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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.
If you’re wondering what the cost to live in Cusco is, keep reading to see our detailed budget breakdown of everything we spent during our stay.
How Much Does it Cost to Travel in Cusco?
I’m assuming when you calculate your own cost to live in Cusco, you’ll want to visit some of the sites that make the city so famous!
Daniel and I work during the week and only travel on weekends, but we were still able to see a lot.
There is so much to see and do outside of Cusco that we never flew to another city in Peru during our two-month stay. Instead we only took day trips and one five-day trek to Machu Picchu.
I crossed all of this off my bucket list during our stay in Cusco without breaking the bank. Here’s the exact costs for all of our travel in and around the city!
Cost to Visit the Temple of the Moon
It’s possible to walk to the temple from the city center and entrance is free. We paid $12 per person for two horseback rides to see Chacan Cave, but you can walk as well.
Cost to Visit the Rainbow Mountain
This day trip to Mount Vinicunca is one of Cusco’s takes you to one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Our tour included transportation, breakfast, lunch, and entrance into the park for $21 each.
Cost to Hike to 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. If you opt for this route it will run you $12 for transportation and $7 per person to enter the ruins.
Cost of the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
The Salkantay Trek was far and away our biggest travel expense when I added up the cost to live in Cusco. I estimate we spent $260 per person for the 5-day trip. However, this does include all accommodation, food, transport, guides, and entrance to the famous ruins.
Cost to Visit 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, but we still paid $40 total for taxis and transport.
Cost of the Cusco Tourist Ticket
There are different options for the “boleto turistico” or tourist ticket that gives you entrance into most of the nearby ruins and museums.
We chose the most expensive 10-day ticket that has 16 museums and ruins on it, and it ran us $41 each. We spread the destinations across two weekends and it included entrance to all of the sites listed below.
Cost for the Sacred Valley Tour
Our day trip to the Sacred Valley was done through a tour agency. It 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.
Cost to Visit the Sacsayhuaman Ruins
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 paid $5 for transportation.
Cost to Visit the Tipon and Piquillacta Ruins
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.
Cost to Visit the Pisac Ruins
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.
When I add up our cost to live in Cusco, 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.
How Much Does it Cost to Live in Cusco?
Of course, the cost to live in Cusco includes more than just exploring the city. Here’s a list of the boring but essential costs that were also included in our Cusco budget.
Cost of a Furnished Apartment Rental in Cusco
We found our apartment on AirBnb. It was a 2-bed / 1-bath furnished apartment and was a 15 minute walk from the city center. We paid $424 a month for the place and that included internet and utilities as well.
It was definitely not the nicest apartment, but it was clean and walkable to the center.
Grocery Budget in Cusco
Our grocery budget hasn’t changed much from my last report in the 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.
Cost of Eating Out in Cusco
Definitely my biggest vice when it comes to the cost to live in Cusco! We 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.
Cost of Drinking in Cusco
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.
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 on the cheap. We pay 50 cents per pound of clothes when we wash, which comes out to about $20/month for two people.
International Phone Plan
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 Costs in Cusco
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.
Cost of a Visa in Peru
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 cost to live in Cusco adds up to $1,300 a month for a couple living, eating, and drinking in the center of the city. If you cook more, drink less, or decide to stay in the outskirts of the city rather than the center, you can cut this number even more.
Total Cost to Live in Cusco for a Couple: $1,750 per month
When Daniel and I moved from Medellin to Cusco the cost of food and alcohol went up, but our rent went down.
The cost of travel also decreased in Cusco because we spent our weekends exploring nearby day trips instead of flying to new cities.
Keep in mind, this 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 cost of living in Cusco report is definitely a great start for any backpacker or traveler planning a trip to Peru!
Ready to go? Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Cusco and then explore accommodation like unique stays on Airbnb or the top-rated hotels on Booking.com to plan the perfect night, weekend, or long-term stay in the city.
This article is part of the Candid Cusco series. Read the rest below:
Then, explore the complete Peru Series for more on what to see, do, eat, drink, and discover in the country!
I’ve been traveling full-time for three years, these are the resources that make it happen:
➤ I exclusively use Airbnb for savings and security on long-term stays in furnished apartments.
➤ I use Booking.com for short-term stays in hostels and hotels on weekend trips.
➤ Upwork allowed me to take the leap to travel full-time because they make it so easy to find freelance clients in any field.
➤ The Superstar Blogging Travel Writing Course launched my travel writing career and helped me become a contributor at sites like Cincinnati Refined and International Living, and even get published in the Boston Globe.