visiting. I do remember finding some private tour guides that were quite expensive but then others with reasonable enough rates. It really boiled down to simply sending a lot of email inquiries with exactly what I wanted to see and do and go from there. The guide I hired to take us through the Sacred Valley (when we visited Maras, Salineras, and the Ollantaytambo ruins), I had located through TripAdvisor (probably in the Ollantaytambo section of T.A.).

      Many hotels in Peru will arrange day trips for you, however, keep in mind that many are just “contracting” the services out so they may not necessarily be cheaper than doing it yourself, although certainly convenient.

      Hope this helps and have a wonderful time! It’s such a great country.

  • Reply
    How much a week in Central Europe costs - The Red Headed Traveler
    January 9, 2017 at 9:00 am

    […] of my most popular posts is one where I talk about how much a trip to Peru (for a middle of the road traveler, i.e. non-hostel staying backpacker) really costs. Someone in […]

  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge

    Shares