It goes without saying that Machu Picchu deserves a place on every adventurer’s Bucket List. It’s one of the most breath-taking spots in the world, and an absolute paradise for hikers across the globe – with a stunning peak at either end too.
It’s one thing to add the ancient citadel to your Bucket List though, but how much can you expect to pay to get there? What is a typical Machu Picchu price?
Essentially, your Machu Picchu trip cost is going to depend on a few different factors, from how much you want to do and which route you want to take to where you want to stay. So let’s break things down and help you cost Machu Picchu now.
Machu Picchu cost: travel
First things first, how are you planning to get to the Imperial City? In case you didn’t already know, the mysterious Machu Picchu is located in Peru, so you’re going to need to get a flight over there in the first place, before making your way to the beginning of whichever trail you’ve decided to hike.
News flash: there aren’t any direct flights to Machu Picchu itself. So most people fly into Lima and then grab an internal flight from there to Cusco, spending at least a day in the city to acclimatise to the higher altitude before embarking on any trekking.
So how much can you expect to fly for your flights to Cusco?
In normal times, return flights from London to Cusco via Lima will cost you anywhere between £350 and £700. Generally speaking, you should expect to budget around £500 to cover this part of your trip.
How do you get from Cusco to Machu Picchu?
From Cusco, there are two ways to get to Machu Picchu: by foot or by train. No prizes for guessing which we think is the better option.
At The Bucket List Company, we offer three different trekking routes; each very different, all completely stunning. They’re called the Inca Trail (you’ve probably heard of that one), the Salkantay Trek and the Lares Trek (and you can read a couple of our blogs to compare them here and here).
The three routes all vary in lengths, which means they take different amounts of time to complete. Obviously, the more time you spend using guides, eating and sleeping along the route, the more money you’ll pay.
The Inca Trail is suited to people who are physically fit enough to take a fair old hike each day, coming in at 26 miles which you’ll complete over 4 days. Considered a moderate trek, the more popular trail will allow you to walk in the shoes of the Incas and reaches as high as 13,828 feet.
Lares is more easygoing, at just 22 miles long, and more like a moderate hike. It’s not particularly technical, though it goes higher than the Inca trail, reaching just under 15,000 feet. As long as you’re used to walking, careful about altitude sickness and you’ve got yourself a handy walking pole, you’ll be just fine.
But if you’re rather proud of your impressive set of calves and think you can handle something harder, the Salkantay trek is likely to be further up your street.
It’s longer, colder and steeper, reaching as high as 15,000 feet in altitude. Perfect for more experienced hikers, the Salkantay trek totals 46 miles off the beaten track, completed over 5 days. It offers you more solitude, more wildlife and more mountains too.
How much does it cost to walk to Machu Picchu?
Whichever route you take, you’ll have the luxury of llamas, pack mules and/or horses who’ll kindly carry your stuff along the trail for you. But what about your accommodation?
There’s no escaping it – you’re going to be camping.
With an average of just 50 travellers per day, the Salkantay trek offers pretty basic accommodation with its cheapest option, and Lares is even more so.
On the Lares route, the camping’s less heavily regulated, so there can be fewer facilities at each camp (though you’ll always have access to some form of loo and a shower block!).
As you’d expect of a more popular route, the Inca Trail is better set up for tourists, and it costs more as a result. Your comfy camp will be put up for you each night and will include decent loos and showers.
There are also more luxury options on all three routes, at an added expense of course.
Don’t forget about your hiking permits
Because of the strict limit of 200 tourists (and 300 porters and cooks) allowed onto the Inca Trail each day, you need to allow plenty of time to book your trip. Your trekking company will book your permit for you, which means you’ll pay their price for it, which will usually include the cost of your porters, cooks and transfers.
4-day passes can cost as much as $680, which increases your overall cost pretty dramatically if you’re set on doing the Inca Trail over any of the alternative routes.
Tourist passes get released in the middle of December each year, which makes that the best time to book. Over on the Salkantay trek there are no limitations on numbers so it’s far easier to book your trip. You don’t need any form of permit on the Lares trek either, which is another major drawcard in terms of your overall Machu Picchu price.
How much does the train from Cusco to Machu Picchu cost?
If hiking to Machu Picchu isn’t for you and you’d rather experience the citadel without exhausting yourself first, you’ve probably been considering booking a train ride.
The good news is that you’ve got a few options.
The priciest is the Luxury Hiram Bingham train that leaves directly from Cusco, costing just shy of $1,000, but giving you the opportunity to do Machu Picchu in a day and travel in comfort as you go.
All the trains arrive at Aguas Calientes, the nearest town to Machu Picchu, where you can grab a 30-minute, $24 bus ride to the ruins. (Of course you can always hike from Aguas Calientes instead! It only takes 1.5 hours.)
If you’d rather spend less money, you’ve got the Vistadome and the Expedition trains too, which both come in at less than $200 for a round trip. Vistadome tickets sit around the $190 mark and Expedition at around $140. But for both of these options, trains only leave directly from Cusco from May to December.
So if you’re doing Machu Picchu in a day between January and April, you’ll want to factor in bus or taxi costs from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, where you’ll catch your train. A private taxi from Cusco to Ollantaytambo usually costs around $23 and a bus would be around $7.
What’s the Machu Picchu price for guides and trekking staff?
In Peru it’s mandatory to use a guided service to see the Inca ruins, so you’ll have to hire a certified guide for your tour, whatever time of year you go. You can do this at the entrance, and prices vary but you can generally expect to pay $40-50 for an English-speaking guide per day.
You’ll want to set aside some extra money so you can tip your guide too, as is customary in this part of the world. Expect to pay around $25 in tips for the four days’ trekking.
You’re also likely to have porters and cooks helping you out as you go, and if you’re trekking in a group, you should contribute around a $45 tip that’ll cover the entire trek and be distributed among the staff members.
What else should you include in your Machu Picchu costs?
Altogether, you can expect to pay around $500-700 for 3-4 days’ hiking along one of the trails to Machu Picchu, and for the time you spend in the ancient citadel too.
But aside from the costs of the actual hike, you’ll want to consider where you’ll stay and for how long on either side. Hotels can range from as much as $400 a night for luxury options to as little as $20 for your most budget overnight stays.
You might want to add in a Cusco city tour and perhaps a cooking class or two! On each of our Machu Picchu trips – the Inca Trail, the Salkantay Trek or the Lares Trek – you’ll do all of the above, and more, for a super reasonable price.
Take a look at your options, build the trip that works for you and start getting excited about ticking something as major as Machu Picchu off your Bucket List. If you don’t book it now, will you ever?