This post goes into some on depth on the estimated cost of travel in Peru. Read on for suggested shoestring and more comfortable backpacking budgets for the popular South American country. We also have information about the local currency and sample prices.
(Map of Peru from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)
Is it cheap to travel in Peru?
Peru Travel Costs on a Shoestring Budget
US$25/day | 85 Peruvian Sol
Peru is overall a cheap country to visit even by the standards of South America (Our Colombia backpacking budget for example is higher and represents an average country in the region). Staying in one place, you can probably get by on as little as $15/day with plenty of real budget accommodation available while eating out in local restaurants is also great value. However there are a few reasons why Peru is a bit more expensive than Bolivia for example or the cheapest countries in Asia or Africa.
Firstly the size of the country means you will spend a lot of time travelling around particularly if you are looking to go all the way from the Northern border with Ecuador all the way down into Bolivia or Chile. The relative lack of budget airlines means travelling by bus is the only realistic option for shoestring travellers and although they aren’t expensive on a per km or per hour basis, you will need to spend several days on a bus to travel through the entire country and costs do add up.
Average costs are perhaps a bit cheaper than Ecuador but it is 5 times as big so unless you just focus on one part of the country you are likely to be working on a similar budget. The second budget breaker in Peru is the world famous trek to Machu Picchu, which features in our countdown of bucket list trips but is very expensive just to enter. Although it is entirely possible to go to Peru and not go there (there are many other great Incan sites to visit), the majority of travellers do go there and if you opt for one of the more expensive trips to it then you may struggle to stick to our overall Peru backpacking budget of $25/day.
Backpacking costs in South America
More Comfortable Peru Backpacking Budget
US$45/day | 150 Peruvian Sol
If you are doing a big trip in South America and have a certain time-frame for it, you might want to budget a bit more for Peru and maybe skip some of the less interesting parts of the country by taking a flight. Most of the main points of interest are in the South of the country with the likes of Cuzco and Arequipa among the more interesting cities to visit compared to Lima or the ones in the North.
By budgeting for $45/day you can probably afford to skip a large portion of the country and well over 24 hours of travelling on buses by taking a domestic flight or if you are just visiting the South, you could probably take a flight from Lima to Cuzco rather than the never-ending bus route. You could probably also do one of the longer hikes up to Machu Picchu.
Peru Cost of Travel Insurance
It’s also worth adding a bit more on top of any travel budget for Peru to cover the cost of travel insurance, not to mention flights to and from the region. Check out our suggested travel insurance options for backpacking South America for some inspiration.
How expensive is Peru?
Flight from Lima to Cuzco (1 hour 20 minutes) – 260 Soles ($80)
Bus from Cuzco to Arequipa (11 hours) – from 30 Soles ($9)
Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – 10 Soles ($3)
Large local beer in a cheap bar or restaurant – 5 Soles ($1.50)
Dorm bed in Cuzco – from 15 Soles/night ($4.50)
Budget private double or twin – 30 Soles/night ($9)
Entrance Fee to Machu Picchu – 150 Soles ($45)
Note, these prices were last checked in 2016 with the exception of Machu Picchu, which was updated for 2019. Along Dusty Roads has a detailed guide on what you need to know before you visit Machu Picchu. Everything else on this page was updated in early 2019.
What is the best currency to take to Peru?
Currency – Peruvian Sol
£1 = 4.28 Sol
€1 = 3.80 Sol
US$1 = 3.33 Sol
(All exchange rates are correct as of January 2019)
Unlike neighbouring Ecuador, Peru does not use the US Dollar and has its own currency – the Sol. Some businesses may accept dollars but paying in Sol is certainly the norm, even for visitors.
Stay at Vallecito Backpackers in Arequipa for great value dorm beds and excellent staff.
street art in Huachipa, Peru (via El Decertor, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
This page was last updated in January 2019.