Peru is an adventure traveler’s dream destination. You can hike Machu Picchu, sandboard in a desert oasis, or visit the amazon rain forest…all in the same country. Filling your itinerary with amazing activities is an easy task. However, when planning that dream trip to Peru, cost may be a bit of a question mark.
Which is why I’m here with another cost report from my world travels!
Peru may not be quite as inexpensive as Bolivia, but it’s still incredibly affordable when compared to many other destinations.
HOW MANY PEOPLE?
WHERE DID WE GO?
Lima — Huacachina — Cusco — Aguas Calientes — Machu Picchu
FOR HOW LONG?
WHAT DID IT COST?
$6,362.16 total / $167.43 per day / $83.71 per person, per day
MY TRIP TO PERU COSTS
While we were in Peru for over a month, we still only covered a small handful of locations. This is because we were based in Lima studying Spanish for the majority of that time.
Given that, we were able to save significantly when it came to transportation and accommodation costs (more on that below). But we still made sure we didn’t leave Peru without hitting key sites like Machu Picchu.
And we certainly didn’t skimp on fun! Being in school meant we were able to meet lots of other like-minded travelers. And while we were there, we took advantage as much as we could with nights out on the town and shared exploration with our new friends.
ESSENTIAL TRIP TO PERU COSTS
FOOD AND BEVERAGE (40%)
$2,574.46 total / $67.75 per day / $33.87 per person, per day
Anything we ingest gets tallied up here (booze included).
You can see by this line item that we certainly didn’t skimp when it came to F&B in Peru. We were able to strike a nice balance of cooking for ourselves vs. eating out. As well as inexpensive meals out vs. fancy splurge meals.
We frequently enjoyed a nice dinner out including drinks and two entrees for $30 or less. Fast casual items like a quick lunch were even more affordable, often as low as a couple dollars.
We were also ecstatic to find that we could buy bottles of Smirnoff vodka for the equivalent of $7 each. Even though we were sad to have discovered this halfway through our time there!
At the end of the day, we spent almost as much on drinks out on the town as we did on food! That was a bit of a shock to the budget, but also not surprising considering we had friends to go out with during school.
And the need to blow off some steam after frustrating days learning Spanish (ay mi cabeza).
Check out this post to learn more about the best restaurants in the Miraflores district of Lima, Peru.
$1,512.06 total / $39.79 per day / $19.90 per person, per day
As I’ve discussed before, we tend to stick with Airbnb whenever possible. As long-term travelers, it’s important we have amenities like a kitchen, living room, washer, etc. to make us feel more at “home” while on the road.
Therefore, while based in Lima, we booked a one-bedroom apartment within walking distance of school. And if you remember my tips from this post, booking a long-term Airbnb is a great way to save some money while traveling.
By booking 28 days straight we were given a 28% discount from the host, equating to over $300 in savings!
We also had a friend come visit towards the end of our trip to join us for Machu Picchu. And beside being great to have a friendly face around, adding a third person took a chunk out of our accommodation expenses as well. Win-win!
$714.27 total / $18.80 per day / $9.40 per person, per day
Some of you detectives may be looking at this number and going “hold on…wait a minute…how is it so low when you started your trip in Peru and had to fly from the US to get there??”
Or maybe I just fed that to you as a lead-in. Either way, it’s a great question! And the answer is: points.
In my prior career, I racked up lots of points traveling for work. And outside that, I participate in travel hacking to build those points even further through regular spending habits (and some creative credit card strategies).
All that work paid off BIG TIME when we were able to get both of our flights from Detroit to Lima for only $132 out of pocket (for taxes and fees).
Additionally, we saved by staying put in Lima for most of our time in Peru. Sure, we took some Ubers/cabs here and there (at the low average cost of only $4.09 per ride), but we didn’t have a bunch of significant transportation costs moving from place to place.
One splurge was our train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes (for our visit to Machu Picchu), where we spent $252 for our tickets.
Be prepared to encounter some frustrations using ground transportation in Peru. Uber drivers are frequently cab drivers as well (normal). But in Peru they would often accept our ride via the app, wind up picking someone else up from the street along the way, then abruptly cancel on us. We would often have to go through that cycle multiple times before finally getting picked up, especially in Cusco.
VISA FEES (0%)
Unlike the high cost (and complicated process) associated with obtaining our Bolivian visas, US citizens are able to enter Peru much easier.
No application process required. If you are visiting solely for touristic purposes (i.e., not for work), you are granted a 90 day visa on arrival. Just show up, get through customs, get your stamp and you’re good to go.
FLEXIBLE TRIP TO PERU COSTS
LANGUAGE SCHOOL (17%)
$1,053.29 total / $52.66 per day / $26.33 per person, per day
Note: these expenses are split over the 20 days we were in classes
This is obviously a BIG flexible expense. I toyed with leaving this expense out when showing my numbers because it’s a pretty large outlier. Most people visiting Peru will not be doing so for the purposes of learning Spanish.
However, if anyone reading this is potentially interested, I had an amazing experience doing so in Lima through Peruwayna Language School. So much so that we are planning to head back at the end of our trip to get some more classes in before we head back to the states.
So for those who may be interested, I think showing the costs is beneficial.
If you’re interested in learning Spanish, and have the means to do so in South America…I would highly recommend it! We only paid $6.58 per hour on average for our classes. Compared to $40+ per hour you’ll get charged in the states.
$394.90 total / $10.39 per day / $5.20 per person, per day
If you’re looking to take on some adventure during your trip to Peru, cost here is quite reasonable as well! School took up most of our time (and mental energy), but we were still able to get some amazing excursions in.
These costs included our weekend trip from Lima to the desert oasis of Huacachina. There we explored the sprawling sand dunes on sand buggies, and sandboarded down some of the tallest dunes I’ve ever seen.
Additionally, we took a bucket list trip to see the incredible Machu Picchu. And like any big tourist attraction we had to pony up some dough in order to visit. The tickets we chose included the regular Machu Picchu entrance + being able to hike Huyana Picchu (a mountain nearby that overlooks the main Machu Picchu site).
However, I am woman enough to admit that upon seeing the height of Huyana Picchu…I totally chickened out. So unfortunately we lost some money there, but it gave me more time to get more pictures of Machu Picchu (silver lining).
Make sure you book your Machu Picchu tickets in advance, as they only allow so many visitors per day. We booked the earliest possible entrance time (6:00 am) and I can’t recommend it enough! The early morning light on Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains was amazing.
EVERYTHING ELSE (2%)
$113.18 total / $2.98 per day / $1.49 per person, per day
Nothing too exciting here, but since we were based in Lima for a longer amount of time, we invested in a short-term gym membership.
We knew once we started moving from place to place at a quicker pace, utilizing an actual gym would be next to impossible. Therefore we wanted to take advantage while we had the opportunity.
We also had a few trips to local pharmacies to stock up on items we didn’t pack with us (ladies – this Peru packing list for women will help make sure you pack everything you need).
Our time in Peru was amazing! It kicked off our around-the-world dream trip, and was our first experience with travel in South America.
From a budget perspective, it’s still quite affordable. Our costs above include a significant portion for our Spanish classes, but if you take those out you’re looking at just under $140 per day for two people.
That’s still less than a single night in a hotel will cost you in many cities in the US. Except in Peru for the same cost it also includes plenty of delicious Peruvian food, nights out on the town, excursions and more.
Given the affordability, there’s no time like the present to start considering a trip to Peru – cost certainly won’t be holding you back!
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