Peru is filled with mystery and interest for the foreign traveler. It is a country of extremes, stretching from the towering Andean slopes on which 3,000-year-old mummies have been found, to the shoreline where desert penguins dwell.
It is a country of erased history, its populations obliterated by the Spanish and often leaving no written record, and enduring history, with native cultures whose Incan roots remain strong.
And it is a country in which the modern mashes up with the traditional, resulting in markets, villages, ruins, and cities that are well worth the cost of airfare.
Speaking of cost, Peru is a pretty affordable destination. If you’re looking for a grand adventure that won’t break the bank, this is it. I’ve been there myself, so I can tell you firsthand that there’s plenty to do for free, and what you do have to pay for is quite affordable.
Plus, while you could spend weeks exploring the best Peru has to offer, you can enjoy much of the country’s finest offerings in just a week.
Personally, my favorite aspects of the vacation were the ruins, the native villages, and – most people forget this about Peru – the Amazon. Let’s take a look at the best places to go, the best ways to save money, and the best hacks for making the most out of your Peru trip!
Average Trip to Peru Cost in 2023
An average one-week trip to Peru for two people will cost around $5,200:
- Average Accommodation Cost: $125 per night
- Average Flight Cost: $1,000 per person
- Food, Drink & Activities: $125 per person, per day
- Transportation: $500 total
- Total Cost: $5,200
Peru’s cost of living is not high, given that it is a developing country. That gets passed on to you in the form of affordable lodging – even in heavily trafficked tourist areas – as well as food and drink.
However, you will pay a bit more for activity costs if you want to get to the more remote places of Peru, which is where the country shines.
Unfortunately, Peru is a hard trip for which to accurately estimate costs, simply because it’s a country in which many of the activities are best seen through tours.
However, I only took one tour in Peru and did Machu Picchu without the aid of a company, and you can see any part of the country you want to on your own. The following costs are an average starting place for what you’ll likely spend.
Note that these costs assume a somewhat more upscale vacation. If you use zero tours, travel on the cheapest rail lines, sleep in hostels or 2-star hotels, and eat out of grocery stores, you can shave $1,000 or more off a trip for two.
Peru Trip Cost: Average by Item
Before you estimate your trip, read through the rest of this article and decide if and when you want to take any tours. If so, plan out the dates and cost of your tour first.
Then use the averages to fill in the rest of your trip around them. That way, you’ll get the most accurate projection, and you’ll know which aspects of your trip to book first as well.
Peru is, as mentioned above, a pretty affordable country. You can find reasonable lodging in Lima, Cusco, and Aguas Calientes (the town at the foot of Machu Picchu) starting at $50 a night.
For nicer lodging or environmentally friendly hotels, plan to spend $100 a night. Hotels in the Amazon range from $125 to $150 a night to much more for all-inclusive experiences, which I’ve discussed under “Food, Drink & Activity Costs,” below.
The same is true at Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo, where you can pay pretty straightforward costs or you can book a tour that will cover everything for you, but will add on a surcharge to do it.
My recommendation: don’t bother with tours in most of Peru. Do bother with them for the Amazon, because it’s the only way to easily get deep into the jungle and enjoy its magic.
On average, budget $125 for hotels. That way you can do an Amazon stay at higher prices and spend less in other places.
Flights from the US to Lima are about $600 round-trip on average, though that will go up during the high season – winter in America, which is summer in Peru. If you’re traveling to a hub before your main flight, add another $200 per person.
If you’re traveling straight to Cusco, add another $200. You will likely save some money by buying domestic tickets once inside Peru.
So if you’re flying to Cusco (the jumping-off point for Machu Picchu) or Puerto Maldonado (a popular airport for Amazon entry), then you could consider buying your tickets once in the country. You’d need a flexible itinerary to do that, but could save several hundred dollars.
If you’re a digital nomad or will be in the country for several weeks and have time, give it some thought.
Overall, plan to spend about $1,000 on tickets, assuming you don’t live in a major hub and Lima is not your final destination. Which, don’t make Lima your final destination, that’s all I’m saying.
Food, Drink & Activity Costs
The good news is, food and drink are quite inexpensive in Peru. You can get a great meal at a mom-and-pop restaurant for $5 to $10. Drinks are cheap, only a dollar or two a bottle.
However, you should plan to drink bottled water, but this is cheap and widely available. Make sure if you’re hiking to bring several bottles with you, or to add purification tablets to your supplies.
All of which is to say, you needn’t set aside much of your budget for food and drink: about $40 a day should do it, assuming you’re not trying to eat out at fancy restaurants.
Instead, let’s focus on the activities. Peru is such a magical place that it would be a shame to miss what makes it most unique.
Small villages dotted throughout Peru showcase what a large percentage of its population still lives like.
Traditional cooking, weaving, and herding practices – 70% of the world’s alpacas live in Peru! – are on display, and you can enjoy them with a day trip from Cusco for only about $50. (Don’t confuse this with a Machu Picchu day trip, which will cost much more.)
Hiking the Inca Trail
This is a popular pastime for fit travelers. The four- to five-day trail hiking and camping experience, with transportation, pack animals, and full meal service, is a dream come true for outdoorsy types.
I did not do it since my husband and I were traveling with older parents at the time, but it is fairly affordable at an all-inclusive average of about $750 per person for four days.
Amazon Tour (Or Other Tours)
Typically I’m not one to invest in tours. I find them restrictive and spendy, but I’m here to tell you: a tour of the Peruvian Amazon is well worth it. For one thing, it’s difficult to get there.
Booking your own transportation from the airport (Cuscu or Lima) to the river, then down the river into the jungle, is a challenge. When you do so, you want to be sure you’re in good hands and that you’re headed where you’re supposed to be headed.
That’s where a tour company comes in. They’ll offer the room, the transportation, all-day food and snacks, bottled water, and a Spanish- or English-speaking guide in one package.
This often includes entrance fees into nature areas, day and night nature walks, wildlife boat rides, and other day trips. The one I stayed at is about $350 per person, per night, today. This seems pretty steep until you take every cost into account.
I loved many things about Peru, but watching the sun go down over the Amazon and – the absolute second it dipped below the horizon – hearing all the cicadas click on at once is a moment I will never, ever forget.
That said, many Amazon hotels will offer you transportation and include breakfast or other amenities in the price of the lodging.
The reason we paid so much for our lodge is that it was deep in the Amazon, so you had to travel for hours by boat to get there. You can stay along the banks of the Amazon, closer to civilization, for less.
The same general costs will apply to other tours you book, such as a multi-day excursion to Machu Picchu, which will include the hotel, some or all of your food, entrance fees, and transportation.
In order to estimate the costs, simply multiply the number of days of the tour by $350. For the Inca Trail, use $200 a day instead.
It’s hard to say what to expect here, since you may wrap some of your accommodations and transportation into your activity costs, or vice versa, if you opt for tours. Assuming you keep all your expenses separate, though, plan to pay about $125 per person, per day on food and activities.
Transportation is often wrapped into hotel bookings or tours. However, if you plan everything yourself, you’ll need to arrange for:
- Rides from the airport in taxis, since public transportation isn’t typically reliable or – in some places – extant. Be prepared to haggle based on these rates, about $8 for an hour of waiting and $3 per mile.
- Transportation to archeological sites Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo, the best in the country. I highly recommend the train, which ranges from $120 to $400 round trip per couple, depending on the type of train you choose.
- Flights between cities, e.g. from Cusco after you visit Machu Picchu to Puerto Maldonado to see the Amazon Rainforest.
Overall, if you aren’t using any tours and have to pay for the above separately, plan for about $500.
Things to Consider
Here are a few other things to consider when planning your trip to Peru:
- You can use both dollars and Peruvian soles, but it’s better to use local currency where possible, because you’ll get a better exchange rate.
- Potatoes hail from Peru, and there are more than 4,000 varieties. One of the best experiences I ever had were the fried potatoes in a little town outside Ollantaytambo, crisp and yellow and perfect. I’ve never had anything like them, or any of the several other types I sampled while there. Be sure to experiment!
- Decide if you’ll use any tour companies before planning out your trip. This is the best way to estimate your trip costs accurately.
- Some formerly popular destinations are no longer safe. Lake Titicaca is, sadly, one of them. It’s best to stay away at the moment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get to Machu Picchu?
The best way to get there is to take a train. Make sure to book your train tickets and entrance tickets weeks ahead of time to secure them.
What should I see besides Machu Picchu?
You should also see the Ollantaytambo ruins and the Amazon Rainforest.
Can I use dollars in Peru?
Yes, but you’ll get a better deal if you use the local currency, soles.
When is the best time to visit Peru?
If you want to avoid crowds and enjoy nice weather, opt for spring or fall. If you care about the sunniest weather, go in Northern Hemisphere winter, which is summer there. Going in summer will yield the best rates, but pack your rain gear!
Is Peru safe?
Yes, Peru is pretty safe. However, there are some areas you should avoid due to unrest and the possibility of kidnapping.
So, What Is the Average Cost of a Trip to Peru?
|🛎️ Average Accommodation Cost||$125 per night|
|✈️ Average Flight Cost||$1,000 per person|
|🍽️ Food, Drink & Activities||$125 per person, per day|
|🚕 Transportation||$500 total|
|💲 Total Cost||$5,200|
The average cost of a one-week trip to Peru is around $5,200 for two people. You can definitely save by opting out of the tours and choosing cheaper accommodations, and it will still be a magical trip. Happy travels!