How to Travel to Machu Picchu for Cheap?

Machu Picchu is an extraordinary landscape that has been a tourist attraction for decades now. Its thick stoned walls stand atop of one another, forming remarkable structures whose construction remains a mystery to everyone who visits.

From what has come out of an expert consensus, all that we know about Machu Picchu is that it was founded by the distinguished Inca ruler, Pachacuti. Many Incas go to pay their respects to the great ruler at this site, which also makes this practice count as a pilgrimage. This whole pilgrimage that is taken towards this site is from a trail called the Inca Trail, which, as we will see, can be expensive for most visitors.

Whether it is about the splendid architecture of this place or the pilgrimage, Machu Picchu remains a priority on many people’s bucket lists. Now, you may wonder how many ways there are to reach this wonderful piece of art and how costly it may be? Well, worry not! Let us help you get to know about the routes to Machu Picchu a bit better.

How to Travel to Machu Picchu for Cheap

How much does it normally take to get to Machu Picchu?

Usually, it can take about $88 (USD) per day, on vacation to Machu Picchu. Travelers have spent about $21 on food, and $24 on transportation.

The most expensive trail can be the Inca trail, since its hiking tour can cost up to $871 in total, excluding the equipment required for hiking, but the meals are all typically covered in this. 

Expenditures for Inca hiking trail tourPrice in USD
Entry, accommodation, and mealsOver $650 (depends on how big or small the group is, the tour, and its duration)
Rented equipment (if you do not bring yours), and fees of porter$211
Snacks paid for toilets and other$10
Total Cost of Trip$871

Essentials to consider before going to Machu Picchu

These essentials highly depend on the type of way that you are opting for, in order to get to Machu Picchu. There are typically two ways by which you can visit Machu Picchu; going along with a tour company, or going by yourself.

Some of the things that you need to keep in mind regarding the cost include:

  • the entrance fees
  • accommodations
  • meals
  • bus/train tickets
  • paid toilets
  • tour guides

You will have to pay for all these things whether you travel alone or choose a touring company. However, by paying a tour company, you just would not have to go through the fuss of it all yourself.

Sometimes, one does not have the full budget to visit their desired destinations through a touring company, so they might have to sacrifice just some of the conveniences.

Bus fares to Machu Picchu

Round trip bus servicesPrice in USD
Adult (Foreign)$24
Child between ages 5-11 years (Foreign)$12
Adult (Peruvian)$15
Children between ages 5-11 years (Peruvian)$8

How to get Machu Picchu entrance tickets for cheaper?

Some discounts are offered by the entrance of Machu Picchu as well. You can easily get these if you fulfill the discount requirements.

  • Discount offered for minors: Children of ages 8 to 17 years are given a Minor’s discount. All that they have to do is prove their age by either showing their identity card/documents or their passport.
  • Discount for University students: Using their student card, students of undergraduate and under 25 years of age, can get this discount.
  • Discount for Andean citizens: People that are the citizens of Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador also get special discounts if they get their citizenship verified by showing their identity papers or passport.

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Ways to take to Machu Picchu

The following routes will go from the cheapest to the most expensive one, so you can be the judge of how much it is that you are ready to pay, or perhaps, can afford to pay.

Route Hidroelectrica:

Route Hidroelectrica is the cheapest way to take to Machu Picchu. It is a 2-days and 1-night trip that can either be tread by foot, or by train/bus.

How can you get to Hidroelectrica?

First off, in order to get to Hidroelectrica, you would need to take the following route:

Route Hidroelectrica to Machu PicchuPrice in USDDuration of ride
Cusco to Santa Maria$85hrs (by bus)
Santa Maria to Santa Teresa$31hr (by car)
Santa Teresa to Hidroelectrica$230 mins (by car)
Hidroelectrica to Aguas Calientes$02hrs (on foot)
Total cost and time$138hrs 30mins

How to get to Machu Picchu from Hidroelectrica?

In order to get to Machu Picchu from this route, the most economical way would be to spend your 2 days and 1 night in the Aguas Calientes camp, instead of a hotel or a lodge that may cost $13.

You can also eat the food from the local markets in Aguas Calientes. This would be much cheaper than how much any touring agency would be taking from you.

On top of that, the other expenses that you may want to keep in mind are:

Expenditures in Machu PicchuPrices in USD (approx.)
Entrance price at Machu Picchu$47
Price for the round trip of Hidroelectrica$26
Price for traveling by foot to Machu Picchu$0
Tour guide in Machu Picchu$5
Camp$5
Restaurants (for at least 2 days)$10
Other expenditures$10
Total Cost of Trip$103

These are but the mere estimates of how much they mean cost of traveling to Machu Picchu would be if done of your own accord.

Some additional things to know:

  • To cut expenses, even more, it is advised to carry essentials such as water, sunscreen, repellant, snacks etc.
  • A child under 8 years of age has NO entrance fee.
  • You would find some touring agencies at the Historical center of Cusco, that would be offering a trip from Cusco to Hidroelectrica (cheaper than the trip by train.)
  • Once visitors come to the hydroelectric power station, they can choose whether they wish to travel by train or they want to walk all the way to Aguas Calientes (the more economical and affordable option.)
  • If you wish to walk to Machu Picchu, from Aguas Calientes, you should take the road, Hiram Bingham, as well as some shortcuts that are marked well along the way. It would take you about 2 hours, separately, on climb and descent.

Route Aguas Calientes (without tour)

A simple trip from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, without any tour, is about $100 more expensive than the one from Hidroelectrica.

Total expendituresPrice (in USD)
Accommodations$12
MealsOver $15
Train fare$140
Entrance fees$47
Bus fare to Machu Picchu$24
Snacks paid toilets, and other$10
Total Cost of Trip$238

Route Aguas Calientes (with tour)

A day tour taken from Aguas Calientes can usually take up to $115, and it includes the bus tickets to Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes, the entrance fee, as well as a professional guide that will instruct you and take you around the place.

This, along with some other expenditures:

Expenditures from Aguas Calientes to Machu PicchuPrice in USD
The professional tour guide, Bus ticket, entrance fees$115
Accommodations/dorms/lodge$12
MealsOver $15
Train fareOver $140 (plus return all the way to Cusco)
Snacks paid toilets, and other$10
Total Cost of Trip$292

This route only has some additional conveniences that the Hidroelectrica route might not. If you are ready to spend just a tad bit over, then this trail might be the one for you.

It does lean a bit more on the expensive side, but it definitely is a lot cheaper than the Inca hiking trail or the ones that are about the come up.

Route from Cusco (day tour)

This one rounds up to be $373 in total, with additional factors that will ease your travel, just the slightest bit. However, this surely is a bit more costly, but if your budget is under $400, then this option should not be that hard to bear.

The tour guides (local Spanish and English speaking), train tickets for the whole trip, bus fare from Angus Calientes to Machu Picchu’s citadel, pick and drop to and from the hotel, and the entrance fee, cost about $348. So, these, along with other minor expenditures:

Total expenditures from CuscoPrice (in USD)
Tour guides, bus fare, train fare, hotel pick and drop, entrance fee$348
MealsOver $15
Snacks, paid toilets, and other$10
Total Cost of Trip$373

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Other Machu Picchu tours

Other tours that offer sightseeing of different parts of this Land of Wonders have different trekking locations, different duration of the trip, different altitudes, and different costs, of course.

Trekking agencies like so can take anywhere from $480 to $800, depending on what they are offering.

If you feel like you can spend just a bit more, here and there, then we have laid down multiple options in front of you to choose from. However, these tours can be a little overpriced for someone who loves to travel but is on a budget. Hence, if you wish to take the cheapest way to Machu Picchu, then taking the Route Hidroelectrica will surely be the best option for you!

How to Travel to Machu Picchu for Cheap (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can you do Machu Picchu for free?

It’s certainly not possible because there is a lot of traveling, transportation, and entry passes required. You can minimize the cost by following our guide, but it’s certainly not possible to do this for free.

How much are Machu Picchu tickets per day?

The cost of a Machu Picchu ticket is 200.00 Peruvian soles (US 56.00) for adults and 125.00 Peruvian soles (US35. 00) for students & children. Since only 400 tickets are available per day, if you are going in the high peak season (May-August) then you should buy the ticket in advance.

How much does it cost to take a train to Machu Picchu?

The economy class will cost $140 USD and the executive class will cost you around $150 and the first-class ticket will cost $400 USD.

Is there an age limit for Machu Picchu?

Children (from 0 to 12 years old) are not allowed for this adventure. Teenagers (from 12 to 17 years old) have access to a special discount on the normal price of the Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu ticket.