The economic trip to Machu Picchu

Some of the most common inquiries are about the total cost of Machu Picchu. Being one of the wonders of the world and one of the most visited destinations worldwide, there is no shortage of questions about budget travel. Fortunately, you can find different ways to make the trip. There are the classic trips that require a certain amount of economic expenditure, there are also the more expensive luxury trips. The economic trip allows us to make the trip with sufficient costs and also use different routes than the conventional ones. Below, we present a brief guide where you can learn some ways to make the trip to Machu Picchu more economical.

During the walk, you can find fruit, snacks, drinks and even souvenirs for sale

Why travel to Machu Picchu?

The road signs are excellent and it is unlikely that one will get lost

One of the least disappointing destinations is Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is located 100 kilometers from Cusco and Cusco is located in Peru. This country has different destinations that can complement and make an unforgettable experience in just one trip. Likewise, it is possible to find different types of services. Once you arrive in Peru, you will find different travel options to move to Lima or to make the trip to Cusco. We recommend to make the trip by plane. The way to save money on this trip is to make the reservation with the necessary anticipation. For this reason, it is important to plan the activities and dates of the trip well.

Cusco was the capital of one of the largest empires that were formed in the history of mankind. With the development of the famous Spanish conquest and the European takeover, both social and symbolic, they faded and lost important cultural knowledge, which developed for a geography as complicated as South America. The Incas managed to control a large part of the American continent, focusing specifically on the western slope. Expanding its domain from the current Ecuador to the Maule River in Chile. They also passed through Argentina, Bolivia, all the Peruvian Andes and part of Colombia.

The vestiges that were found cannot be easily explained by anthropologists. That is why some believe that the constructions could not have been built by humans. However, thanks to the presence of Machu Picchu and Choquequirao, which are two constructions that managed to sustain themselves without the intrusion of invaders, it was possible to demonstrate some traces of the construction process of the main buildings. In Machu Picchu, for example, one can practically appreciate the characteristic division of the Inca urban planners. In other words, a distinction is made between the division between the Hanan and the Hurín spaces dedicated to the highest authority, the Inca, and to religion. The distinction of these constructions is evident and this helps to identify that most of the constructions that survive to date, are foundations or walls of important buildings, belonging to the sector of the Inca Empire Hanan.

Traveling to Machu Picchu will allow you to learn more about all these details and how two cultures were able to coexist and learn from each other. To date, there are still many communities that have maintained the essence of their ancestral traditions. Likewise, it is possible to connect with many people which allows you to appreciate from another perspective the entire route to Machu Picchu. A fundamental detail and main reason for you to visit Machu Picchu by the economic routes is that you can understand and appreciate all of this, in addition to knowing more about some communities and districts that will fill your stay in Cusco – Peru with excellent moments.

What is Hydroelectric?
It is currently a populated center that has many services dedicated to tourism. This is because it connects directly to Machu Picchu Town. This route offers an adventure at an economical price to the wonder of the world. It is also one of the main sources of electricity. The function of this station is to use the currents of the Urubamba River to guarantee electricity to a large part of the population.

The best economical route – Hydroelectric

Map of the economic route, departing from Cusco to Hydroelectric

Currently, the economic route to Machu Picchu is also known as Hydroelectric. This is because it is the main way to make the trip effectively. The trip to Machu Picchu, beyond the ticket, increases its price substantially by the train ticket. These services can be more economical for domestic tourists, but only in some schedules. We will detail this later. Now we would like to specify the safest and most economical route to get to Machu Picchu. We refer to the Hydroelectric Route.

Hydroelectric is located in the high jungle and is a 6-hour trip from Cusco. The main advantage of this route is that you can make the trip completely on your own. Some vehicles can transport you both ways from Cusco at a price of between 80 to 100 soles, on the round-trip route. It is also possible to purchase a one-way or round-trip service which can reduce some costs, but you will have to know well about the local transportation that you must use to make this trip. We consider that it is important to have the security of a transport that allows you to arrive on time. This is vital since Hydroelectric begins the hike to Machu Picchu Town. The hike is about 2 to 3 hours.

Because of the distance of the trip, this route will force more than one to spend the night in Machu Picchu Town, which is better, so that the next day, full of energy, they can ascend to the archaeological site. One place where you can spend the night in Machu Picchu Town is the Municipal Camp. The cost is only 15 soles per person. For this, you will need your camping equipment, but you will have services such as bathrooms, showers and a social area. In addition, of course, there is a place to spend the night. The next day you can store your luggage and hike up to Machu Picchu.

Before making the trip to Machu Picchu, by the desired route, it is important to take into account the entrance ticket to the Inca citadel. This can be booked online and has 5 different options. Two of them include hikes through the mountains surrounding the archaeological site, while the rest offer a tour of the Inca citadel, of course, by different circuits. As for the ascent, if you want to save money it will be necessary to do it on foot. The route is ascending and can take 2 hours. It is also important to take into account that to return to Hydroelectric there is an established schedule, which is discussed with the transportation company. Normally the return trip Hydroelectric – Cusco starts at 14:00 hours.

Therefore, it is important that the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu is one of the first ones. That is to say, it is recommended to make the entrance between 6:00 to 7:00 or 7:00 to 8:00 in the morning. This is to finish the tour before 11:00 am. and have enough time to walk back to Hydroelectric where you will wait for transportation. Fortunately, the descent from the archaeological site to Machu Picchu Town or Aguas Calientes is less than an hour.

Other options, more adventures

In case you want to have more options to travel economically, one option is to make the trip in stopovers and with the necessary time in advance. To make this trip it will be essential to have the camping equipment, personal or for the group that wishes to make this trip. Secondly, it will be to get to Santa Teresa. In Santa Teresa, you can find low-cost hotels and also exclusive spaces for camping. The fundamental of this route is to have everything you need to prepare food and spend the night. Doing this option will depend a lot on the preparation and knowledge you have, both for the long hike and to spend the night in the best conditions.

Here things can vary, since you can do the route from Santa Teresa to Machu Picchu on foot. To do this, you will need to start the route from Lucmabamba, a checkpoint that connects with the Inca Trails, and get to Hydroelectric to continue the trek. So it also connects the route with those coming from the famous Salkantay Trek to get to Machu Picchu. This may take more time and therefore translates to more expense. However, it will not be an exponential expense if you properly determine your food during these days. The route and hike can be longer, but it can also allow you to visit the thermal baths of Cocalmayo.

Another valid option, and only for Peruvians, is to travel on the local train provided by PeruRail. They can access this service that is exclusively for local people. That is, from communities near the districts that connect Ollantaytambo – Machu Picchu, along with the routes of Machu Picchu – Hydroelectric. In addition, they do not necessarily make this trip as tourists, but because they need it in their daily lives. These trips are not exclusive to Peruvians, but some sales are enabled. In case this travel option is still in force. You must take into account that the travel schedule from Hydroelectric to Machu Picchu has only two schedules. The first one is from 07:54 to arrive at 08:35 in the morning. The second schedule starts at 16:35 and arrives at Machu Picchu Town at 17:22 hours.

You can’t forget

The ideal transportation for this trip is the Minivan sprinter

It is important to keep in mind that, to make the economic route to Machu Picchu, you will have to do some sections on foot and if possible have your camping equipment. It is important to point this out because it will be necessary to control the weight of the backpack and also to have the ideal footwear for this trek. Here are some other tips so that you can do the route with everything you need.

  • The most important thing is to guarantee your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu. Remember to make your reservation in the first schedule.
  • Once in Cusco or by Internet contact the transportation Cusco – Hydroelectric.
  • Organize your luggage well. Too much weight can be a problem during walking.
  • Plan well the food you will have during the route.
  • Bring sunscreen and mosquito repellent.
  • Wear comfortable clothing. The hike will take place in a semi-tropical climate.
  • Remember that transportation imposes the return schedule. Have a good conversation about it before purchasing it.
  • Have a cell phone and cameras ready. Sometimes birds such as the cock-of-the-rock are present along the route.

Table of approximate expenses in a traditional and economic trip

ServicesEntrance to Machu PicchuTransportation Cusco – Machu Picchu TownTransportation to the archaeological site
Traditional Trip60 dollars100 – US$ 220 (round trip)24 dollars (round trip)
Economical travel60 dollars30 dollarsFree (on foot)

Approximate prices


By Imachupicchu – Last updated, February 23, 2024

Enjoy the trip to Machu Picchu with the best services

Choose one of the 5 types of tickets

The entrance to Machu Picchu offers discounts for university students, those under 18 years of age and citizens of Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia. Children under 3 years enter free! Get your entry to 'mapi' here.

We take you wherever you want in Cusco

The private transportation service takes you to any tourist destination in Cusco. Travel with total security in a private service for you, your partner, your friends or family. Includes pick up service from the airport or transfer to Machu Picchu train station, book here!

An unforgettable train trip to Machu Picchu

In total there are four tourist train services to Machu Picchu: Expedition, Vistadome, Vistadome Observatory and the Hiram Bingham luxury train. They all belong to the prestigious Peru Rail company. Buy the tickets here! Take advantage of the discounts!

Get on the final bus to Machu Picchu

The train trip will leave you in the town of Aguas Calientes, 10 kilometers from Machu Picchu. For this last section you must get the bus to Machu Picchu, a comfortable service that takes care of the environment of the wonder of the world. Buy your bus ticket here!

Tour Machu Picchu with a professional guide

In Machu Picchu the tour guide service is not mandatory. However, most tourists decide to go accompanied by a guide. This way they will be able to fully understand the history and importance of the wonder of the Incas.

Machupicchu all inclusive 1 day

If you do not want to buy each ticket to Machu Picchu separately, it is best to hire an all-inclusive tour. Includes: transfer to the station, train ticket, tour guide, entrance fee and lunch option at the best ‘mapi’ restaurant. Book the tour here!