Cusco on a budget: complete guide

Cusco is the main tourist attraction in Peru and one of the best in South America. Its great tourist attraction is the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. But there is more. In this region of the Andes Mountains there are interesting options such as the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the 7 colors mountain, the Humantay lagoon and more. All these places can be visited on a low budget. It all depends on saving expenses and getting adequate information. Here you will find the necessary information for a cheap trip to Cuzco, the archaeological capital of America

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How is the cheapest way to visit Machu Picchu?

Is visiting Cusco expensive?

The first, and most important thing to know, is that Cusco offers options for all budgets.

For example, the train trip to Machu Picchu can cost from 12 soles (local train for Peruvians) to 450 dollars (Hiram Bingham luxury train).

Or the hotels in Cusco: the shared lodgings for backpackers that cost 8 dollars per night or the luxurious 5-star hotels that cost 480 dollars per night.

Or also restaurants. From the luxurious gastronomic experience of the restaurant ‘Mil centro’, which costs 550 dollars per person or the food stalls of the San Pedro market, at 8 soles per menu.

In short, in Cusco there is everything for all budgets.

The main tourist attractions of Cusco

Before organizing the budget for the trip to Cusco, it is necessary to know which are the main tourist attractions, including little-known and alternative places.

There you go:

    1. Machu Picchu.
    2. The Mountain 7 Colors.
    3. The Sacred Valley of the Incas (Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero).
    4. Maras and Moray.
    5. The Humantay lagoon.
    6. The abode of the gods.
    7. Sacsayhuaman.
    8. The Coricancha temple.
    9. The Cathedral of Cusco.
    10. Qenqo.
    11. Pucapucara.
    12. Tambomachay.
    13. The South Valley of Cusco (Tipón, Piquillacta, Andahuaylillas).
    14. Choquequirao.
    15. The thermal baths of Cocalmayo.
    16. The mountain of colors of Palcoyo.
    17. Waqrapukara.
    18. The Tres Cruces de Oro viewpoint.
    19. The Inca bridge of Queswachaka.
    20. The town of Aguas Calientes.
    21. The thermal baths of Lares.
    22. The red valley of Pitumarca.
    23. The Inca site of Raqchi.
    24. The Huasao wetlands.
    25. The Inka museum of Cusco.
    26. Inca site of Inkiltambo.
    27. The temple of the Moon.
    28. The stone of the 12 angles

List of tourist attractions in Cusco on a low Budget

Machu Picchu is definitely not the cheapest tourist attraction in Cusco. However, there is an inexpensive way to visit it. But first, these are the low-budget tourist attractions:

  • The 7 Colors Mountain – Tours from 60 soles or even less (and includes buffet).
  • The Humantay Lagoon – Tours from 60 soles or even less (also includes buffet).
  • The abode of the gods – It is only 12 kilometers from the city of Cusco (its entrance costs only 15 soles for foreigners and 10 soles for Peruvians.
  • The Coricancha temple – It was the most important temple of the Incas. It is in the heart of the city. General admission is only 15 soles.
  • The rainbow mountain of Palcoyo – Tours from 60 soles or even less (and includes buffet).
  • The Huasao wetlands – It is only 19 kilometers from the city of Cusco. Admission is only 2 soles.
  • The Inka Museum of Cusco – It is considered the best museum in the city of Cusco. The entrance costs 10 soles for foreigners and 5 soles for Peruvians.
  • Inca site of Inkiltambo – Temple dedicated to water surrounded by nature that is only 8 kilometers from the city of Cusco. Admission is free for all.
  • The Temple of the Moon – Mysterious stone formation where mystical experiences are carried out (it is said that it was dedicated to fertility). It is only 6 kilometers from the city. Admission is also free for everyone.
  • The stone of the 12 angles – Famous wall with twelve corners that fit perfectly with the wall of the Inca Roca temple. It is just a few steps from the Plaza de Armas of Cusco. It’s free for everyone.

And how to visit Machu Picchu on a low budget?

Machu Picchu is not the cheapest tourist attraction in Cusco. However, despite this, tourists do or do make the monetary effort to see one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

So, to travel to Machu Picchu on a low budget, you must take the little-known route by Hidroeléctrica (route through the jungle of Cusco).

This route lasts approximately 2 days. Only for the trip, the approximate budget is 100 soles per person (does not include hotel in Aguas Calientes or entrance to Machu Picchu).

It should be noted that the tourist train (for foreign visitors) has a minimum cost of 50 dollars one way and another 50 dollars return. That is, the savings are quite a lot!

This is the route to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric:

  • From Cusco to the Hydroelectric station by tourist bus (50 soles one way and 50 soles return) – Duration of the trip approximately 5 hours.
  • From the Hydroelectric station to the town of Aguas Calientes on foot (safe walk of approximately 2 hours).
  • From Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu on foot or by tourist bus (on foot it is free and takes 2 hours on average).


This route is long but fun (surrounded by incredible landscapes). However, for an adequate experience, you must spend at least one night in the town of Aguas Calientes, also called Machupicchu town.

Later you will know economic options in tourist hotels in Cusco!

Where to eat in Cusco on a low budget? restaurant list

Definitely the cheapest way to eat on the trip to Cusco is to do it in the markets, just like most people from Cusco. In the ‘meals’ section of these markets, an appetizer, a main course and a drink are included. All for a cost that varies between 8 to 12 soles (3 dollars on average).

In the city of Cusco:

  • San Pedro Market
  • San Blas Market

In Machupicchu town (Aguas Calientes):

      • Aguas Calientes food market


Where to sleep in Cusco on a low budget? hotel list

Definitely the cheapest way to spend a night in Cusco or in Machupicchu town is to do it in a hostel. These services are touristic (they offer a good quality) so be careful with the cleanliness of the place. There are options for private rooms, as well as shared with other tourists.

In the city of Cusco:

  • Hotel Supertramp
  • Hotel Pariwana
  • Hotel Inka Wild
  • Loki Hotel
  • Hotel Kurumi
  • Hotel Intro
  • Hotel Kokopelli

In Machupicchu town (Aguas Calientes):

  • Hotel Supertramp
  • Hotel Illary Inn
  • Hotel Casa Machu Picchu
  • Hotel Machu Picchu Land B & B
  • Hotel Machu Picchu Guest House
  • Hotel Machu Picchu Packer

Activities in Cusco for free

Cusco is a destination where you can do activities for free or almost free. Know some of them.

  • Free Walking Tour in Cusco – This famous tour includes a walking tour of the main squares and historical monuments of the city. At the end, a tip is paid to the tour guide. Recommended!
  • Visit to the Inca site of Inkiltambo – Inkiltambo is an Inca archaeological site located just 8 kilometers from the city. Admission is free for everyone. There you can see a beautiful natural landscape and Inca constructions. You can get there by public transport (the Inka Express buses).
  • Visit to the Temple of the Moon in Cusco – The Temple of the Moon is only 6 kilometers from the city of Cusco. You can get there by public transport. There are mysterious rock formations there. There is a cavern that is said to have been a fertility temple (access is currently restricted). Admission is free for everyone.
  • Visit the eucalyptus forest of Cusco – This set of tall eucalyptus trees is only 7 kilometers from the city of Cusco. It can be reached by public transport (with the buses ‘Señor del huerto’ or ‘Cristo Blanco’). There you get incredible artistic photos. It is a natural space that visitors like. It’s free.
  • Visit the colonial Sapantiana aqueduct in Cusco – This little-known colonial construction is only a 750-meter walk from Cusco’s Plaza de Armas. It has an arched infrastructure and four levels through which water has flowed since the 16th and 17th centuries. Today it is a place very visited by people from Cusco and foreigners because there you can get beautiful photos. Of course it’s also free for everyone.
  • Visit the Cathedral of Cusco – The entrance to the Cathedral of Cusco costs 40 soles. However, on Sundays and days of masses, admission is free for everyone. Many tourists take advantage of that day to enter and appreciate the famous works of art that date from the colonial era. Of course, taking photos is prohibited

How much budget to take to the trip in economical Cusco?

This is the economic budget for a trip to Cusco -and Machu Picchu- of 5 days and 4 nights:



tourist tickets



Día 1: Free Walking Tour Cusco



24 soles (breakfast, lunch and dinner in Cusco markets)

40 soles (hostel compartido en Cusco)

Day 2: Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric

50 soles (from Cusco to Hidroeléctrica)


30 soles (breakfast, lunch and dinner on the route)

40 soles (shared hostel in Machupicchu town)

Day 3: Visit to Machu Picchu

50 soles (from Hydroelectric to Cusco)

152 soles (foreign) and 64 Peruvian soles and Andean Community

30 soles (breakfast, lunch and dinner in the market and on the route)

40 soles (shared hostel in Machupicchu town).

Day 4: Free day in Cusco

Free (option to visit museums or sites in Cusco)


24 soles (breakfast, lunch and dinner in Cusco markets)

40 soles (shared hostel in Cusco)

Day 5: return to destination

12 soles (hotel taxi to Cusco airport).






Questions and answers for the trip to Cusco on a low Budget

  1. What is the budget to take on a trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu?

The budget for a 5-day, 4-night trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu is approximately 532 soles (approximately $145).


  1. How much is the cheapest ticket to Machu Picchu?

The ‘Machu Picchu Solo’ ticket is the most recommended and the cheapest. It costs 152 soles for foreign tourists and 64 soles for citizens of the Andean Community of Nations (Peru, Colombia, Ecuador or Bolivia).


  1. What activities to do for free in Cusco?

In Cusco you can do several free activities such as: a visit to Inkiltambo, a visit to the Temple of the Moon, a visit to the eucalyptus forest, a visit to the colonial Sapantiana aqueduct or the Free Walking Tour Cusco.


  1. What cheap hotels are there in Cusco?

In Cusco there are cheap hostels, such as: the Supertramp hotel, Hotel Pariwana, Hotel Inka Wild, Hotel Loki, Hotel Kurumi, Hotel Intro and Hotel Kokopelli.


  1. What cheap restaurants are there in Cusco?

In Cusco, the cheapest option is to eat in the markets, such as: the San Pedro market or the San Blas market, both in the historic center of Cusco.


  1. What is the cheapest route to Machu Picchu?

Definitely the cheapest route to Machu Picchu is the route through Hidroeléctrica. It is a 6-hour bus trip from Cusco to the Hydroelectric power station in the jungle of Cusco.


  1. What is a Free Walking Tour in Cusco? How much does it cost?

The Free Walking Tour in Cusco is a service on foot through the streets of the Inca city. After more than 2 hours of travel, the tour guide is rewarded with a voluntary tip.


  1. What is the cheapest train to Machu Picchu?

The local Peru Rail train is the cheapest service to Machu Picchu. It costs only 12 soles per section (24 soles round trip). This train is only for Peruvians and must be purchased in person in Cusco.


  1. How much does the trip to Machu Picchu by Hydroelectric cost?

The bus from Cusco to Hidroeléctrica can be obtained from a tourism agency in the city of Cuzco. It has a cost of 50 soles per section (100 soles for a round trip). Prices may vary depending on the tourism agency you choose.


  1. What are the cheapest tourist attractions in Cusco?

These are the cheapest tourist attractions in Cusco: the Mountain of 7 Colors, the Humantay lagoon, the abode of the gods, the Coricancha temple, the mountain of colors of Palcoyo and the Huasao wetlands

Te Sugerimos leer . . .

The San Blas neighborhood is known as the 'bohemian neighborhood'. It is located just 15 minutes walk from the Plaza de Armas of Cusco. In addition to the Plaza and the colonial church of San Blas, there you can see the historic craft shops of the Mérida, Olave and Mendivil families. You can also spend a moment of tranquility, away from the intense commerce of the city center. And the best thing is that a visit to this Cusco space is free for everyone. Learn more!
Inti Raymi is the festival of the sun that dates back to the time of the Incas. Today in the city of Cusco, the residents rescued this tradition from their ancestors to perform an impressive staging every June 24 in three stages: the Coricancha, the Plaza de Armas and Sacsayhuaman. Although there are admission tickets for these shows, it is also possible to see them for free. Learn more!
The Sapantiana aqueduct in Cusco is one of the most recent free tourist attractions in Cusco. It is a colonial construction with high walls and arches, down whose stairs the water of a channeled stream descends. This allows you to get excellent photographs of the place. Entry to this construction is free for all visitors. Getting there is also free since you can go on foot. Learn more!
Intipunku is a Quechua word that means 'Gate of the sun'. Perhaps the most famous is the one located at the top of Machupicchu. However, in Ollantaytambo – the Sacred Valley of the Incas – there is also an Intipunku made by the Incas, which offers beautiful landscapes and a lot of history. The visit is free for all tourists. But to do this you must complete a challenging short hiking route. Learn more!
Cusco is one of the best tourist destinations in South America. Every year it is visited by more than 2 million people. Machu Picchu is your main destination. However, the capital of the Incas offers more: natural mountainous landscapes, treks, adventures, cold nights, parties, experiential tourism and more. For your climate, geography and experiences, it is essential to carry a suitcase with the appropriate clothing and utensils. Know what to bring on your trip to Cusco!
Cusco is a tourist destination available for all types of prices and experiences. Tourists who want an A-1 service can hire luxury hotels, all-inclusive trains and the best restaurants in the city. Tourists who want a lower-budget experience can choose one of the seven affordable restaurants we present below.