Cusco Budget Breakdown: Two Months in the City
Money makes the world go round. If you’re like me, a LOT of your travel plans are based more on costs of living and flight prices instead of dream destinations. Lucky for us, Cusco is both cheap and absolutely amazing.
Daniel and I lived in the city for two months, during July and August 2017. Here is our detailed Cusco budget breakdown.
There is so much to see and do outside of Cusco. Because of that, we never flew to another city during our two month stay. Instead we only took day trips, and one five day trek to Machu Picchu. We work during the week and travel on weekends but we were still able to see a lot. Keep in mind only transportation and entrance fees are listed here, because each tour either provided meals in the cost or we packed our own. Here’s my Cusco budget breakdown for all of our travel during our two month stay in the city.
Temple of the Moon: It’s possible to walk to the temple from the city center and entrance is free. We only paid $11 per person for two optional horseback rides.
Rainbow Mountain: This day trip to Mount Vinicunca, one of Cusco’s most popular tourist destinations, included transportation, breakfast, lunch, and entrance into the park for only $21 each.
Huchuy Qosqo: The hike to these ruins is definitely off the beaten path. We paid $30 for a guide, but with my directions, you can visit it on your own. We also paid $14 for transportation for three, and $7 pp to enter the ruins.
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu: The Salkantay Trek was far and away our largest travel expense. With all the costs added up, I estimate we spent $260 pp for the 5 day trip. However, this did include accommodation, food, transport, guides, and entrance to Machu Picchu.
Kinsa Cocha, Pisac’s Three Lakes: This little known day trip to Pisac’s three lakes was one of my favorites. The hike is free and there are no entrance fees, so we only had to pay $40 total for taxis and transport.
Tourist Ticket: There are different options for the tourist ticket. We chose the most expensive 10 day ticket with 16 museums and ruins on it. It cost $41 each. We spread the destinations across two weekends because it included entrance to all of the sites listed below.
Sacred Valley Tour: Our day trip to the Sacred Valley was done through a tour agency. The trip included lunch, a guide, and transport to the Maras Moray ruins, Chinchero ruins, Ollantaytambo, and Pisac. All of these are on the tourist ticket and did not require any extra entrance fees. We paid $21 each for the tour, and an extra $3 each for entrance into the salt mines.
Sacsayhuaman: Sacsayhuaman is the first in a line of four ruins. Sacsayhuaman is within walking distance from Cusco and all the ruins are included in the tourist ticket. We only paid $5 for transportation.
Tipon and Piquillacta: These ruins are farther from Cusco and some of the least visited on the tourist ticket. We paid $4.25 each for transport to them.
Pisac: The Pisac Ruins are included in many Sacred Valley tours, but we chose to visit them on a separate day trip. They are included in the tourist ticket we purchased, so we only paid $10 for transportation.
One great thing about living in Cusco is that there is so much to see and do around the city that we never had to go far. This definitely kept our travel costs down while we lived here. In total, Daniel and I spent $900 of our Cusco budget on travel for all of our weekend activities, day trips, and our 5 day trek to Machu Picchu during our two month stay in Cusco.
Furnished Apartment Rental: We found our apartment on AirBnb. It is a 2 bed/1 bath furnished apartment and is a 15 minute walk from the city center. We paid $424 a month for the place, which includes internet and utilities in the price. It’s definitely not the nicest apartment, but it’s clean and the location is great, which is all I can really ask for!
Grocery Budget: Our grocery budget hasn’t changed much from my last report in my Colombia budget breakdown. We’re still paying about $100 a week for groceries, the only difference is that the choices and value has gone down since we moved here. This budget reflects cooking most meals in our apartment and eating out for lunches and dinners on the weekends.
Eating Out: Definitely my biggest vice! We probably eat out way too much. I estimate that Daniel and I spend around $5 to $10 each on meals in the lower end restaurants and cafes in Cusco’s city center. In total, we usually spend about $200 a month for 5 or 6 meals out a week together.
Drinking: Alcohol is more expensive in Peru than it was in Colombia, and there are also more craft beer options to tempt me here. The local beer in Cusco is called Cusquena. It usually costs $3 per bottle in a bar, or $6 for a six pack in store. Craft beers are usually $3 or $4 in store and $5 or $6 in the bars and breweries. Wine is $5 and up for a bottle in the local markets, and rum and other liquors can be cheap too, maybe $3 for a small bottle. We mix and match between drinking in our apartment, in bars and clubs, and splurging on craft beers. In total, we spend about $200 a month on alcohol here.
Laundry: Our apartment doesn’t have a washing machine. If you live near the city center, though, there are a lot of little shops and hostels that will wash, dry, and fold laundry cheaply. We pay 50 cents per pound of clothes when we wash, which comes out to about $20/month for two people.
Phone: I use Sprint’s international plan and pay $30/month for unlimited international calls and texts, and 1gb of data. Daniel is a chump and just uses my phone.
Healthcare: I’m still on my parents healthcare for two more months (yikes!) so we only have to pay for one health insurance plan. Daniel’s travel insurance protects him everywhere except the US for $33/month.
Visa: If it’s free, it’s for me. In Peru, Americans can enter the country free and get a 6 month visa stamp at the airport for no extra cost.
In total, our living expenses for two months roughly add up to $1,300 a month for a couple living, eating, and drinking in the center of the city.
GRAND TOTAL: $1,750 per month
When we moved from Medellin to Cusco, the cost of food and alcohol went up, but our rent went down, and the cost of travel definitely decreased because we spent our weekends exploring nearby day trips instead of flying to new cities.
Keep in mind, our Cusco budget is not for everyone. We lower our costs by renting “long term” (most places give monthly discounts), cooking meals at home, and limiting our trips to the weekends instead of traveling every day. Still, this Cusco budget breakdown is definitely a great start for any backpacker or traveler planning a trip to Peru!
All my love,