South America Living

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:

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.

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