South America Living

Travel, Dine, Live… Like A Local


Cheapest Way to Visit Machu Picchu, Peru

Ruins Inside Machu Picchu

Cheapest way to visit Machu Picchu? Become Peruvian! Ok, that wasn’t very nice. For the rest of the world it’s a matter of putting your walking shoes on. Then you can have a 2 day/1 night all-inclusive trip from Cusco for only $120-135 USD (317-356 soles).

To cut costs for a Machu Picchu trip you need to skip the train and walk 2 hours along the railroad tracks from Santa Teresa to Aguas Calientes – very popular with backpackers, you most likely won’t be walking alone! Or alternately, take the short 45 minute train ride from the hydroelectric station near Santa Teresa. The train ride from Poroy or Ollaytambo (Wanchaq train station) to Aguas Calientes is the most expensive part of the journey.

There is a train station near Cusco – Poroy (8 km, 20 minutes by bus) – with service to Aguas Calientes (nearest town to Machu Picchu) but it is expensive – $75 USD one-way. A cheaper route is to first travel by bus to Ollaytambo (2 hours, 15 soles) or Santa Teresa (6 hours, 30 soles) then pay regular or first-class fare for the train ride to Aguas Calientes. During the rainy season from December to March the train station Poroy is often shut-down due to muddy, unpassable terrain; you should avoid these months if at all possible.

Note: More information including train routes and schedule information is here: www.perurail.com/

The train from Ollaytambo to Aguas Calientes takes 2 hours and costs approximately $35 USD each way (92 soles). The train from Santa Teresa to Aguas Calientes takes 45 mintues and costs $18 USD (47 soles). From Aguas Calientes there is local bus service to the entrance of Machu Picchu, around $7 USD each way (18 soles). Entrance fee into the park is $51 USD (134 soles).

Note: Prices are current as of March, 2012.

There is no road access to Aguas Calientes, where the cost factor comes in. You either have to take the train or walk. Walking along the tracks is free, why it is the primary way of cutting costs. The cheapest tours adverstised in Cusco “Machu Picchu by Car” also go this route.

The $120-135 USD for a 2 day/1 night trip includes:

  • Shuttle service to the hydroelectric station outside of Santa Teresa (you then walk along the tracks to Aguas Calientes)
  • One nights stay in Aguas Calientes
  • Three meals
  • Transport to Machu Picchu the next day
  • Entrance fee to Machu Picchu (134 soles or $51 USD)
  • Two hour guided tour of Machu Picchu then 3 additional hours for you to wander where you like
  • Return transport to Cusco

If you do this trip on your own the overall cost will be similar. There is no getting around the bus fares, entrance fee to Machu Picchu, night stay in a hostel or hotel and the need to eat and drink! One of the lowest cost tour operators around the Plaza de Armas in Cusco is Inka Kingdom Adventures . Ask to speak with Cesar (speaks English and Spanish).

Do you want to climb Huayna Picchu inside Machu Picchu? You will need to schedule a time when you purchase your ticket and pay a bit more – 150 soles instead of the 134 soles. More information here: Ministerio de Cultura. There are only a certain amount of persons allowed to climb per day, in the morning and afternoon.

Tickets can be purchased in Aguas Calientes or at the entrance to Machu Picchu. It is highly recommended to purchase in advance in Aguas Calientes to avoid long lines at the gate entrance. Students and children under 12 years receive discounted fares.

10 to “Cheapest Way to Visit Machu Picchu, Peru”


  1. laszlo says:

    Hello,

    I don’t see any information on this website. I have written an e-mail to Cesar, but I didn’t get response. Do you know anything?
    Thx

    • Molly McHugh says:

      I’m really sorry about that and will remove the link to the website. I hope he is still around for folks who are in Cusco looking for great deals on tours. You can find others online, but they will probably be the more expensive options. Unless you have to reserve a spot on the Inka Trail, best to walk around and find the best deal after you have arrived. Molly

  2. Thanks for the tips, my wife and I are trying to make sure we can see Machu Picchu without breaking the bank. However, what do you mean by “become Peruvian” are things cheaper for Peruvians because my wife just so happens to be one so any penny saving options are OK in my book.

    Thanks again for everything, your PDF guidebook has been a great help.

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Yes. She will get great deals on the entrance fee (around half) and train (about a third of what foreigners pay I believe). You, on the other hand, are like the rest of us… :)

  3. laszlo says:

    Did you manage your trip alone? Could you help me? I will go there on the next month. Can I buy the entrence ticket in Aguas Calientes?
    I will go from Cusco.

    • Molly McHugh says:

      Iaszlo you will have a great time and be with many other travelers – this is an excellent time to visit Machu Picchu (Dec – March not so good). I was having a lot of fatigue from the altitude and we were low on cash so my son was going to go (he’s a budding photo-journalist) – I chose to volunteer at the Mother Teresa charity in Cusco instead. My son then made friends with some cool rasta muscians and decided to spend the cash having fun with them, so neither of us ended-up seeing the ruins, and both of us are fine with it, maybe some other time!

      I would recommend for you to go with one of the group tours – like what I describe above – or simply hang-out in a hostal for a few days and see if you make a new friend/friends to take the trip with. How you travel depends on your budget, train all the way or walking part-way to cut costs.

      have fun and report back after if you can, Molly

    • Molly McHugh says:

      And missed this – YES, buy your ticket in Aguas Calientes before you visit the ruins. Everyone says to do this, the price (now anyways) is the same and you don’t have to then wait in line at the entrance which can take precious time out of your day at the ruins.

  4. laszlo says:

    Thank you

  5. Thank you for this great blog. Traveling is such a great thing but the main concern is of expenses. It can be made easier if you can have a control over the cost of your transportation like if you are traveling through flight then do a early booking.


Leave a Reply

*