Travel money

How much does a Peru trip cost? Here’s what we spent

We travelled through Peru for 28 days on a medium budget, keeping track of everything we spent on the way. This is how our costs break down.

Peru is growing in popularity as a destination, as more people seek to discover its vibrant cities, multifaceted history, and landscapes of jungle and desert. But how much does a Peru trip cost?

Our trip in brief: where and how we travelled

This breakdown explores in detail what we spent in Peru during a 28-day visit in June–July 2017. You can check out our full itinerary for this trip here

First, for those of you new to this blog, I should give you a little context about who we are and how we travel. We are Alex and Lisa, a 30-something couple from the UK. Our time in Peru came at the beginning of a one-year, round-the-world travel career break.

Our travel budget for this trip was fairly mid-range. By this I mean that we weren’t scraping by on a shoestring, but at the same time we are no luxury travellers. We like to spend on experiences like local culture, activities and good food, but we will make savings wherever we can, often on transport and accommodation.

The costs detailed in this article are for two people, based on our own travel as a couple.

We seek to save money on food as much as we can, but like to go out for good local food as well
We seek to save money on food as much as we can, but like to go out for good local food as well

What our Peru trip cost: an overview

I have shown the costs in pounds sterling based on the exchange rate at the time of our visit. The average rate was 4.2 Peruvian soles to the pound. You can find updated currency exchange rates at xe.com. For US dollars, the exchange rate at the time was roughly USD 1.30 to the pound.

So, here’s the big figure: in Peru we spent £3,897 during our 28 days. Again, that’s for both of us, so it works out as £1,948.50 each.

There is one very important thing to mention before I continue. A huge chunk of this cost was spent on undertaking the famous Inca Trail. For the two of us, the Inca Trail cost us £1,598 plus a £90 tip for our guides and porters.

This means that the Inca Trail alone accounted for 43.3% of our spending in Peru. For a more general sense of costs in the country, it’s better to look at it without including the Inca Trail. Our costs minus the Inca Trail come to £2,209. That sounds a little less scary, right?

The Inca Trail accounted for more than 40% of our total Peru trip cost
The Inca Trail accounted for more than 40% of our total Peru trip cost

Peru costs in relation to other South American countries

We spent five months travelling in South America, visiting seven countries in total. Here’s how our spending in Peru shapes up when compared to other the other South American countries we visited:

I have decided to focus on basic travel living costs here – food, drink and accommodation – as this gives the most accurate insight into general expenditure.

As you can see, for basic costs, Peru was one of the cheaper countries on our journey. Our food, drink and accommodation costs in Brazil were about 50% higher than Peru.

At £37.18 per day for food, drink and accommodation for two people, Peru was one of the most budget-friendly countries in our itinerary.

Peru costs by category

Here you can see how our spending in Peru breaks down by category:

As I already mentioned, a large chunk of the ‘activities’ slice is accounted for by the Inca Trail. But even with this removed, we spent more on activities than we did on accommodation or transport.

This, combined with food and drink outlay, shows how our travel spending is more weighted towards experiences. I’ve seen breakdowns of other travellers’ spending in which accommodation takes the biggest slice. This part is really about what’s important to you when travelling.

For a deeper insight, let’s take a look at how each of these categories breaks down…

Accommodation costs in Peru

For the most part, we stayed in hostels in Peru. We look for good value, but it’s important to us that where we stay is secure, well-located and has a social atmosphere.

In total we spent £324 on accommodation in Peru. Several of our nights in the country were free of accommodation costs, such as camping on the Inca Trail and overnight bus journeys.

We only paid for accommodation for 20 of our nights in Peru. This means our average overnight accommodation cost for the two of us was £16.20. This ranged from £11 per night at Hostal Vallecito Backpackers in Arequipa to £34 per night at Desert Nights Ecocamp in Huacachina.

We looked for hostel with kitchen facilities so we could cook our own food – this is Amazon House Hostel in Iquitos
We looked for hostel with kitchen facilities so we could cook our own food – this is Amazon House Hostel in Iquitos

Food and drink costs in Peru

Peruvian cuisine is gaining renown on the international stage, and for good reason. The country’s traditional food is delicious and has a real character to it. You can check out an article I wrote about Peruvian food for Travel Ponders here.

Our average daily spend on food and drink in Peru was £25.61. Sure, we could have gotten by on much less than this, but food is a major part of the travelling experience for us, and so it’s often where we stretch our budget.

Peru is also famed for its pisco liquor. We took quite a liking to pisco sours, which reflects in the fact that 22.7% of our food and drink spend in Peru was on alcohol.

A sustenance cost in Peru that can slip under the radar is bottled water. It’s not recommended to drink tap water in the country. While bottled water isn’t expensive, it does add up over time – during our 28 days we spent £37 on it.

For the most part in Peru we were savvy with our meals and looked for cheap eats, as well as cooking for ourselves sometimes. One great way to eat cheaply is in the country’s menú restaurants. These establishments tend to open during lunchtimes only, selling two- or three-course set menus for as cheap as a couple of dollars.

We had some of our best Peruvian food at Punto Azul in Lima
We had some of our best Peruvian food at Punto Azul in Lima

Restaurant cost examples

On the occasions we did splash out for a meal, we were rarely disappointed. Here are a few examples of the restaurants we dined in:

  • In Lima we had our very best ceviche (the national dish) at Punto Azul in the Miraflores district. Our bill for two courses and a drink was £25.50
  • In Iquitos we went for Lisa’s birthday meal at Al Frio Y Al Fuego, a floating restaurant on the river. Our bill for three courses, wine and cocktails was £87
  • On the cheaper side, in Iquitos we ate salchipapas (potato and sausages) with soft drinks in a local cafė for a total bill of £2.50
  • In Cusco, we had huge pizzas and a jug of hot wine for a total bill of £24
  • In Arequipa, on our final night we treated ourselves to a meal at Mirador Misti, a rooftop restaurant. Our bill for two courses and an alcoholic drink each was £28

Transport costs in Peru

Our experience with transport in Peru was among the best of our travels. We got around almost exclusively by bus, mainly using Cruz Del Sur. For the final leg into Bolivia we used Bolivia Hop.

The one exception was our travel between Lima and Iquitos, for which we had no choice but to fly. The Amazonian city is only accessible by air or river, and a boat trip would’ve taken far too long.

The only domestic flights we took were with Star Perú between Lima and Iquitos
The only domestic flights we took were with Star Perú between Lima and Iquitos

Our costs for domestic transportation in Peru totalled £451, an overall average of £18.50 per day. This is offset a little by the times we took overnight bus journeys.

These were the journey costs per person for the main routes we took:

  • Lima to Iquitos return flights with Star Perú: £120
  • Lima to Ica bus (for Huacachina) with Cruz Del Sur: £9.50
  • Ica to Nazca bus with Cruz Del Sur: £8
  • Nazca to cusco bus with Cruz Del Sur: £27
  • Cusco to Arequipa bus with Cruz Del Sur: £33.50
  • Arequipa to Puno bus with Cruz Del Sur: £17
  • Puno to Copacabana with Bolivia Hop: £19 (Peruvian segment only – the total cost from Puno to La Paz was £76)

Activity costs in Peru

The Inca Trail, as I have already covered, was by far our biggest activity cost in Peru. We still spent a further £568 on other activities, though.

These were our main activity spends per person:

  • Seven-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: £799 plus a £45 tip for guides and porters
  • Two-day, one-night Amazon jungle tour in Iquitos: £105
  • Flights over the Nazca Lines, including airport tax: £62
  • Two-day, one-night Colca Canyon trekking tour: £48
  • Getting chakana tattoos in Cusco (we decided to class this as an activity): £54
  • Various museums:
    • Ayapua Boat Museum, Iquitos: £2.50
    • Huaca Pucllana ruins and museum, Lima: £3.50
    • Museo Inka, Cusco: £2.50
A two-day Amazon tour was our most expensive activity in Peru other than the Inca Trail
A two-day Amazon tour was our most expensive activity in Peru other than the Inca Trail

Additional costs in Peru (sundries)

Any costs that don’t fit naturally into the main categories we class as sundries. In total we spent £82 on sundries in Peru between us (£2.93 per day), which included:

  • £24 on toiletries and medications
  • £17 on laundry
  • £13 on cigarettes
  • £5 on souvenirs

Our spending in Peru by city

Like most countries, prices in Peru vary in different regions and cities. This is how our spending on basic travel living costs compared between cities:

Although we only spent a few days in each of these cities, this paints a fairly accurate picture of the price variance in cities around the country.

We spent more on average in Cusco than anywhere else in Peru
We spent more on average in Cusco than anywhere else in Peru

Cusco, a hugely popular tourist destination due to its proximity to Machu Picchu, and Lima, the capital city, were more expensive in general than anywhere else we visited in the country.

The costs for Iquitos are skewed a little by our treat meal for Lisa’s birthday at the floating restaurant. With this removed, the costs in Iquitos were around the same as Arequipa.

Quick tips for travelling in Peru on a budget

I have already touched upon some of the tricks we picked up during our time in Peru to keep costs down. Here are some of our best recommendations:

  • Take overnight buses for long journeys. It’s a cheap and relatively comfortable form of transport, and saves accommodation costs
  • Eat lunch in Peru’s menú restaurants
  • Take free walking tours to see city highlights
  • Learn basic Spanish so you can haggle and avoid being ripped off
  • Make yourself aware of common travel scams before you go
  • Choose accommodation in central locations to avoid additional transport costs
  • Look for hostels with free breakfasts and kitchen facilities so you can cook your own food
  • Ask hostel staff at your next destination for local advice before you travel – they can often let you know correct taxi fares or cheap transport links

Have you travelled in Peru? Let us know about your experience with prices in the comments below.

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We travelled in Peru for 28 days on a medium budget, keeping track of everything we spent on the way. This breakdown details how much our Peru trip cost.