Considering most people only find out about Cuzco when they learn that it’s the staging area for virtually every Machu Picchu trip, it’s a bit surprising to learn how delightful, gorgeous, and fun the place is all on its own. Some parts of your Cusco/Machu Picchu adventure will seem outrageously priced, so it’s good that many parts of the whole thing are quite cheap as well.
|Currency||Peruvian Nuevo Sol|
|Airports||Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ)|
Food and drinks in Cusco are quite cheap as well, as an endless string of restaurants and bars keep things competitive. Pizza in particular tends to be popular in this region and prices are very reasonable compared to where you probably live.
|Budget breakfast||If your hotel doesn't include breakfast then go where locals go for great budget breakfasts.||$1.63 - $2.72|
|Budget lunch||Many restaurants in the city center advertise combo places all in this price range.||$2.04 - $3.54|
|Budget dinner||Finding cheap dinner options in tourist restaurants is not difficult in Cusco if you look at signs and menus.||$3.54 - $5.99|
|Beer (.5l bottle)||The local lager is advertised on special deals in many places. Night clubs will charge more, of course.||$1.09 - $2.18|
|Month||High F||Low F||PRECIP (inches)|
Due to its extreme altitude (higher than even Machu Picchu itself) and closeness to the equator, Cusco’s average temperatures are quite consistent the year round. Summers (December through February) are slightly warmer than the rest of the year, but that’s also the wet season, and the heavy downpours and occasional flooding will have much more of an impact on your trip than the temperature itself.
The best time of year to come is between May and September, when Cusco is almost always sunny and bone-dry. It gets cool in the evenings pretty much every night of the year, and it occasionally drops below zero during the dry period, but snow itself is very rare.
Good news comes in the fact that hotels in Cusco tend to be quite cheap even though standards are fairly high. Several hostels have opened up so if you are a backpacker type you have that option, though the money you’ll save on sleeping is almost meaningless compared to the cost of everything else.
Hotels in Cusco are at their fullest during the high season lasting from May through October. This is also the dry season and when Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail are in highest demand. During this period it’s not a bad idea to book a room in advance, especially if you want to be close to the center of town surrounding Plaza de Armas. Cusco keeps expanding outward and most of the newer hotels are quite a long way from the center of the action.
If you are going during the low season, from November through April, you should be able to pretty much pick your hotel upon arrival, and you’ll often get a great discount in the process. The city is in much lower demand during the wet season and competition among hotels gets fierce, partly because much of their revenue comes from selling tours to guests, so they can afford to let out rooms cheaply and still do okay if you book through them.
|17.00 - 24.00|
|23.00 - 68.00|
|28.00 - 99.00|
|83.00 - 162.00|
|272.00 - 404.00|
|Hostel Bed||6.00 - 15.00|
Flights from Lima (and elsewhere) to Cusco tend to be weirdly expensive, and the train trip to Agua Calientes (if you are doing the day-trip version) or the Inca Trail group tours (if you’ll be walking in) are much pricier than you might expect, so do your research. Here’s how to do the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu on the cheap.
|Taxi from airport to city center||2.18 - 3.54|
|3km taxi ride in Cusco||0.82 - 1.36|